There was plenty of material about lycanthropy in the library, I
but as I had suspected, most of it was in books generally used in
Against the Dark Arts. Or even in old Dark Arts texts themselves,
secured on the highly restricted shelves. “Caring” for a werewolf?
it appeared there was no such thing. It seemed that wizards were
concerned with finding them and killing them. As often and as
as possible. There was plenty of information about their general
and the means to identify them (though much of that seemed to be
superstition than any reasoned analysis, I considered, weighing up
material critically) and there were of course volumes containing
tales of “encounters” with werewolves.
I’d bought a new large book in which to record my findings and my
notes once Remus arrived. But though I read steadily in my spare
over the next two months, at term’s end the sum total of what I
“useful” research was barely more than half a dozen pages.
Three days after the students and staff had left for the summer,
dwarves moved in and began digging. Albus joined me in the grounds
I watched the first loads of earth being moved for the tunnel – he
decided to build a new walled garden area near the eastern wing,
would nicely get rid of the excavated material.
“Poppy,” he said as we stood watching them, “I gather your
has shown up very little.” His eyes were twinkling at me - he was
well-informed. “Would you like to meet the Lupins before Remus
“I think that would be a very good start!” I replied fervently.
I have absolutely no idea what I am going to be dealing with. I
excellent experience in removing hexes and curses, administering
after spilt potions and restoring hair and teeth. I can apply
for pimples, give draughts for colds and fevers, mend broken bones
heal cuts and stings …. all that and more. But what am I going to
to do for a werewolf? Or should that be a were-cub?” I added - I
found anything to enlighten me on that particular aspect.
“Did you know,” I went on with some feeling, “that despite all
stories we hear, I have only been able to find properly documented
of four cases of childhood lycanthropy in the last two hundred
Of those, one child was injured so badly in the actual attack that
died only two days later. Another was killed by his parents.” I
at that. “And the other two – well, they and their entire families
driven out and subsequently killed by local villagers. There must
been others, I assume, but I have found nothing other than the
allegations, rumours and fourth-hand reports. None of which shed
light on our problem!”
He chuckled. “Poppy, Poppy, I can assure you that there will be
you cannot cope with! This is why I suggest you meet the Lupins,
Gwendellyn – they can probably answer most of your questions.”
Well, that was something. There was a full moon four days before
started, so Albus suggested I should meet the Lupins in London the
before that, when they brought Remus up to get his school things.
were made, and I left for my own holidays somewhat happier.
I met the Lupins in front of Gringotts at nine o’clock. Edmund
was a tall, fine-looking man of medium build with blue eyes, neat
hair and thin gold-rimmed glasses. He introduced his wife Gwen:
my height, she was slender and very pretty with brown hair, wide
eyes and delicate features. And then there was Remus.
I’d wondered if I would feel awkward meeting him – the idea of
hands with a werewolf was still oddly disconcerting – but when I
him my reservations vanished instantly and I held out my hand with
smile. “Hello Remus. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Good morning, Madam Pomfrey. It’s very kind of you to come
He returned my greeting softly and shook my hand, gravely polite
a strangely old-fashioned way. I found we were both studying each
He was slightly built, thin really, and a little small for his
wearing simple blue robes. He mostly resembled his mother – the
hair, the same pale skin and delicate features. And his eyes -
eyes, I realised with surprise: a deep blue/grey, almost slate
they seemed large in his little face, with the faintest of shadows
Intelligent eyes, which were somehow very knowing, yet sad. There
that indescribable look you find in children who have been very
or who have seen things no child should ever see. Those eyes
me solemnly as he stood almost motionless next to his father.
“I’m glad we could meet, Remus. I’m sure you’re looking forward
coming to Hogwarts – it’s a wonderful school.”
He seemed slightly startled at my response: the idea that someone
actually want to meet him was obviously a little strange. Mrs
glanced between us, then at her husband.
“Edmund, Remus, why don’t you two go off to do your shopping
it gets crowded. Madam Pomfrey and I will sit down somewhere and
a talk, and we can meet up later. What about at Florean
at eleven – I’m sure you’ll be ready for chocolate ice-cream by
He smiled at that and we parted company. I took Mrs Lupin to
House, where the Ancient Order of Surgeons and Apothecaries had
offices. The building has always been a rabbit-warren, but it is
with numerous small meeting rooms which I had often made use of
in London. I secured a small pleasant room at the back,
several large plane trees - a good private place to have a talk.
ordered a pot of tea and some biscuits, settled into armchairs
the window, and sat there quietly assessing each other.
Mrs Lupin broke the silence. “Madam Pomfrey, I’m so glad we could
– but I hardly know where to start. All this …” she smiled a
wistfully, “well, I guess we both hoped for a miracle, but I
we never really expected Remus to be able to go to Hogwarts. I’m
really sure what you need.”
“Well, as you can imagine Mrs Lupin, I have never been faced with
sort of situation before. I know almost nothing of lycanthropy -
is not something I have ever had to deal with. So, please tell me
young Remus. And yourselves.”
I’ve met a lot of parents over the years. Fussy ones, anxious
ones who are furious that somehow the school did not prevent their
darlings from getting a broken arm or being subjected to a
hex. Some are very easy-going, whilst others overwhelm you with
concern and long lists of instructions. But even on such brief
Gwendellyn Lupin did not strike me as any of those. Despite her
hesitation, she somehow had an air of calm practicality and common
that I found very reassuring.
“Almost anything will be of use,” I went on. “I can identify a
werewolf at fifty paces, I certainly know how to kill one, but my
so far has yielded very little which would seem to be of much
use in actually helping your son at school!”
To my surprise she burst out laughing. “That’s exactly what we
too!” She shook her head ruefully, and then went on more soberly.
know, anyone can tell you how to identify and kill a werewolf.
can tell you all about how “it” needs to be registered with the
what sort of jobs “it” is not allowed to hold, what sort of
on travel there are, all those sort of things. But the idea that
would want to help a werewolf seems to be beyond them. Despite
they call their ‘Werewolf Support Unit’.”
“Do you know,” her eyes blazed suddenly, “we went to a physician
few months after Remus was bitten, and he suggested that it might
“easier” if we simply had Ministry experts put him down! Like some
of mad dog!” She snorted. “I slapped him across his fat, smug,
face of course. Lucky I didn’t turn him into a slug! Or worse.
Edmund was quite shocked at my behaviour!” She gave a swift
“I’d have done much the same, I think!” I responded. “Only it
would have been something worse than a slug!”
She smiled briefly again, sipped her tea slowly and went on. “I
it’s only to be understood. I mean, any family with a werewolf
to keep it very, very quiet, so they’re not likely to write great
on what do, even anonymously. So we’ve really just had to find
out for ourselves. Like how to care for Remus before and after his
how it affects him on days other than the full moon, what sort of
and medicine will help him, how to heal injuries. How to suddenly
your boy is regarded as a monster and a dark creature.” Her tone
altered at the last sentence, but I saw the sadness in her eyes,
way she twisted slowly at her wedding ring. I couldn’t think of
“The physical effects are dreadful of course,” she continued. “I
think anything prepares you for those. The first full moon after
was bitten, we didn’t really know what to do, what to tell him. He
something was wrong of course – he’d been feeling it all week –
he was only five. And he couldn’t really tell us what he felt, and
didn’t properly understand things ourselves yet. We just knew we
to lock him up that night and keep him safely away ... How do you
that to a five-year-old? We tried our best, but … well, I think at
stage all he really understood was that something terrible was
to happen to him, and he sensed we were upset, and of course he
“Anyway, Edmund had built a shed which we made as strong as
and we knew we’d have to put silencing charms on it. But when we
to lock Remus in there …”
She stopped briefly, studied her cup of tea. “He was shivering
crying so dreadfully when we shut him in, he was so terrified. I
want to leave him, nearly shut myself in there, just to hold him
be with him. Edmund pulled me away of course … and we shut that
door … and he put the silencing charms on … and then we just
and waited … and we cried … and we sat out there that whole night,
there in the garden and watched that door and that shed and the
It was only at these last words that her voice shook a little:
paused again briefly before resuming in her previous even tone.
the moon set, we waited a while – we didn’t know how long before
changed back. After half an hour or so we thought it must be safe,
we opened the door and found him. He was just lying there with his
shut, whimpering … there was so much blood … he’d ripped himself
over, clawed himself and bitten and scratched ... his nails were
torn and bloody … and he’d been sick too ... We just ... well, we
picked him up and took him inside. I sat there with him in my arms
Edmund washed him and we tried to heal the worst injuries. And he
awake properly by then and he was crying softly in pain and
at us and he was so confused … we were trying not to cry, to be
and reassuring, but we were both so scared. I gave him a sleeping
and something for the pain, and he drank a small cup of milk … we
ointment on all his wounds and we bandaged him and then we put him
bed and let him sleep. He had so many cuts we couldn’t even put
pyjamas on him, we could only pull the sheet up over him.”
“One of the cuts on his leg was very deep and I thought we needed
proper healer, so I stayed with him while Edmund went to get her.
told her some story about being attacked by a dog … don’t know if
believed us or not ….. anyway, she came and healed him and he
the rest of the day. And after a couple of days he was better.
he’d healed physically, that is. And then we went through it all a
later. And again, and again.”
I’d nursed children for years and seen all sorts of injuries and
Patients, parents and families cope with sickness, grief and death
so many different ways, and I’d seen some tragic situations with
young children. They were usually the worst. Yet I somehow
even begin to imagine what Gwen and Edmund Lupin had gone through,
still going through, every month. What I would have to face next
My insides felt sick and twisted as her quietly spoken words
images in my mind.
Mrs Lupin must have seen this in my face, because she reached out
touched my hand gently. “You know,” she said, “the second time,
I saw all the scratches he’d made and how he’d torn himself about
well, it sounds so stupid, but I had this sudden wish that I could
clip a werewolf’s claws like you do a dog! “ Incredibly, she
“We’d put Remus to bed and he was asleep. And I sat there in the
and started laughing like anything, at the idea that you could
trim the claws on a werewolf! And that maybe I should be filing
his teeth. I just laughed and laughed – Edmund later said he
I’d cracked completely. But when I told him, he saw the funny side
it too, and he laughed. Remus never laughs about it all of course,
we never, ever laugh about it in his hearing. But somehow, if
and I hadn’t been able to keep our sense of humour about
generally … well, I think we’d have gone mad.”
“It is said that there is a very fine line between laughter and
I replied softly. “Tell me – how does Remus manage?”
“Better than anyone could expect, I think,” she said. “He’s an
boy - and no, that’s not mere motherly pride! – he really is. He
reading at an early age, and he’s always been so quick and bright,
questions, wanting to know things, wanting explanations. When he
little he was such a happy boy, always laughing and running
into everything, happy to meet people. After the bite all that
of course – he became very quiet and withdrawn, and we were very
about him for a while. But he wanted to know what was happening
“We tried to explain, in terms he’d understand. But then one
– I think it was just before his sixth birthday - we heard
downstairs in Edmund’s study, and we came down and there was
sitting up with a great big book about Dark creatures, and he was
“After that, we had no choice. We sat down and read things
with him, tried to talk about it with him, make him understand
whatever happened, we’d be there for him and that we loved him. He
never be a monster to us – it didn’t matter how bad things got, he
our Remus. But he knows what other people think of him when they
out – the Headmaster’s probably told you we’ve had to move several
because of it. So he’s very wary and fearful: he doesn’t really
people any more. I sometimes feel it’s like he’s built a wall
himself and forgotten to put in a gate – you have to somehow find
way in, because he won’t come out from behind it.”
“And I think he somehow blames himself for everything that’s
Which is stupid of course, but he does. Edmund and I somehow felt
guilty about it all for a long time, blamed ourselves even more,
though there was nothing we could have done, no way we could have
this. Remus going all the way down there to the edge of the pond
a wet night to rescue a toy – I mean, it was all just so ... so …
it’s happened, so there’s no point in going over it, is there.”
gave a rueful smile.
“Have you read any books on what Muggles call “psychology”?” Her
of direction surprised me. Yes, I replied, I’d read some when I
studying healing. Sometimes the power to heal lies very much in
minds, in what we want to do. I’ve always been interested in that
Mrs Lupin nodded. “I read them too. We read everything we could,
fact. About lycanthropy and how it was treated in both the wizard
Muggle worlds. And about how we could help Remus cope. How we
“manage”. There’s plenty of good advice of course, about how to
children about death, and illness, and terrible things that
But we never found anything that told us how to explain all this
Remus – I mean, how do you tell any child that once a month they
going to become a raving monster that has to be locked away
they’re dangerous, and they won’t remember anything? And that
is nothing we can do to help them.”
“So we just somehow muddled through and did our best, even when
the only thing we could do was sit down and hold him. He had
nightmares, too - still has them sometimes. When he was little I
to sit beside him and sing to him till he went back to sleep. I
go in and sit with him, you know – if he wants me. He …”
She stopped very suddenly, and looked deeply embarrassed. “I’m
sorry Madam Pomfrey! Please forgive me! I’ve been sitting here,
and raving on about things all over the place. I don’t know what
must think of me!” She fell silent and sat there, staring at her
and turning the empty teacup around and around.
I didn’t think she had been raving at all, and said so. She
amazingly sane and rational, incredibly composed. And I wondered
how long it was since she had been able to talk freely to anyone
what she and her husband were going through. Did she have any
family, I wondered? Any friends she could talk to?
At last she placed the cup back on its saucer and looked up.
anyway we didn’t know what you’d need, so Edmund and I prepared
for you – maybe it will help.” She reached into her bag and handed
a small blue notebook. I found it was neatly written and carefully
and filled with notes under a variety of headings. There were even
for herbal and other teas. I skimmed through the contents,
at some of the detail.
“This is amazing,” I assured her. “I had no idea you would go to
this trouble, Mrs Lupin. I’m most grateful, this will be an
help to me.”
“Please call me Gwen,” she said with a smile. “I feel I’ve told
half my life, and here, I’ve only just met you!”
“Only if you will call me Poppy,” I found myself replying. And I
it. This was a remarkable woman; one I hoped I would get to know.
I try to keep my relations with parents on an amicable but
basis, but this was a very different case. Any ideas of formality
we ordered a new pot of tea and found ourselves chatting as though
had known each other for years. The time flew, and we suddenly
that we were well overdue for our ice-cream appointment.
Edmund and Remus were seated under a large umbrella, Edmund
a cool drink. Remus was already tucking into a huge chocolate
concoction, covered with a multi-coloured sauce, a large dollop of
and layers of chocolate and honeycomb pieces.
“Remus!” exclaimed Gwen in mock horror.
“We decided to order when you were late,” laughed Edmund. “Remus
he was starving! And we’ve certainly done some shopping.” He
to the surrounding packages and bags.
“So I see!” said Gwen. Remus had paused for a moment to greet us,
then resumed his attack on the dish in front of him.
“Did you get everything then, dear?” Gwen asked her husband.
“No,” he replied. “We still need a potions cauldron, and the
but I thought it best to leave those till last so we don’t have to
them round all day. We got all the books though, and new quills
ink, and his new robes. And, of course, his wand!” Remus made no
but looked quietly happy about his day so far.
We chatted some more as we ate our ice cream: Remus even managed
second (smaller) helping. After he licked the spoon for the final
Edmund handed him some money. “You go in and pay for it all now.
you can buy one large carton of ice-cream to take home – ask them
put a good freezing charm on it – and you choose the flavour.”
disappeared with alacrity.
“No prizes for guessing what flavour he gets,” chuckled Gwen.
Poppy, that boy will eat anything chocolate, anytime, anywhere! I
to think what he’ll buy when he is eventually allowed into
Remus reappeared with a large bag. We stood up, Gwen and Edmund
the other shopping between them. I said my good-byes, then turned
“Remus,” I said quietly. “I’ll see you when you get to Hogwarts.
told your mother what we’ve arranged, and when you get there I’ll
you. Come and see me after classes one afternoon in the first week
not the first day, as that’s always very busy at start of term.
any afternoon after that. And remember,” I smiled at him gently,
can always come to me about anything, any time you need me. I’ll
try to help you. And I’ll always listen.”
He stared at me gravely, his eyes meeting mine as if searching
something. Then he held out his hand and solemnly shook mine
“Thank you Madam Pomfrey,” he said.
I watched the family as they headed into the crowds down Diagon
Remus striding along at his father’s side, swinging the bag with
ice-cream carton. I saw Edmund reach out and put an arm round his
shoulders, and then they disappeared from sight.