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Playing at War by Keira7794
Chapter 6: The First Full Moon
It was tense. Thelma was scraping the charcoal remains off the cooking sticks with more vigour then usual. Cleaning the long wooden sticks that hung over the communal fire pit was normally a job reserved for those who hadn’t earned their place in the hierarchy; adolescents that were beginning to come into their own and newcomers that weren’t trusted with more important tasks.
The sound of the blunt knife hacking away at the charcoal echoed around the unusually silent camp. Thelma gained many stares, oddly most were in jealousy. Thelma wasn’t a young teenager, nor was she a newcomer – Thelma had been part of the pack for as long as Remus could remember. Originally, it wasn’t clear to me why a high-placed female was scraping the charcoal, nor why the rest of the pack was jealous of the menial task she was performing.
Yet, as the sky began to darken and the wind roared between the treetops as it picked up speed, everything began to make more sense. Thelma remained where she was, leaning against one of the large rocks, her blunt knife making rhythmic scrapes against the wood. The others were squirming and watching the sky with a sense of familiar dread. The young ones, the children, were whimpering and I could feel Charlene physically shaking against my side, her face hidden behind her two small hands.
The older members of the pack were walking restlessly around the hidden camp, searching for something to do, their eyes occasionally drifting to Thelma who was fully focused on her task at hand. Some of the others were digging small holes in the ground and placing their single possessions lovely within it, before being full covered by bits of dirt.
Remus was watching the sky with a stony expression – so similar to a man awaiting an old friend after a long dispute. His shoulders were tense and his hands were balled in a fist, his wand held tightly within. As I watched him, I began to notice a few more grey streaks and the line between his eyes seemed to have deepened slightly.
Yet, my eyes seemed to be forcibly pulled away from Remus and towards the direction of the house. Fenrir stood on the old porch, his hands placed on the rail as he surveyed his pack. Rancook and McQuire stood either side of him; their arms crossed over their chests and the resemblance to old-fashioned henchmen was uncanny. Greyback’s cloak fluttered in the wind; he’d just returned from a meeting with the Death Eaters. He turned his head into my direction and I immediately averted my gaze.
He was looking at me. Remus was watching me take in the scene. I caught his eye and he nodded slowly. Remus had never tried to get close to the pack and we were both very aware that if anyone saw us communicating then suspicions would be raised. His eyes drifted to a large pebble resting against one of the logs, it was the key to my survival tonight.
From our rushed words when we’d both volunteered to collect some water, a plan had been formed. On the day of a full moon Fenrir had made it compulsory for those werewolves who had gained the right to carry a wand at the camp to publically bury them in the ground. It was a sign of respect – of turning their backs on the wizarding community. Remus told me the idea was to spread the ideology amongst the pack that the ‘wand-carriers’ willingly gave up their magic to become a werewolf. The preferable choice.
“Shh.” I muttered quietly, rubbing Charlene’s back discretely. “Fenrir might see you, Charlene. Come on – it’ll be fine.”
“B-but it hurts.” She whimpered, though I felt slightly relieved as she took slower deliberate breaths. “I-I don’t want to change. It hurts too bad.”
“I know.” I whispered, guilt filling me as I observed the lie. I couldn’t soothe her tonight, it wasn’t the same as telling a child that monsters don’t hide under their beds because as soon as the moon fully rose tonight then Charlene – Remus – would change, and there was no way to escape.
How did Remus know? Our conversation from the previous night echoed in my mind as I watched little Charlene shiver in the howling wind.
”You can’t stay, you know that. T-Dora.” He repeated my name sternly as I laughed of his comment. I rolled my eyes and scooped up more water into the wooden bucket. “Dora, I’m serious.”
“Funny, I thought you were Remus.” Remus took a sharp intake of air and my eyes widened instantly. Remus visibly flinched; his hazel eyes hardening as he recoiled away from me slightly. I gasped and tried to bite back the words. Too late. What had I done? I’d said it without thinking; one of Moody’s many criticisms. It had come almost automatically – a distant echo of the simple relationship Remus had shared with his brother in all but blood.
It was something dependable that we’d all held onto. When it was busy and confusing; when we’d all made our way in secrecy to yet another meeting in the dark, depressing building of Grimauld Place – a childhood home I’d just escaped from growing in. He was always there; the caged animal, the convict. Sirius Black.
He was originally an object of curiosity and wonder – the escapee from Azkaban. But slowly I grew to know him – to understand his dry humour, his grief-filled rages, his honesty and his hatred. I watched countless times as Remus attempted to talk him out of one of his many schemes to escape, to visit Harry, to set Buckbeak on the Dursleys, to make Snape’s greasy hair glow in the dark and each time Remus attempted to talk him out of it. An older, protective brother looking out for his younger, wilder one. It was always clear that they both cared deeply for the other and Sirius would always end the disagreement with the same line; “Funny, I thought you were Remus.”
His death hit us all hard; but Remus said nothing. His shoulders became more slumped and the dark bags under his eyes deepened as if he was carrying the guilt on his shoulders; as if he could have made the difference.
“Remus – I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to – it just slipped out.” He didn’t say anything; his eyes were glued to the water below us. Why? What had made me say it? I knew it was pointless to carry on – he’d closed the subject. Remus didn’t talk unless he wanted to. I stepped closer to ignore the small distance he’d put between us and nudged him playfully. “Anyway – I want to wear some clean robes.”
Remus frowned and looked at me in complete confusion. “Wha-?”
“As much as I’ve enjoyed living in Maria’s robes for the last couple weeks – she’s quite a lot bigger than me. I feel like I’m living in a tent!” I rolled my eyes exaggeratedly and saw Remus smile slightly. “So, I can assure you I will feel no qualms about leaving.”
Remus bent over the pool of water and scooped another cup of murky water into the bucket. “Most of us are allowed to leave after the full moon – supposedly to scout out future members. I can ask to get you some better fitting ones if you want?”
I smiled and nodded eagerly, before it faded on my face. “When you say ‘us’ – you don’t mean me, do you?”
“No,” Remus sighed, “you’re still a new member. Sorry, Dora.” I shrugged sadly, idly wondering just how long it would be before I was allowed out during the day with my hair a vivid pink and my eyes a unique violet. “Tonks?” Remus said quietly, I jolted – he’d been adamant that I shouldn’t use my name anywhere near the camp. “I mean it. You can’t stay tomorrow.”
Now as Charlene huddled against my body in the wrong belief that we were about to experience the same thing, and Remus’ pale face kept turning towards the sky instinctively, I almost wanted to stay. As if it could make a difference. Charlene was just a child – she shouldn’t have to go through this. She was scared and I couldn’t quieten the ache to stay and soothe her; to tell her that it would all be okay and that she wasn’t a monster in a world of darkness. Strangely, I wanted to stay for Remus as well. He was nothing to me – I repeated this in my head, trying to make myself believe it. He was simply a partner on a mission. Just one member of the Order – he could have been anyone.
But he isn’t. My subconscious seemed to shout.
Somehow, amongst the conflict and confusion of pack life, I had linked him to sanity. He was my link to the outside world; a promise that it still existed, that I’d one day go back and live my normal life. But what about them? Would I return and… just leave them? Leave Charlene to grow up amongst this? And Remus?
Thunk. Thunk. Thunk.
Charlene squealed in fear beside me; my grip tightened instinctively. I looked up from her pale face to watch as Fenrir descended the porch steps slowly. The mutterings within the camp faded and Thelma’s scrapes came to an abrupt halt.
“Minutes, my children.” His voice echoed around the now still camp. The other children; the ones who had been members for far too long to save, scuttled out of their hiding places; eager to hear their leader speak. “Minutes until we become who we were born to be. Wizarding kind envy us for our release, our power, our superiority.” Fenrir roared over the small crowd that had now gathered. “Tonight, we are not men. We throw away their flaws, their sickening traits and their traps. Tonight, we are free. We will roam these woods and we will hunt our prey. We shall run alongside our brothers and sisters and we will be free.”
Fenrir’s words were met with loud cheers and even Charlene uncoiled from my body to look at Fenrir more closely. Instinctively, I pulled her back. Our eyes met briefly and she nodded slowly before leaning back into my body.
“They flaunt their supposed superiority, they force us to carry wands for our protection, but tonight we say no! Tonight we bury our wizard magic below the ground and we step into the moonlight; we willingly make a decision to be free!”
More yells and cheers were met with his announcement. At a silent command, those who had earned the hierarchy to carry a wand stepped forwards; there was around fifteen of them – Remus amongst them. I noticed that there were several holes left in the ground from the burial of others’ possessions. The pack leant close as each dropped their beloved wands into the Earth in turn and then scooped a mound of the dirt over the only connection most had with their previous life.
Fenrir’s mad cackle joined the masses and he bent to the floor to pick up a jagged rock. “Wizardkind know nothng. They think we’re weak!” The packs jeers and laughter increased as if the madness was catching. Fenrir pulled back his arm and threw the rock into the distance with an abnormal amount of strength. It was starting. “We are not weak!”
There were shouts and the noise became deafening as the youngsters rushed forward to find items they could use to show off their superior strength. Buckets, branches and rotten logs were thrown into the air; each child desperately trying to mimic their leader. One of the boys’ eyes greedily searched the ground for something he could throw; his eyes landed on the large pebble resting against one of the logs.
No. I wanted to scream. But I couldn’t; I was frozen in place as the boy approached the innocent looking pebble with glee. I was vaguely aware of Remus’ eyes widening in horror opposite me, yet I could do nothing but watch. His grubby hand surrounded my pebble and he lifted it from the ground. No. It was my escape. No.
My eyes were wide and my jaw hung open as I watched the small boy throw the pebble with all his newfound strength. It went flying over the crowd, high into the distant trees. The large pebble that was inconspicuous enough to keep in the open, large enough for Remus to mutter an illegal charm on it. The portkey charm. Timed to disappear within seconds of the moon fully appearing. And now it was gone. My escape.
I looked up and swapped horror-filled looks with Remus. No. Remus stepped forwards; yet I never learnt what he was going to do as in that moment the wind howled loudly and the large pale moon appeared over the camp. Everything was covered in a pearly glow and I gently pushed Charlene into the clearing.
They all stood in silence; transfixed on the moons glare. Then the screams ripped apart the quiet like an explosion; the children were bent on fours with tears running down their faces whilst some of the older women clutched their stomachs and wailed in pain. Fenrir roared though in pain or celebration I couldn’t discern. Remus’ body caught my eye as he spasmed in pain, yet he remained silent as if giving his voice would be giving himself to the curse.
Somehow, I stayed in character. I was doubled over and yelled in pain to avoid attracting attention. What do I do? My eyes drifted around the camp with a feeling of oppressive terror, eventually coming to a hault on Fenrir’s secret building.
I still hadn’t been inside of it, neither had Remus. Apparently it was just Fenrir, Rancooke and McQuire… and the women they chose. Hadn’t Mace mentioned a fireplace? It was the only choice I could see, but I had a part to play first.
Charlene yelped beside me and I copied her movements. Fisher was yelling and stretching his back, long black nails cutting out of his fingertips. Hair was starting to cover Kate’s hands and I was relieved to find the block on my metamorphous abilities had lessened; the hair on my hands grew easily and my nails chained to sharp points. I screamed and flicked my head back; just meeting Fenrir’s eyes for a moment before he convulsed.
Remus was the last to collapse; I was on one knee and very aware that most of my fellow pack were mostly wolf. My heart was thudding against my chest loudly and my hands were shaking uncontrollably. I was wandless. I had no escape. I was in the middle of a wolf pack. It was full moon.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
I had to escape. Now. I raised my head and saw Remus – his face contorted with pain – his jaw opened. “Run!” He screamed; his voice inhumane and the word lost itself within a howl.
I didn’t need to be told twice; I pushed off from the muddy ground and leapt into the air. The wind howled loudly and my heart rate increased as I felt the wolves join in behind me. My legs swept past each other at speed and my feet slapped against the uneven ground loudly. Then I heard it.
Heavy breathing. Thuds. There was someone – or something – behind me. Heavy footsteps. Heavy pawprints. Heavy breathing. It growled viciously and I ran faster; the old building just yards away yet just yards too far.
There was a glint on the floor and I gave up my precious seconds on a whim. It was a hope. My ankle went over itself and I rolled to the floor with a yelp. I looked up; the wolf was a metre away and the pack was behind it. All recognition was gone; monsters were now in their place.
I cried out in fear. You’ve been in worse. You’ve been in worse. You’ve been in worse. My brain chanted. You had a wand then. Another part of my brain retorted. I shuffled backwards, my breath coming out in pants. My right hand felt on the ground desperately for the glint I thought I’d seen. Come on. Come on. Come on.
The large brown wolf took a step forwards; was it Remus? Thelma? Mace? It was too large to be Charlene, right? His snout lifted and it’s large yellow teeth snarled a metre from my face.
The wolf leapt forward at the same time my hand found the edge of the glint. I screamed and instinctively brought my arm forward; there was an odd soft feeling as the knife sliced against the target. The wolf squealed in pain and recoiled for a moment; I had just enough time to see a red slash appear on the wolf’s face before I spun around and pushed myself from the ground.
The wolf stepped back and howled loudly, the pack joined in and the howls formed a chorus of sound as I ran the last few yards. My feet stumbled up the porch steps, yet I was too slow and the wolf’s paw reached me before I could clear the stairs, a sharp pain struck the back of my calf and I felt a warm liquid slide over my ankle. I yelled out in pain but didn’t stop until I slammed the door shut behind me.
Bang. The wolf threw its weight against the door. Scschschsch. There were scratches at the window. Howls filled the air and I stepped backwards in fright, there was something loose on the floor and I tripped over it with a loud thud. I moaned in pain as my hand reached out to prevent my fall and instead scraped against a loose nail whilst my face hit the side of a chair heavily. Hot liquid poured from my nose and all I could hear was the scraping and howls.
I rolled over and saw the fireplace ahead. Run, Tonks. Run. Remus’ unspoken plea echoed in my head and I pushed off the floor one last time. There was a small, patched bag on the top of the fireplace; Fenrir must have left it there when he returned from the meeting.
I reached into the bag quickly, but my hands shook too much and the bag fell to the floor with a heavy landing; the green powder flew from the bag and the dust spread over the floor.
“No. No. No. Oh God.” I moaned, the wolf hit the door heavily and one of the hinges snapped off. I breathed heavily and quickly knelt on the floor to try and scrape up some of the remaining powder. The window frame creaked as the wolf behind it scratched harder.
I scraped up the remaining powder as quickly as I could until there was a small circle in the centre of my palm the size of a galleon. The door flew open beside me; the wood hit the far wall and splintered with a loud creak. I gasped and didn’t look back as I jumped up and dove into the fireplace. The powder fell from my hand as I screamed, “The Burrow!”
Emerald green flames rose around me and I started to spin. The last thing I saw was a large, brown wolf with a bloody cut leaping towards the flames.
An update. Don't fall of your chair. I know its been a ridiculously long time - two months anyone? But I've had major writers block which has put a halt in most of my stories - so I'm very sorry! But my muse has put in an appearance to I'm ready to write!
I'll never abandon a story - or at least without giving you all warning. If there's no message from me, then the story WILL be updated. :D Feel free to pop over to the forums and bug me!
I really hope you liked this - please tell me what you thought! All you have to do is scroll down and leave a message! Until next time, Keira :)