Chapter 1. Supper with Albus.
Easter was late that year, and I had just spent a few precious
with my sister Julie in the Lake District, enjoying the beautiful
glowing in its spring clothing of soft greens and brilliant golden
Julie and I saw each other all too little, she always on the move
her busy Ministry job, me at Hogwarts coping with all the ills and
which students (and staff) can suffer. Regular correspondence
is no substitute for a good long chat.
Minerva McGonagall greeted me on my return that Monday afternoon.
has asked us to supper with him this evening, Poppy. He says he
an interesting problem he’d like to discuss." We smiled at each
– an "interesting problem" in Albus Dumbledore’s terms could mean
from a simple outbreak of blue spot fever to removing a horde of
dragons from the school grounds. Though of course Minerva would be
use to him there.
Dear Albus! I thought as I unpacked my things. He was nearly
my age of course, but we had developed an affectionate friendship
apart from our mutual professional respect. Old Headmaster Dippett
retired barely two years earlier, and naturally no-one was in the
surprised when Albus was appointed to take his place. I wondered
sort of problem he had which required attention from both Minerva
me: I sincerely hoped it was not an outbreak of some highly
illness which meant contacting numerous parents.
Minerva McGonagall: now there was an interesting person. We’d
each other slightly at school, though she was two years younger
had been in Gryffindor whereas I had been in Hufflepuff. But our
were very different after we left school. I had studied healing
the associated arts, travelled widely, married and raised a family
she had pursued a more solitary academic career. She’d studied and
at several notable research institutes, published articles, and
an enviable professional status. She’d come back to Hogwarts about
years earlier, proving to be an excellent teacher though a strict
The previous year she had been appointed as the Deputy Head, and
out her extra duties with all the competence that one had come to
from her. I was probably one of the few people in whom she ever
and who saw her other side – the very dry sense of humour, her
of French art and porcelain and her enjoyment of hiking.
As requested, we joined Albus in his sitting room, which was
with an eccentric assortment of mismatched items that somehow
its owner. Minerva chose the big yellow squashy armchair, while I
the comfortable old rocker that Albus had once assured me came
his great uncle. Supper appeared on the low table in front of us,
after we had helped ourselves he settled back in his favourite
chair, blue eyes twinkling at us as he sipped his tea.
"I am pleased to see you both looking so well after your short
he beamed. "Much as I enjoy them all, an absence of students is
Minerva murmured assent but said nothing. We both wondered what
coming. Albus often approached problems from oblique angles,
startling those who were not used to his sudden leaps from one
to another. But this time he got straight to the point.
"We are going to have a most unusual student next term," he said
"A very interesting matter for us to deal with." He regarded us
over his spectacles.
It was only April: the new students were not due until September.
sort of student could require some four months’ preparation?
"His name is Remus Lupin," said Albus. "Possibly you may remember
parents – Edmund Lupin and Gwendellyn Owens. I think they were a
years behind you Minerva – he was a Gryffindor and she was in
"I remember Edmund," she replied. I shook my head: I couldn’t
either of them.
Albus nodded. "They married after he finished his legal studies
only have the one child. I understand poor Gwendellyn had several
and thought she may never have children, so they were overjoyed
young Remus arrived."
"And what is so special about the boy?" asked Minerva. "Is he a
"Not in the way you mean," said Albus quietly. He set his cup
and regarded us with a strangely serious expression.
"Minerva, Poppy, of all people I am going to need your help in
matter." He paused. "Remus Lupin is a werewolf."
I froze. I heard a stifled exclamation from Minerva. A werewolf.
monster. A dark creature, a student here at Hogwarts? With
of other students and staff. No-one would be safe. What on earth
Albus thinking? My thoughts raced ahead, but thankfully I held my
There had to be more. And after another grave look at us, Albus
"It is a most tragic situation. Remus was bitten when he was only
by a man who himself had only recently become cursed in this way
who had not yet managed to arrange the appropriate controls." He
sadly. "Edmund says Remus had been playing down near the pond at
end of their field. He’d gone to bed but then remembered he’d left
of his favourite toys outside. When it started to rain he crept
and went down to get it. The wolf appeared out of nowhere and
him. The Ministry soon caught up with the poor man of course, but
Remus was badly hurt. And of course he will now be a werewolf for
rest of his life."
Five years old – just a child. A little boy out rescuing his toy.
thought of my daughter Amethyst at a similar age, how she had
on in tears one night when her precious blue stuffed rabbit had
left outside and it started to snow heavily. She’d run outside in
bare feet, crying that poor Jimmy would freeze to death: Stephen
I had bundled her back inside, then spent half an hour searching
garden for the toy, only to find it safe and dry (and miraculously
in the kennel with our dog.
And his parents. Despite all my fears I suddenly found myself
what it was like for them. What on earth did you do if a werewolf
your child? How did you feel? What could you do, where did you go?
could you help your child? We’d all heard tales of families who
abandoned children who’d been bitten by werewolves or vampires.
would I have done if one of my children had been bitten? Jasper or
or Amethyst - could Stephen and I have treated any of them as a
Wouldn’t we still have loved them just as dearly? And Remus was
Lupins’ only child ... those poor, poor people. I realised that
was already answering some of my confused and unspoken
"The Lupins have been everywhere, tried everything of course.
has contacts here and on the Continent, and Gwendellyn knows many
and apothecaries through her own work. They came to me quite early
the piece, and I have also tried to help them, put them in touch
experts here and overseas. But alas, no-one has yet found a cure,
even anything to assist them."
"Nothing in the Ministry?" asked Minerva. "Don’t they have some
of Support Unit?"
I snorted in disgust. "I doubt they’d be much use Minerva! That
section of the Ministry is unhelpful at the best of times – they’d
no use whatsoever on this. They’d probably give you reams of
to fill out, then wash their hands and leave it up to the
I’d had far too many dealings with those bureaucrats when Amethyst
to pursue her specialised studies of exotic creatures.
"Right as usual, Poppy," said Albus with a chuckle. "Fortunately
Lupins are a very sensible couple and love Remus dearly. They’ve
extremely well in fact. They’ve had to move home numerous times
Remus often needs expert healing after his transformations.
the local healers soon become aware of what is causing the
and refuse to treat him or have anything to do with him. Worse,
of them have gone and told their local community and the Lupins
virtually been driven out."
"They refuse to help an injured child? What sort of a healer
do that?" I later realised how strange it was, that you can be so
of fear and loathing of the monster, and yet at the same time pity
child who becomes that monster. Somehow we see the two as separate
not two halves of the same whole.
"Those who are blinded by their prejudices." Albus’ words struck
and I felt a swift surge of shame for my own initial reaction. "We
know them as ‘beasts’ not ‘beings’ – and yet I have met wizards
are more beastly than any werewolf. And probably less deserving of
pity." He looked strangely sad.
"They’ve lived in Devon for a year or so now," he went on after a
moments’ silence. "They found a local healer who is discreet and
to help them. I believe that Gwendellyn is now growing herbs and
for her to use in her practice – she was always excellent at
Edmund works in Exeter, so it seems they may now have found a
"And they want Remus to come to Hogwarts," Minerva said
"Yes. They’re desperate for him to have a proper education. They
that only if he develops the proper skills for our community will
have any chance of a normal life. And though both are undoubtedly
of teaching him most adequately, they are also worried that Remus
so very isolated. They’d like him to meet people, live with
have fun and make friends like any normal boy."
"But he is not a ‘normal’ boy," I responded.
"No, he is certainly not. But what is ‘normal’ Poppy? There are
who are insane who spend their lives in St Mungo’s, not even
who they are. They’re not ‘normal’. Even so, we never consider
as ‘beasts’, and we treat them with all the compassion and care
they deserve." Albus’ eyes flashed suddenly. "But a little boy
bitten by a werewolf, and suddenly he is a thought of as a
and not a person. And a dark creature at that. Yet for all but one
every month, he could pass for any other boy in our community. If
stood Remus Lupin in line with a whole lot of other boys his age,
anyone be able to tell that he was a werewolf? I think not."
Albus rose and wandered over to the window, then returned to his
and regarded us. "I have always felt ashamed that we treat them
this. It is wrong and cruel. These people suffer a terrible curse,
we treat them as though they are somehow to blame. We throw them
despise them, shun them, tell them they are not welcome, prevent
holding many jobs, teach our children to fear them. Do you wonder
so many of them turn to the darker forces in our world? I
wonder if perhaps we create our own monsters!"
I had seldom heard Albus so passionate, almost angry even. He was
a great champion of the underdog.
My eyes met his steadily. "So you are not just concerned with one
boy. You want to use young Remus Lupin to prove to the wizarding
that our treatment of werewolves is wrong. Are you taking up a
He smiled at me. "I do not want to "use" Remus at all, Poppy," he
gently. "Or to make him into some sort of cause. But I made it
when I took on this position that I will never turn away any child
wants an education, that everyone is welcome here at Hogwarts. I
Remus Lupin to come to us and be welcome, to have the opportunity
Hogwarts provides, and a chance to live as normal a life as
And if by doing so we can quietly show that werewolves are simply
people who suffer a terrifying illness, then maybe other
like Remus will also, in time, get a similar chance."
There was silence for several minutes. I heard a soft shuffling
realised Fawkes had woken on his perch. His tail shimmered deep
and gold in the soft candlelight.
Minerva broke the silence. "Have you met him – Remus I mean?" She
very thoughtful and was obviously weighing up the situation.
"Yes, I met him a few months ago after the Lupins first
me about him coming to Hogwarts. I wanted to make an assessment,
how I thought he might fit in."
"What’s he like?" I was as interested as Minerva.
"A quiet child, very well mannered. Extremely shy though – Edmund
he doesn’t have any friends. He’s been largely educated at home of
though I understand there have been periods when he has gone to
schools. But they’ve moved so frequently that regular attendance
impossible, and his monthly absences are a little difficult to
Albus leant forward to help himself to another slice of lemon
cake, a dusting of icing sugar soon clinging to his beard.
"I talked to him for a while and he seems to be highly
and sensible." He paused. "And very lonely I think."
I glanced at Minerva, who was stirring her tea thoughtfully. Of
he’d be lonely, poor thing. What a life he must be leading. What
of life could he look forward to? Even the Ministry couldn’t
whether werewolves were "beasts" or "beings", though our community
treated them as the former. They even had to be registered with
Ministry. I found myself thinking of all I ever learnt about
I realised I knew very little: their care and treatment was hardly
to be a standard topic in medical textbooks after all. You were
likely to find material in Defence or Dark Arts books. All sorts
questions came racing to mind – how did you look after them? What
their transformations like? How long did they take? What effects
they have? What would I have to do if he came here? How badly
he be hurt? What would I need to do to help him? Did he turn into
fully-grown werewolf or was he only a cub until he reached
How long do werewolves live?
I realised with a start that both Albus and Minerva were looking
me. "I don’t think they’re any different to ordinary little boys,
said Albus gently, reading my mind with uncanny accuracy. "They
they cry, they bleed, they feel pain, they get frightened. They
need a hug now and then." That man! He knew me all too well, I
Minerva gave a great sigh, took another sip of tea and regarded
Headmaster. "Albus, I am desperately sorry for the Lupins. It must
heartbreaking for them. But how exactly do you propose that we
him here to Hogwarts?" Ever the practical one, our Minerva.
"I have already made some arrangements," he replied, and she
relieved. "He will certainly need to be safely isolated during
moons, and of course we need to make very sure that no-one can
get access to him whilst he is, ah, dangerous. And he will
need medical attention afterwards, Poppy. Gwendellyn says that he
hurts himself quite badly." Werewolf rages, I remembered.
he would only have himself to hurt. How bad could that be …?
"It is much too risky to have him secured on the school grounds,"
went on. "So I’ve acquired that small shack outside Hogsmeade. I’m
a bit to it and making it completely secure, so he cannot possibly
out – and no-one can get in. It is indeed fortunate that there
been occasional suggestions that there is a ghost there. I intend
foster the idea that it is haunted – possibly I shall hint that I
… ah …. "relocating" a couple of meddlesome ghosts from the
He looked highly amused at the prospect.
"And how does he get there Albus?" Minerva pursued the issue
"We’re hardly likely to walk him openly through Hogsmeade every
moon you know! And if he needs medical attention afterwards - just
do you propose to arrange that?"
"We need some sort of hidden entrance," I found myself saying.
that only a few of us know about, that is safe but quick and easy
use. For Remus especially."
Albus beamed at me. "Precisely, Poppy my dear! And I have just
thing – a Whomping Willow! I have arranged for some dwarves from
and Dell Constructions to come during the summer and dig a tunnel
the school grounds right out to the shack, and we will plant the
over the top to hide the entrance. I doubt any of our students
get beyond that!"
"Just as long as Remus can get in, Albus!" I replied dryly.
Minerva’s mind had turned in other directions. "Albus, do you
to tell the other staff? And what are you going to tell the
"I’m afraid that this is one issue I have not yet decided on. I
do not intend to tell the students – but whether or not we tell
the staff is something we need to consider most carefully. I
to tell Filius Flitwick – I’m going to ask for his assistance with
security charms on the shack. But as for the others – well, I’d
your thoughts, both of you."
Minerva frowned. "His Head of House should know, certainly. But
won’t know that until he is Sorted. If he’s in Ravenclaw, Filius
already know. Ivy Sprout will be no problem with Hufflepuff I
say, but what if he’s in Slytherin? How do you think Professor
would react? He even teaches Defence, Albus!"
"I am confident that Bernard would treat the information in the
confidence, and that it would not make any difference to his
of young Lupin. Though I must admit that I rather hope he will not
Sorted into Slytherin: there are certain boys there who, I’m
have some most dubious associations." We all knew whom he meant.
"So you don’t really think all staff should be informed?" I had
own reservations about several of our Professors.
"Absolutely not. I think the fewer who know about young Remus the
Minerva was quite emphatic. "I have always tried to be impartial
my teaching, and not unduly favour – or indeed prejudice –
from one House over another. Even students whom I particularly
I smiled inwardly: Minerva was a very loyal Gryffindor, though she
indeed known for her fairness. "But if everyone knew about the
I cannot believe that they would all be similarly inclined. And no
how much you swear them to silence Albus, I’m afraid that one of
would let something slip one day, especially if he did something
It is very easy to lose one’s temper and become indiscreet in such
"What say you, Poppy?"
I didn’t answer immediately, studying the intricate pattern in
old Persian carpet beneath me. Albus was taking a great risk in
Remus Lupin at Hogwarts. On the one hand, it was only right that
staff should at least be informed, so that they could take any
precautions. But then – what precautions would they need to take
all? If Remus was smuggled to the safe house each month and
secure there, what harm could he do to anyone? As long as he was
and Albus, Minerva and I ensured he followed the proper
would it really affect anyone else? And Minerva certainly had a
about the attitude of certain staff. I was under no illusions
the extent of prejudice he would face. The boy would probably find
difficult enough as it was – why make it any more difficult than
needed to be? And if Albus wanted him to be a "normal" boy, then
should surely start off on the same footing as every ot her
his reputation in the school would then be a matter for him to
through his own conduct. I looked up.
" I agree with Minerva," I said slowly. "The three of us, Filius,
then the Head of his House, whoever that may be. Fortunately," I
slightly "there’s a good chance he will be in Ravenclaw or
And we most certainly do not tell the students!" I could imagine
panic, the owls home, the fuss, the articles in the papers,
officials descending on Hogwarts ....
"Some of them might work it out for themselves you know, " said
"I’d like to know what he intends to tell the boys in his
"Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it," said Albus
"And as far as the other staff go, I suggest that if anyone
his regular absences, I shall simply tell them that Remus has a
illness which requires regular treatment, and that sometimes he
to go to a Muggle hospital. I believe that will explain matters
especially if anyone notices he is not in sickbay one night when
is supposed to be ill."
We looked at each other for a long moment, then Albus waved his
and a small tray bearing a purple bottle and three glasses
at his side. He beamed at us both as he poured out the deep golden
and handed us each a glass.
"Well ladies. To our most unusual student – may he enjoy his time
I sipped my drink slowly, savouring the flavours. Next term would
be "interesting" – and tomorrow I would go to the library and find