Note: I greatly
the works of Thing1, and as you can see from the title, my story
inspired by her "Snips and Snails and Puppy Dogs Tails".
My thanks to her for providing Remus Lupin with such
parents (and Mrs Noyes). She
kindly allowed me to borrow them, particularly Mr Edmund Lupin.
Mr Lupin remembers how he and Mrs Lupin met Sirius Black for the
twelve and it is the summer holidays after their first year at
Naturally I do not own JK Rowling’s characters. She
invented them and the wonderful world of Hogwarts. I am just
her world for a while.
It was summer and Remus was coming home.
As we waited on Platform 9 and ¾ with the throng of other
and relatives, Gwen and I found it hard to believe that a whole
had passed and that Remus had spent it at Hogwarts. A dream come
for all of us.
watched eagerly as the Hogwarts Express drew to a halt, students
noisily out of every door, but we couldn’t see our son.
For a brief moment I was suddenly afraid that for some
reason he had missed the train altogether, but then we saw him
carefully onto the platform and pull his trunk out of the
Some boys his age waved at him and called out: he waved
but then saw us and his schoolfriends were forgotten. Next minute
were hugging each other fiercely, Gwen wiping away tears of joy.
He looked very tired, though that was to be expected with the
moon occurring immediately after his exams. We passed through the
and started across the crowded terminal, Remus carrying his owl
while I managed his trunk.
"Here Moony! I owe you these. See you soon!"
I turned sharply and glimpsed a black-haired boy clap Remus
the back, thrust something into his hands, and just as suddenly
into the crowds around us. Remus stood staring after him for a
then turned and showed us his gift. A box of chocolate frogs.
adored chocolate. But "Moony"? What was that all about? I saw the
on Remus’ face and decided not to ask just yet.
We made our way to Paddington, and joined the westbound
As it flashed through London’s outer suburbs we chatted
Remus’ year at school, asking him about the results of the recent
Remus had done remarkably well in all his subjects, despite
several days each month, and had ended the year in sixth place
He was quietly proud of his achievement, though vowed to "do much
"I wish I enjoyed Potions a bit more though," he said ruefully.
makes it much harder to study when you really don’t like the
Then he grinned. "Anyway, at least Sirius and James beat
"Snape - that’s the boy from Slytherin you don’t like?" I was
to remember all the various names.
"Yes. He’s a bit of a bully, and we sometimes wonder whether he
has a shower."
"Remus!" Gwen was shocked.
"Well he’s pretty disgusting, Mum. Anyway, he and his friends
really nasty to Sirius early in the year when Sirius accidentally
some stuff and messed up our whole bench.
Sirius hexed his books later of course, but then he decided
was a better way to get even. So he told us he was going to beat
in every single subject and come top in Potions."
"And did he? Come top in Potions?"
"Of course! And James came second. Actually Sirius really enjoys
– he says its even better than Muggle chemistry. He told us he’s
books and a Muggle chemistry set at home and he loves playing
with all the stuff.
said the books show you how to do all sorts of things, like how to
stuff explode, or smell, or glow in the dark. And you don’t need
so you can do it in the holidays – so he’s going to try some of
potions ingredients in the chemistry set.
He thinks its going to be interesting!"
Sirius had featured frequently in Remus’ letters. So found myself
just what sort of "interesting" effects might be achieved by
Muggle chemistry and wizard potions.
"So how did all your friends do in their exams? Who came top in
year?" Gwen had been
"James and Sirius of course. Equal first." Remus sounded a little
she would even ask. "They’re really bright – first or second in
People think they don’t do much work because they have so
fun, but they do – they’re just quiet about it." He paused, then
a funny little smile. "I think that’s why some of the professors
it hard to get really cross with them, even when they do something
– they’re both so quick and clever. They can always do things and
the difficult questions. They just seem to – understand –
He sounded amused and even a little envious.
It was nearly dark when we reached home and a misty drizzle
the air. Remus raced upstairs to his room and when I brought his
up, I found him sitting on his bed, staring around at the familiar
while one hand absently stroked the old quilt beneath him. After
he wandered through the house, just looking at things and
touching items as though to reassure himself he really was home.
been very wary about what other people would think of him at
so had only taken one picture to school with him: the one taken
years ago with Gwen and me sitting under the crabapple tree in
bloom. When we went to say good night I noticed he’d put it back
his bedside table, and was curled up in bed with the quilt pulled
around him. He looked very young.
That old quilt. It had belonged to my mother when she was a
and the blue and white squares were brightly embroidered with all
of birds, animals and fantastic beasts. I remembered it on my bed
I was little: Mother had kept it all these years and then given it
Remus when he was three. He adored it, and when he was younger we
often made up bedtime stories about all the animals. Gwen had
suggested he might like to take it to Hogwarts for his bed there,
he’d been quite horrified and thoroughly embarrassed at the
But he seemed peacefully happy to have it restored to him now. I
– a little wistfully - whether one day he would be able to pass it
to one of his own children.
Despite our pleasure at having Remus’ company once again, Gwen
I found the first week of the holidays unexpectedly difficult. Not
he was badly behaved – quite the contrary.
But in contrast to his earlier bright chatter in the train,
seemed unusually subdued, even when relating more about the last
year. His face would light up briefly as he told us of some prank
other (Sirius and James being frequently mentioned), then he would
get a strange look, as though lost or unsure of himself, and he
change the subject or lapse into silence. I mentioned it to Gwen
evening as we sat in the garden.
"I know – I noticed it too. I’ve asked him once or twice, but he
say what’s wrong." She sighed. "And you know Remus – if he doesn’t
to talk, it’s about as easy to get information out of him as it is
rob Gringotts. I think we just have to wait a while."
I had to agree. Remus has always been very self-controlled. Even
he was bitten he preferred to work things through by himself,
everything firmly bottled up inside until he was ready to talk.
with his condition has only made this trait more pronounced.
Next morning we were all sitting at breakfast when a large brown
swooped down and settled on the windowsill. A letter was tied to
"That’s James’ owl!" exclaimed Remus, hurrying to open the window
retrieve both bird and letter. His face became suddenly animated
he read, and he gave us each a bright smile when he finished.
"James says he’s sorry he had to leave so suddenly and not say
bye properly. But his father was late for a meeting and his mother
to collect some things in town, and now they’re off to Spain
for a few weeks. Hope he has a good time!" He gulped his milk and
up. "Excuse me - I think I’ll write a note back to him before he
He headed for his bedroom.
The following morning there were two more owls, both for Remus.
first had a funny postcard from Peter, travelling with his parents
the south of France before attending a family reunion near Nice.
food, he’d assured Remus, was "great". Remus smiled at us: Peter
loved his food and had a very sweet tooth.
The second letter was much longer, and proved to be from Sirius.
couldn’t help watching Remus’ face as he read it avidly. Once or
he burst out laughing, and his eyes were sparkling when he
However, he said nothing about the contents except a slightly
"He did get his new broomstick after all!" Next thing Remus
dashed up to his room, returning an hour later with a reply, which
fastened to the owl’s leg. He watched the bird disappear over the
He seemed more cheerful after those letters. Gwen and I were
maybe he had just been missing the companionship of Hogwarts.
him go through physical torment every month was bad enough.
I sometimes thought it was even harder to watch his
The full moon came round again. Once more came the agony of
Remus in the shed I had built for him. I had recently enlarged it
little, and had left an old bed and another chair in there for
I hoped it could somehow be easier for him now he was back in
surroundings at home, and that he might be able to just lie
at times. But I doubted he would be given that sort of peace.
I don’t think Gwen and I will ever, ever lose our feelings of
despair and utter helplessness as we prepare for these nights. As
we hugged him closely before he walked calmly into that horrible
building. He didn’t look back – he never does – and after he shut
door I went round casting the necessary locking and silencing
When I had finished I put my arms round Gwen, holding her close,
we both stood silently in the garden watching as the moon rose.
Even now, we never sleep on those nights. How can we. How many
have we cried our hearts out in each other’s arms as we think of
wonderful boy, our beautiful Remus, and the horrors he endures so
I think of the doctors we have visited, the "experts" and
we have asked, the books we have read. Nothing can be done it
Nothing at all. And perhaps the worst pain of all
is finding that most people don’t even want to help - they
Remus and his kind as beasts and abominations. I wonder whether
would feel this way if one of their own family was afflicted,
own child perhaps.
A few months after Remus was bitten – he was only five - one
physician suggested that it would be kinder, all things
to have one of the Ministry experts quietly "put him out of his
Sometimes parents in our situation did just that, he
us. In white cold fury Gwen - yes, my gentle Gwen! - slapped him
the face, then dragged me out of the office before I could do
worse. After we’d put Remus to bed that night, we shut our bedroom
and cried till we had no more tears. When Gwen finally dropped
an exhausted sleep I slipped out into Remus’ room and sat beside
bed, just watching him sleep. He was no monster. He was my son: I
him so very much.
Two years ago we settled here in Hazelmere, a quiet Devon
with a wonderful, sympathetic healer and apothecary, Mrs Noyes.
can’t cure Remus of course, but she is a tower of quiet strength
comfort. Each month she makes sure we have the necessary ointments
medicines and I knew she would be ready if we needed her
Remus was gashed and bleeding as usual the next morning when we
him out, but not as badly as I had feared. The effects of the
are always much worse when he is worried about something. We
him inside and Gwen dressed his wounds whilst I made him some
and his special herbal tea. We helped him into bed and he was
asleep when I left for work. Mrs Noyes would come over later to
The weather stayed fine and unusually warm: the garden looked a
Three days later Remus and Gwen went out after breakfast to pick
and herbs for Mrs Noyes.
had brought some files home from the office, and working was in my
when the front doorbell rang.
I opened it and saw a boy of about Remus’ age standing there. He
skinny, with untidy black hair and deep blue eyes. At first sight
could have been taken for a Muggle, because he was dressed in
jeans and a dark blue T shirt bearing a rather striking picture of
golden dragon. A blue jumper was rolled up and tied around his
But his left hand clutched a broomstick – a new Silver Arrow I
with interest – and his boots appeared to be made of dragonhide.
his feet was a small package wrapped in brown paper.
"Mr Lupin?" he inquired politely.
"That’s right. How may I help you?"
He looked very relieved, held out his hand and smiled. "I’m
Black. I’m a friend of Remus’ – you know, from Hogwarts. I
if he was here, and if I could see him."
"I’m a friend of
..…" Such simple words, yet the phrase itself seemed somehow
and I felt myself staring at the boy for what seemed like
My face must have shown my confusion, for he frowned
and looked a bit uncertain. I collected myself, and hurriedly
out to shake his hand, returning the smile. I thought I recognised
boy who’d given Remus the chocolate frogs.
"Good morning, Sirius – I’m sorry if I appeared a little
Not many visitors find their way here. Yes, Remus is home –
out in the back garden. Come on in."
Sirius bent and picked up the package which he held out to me.
the apothecary, for Mrs Lupin. I stopped to ask directions, and
asked me to bring this with me."
"Thank you. Come along, this way – you can put your broomstick
ours out here."
Sirius followed me through the house into the kitchen, propped
broomstick in the corner and hung his jumper on a nearby peg.
We went out onto the porch and saw Gwen and Remus walking
the back path, baskets full. "There they are. Looks like they’ve
finished, so they’ll be wanting some morning tea. I assume you eat
cake?" He flashed me a cheeky grin, then let out a yell and waved
"Hey Remus! Moony!"
Remus stopped in utter astonishment, his face a study in wonder
"Sirius! What on earth are you doing here?"
"Came to see you of course! I told you I would – didn’t you
me?" Sirius leapt off the porch, bounded up to Gwen and Remus and
heard him introduce himself again.
When they arrived in the kitchen, Remus set his basket down near
sink and looked around at us. His eyes were alive, his expression
of delighted surprise and – strangely – hope. I glanced at the
"Go and wash both of you. Properly mind you – use the soap as
as the towel!" Even Remus needed reminding of that on
"So that’s young Sirius – the one that likes making things
When did he arrive?" Gwen asked with a smile, quietly setting out
as well as the cake.
"A few moments ago. Just rang the front doorbell – he said he
directions from Mrs Noyes. Oh, by the way, he brought that package
We were soon sitting at the kitchen table, and Gwen and I watched
boys tuck into the food as though starving. Boys of their age
Sirius cheerfully answered our questions about his holidays even
he and Remus ate steadily. His father was busy and away a lot, he
so he and his mother had gone to Cornwall for a few weeks to stay
her sister and family near Polruan.
There were five cousins but no one his age. The Muggle boys next
who’d played with him on previous visits had moved away, and
Sirius was lonely. Norman and Tony were the eldest cousins, aged
and fifteen, but Norman had left school and now worked in the
Tony, we heard, was "all right", but he had a lot of school
to do over summer and anyway preferred to spend all his spare time
Which, according to Sirius, was the most boring thing on earth. He
interested in exploring along the cliffs or up through the woods:
he didn’t even like Quidditch! The other cousins were aged nine,
and six, but they were all GIRLS! And what earthly use were
He had such an expression of mingled horror and disgust that the
of us burst out laughing.
"You might change your mind when you’re older Sirius," I
"They become much more interesting later on, and I must say they
have certain attractions." I glanced at Gwen in amusement. Under
untidy hair, Sirius was a very good-looking boy, and I had no
that in a few years’ time he would find that girls would become
interested in him.
Sirius eyed me. "Can’t see anything attractive about this lot,"
said dubiously. "Mum says I have to be nice to them but I don’t
why - they never want to do anything fun. All they do is chatter
giggle and make a lot of useless noise." He sighed in frustration.
don’t want to go exploring like pirates or treasure hunters. They
come sailing because they say I tip the boat over and they fall
They don’t want to help with my experiments – hey Remus! Dad gave
a really good new chemistry book! – because some of the stuff
bad. They got angry when my special blue beetles somehow got out
ran round the bathroom. And they nearly screamed the place down
because I found a really nice little pixie and put it in their
"I see." I found myself smiling again, and in truth I felt rather
Boys really needed to have friends their own age, ones who shared
interests. I thought of Remus.
"And Norman keeps bringing his stupid girlfriend home. You should
her -– blond hair, stinks of perfume and has really revolting long
nails. I keep falling over them everywhere – I mean, I went down
get my broomstick yesterday afternoon and there they were, all
each other and carrying on behind the hedge near the shed. You
have seen them! Yuck!!" He paused. "And she didn’t have too
Remus clearly saw what was coming. His eyes danced in
"That new water bomb?" he inquired rather hopefully.
"Better!" Sirius gave a truly wicked grin.
Remus was clearly considering the range of options that would be
to Sirius without magic. I found myself wondering about the
set. "Spiders? Your beetles? No …….. maybe some Pongo’s Perfume
Or that rotten egg gas stuff you made?"
"Right idea – but better! Really revolting!" Rotten egg
– was that some Muggle concoction? I mentally shuddered:
those poor girls had good reason to scream. I glanced at Gwen, who
looking on with obvious enjoyment.
Remus finally shook his head. "All right – I give up."
"I found this really big bucket of smelly fish stuff just inside
shed – you know, old fish heads, scraps, a few worms and all
Norman uses use some of it for bait……."
Sirius was gleeful. "Oh, you should have heard them! They cleared
pretty quick! But she left some clothes ..… one of those silly bra
all the straps ….. " He rolled his eyes and sighed
"Mind you, there was an awful row when I got home of course. Mum
at me like anything, and Norman chased me all over the place and
to hex me. Couldn’t catch me though! And Uncle Isaac and Tony were
mad about losing all the bait." At which point he and Remus
into laughter, Remus eventually choking on some crumbs which
Sirius to pound him on the back with enthusiasm.
Gwen made a muffled noise, then turned away and busied herself
the teapot. Her shoulders were shaking. I waited for their mirth
die down, trying – not very successfully – to keep a straight
I wondered just what Sirius might have done with the girlfriend’s
but it was probably wisest not to ask.
"So you naturally decided that today it would be very – ah –
to visit Remus?" I did admire his sense of self-preservation -
he appreciated the need for what aurors term a "strategic
Though Polruan to Hazelmere was a long flight for a boy his age.
"Yes. I really wanted to come sooner, but it was the full moon
nights ago." He turned to Remus and asked with gentle concern,
you feeling OK now?"
An ordinary, everyday question – have you got over your cold, is
leg better, has your headache gone. But my entire world shifted.
knew. How? When? Remus hasn’t said anything. Gwen’s
vanished: she froze for a second, then looked at me in sudden
I tried to compose myself, keeping what I trusted was a steady
as I turned to face Sirius. I chose my words carefully.
"So you know about Remus," I said softly. "Did he tell you, or
you work it out for yourself?"
Sirius met my eyes steadily, his face suddenly very serious. "We
it out," he said quietly. "James and me. Remus kept telling us all
stories, but they didn’t explain things. Like why he’d suddenly go
tired and moody every few weeks. And why he always came back
so awful when it was his mother or his aunt or his cousin who were
to be sick. And he had all those cuts on his hands and arms, and
bruises he tried to hide." He stopped and glanced sideways at
"He was away so often. When he disappeared again right after he’d
come back from the Easter break we didn’t believe him. We knew he
lying to us, so there had to be something else. We started to
him and do some thinking. And we worked it out, and we asked him –
we told him we knew anyway."
Remus said they were bright, those two.
"Lycanthropy is a very terrible condition Sirius." I kept my
quiet, even, and my eyes held his. "Most people don’t understand
they don’t even want to understand, and they hate and fear those
suffer from it. They say they are monsters, beasts." I paused.
is no cure, there is nothing we can do – nothing at all. We’ve
everything. And Remus IS dangerous as a werewolf, make no mistake
that. He could kill you easily if he gets loose at the full moon,
worse. Do you really understand what all this means? Do you have
idea at all what this does to Remus? What it means to us?"
Across the table Remus said nothing. Though he hadn’t moved, he
to have somehow crumpled inside. He was sitting stiff and silent
an animal caught in a trap, his whole body tense, eyes full of
mute appeal. So this was what had been worrying him! Why hadn’t
thought of that? No wonder he hadn’t said anything.
despite all his assurances of doing better next year, I knew just
afraid Remus would have been, and what he must be thinking. People
– not just Dumbledore and some of the teachers, but fellow
his friends, the boys from his dormitory. Could ever go back to
again? Maybe he
even think of it. What would they say? Would they tell their
What parents would tolerate their sons having anything to do with
werewolf, let alone sharing a dormitory with him.
Perhaps after all this last year would prove to be just
fleeting dream, ending in another bitter rejection.
The long moment of silence was broken when Sirius pushed his
back, and moved to stand behind Remus. He rested his hands on
shoulders and looked across at us.
His voice was firm.
"Remus is my friend. He’s our friend. James and me and
He looked down, swallowed and then went on. "We don’t want to hurt
We’re not going to say anything about it – not to anyone, not even
parents. We tried to make Remus understand ….. we told him it
matter, we’re his friends, we all really like him ……I mean he’s
and he’s clever and we all have good times and we want to help him
His voice trailed off, and I saw his grip tighten on Remus’
Then he looked back at me and continued with determination. "He
talk to us much after we found out and told him we knew. James and
got really worried. We thought he might be scared because we knew
…… well, we got frightened he’d just go home and wouldn’t come
to Hogwarts. We were going to come here together, but then James
to go to Spain, so I told him I’d come and see Remus anyway." His
moved anxiously from me to Gwen, then back to me. "He will come
to school next term, won’t he? Please make him come back. Don’t
him run away."
I have worked in the legal profession for nearly twenty years.
law is made up of words, they are the tools of my trade: the
of a delicate letter, the precision of contract terms, the
of a case in court, the preparation of a complex will. I pride
on my composure, my ability to respond in appropriately measured
and find the correct phrases for the most trying situations. And
somehow I could not find a reply to these simple heartfelt words
a twelve-year-old boy. My mind was a whirling, confused
of thoughts and images.
And then I looked across at Remus. He had twisted in his seat to
up at Sirius, and the expression on his face was one I had never
before. A sort of wild hope and joy, as though a bright flower
inside him had burst into bloom and changed him forever.
Gwen saw it too, and reached over to touch my hand.
She spoke softly. "We wondered what was wrong. Remus has been a
too quiet since he came home. Not that he’s ever really noisy,"
smiled at her son, "just not talking to us about things like he
to. We knew he was worried about something."
Sirius was still looking down at Remus. "You really OK?" he asked
Remus gave the very slightest of nods: I saw Sirius punch him
on the arm, then resume his seat. He spoke brightly, as if
by this sudden display of emotion, and helped himself to a third
of cake. "It’s better now we know -– he doesn’t have to pretend
more. It’ll be much easier. We can give him our notes from the
he misses, make sure we get his assignments, look after him and
that." He grinned reassuringly at Remus. "And make sure we don’t
things round the full moon."
I found I was breathing normally again.
"Do things? Does that include detentions?" asked Gwen, attempting
lighten the mood. We had actually been quite delighted to receive
first owl telling us that Remus had a detention for some prank
stinkweed soap in the girls’ bathrooms. Clearly he was enjoying
at school. I saw the boys exchange furtive glances.
"Well Mum, the professors decide when you actually do the
so you can’t really plan for that." Remus obviously wasn’t quite
how much to admit.
I studied the two of them. Sirius was undoubtedly a born
but I knew Remus would participate with just as much enthusiasm.
his isolation from other children, he had a finely honed, subtle
of humour, and he would need little encouragement to develop its
"practical" applications. And if James was anything like Sirius,
certainly be receiving more Hogwarts owls.
I thought back to my own happy schooldays.
"Well then," I said evenly, "you need to plan things carefully.
best not to get caught at all of course. I always found a good
was extremely helpful. Or a well-timed diversion. You should most
hide all the evidence. And try to at least appear innocent." I
finished my cup of tea while the boys regarded me in complete
Didn’t they think I had once been twelve?
Gwen had risen to put the dirty plates in the sink. She smiled at
over the boys’ heads, nodding slightly at Sirius, and I had no
she anticipated what I was about to do. "Did you tell your mother
were coming here Sirius?" He must have left Polruan very early,
I was a little concerned that Sirius’ family might be worried
him. Though perhaps his mother was used to sudden
"Sort of. I left a note for her – told her I was visiting Remus
I’d be home before dark. I didn’t know if you were on the Floo
which is why I flew here."
"I see. Yes, we’re on the network. Did you tell her where we
"Only that you were near Hazelmere."
"Hmm. Well, you’d better help clean up the table while I write
mother a letter which you can take to her."
The two boys exchanged worried glances. "Why are you writing to
Black? Are you sending Sirius home then?" asked Remus. "Can’t he
here just for today?"
"Of course he can stay today. But if you want him to stay with us
longer," I saw their faces light up, "I must ask permission
And he will need to get some clothes. I doubt if even
T shirts are immune to dirt!"
Sirius shot to his feet, eyes shining, almost quivering with
"You mean I can come and stay here with Remus? Really?"
"You mean it Dad? How long for?" Remus was grinning from ear to
I mentally blessed the cousins. And Norman’s girlfriend. "Well,
see. How long are you supposed to be in Cornwall, Sirius?"
"Only another week – Mum says we have to be back home for a big
at the Ministry in the last week of July. Dad’s bringing home some
"I think I’d better ask if you can stay for at least a fortnight
It might be easier for everyone if you avoided that dinner." I
not to think what a bored young Sirius might come up with to
I was writing a short letter to Mrs Black when something occurred
me. If Norman was there when Sirius arrived and was hell-bent on
our young monkey might find himself in difficulties. And it would
be much easier to explain matters to Mrs Black in person.
"I think I’ll come with you Sirius," I said. "After all, you’re
allowed to use magic in the holidays, so you may need some
if cousin Norman is still around. Where are we going?"
"Right. Come along, the fireplace is in here. You’d better go
I ushered him into the next
- We emerged into a large, comfortably furnished room with wide
that overlooked a sheltered cove. Sirius was already calling for
mother, and almost immediately a pretty dark haired woman
in soft yellow robes appeared in the far doorway.
"Sirius!" Then she saw me.
anything wrong? Has something happened?"
Sirius introduced us, and I swiftly explained the reason for my
Anne Black looked very surprised and extremely relieved. "That’s
kind of you," she said. "But two weeks is a long time – well,
where Sirius is concerned! And after yesterday’s little episode,"
frowned at her son, "well, I am surprised I didn’t have to remove
a few hexes this morning." Clearly Sirius’ early departure had
a wise move.
"Mum, please let me go! Please! Remus and I will have a really
His mother gave him a long penetrating look, then turned back to
"Are you sure you know what you’re doing?" she asked, but I saw
eyes were twinkling a little.
"Very well." She turned to Sirius. "If the Lupins are brave
to put up with you, I think it’s a really excellent idea. Go and
You’d better take everything if you are going for two weeks. And
some clean shirts and underwear for you in the laundry." Sirius
already at the door. "Get the laundry NOW Sirius! or you’ll forget
He disappeared with a joyful whoop and Anne Black gestured me to
seat. I declined tea, and we were chatting pleasantly about
and our respective offspring when an older boy appeared and was
as Norman. He was stocky, with fair hair and a square face, and an
of some self-importance about him.
"Did I hear Sirius just now?" he asked, in a tone that boded no
I did not like the look on his face.
"Yes Norman, and he’s just packing." Anne Black sounded cheerful.
Lupins have kindly invited Sirius to stay with them for two weeks
their son Remus is a friend from Hogwarts." She smiled rather
at him. "I think it’s a very good suggestion, don’t you?"
looked a little mollified, but his glare returned when Sirius
appeared in the doorway with a guitar and suitcase.
"Good riddance!" he growled, and took an angry swipe at the boy’s
"As far as I am concerned you can go permanently!" Sirius evaded
with practised ease – though I noticed he contrived to bang his
very hard into Norman’s legs in the process - and planted himself
"Got everything, dear?" Sirius nodded. "Right then, I’ll say good
Anne gave him a hug, then put a hand on his shoulder and looked
at him sternly. "Sirius, remember you are a guest. Enjoy yourself,
please at least try to avoid getting into too much trouble.
I’m sure you will be sent home again and ….."
Her instructions were interrupted by shrill screams from
The younger cousins I assumed.
"Mum! Help! Oh no – Mum!!"
I heard several small explosions, another boy’s angry voice, more
"Help Mum! – it’s everywhere! It stinks! "
"Mum there are blue beetles all over the place! And there’s
in my bed!"
There was the sound of running footsteps, a woman’s voice, more
Before anyone else could react, I spun round, tossed some powder
the fire, and shoved the culprit and his guitar into the
"GO! LUPIN LODGE! RIGHT NOW!" With a quick shout of "Bye Mum!" he
I took a deep breath, and turned to say good bye to Anne Black in
I hoped was a suitably polite and reassuring manner. "Don’t worry
we’ll look after him!"
seized the suitcase and followed Sirius with what might be
rather unseemly haste.
Two perfectly innocent faces greeted me. However, I said nothing
just sent them upstairs to unpack. About ten minutes later a small
of elephants thundered downstairs again and the back door slammed.
reappeared for lunch, chatting away happily and demolishing
as though unfed for a fortnight.
How strange and wonderful it was to have the kitchen filled
noise and boyish laughter.
soon as the table was cleared they set off across the meadow to
The afternoon passed very peacefully, and when I finished the
I wandered out to join Gwen as she prepared dinner. Roast chicken
it was Remus’ favourite, especially with lots of gravy and Gwen’s
potatoes. And there was a large apple crumble for dessert.
dishes into cupboards with her wand, she happened to glance out
"Ah - Edmund. They’re home." There was a rather strange note in
voice as she pointed towards the back gate.
We stood at the back door and calmly surveyed the twin
who arrived in front of us.
me, Remus is generally neat and tidy, and in fact he can be quite
about some things. He had certainly managed to get less mud in his
than Sirius, but that really wasn’t saying much. They were soaked
the skin, utterly filthy from head to toe, and neither could stop
We listened to a garbled tale about crawling through hedges to
fox cubs playing…. how Sirius had slipped down a steep bank into
stream when they were looking for an imp that was supposed to live
and how this turned into a really great mud slide …. how they’d
further downstream and found an old willow tree with a thick
that stretched out over a deep pool …... so they’d dared each
to climb along it …… and they wanted to go back tomorrow with some
so they could make a swing and jump right out into the deepest
Gwen sighed and muttered under her breath that she’d probably
stronger cleaning spells than those provided by Mrs Beeton
five in the Everyday Book of Useful Household Charms). She
two large towels, ordering the boys to strip completely before
foot in the house, and to leave their boots right outside, thank
I couldn’t help smiling at the two happy faces, though I
suggest that perhaps they could be more suitably attired for
in future. But yes, I thought I had a good length of rope they
use tomorrow. Gwen
the clothes to the laundry and marched the explorers off to the
I wondered about our supply of soap.
Dinner was most enjoyable, and the boys had seconds of
Jokes flew back and forth and our conversation ranged far
wide. I began to realise that beneath all the mischief and high
there was far more to young Sirius than most would suspect: we had
a glimpse of it earlier in the day when he spoke about Remus. He
a lively intelligence and was keenly interested in astronomy,
and mythology (wizard and Muggle). He was fascinated by Muggle
and science, which explained the chemistry kit. He played piano as
as guitar ("though not very well yet, Mrs Lupin"). He loved
and wished his parents would let him have a dog – and he really
a hippogriff when he grew up.
Like Remus, he enjoyed reading, though their tastes differed
Tales of adventure and exploration were Sirius’ preferred choice –
from wizard classics such as "Phoenix Mountain",
over Africa" and "Hunt for the Red Dragon" (his
to Muggle books such as "Treasure Island", "Huckleberry
and "Swallows and Amazons". I remembered them all from my
childhood. But he hadn’t discovered Kipling yet, one of my
Muggle authors - I promised I would lend him "Kim". Though
did find myself wondering whether a further introduction to the
of Stalky, Beetle and M’Turk would be in Hogwarts’ best interests
The day’s activities had taken their toll, and though they played
few games of cards after dinner, neither boy objected when Gwen
an early night. We went up to say good night, and I watched as
hugged Sirius too. "I’m so glad you came to stay with us, dear,"
said softly to him, "I know you and Remus will have a wonderful
After she left I sat on the bed beside Sirius, thinking over the
events. It was Remus’
that I remembered most vividly - his surprise and happiness at
Sirius, his delight when I suggested that he should stay, how he
smiled and laughed and had so much fun.
But perhaps most of all, that look of utter joy when he
that Sirius really cared for him, that this was someone who knew
for what he was and accepted him. A friend.
- I looked across at Remus, already half asleep, then turned
- "True friends are very special people Sirius," I said at last,
out and ruffling his rumpled black hair. "I’m glad we rescued
from those girls. Sleep tight – and tomorrow I’ll show you the
knot to use for that swing."
"Good night Mr Lupin." He really had a beautiful smile.
"Good night Sirius."
I extinguished the light and went down the hall to our bedroom.
came and put her arms round me. We kissed gently and stood quietly
for several minutes. It was a long time since we had both felt so
"How long did you say he was staying?" she murmured finally.
Blessed woman! She leant back and burst out laughing.