The following school year started like every other before it. Harry met his friends on Platform 9¾, then they all boarded the train and set off for Hogwarts Castle. As normal as this would have seemed, it was far from normal. He could tell his friends were thinking about the same thing he was when they arrived, looking rather gloomy for a group of students heading back to school.
This was the first time Adam would not be accompanying them.
“Have a good summer?” Harry asked Hermione as she stood with him. Ginny was on her other side with Desdemona and Mina, the latter two having been almost inseparable during their last month of the previous term.
“Not bad,” Hermione said. “We went to…to Germany, actually. Touristy stuff in Berlin. Jakob was with us part of the time, showing us around.”
“Oh yeah,” Harry said, rubbing the back of his head. “He did mention that.”
“And how was your summer?”
“Spent the whole summer playing with my sister,” Harry said proudly, wearing a true smile on his face. Hermione beamed at him. “She’s growing so fast. Dad says she might be bigger than me one day.”
“Which is easy considering you’re a runt,” said Bill Weasley, patting him on top of the head. Harry narrowed his eyes, and Bill grinned before turning to say goodbye to Ginny.
“You did grow a bit, though,” Hermione said, putting her hand to the top of her head, then moving it horizontally through the air until it touched Harry’s nose. “Two and a half inches?”
“Two and a quarter,” Harry corrected.
Hermione smiled. “Well, I grew a tiny bit more than an inch…so it’s difficult to tell. Ron looks like he’s grown a foot, though.”
Harry laughed as they looked over at their red-headed friend, who was having his clothes tidied and his face cleaned by his mother, despite his many protests. When he finally got free, he joined Harry and Hermione, scowling.
“Barking mad, she is!”
Harry patted him on the shoulder, then turned when someone tapped him on the back. He turned to face Pyxie, who was beaming up at him.
“Daddy brought me to say bye,” she said, looking from Harry around to the others and then back. “Bye!” she added, waving for a moment before skipping away.
Sirius laughed as Pyxie jumped onto Phelan’s back, then walked past them and clasped Harry in a one-armed hug. “Behave, allright? Stay out of trouble.”
Harry smiled and nodded. “Allright. Besides, Professors Lupin and Lupin will be there to baby-sit me,” he added with a smirk.
Sirius sighed. “Ah, well…you’ll only have one Lupin this year. Remus stepped down as Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. Some bloke named Lockhart got the job.”
Sirius shrugged. “Bugger if I know. All I know is the last name and that Nyxie thinks he’s an idiot.”
Hermione gasped. “Gilderoy Lockhart is one of the most accomplished wizards of the century! He’s fought vampires, werewolves, and loads of other things! He’s practically a hero!”
Again, Sirius shrugged. “Cassie knows something about him, too. She thinks the same way you do, Hermione. She even yelled at Nyxie during dinner one night because Nyxie called the bloke a few names. It was quite a mess to clean up.”
“Did Phoenix yell a lot?” Harry asked, wincing suddenly. He could only remember being on Phoenix’s bad side once, when he and Adam were almost eaten by a cougar, which was the result of a Transfiguration Spell they put onto her sofa.
“No,” Sirius said, shuddering slightly. “Just flicked her wand and dumped a pot of spaghetti onto Cassie’s head.”
“Well it’s no wonder we all had to buy every single one of Lockhart’s books,” Ron said. “Nearly broke my back carrying my trunk down the stairs this morning.”
Harry shook his head, then looked around. Desdemona, Mina, Ginny, Jakob, Fred, George, Ron, Neville, Hermione, Pandora and Phelan were all with him, ready to leave.
“We’re missing one,” Fred said, counting heads. “I only count twelve. There should be thirteen of us.”
Hermione looked around. “I don’t think we’re missing anyone,” she said, standing on her tip-toes to be sure.
“You’re counting Adam,” Jakob said quietly. “There were thirteen before, but not anymore.”
“Oh,” Fred said quietly. “Sorry, mate.”
“Let’s get a compartment,” Ginny suggested quickly. “There might still be one of the bigger ones at the back.”
“And we can get as crazy as we want,” George said with a grin.
“Yeah! Especially without Pompous Percy around,” added Fred.
The group got their first look at Professor Lockhart during the Start-of-Term Feast that evening. He chose to sit beside Phoenix, much to her disappointment it appeared. The boys laughed every time Lockhart spoke to her, because she either looked like she was going to hit him or possibly get sick on her dinnerplate.
“Why do I get the feeling that our lessons with him will only make us dumber?” Desdemona asked as she waved goodbye to Mina and continued on to Gryffindor Tower with her fellow housemates.
“Dumber? Nah,” George said, shaking his head as he threw an arm around her. “We’ll commit mass suicide long before then.”
“At any rate, they’re bound to be horrible lessons,” Ginny sighed.
And so they were. Lockhart’s first lesson was simply a quiz to see how much the class knew about him. The second lesson was, if possible, worse. He instructed them all to draw their favorite dangerous creature, but they had to do so with pastel-colored crayons. Their third lesson, however, would be the best Defense class they had all year.
“Today we’re having a joined class!” said Lockhart, grinning stupidly. “Professor Lupin has agreed to let us join her Care of Magical Creatures lesson with her third years.”
“I hope she pummels him,” Ron said, trying to brush glitter off of his arm from where Lockhart grabbed him a minute earlier, directing him through a door. “Glitter! What kind of man wears glitter?!”
Hermione rolled her eyes, but she said nothing aloud. Harry guessed that she was starting to believe Lockhart was a fraud just like the rest of them, as they hadn’t learned anything useful after two double periods with him.
When the class reached the section of the grounds that Phoenix rigged up for class, they were surprised to see a small section roped off with only her standing inside it. Nearby, the fourth year Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs stood, staring just as curiously at their professor as the elder students were.
“What will we be studying today, Phoenix? Whoops!” He put his fingertips to his lips, then giggled. “I mean Professor Darkheart, of course!”
“Lupin,” Phoenix corrected. Her tone of voice greatly reminded Harry of Snape, and he suddenly felt ill at the thought.
“Right, Lupin!” Lockhart chuckled. “Sorry! I’ve known you back since you were Darkheart. Old habit to break…”
“Funny,” Phoenix said, raising an eyebrow. “I’d never heard of you back then.”
Lockhart laughed nervously. “Ah, well…perhaps not, but Phoenix Darkheart is a name not easily forgotten! You were almost as famous then as I am now!”
“Hardly,” Phoenix said in the same flat tone. “Shall we get on with the lesson?”
“Ah, yes!” he said, clapping his hands together. “So what do you have for us, Professor?”
Phoenix smiled. “Anyone care to take a guess?” she asked, looking at the class. Slowly, Desdemona, Mina and Neville raised their hands.
“Now, Phoenix…you can’t expect them to guess without a hint,” Lockhart said. “We’re wasting time. Let’s just get on with it.”
Phoenix, slightly annoyed, put on a put-out expression. “You’re right,” she said, striding forward. She let down one of the ropes and walked through. Neville stiffened beside Ron.
“What is it, Neville?” Ron asked quietly. Neville opened his mouth, then closed it and shook his head.
“To be honest, Professor…I couldn’t think of anything to teach,” Phoenix said, obviously faking it. “I thought I’d make up some invisible creature and feed lies to my students. Might even write a book about it later, you know. ‘ How Phoenix Lupin Out-Witted A Group of Third Years’…”
Ron snorted. Harry let out a laugh that he covered up with a cough. Even Hermione cracked a grin. Everyone in the class noticed how badly Phoenix was making fun of Lockhart, but he seemed to be completely oblivious to it.
“Right, then,” Lockhart said, patting her on the shoulder. “No one loves a liar, Phoenix! Now…let’s see…do you have any pixies? Krups?”
“Surely you’re above Pixies and Krups,” Phoenix said. “Let’s try something more challenging, shall we?”
“How about a thestral?” Desdemona suggested. Mina smirked.
“Of course not!” Lockhart said, aghast. “Thestrals are considered to be very dangerous animals! Even seeing one is considered a bad omen!”
Lockhart suddenly yelped, leaping into the air and clamping his rear end. He whirled around and saw that nothing was standing behind him. Nervously, his eyes darted around, looking for the culprit.
“If seeing one is bad luck, professor,” Desdemona said, grinning, “then do you reckon it’s bad luck getting bitten in the arse by one?”
The class roared with laugher at Lockhart, and Phoenix made no move to stop this. She reached out and grabbed something, then they all noticed the blades of grass on the ground moving as something with hooves walked over and stood beside her.
“Now, who can tell me what a thestral looks like?” Phoenix asked, looking around. Neville’s hand was the first up. “Yes, Neville?”
“Like a mix between a horse and a dragon,” he said quietly, eyeing the invisible space beneath Phoenix’s hand, which appeared to be resting mid-air. “It’s all scaly and boney, but it’s got large wings, too, which help it fly.”
“Five points for Gryffindor,” Phoenix said, grinning. She looked at the space to her left, then back at the class. “Now, who can tell me why some of you can see this creature and others cannot? Perhaps…Professor Lockhart?”
Lockhart shook his head. “Now, now…let the students do the answering!” he said, his cheeks pink.
“Please, professor,” Hermione said, bringing down her hand. “A thestral is invisible to innocent eyes. It is only visible to those who have witnessed death.”
Phoenix nodded. “Out of curiosity, how many of you can see this thestral?”
Mina and Neville raised their hands again. Demon hesitated, then raised hers as well. A fourth year Hufflepuff raised his hand halfway up.
“Four of you?” Phoenix asked, nodding slowly. “To be honest, I only would have guessed two,” she said. “Thestrals have a bad reputation because of the characteristic I have just demonstrated to you,” she went on. “Thestrals are, however, very useful and brilliant creatures.”
Harry, Ron and Hermione hung back after the lesson, trying to sneak in a word with Phoenix before lunch. Lockhart caught them and tried to usher them up to the castle, but Phoenix caught on rather quickly.
“I asked them to stay,” she said, clasping Harry and Hermione each on the shoulder. “I will escort them to the castle when we’re finished speaking.”
Lockhart was reluctant, but he finally walked up to the castle, leaving the trio alone with Phoenix. She sighed, finished bringing down the ropes of the pen she’d constructed for show, it seemed, then looked at the three students. “What can I help you with?” she asked as she vanished the pile of ropes and wooden posts.
“You don’t like Lockhart, do you?” Harry asked, smirking slightly.
Phoenix let out an amused huff. “I guess you can say that.”
“But he’s brilliant!” Hermione said. “All the things he’s done in his books—“
“Books are very misleading,” Phoenix said, “especially when written by fools such as Lockhart. The people who cannot see through his lies are poisoned by the words that infest every page of those books.”
“Have you read them?” Harry asked.
Phoenix sighed. “I’ve read every single one only one time. He gets lucky on a few subjects, but he doesn’t know the first thing about combating magical creatures. Hell, just yesterday Snape and I tested the fool—“
“You worked with Snape?” Harry asked incredulously.
Phoenix sighed. “Well, he had the idea, but I worked out the details and we both got a rather delightful laugh out of it.”
“What did you do?” Ron laughed. Hermione glared at him.
“We pretended that we couldn’t catch a Knarl, so Lockhart decided he’d lure it to him with food.”
Hermione’s eyes went wide. “What did it do?”
“Well, you know Knarls,” Phoenix said, grinning. “When a human offers it food, it thinks that the person is trying to poison them. It goes absolutely ballistic.” She chuckled. “So I opened his office door and in it went. Accidentally, of course. It tore apart every picture he had in there. No huge loss, as they were all of himself, but you know him. He thinks he’s pretty damn special.”
Harry and Ron laughed until tears were running down their cheeks. “What did…Lockhart do?” Harry wheezed.
“Well, McGonagall caught Snape and I laughing in the hallway, then she heard Lockhart yelling his ruddy head off,” Phoenix said, sighing again. “She scolded us like we were teenagers, sent us on our way, then I tripped Snape before heading back to my own office.”
Hermione raised a brow. “You two pull a prank together, then you trip him?”
Phoenix shrugged. “We may agree on certain things – like Lockhart being an idiot, for one – but we are still rivals. There are too many things in our past that I cannot forgive.”
“What kind of things?”
Phoenix smiled and shook her head. “That is my business,” she said kindly, and Hermione nodded understandingly. “Now…was there anything else you wanted to know?”
“Yeah,” said Harry. “Why did Remus quit?”
“He was the best teacher we’ve ever had,” said Ron. “Aside from you, of course.”
Phoenix smiled, then her face saddened. “Dumbledore has him working elsewhere,” she said. “And don’t ask me for more details, because I cannot give them.”
The trio nodded, then began walking up to the castle with Phoenix. “Oh, and don’t bring your bags for today’s lesson,” she said. “Tell as many of your classmates as you can. We’ll be in the forest, and the bags will just weigh everyone down.”
“Into the forest again?” Harry asked. “Don’t you remember what happened last time?”
“The other side,” Phoenix laughed. “It’s not near as dense, and the only thing we’re likely to encounter is a unicorn, which is what we’ll be looking for.”
“Unicorns?” Hermione asked excitedly. “Really?”
Phoenix nodded, stopping outside the Great Hall. “Go on in. Eat your lunch.” She gave Harry a brief, one-armed hug. “And stay out of trouble.”
School was normal from then on. Nothing at all seemed out-of-place, and nothing eventful happened. Before they knew it, it was June. They sat their exams, and in a few days they would be going home for the summer. Many students were excited about the trip home, but once again, without their studies to distract them, Harry and his friends were all depressed.
Two nights before the end of term, Phoenix bolted from her office and ran through the halls until she reached the stone gargoyle that concealed the entrance to Professor Dumbledore’s office. She gave it the password, bolted up the spiral stairs, then flung open the door. “Professor, what--?”
She stopped, staring. James and Sirius were sitting down in front of Dumbledore’s desk, though both stood up at the sight of her. Also in the room was her godfather, William Lazarous, his face far more tired than she had ever seen it.
“What is it?” she finished, inhaling deeply in an attempt to catch her breath.
James and Sirius both looked at the floor. Lazarous leaned against the wall. Dumbledore stared at his hands.
“Tell me, damn it!” Phoenix said loudly.
Dumbledore sighed. “As you know, Remus has been underground, spying in the werewolf community.”
“At your request,” Phoenix added firmly.
“Yes,” Dumbledore nodded, continuing. “He was instructed to check in with us every three days. It has been seven days since we last heard from him.”
Phoenix swallowed. “And do we know where he is?”
“I have a few spies inside as well,” Lazarous said. “Dumbledore and I have been sharing intelligence, and Remus is aware of this. One of my men has communicated with him that they are both in the same situation. Five days ago, however, Remus was caught sneaking into a room he shouldn’t have been in. They beat him and dragged him off, but we’ve yet to find out where they took him.”
Phoenix’s lip trembled as she looked at the floor. James walked over to her and reached out to hug her, but she stepped away. “My men will go in after him,” she said. “They need no help from anyone else.”
Dumbledore sighed. “Phoenix, you are acting as though we intended for this to happen.”
“Then I apologize,” Phoenix said, bowing slightly. “But nevertheless…my men go in alone. No one from the Order of the Phoenix will accompany them.”
“What will you do?” Lazarous asked, his voice raised. “Slaughter everyone in your path?”
Phoenix looked at him for a moment, then shook her head. “No. I will send in Callisto, Will and Max. They will find Remus and get him out. I will be waiting outside with more men, should they need reinforcements.”
“And you think three people can take on hundreds of werewolves?” Lazarous asked loudly, walking toward Phoenix. “Vampires are joining them! Even Callisto isn’t that powerful.”
“Let a few members of the Order wait with you outside,” Dumbledore said. “Remus is one of us, after all. We have just as much of a right to go after him as you.”
Phoenix nodded slowly. “Fine. Assemble your best and have them meet me outside the lair in one hour.”
Phoenix was talking to Emma when Dumbledore arrived with James and Sirius. “This is it?” Phoenix asked, raising a brow.
“I see no reason to bring every member of the Order of the Phoenix,” Dumbledore said. “So, as you said, I ‘brought my best’.”
Phoenix nodded, then turned to look at the League members who were there. Callisto was toying with the sleeve of her black shirt. The shirt itself was made of silk, with long sleeves that covered all of her arms and hands except her fingertips. She had a dragonskin corset on over it, and her pants were made of dragonskin as well.
Nearby, Will and Max were checking pistols and rifles, as well as equipping themselves with several clips of ammunition. Asher Clearwater was near them, loading up a few other devices before helping Will and Max figure out ways of storing them. On a nearby boulder was sitting his twin, Anya. She was holding a laptop computer which had a few other devices attached to it. Matthew was standing over her, watching her progress. Emma joined him a moment later, as did Nick. Thomas was the only member not doing anything. He was sitting at the base of a large tree, staring at the grass as he picked at it.
“He’s still gloomy as ever,” Sirius whispered to James. “I mean, he was horrible before…but after Adam died, he got so much worse.”
“Put these on,” Emma said to Will and Max, handing them each a pair of sunglasses. “They don’t make anything darker, but they’ll shield your eyes from anything trying to blind you. If it’s too dark, they’ll adjust and give you a sort of night vision ability. They’re also implanted with a camera, so we’ll be able to see whatever you do. This…” She held out an earplug. “Is a two-way audio receiver.”
“What about Calli?” Max asked as he put on his glasses, wiggling them some so they sat right on his nose.
“Calli already has her microphone, and she has the camera implanted in her necklace,” Matthew said. “She has no need for night vision, and she is trained to block out any light that can hurt her.” He handed Max a black bag. “There are more cameras in here. Just stick them on the walls every so often and we’ll be able to watch your back as you leave.”
The two men nodded, then Will cocked his gun and motioned to Max. The two walked to the edge of the group and waited for Callisto.
“They’ll have been trained to recognize my scent,” Phoenix said, handing a silver flask to Callisto. “If they figure you out, dump this out on the floor. They’ll be drawn to it, so it should throw them off of you and give you time to escape.”
Callisto nodded and took the flask. “Anything else you want me to do while I’m in there?” she asked. “Break a few of Greyback’s bones, maybe?”
Phoenix smiled. “Just get Remus and get out safely. Kill only if you need to.”
Callisto nodded, then watched as Phoenix stretched out her arm and pulled back her sleeve. Callisto lowered her head and sank her fangs into Phoenix’s arm, taking a few mouthfuls of blood before pulling back. Phoenix tapped her arm with her wand and the wound healed. Calli smiled.
“Even for a werewolf, your blood tastes pretty good,” she laughed. “Must be all of that fire.”
Phoenix smiled. “Must be.”
“And why must you drink Phoenix’s blood?” Dumbledore asked. Phoenix and Callisto jumped slightly. Neither of them had noticed Dumbledore was as close to them as he was.
“It allows me to contact Phoenix easier, when we’re bound by blood,” Callisto said. “And if the need is great, then she can give me the power to perform the magic she uses.”
“And when did you learn of such a connection?”
Phoenix shrugged. “About a year after I pulled that stunt with the gate,” she said.
“Time to go,” Will called, and Callisto jogged over to him and Max. After one last check that everything was in order, the three sprinted off into the darkness and the rest were left to wait.
“They’re in,” Anya announced. Everyone flocked over to her and peeked down at her computer screen, watching their progress.
The trio encountered a pair of werewolves on guard, but Callisto was able to knock them out before moving on. They were able to pass through undetected until they found a row of holding cells. Callisto stopped outside one and kicked it down. Inside was a single figure curled in the corner.
“He’s alive,” her voice said a moment later. “Just unconscious, Phoenix.”
Phoenix’s eyes closed and she breathed a sigh of relief. “Good. Now come back out.”
“You two go ahead,” Callisto said to Max and Will, the later of which was carrying Remus on his back. “I want to check something out.”
“No, Calli,” Phoenix said firmly into the microphone. “Get out. Now. I’m not going to risk losing any of you.”
“You risked enough by sending us in,” Callisto said. Phoenix said nothing. Callisto sighed. “Look…I smell some familiar blood down here. I want to sniff out a few cells, then I’ll head up. Allright?”
“Be careful,” Phoenix said before handing the microphone over to Emma.
“Will. Max. Everything looks okay so far, but I want you two to be on your guard. I can see what’s ahead, but I can’t hear it. I’ll tell you if anything catches my eye.”
“Copy that,” Will responded, managing to hold a pistol in one hand even with Remus on his back.
“Anya, switch to the next camera,” Emma instructed. Anya did as she was told, but static covered the corner of the screen where the image should have been. “What’s wrong?”
“There’s no feed,” Anya said. “But we made sure that camera worked!”
“Shit,” Phoenix growled, snatching the microphone again. “Will! Max! Double back to Calli.”
Phoenix silenced herself as Max spoke, then turned and saw the portion of the screen that showed what Max saw.
On the floor in front of Max and Will was an orange tabby cat, meowing at them. A few feet away, there were two guards laying on the ground that they couldn’t remember knocking out. The cat turned and ran a few steps toward the fallen men, then turned and looked back.
“I think it wants us to follow it,” said Max.
“It’s a fucking cat,” said Will.
“I don’t care what the cat wants. Get out,” Phoenix instructed. “Eyes and ears open, since we can no longer see.”
Max and Will followed the path back to the exit, which was the same direction the cat was running. They made it out the door where they found one more guard, but Max was able to silence him before he alerted anyone. Callisto had remained silent until then, but when she spoke, her tone was urgent.
“As soon as Will and Max reach you, you have to disapparate,” she said. “No questions!”
“Calli, we might have to heal Remus before moving him,” Anya protested.
“There’s no time! You have to get away!”
“What is it?” Phoenix asked. “Tell me, Calli!”
Calli didn’t answer with her voice, but instead sought out Phoenix’s mind. I smell wolves.
Phoenix answered in the same way Calli was speaking. Where?
They were let out of their cages before we found Remus. They could be outside by now.
I’ll keep watch.
I smelled cat among them, Calli answered softly.
Phoenix said nothing in return, but nodded physically. “We do as she says,” she instructed the others. “Asher…give me a gun.”
Will and Max soon came into sight, and when they reached the group, Will dropped to his knees. As strong as he was, running as far as he did with Remus on his back had completely exhausted him. Anya and Asher packed up their equipment, then stopped as Phoenix picked up the cat by the scruff of the neck.
The cat meowed loudly until Phoenix lifted her gun. It silenced itself immediately, eyeing the gun and trembling. She lowered it.
“What are you doing?” Anya asked, walking over toward her. “It’s just a cat!”
“Calli said she smelled a cat among wolves. The wolves are hunting for us now. This…cat,” she said, narrowing her eyes in concentration, “is one of them.”
Anya rolled her eyes, drew her wand, then muttered a spell. Blue light shimmered around the cat, and when it faded, the cat was the same as before. “See?” she said, pulling the cat free of Phoenix’s grasp. “Just a cat.”
“Not just a cat,” said a voice in the trees. “A werecat.”
“Who was that?” Max called out, scanning the trees with his eyes, his rifle still in hand. Will seemed to have suddenly regained his strength, as well. He stood up with a pistol in each hand, waiting like a cat who’d scented a mouse.
“Fenrir Greyback,” Dumbledore said. The cat in Anya’s arms hissed, then leapt onto the ground. The hair on its back was standing on end, and his tail slightly resembled a raccoon’s.
A harsh laugh echoed through the darkness, and Greyback showed himself. “Right you are, Dumbledore. Have you guessed who else is here?”
“So you’ve brought a few mongrels with you, huh?” Matthew asked, his eyes narrowed. “Let’s see them, then.”
Greyback smiled, then turned his head. He made a noise that sounded like a growl, and three wolves emerged from the trees behind him. The one leading them was the largest and strongest. He had brown fur, while the two flanking him were black with a few white markings: one had a blaze of white down his chest, while the other simply had one white foot. Another wolf emerged a moment later, only this one was pure white.
“Werewolves,” Will said.
“Ah,” said Dumbledore, striding forward. “So…you’ve learned to outwit the moon, then?”
“With a little help, yes,” said Greyback, smirking.
The cat pulled itself free from Anya and leapt to the ground, bolting between humans until it reached the front of their group. It raised its head and yowled loudly and repeatedly, which angered Greyback.
“Shut up, you worthless cat!” he roared. “Kill him, Wynter!”
The white wolf leapt forward, bolting towards the cat. The cat stopped yowling and stared directly at the wolf, then dodged aside as it struck.
“I said kill him!”
The cat kept dodging the wolf’s attacks, but each miss was narrower and narrower. Will fired a shot at the wolf’s feet and caused it to stumble, and the cat leapt behind Anya to hide. The wolf advanced towards her, but Asher stepped in its path and aimed a punch that knocked the wolf in the side of the head, almost rendering him unconscious.
“Edward! Damien! Get Wynter,” Greyback instructed. The two black wolves trotted forward, and the one with the blaze growled at the others while the one with the white foot dragged the white wolf away. When they were back to Greyback, the werewolf grinned. “Adam…have some fun with them.”
Many of the League stopped moving, and even Dumbledore seemed momentarily stunned. The brown wolf took two steps forward, then stopped.
“Kill them, Adam!” Greyback roared. “Now!”
“Stop, Adam!” called an unfamiliar voice. A boy of fourteen or fifteen ran forward, his feet and legs bare. It appeared that all he was wearing was a blue cotton jacket, which several of them knew belonged to Anya. It looked horrible in contrast to the boy’s orange hair, but that was beside the point. They recognized him now to be the werecat.
“Be a good kitty and shut up, Dax!” Greyback roared, walking forward. He grabbed the brown wolf by the scruff of the neck and gave him a hard shake. The wolf whined in pain, then turned his head and bit down hard on Greyback’s free arm. “Let go!” Greyback shouted, but the wolf did the opposite. It bit down harder, then pushed with its hind legs and tackled Greyback to the ground.
“Stop!” Dax repeated, bolting forward. The other three wolves stood back and stared, but Dax shot forward into the fight and tackled Adam off of Greyback. Adam turned his head and snapped at Dax, then turned to growl at Greyback, who was sporting a bite on his neck and another on his face.
“I should have let you die,” Greyback growled, his eyes focused on Adam. “I should have let you die, then fed you to the others!” Adam growled and advanced slowly on Greyback, who stumbled backwards. “Remember who made you what you are. Remember who you are bound to!” Greyback laughed. “You may have escaped me, but you will never escape him! He will come for you, and you will regret this day until the day you die!”
Adam stopped advancing and sat down. Dax turned and looked at him, but a moment later, Adam had changed back into human form. He placed both hands flat on the ground where they glowed. Clothes seemed to crawl from the ground and cover his legs, fastening around his waist to cover him. As he stood, Phoenix noticed that he’d not only grown taller, but he was very muscled for a fifteen-year-old.
“Tell him to come and get me, then,” Adam growled. “And he’d better come himself. I’ll be insulted if he sends some weakling like you after me.” He spat at Greyback’s feet.
Greyback was red, every inch of him reflecting the rage within. “Very well,” he said, turning away.
“Let him go,” Adam said as Edward and Damien tried to run past him. The two halted.
Adam turned when a hand clasped his shoulder. “Come,” said Dumbledore, tugging slightly. Adam hesitated, then stepped toward Dumbledore.
“You know them?” Dax asked, jogging beside Adam. The brown-haired boy nodded.
“They’ll need clothes,” Adam said to Dumbledore, motioning to the three wolves remaining. The white one was stumbling slightly, but with the help of the other two, it walked just fine. “They’ll transform back if you give them something to cover themselves with.”
James and Sirius rushed forward, pulling off their cloaks. They each draped them over a wolf, then looked up as Calli appeared, conjuring a blanket in midair over the white wolf. She had blood trickling from her neck and a large gash on her head, but otherwise, she simply looked tired.
“I’m fine,” she said to Sirius as he approached her. “Just ran into a few fellow vampires…that’s all.”
Thomas slowly approached Adam, tears threatening to fill his eyes. “It’s really you, then?” Adam nodded. Thomas took two strides forward and wrapped his arms around Adam, hugging him tightly.
“Nyxie,” James whispered, catching Phoenix’s attention. She walked over to where James knelt beside Remus, then smiled when she saw that her husband’s eyes were open. She knelt down and bent over him, kissing his bruised cheek.
Phoenix looked down at Remus, then smiled. “We found him.” Then she understood. “The room you were sneaking into…”
“I found him,” Remus said quietly. “I tried to break him out, but they caught me. Greyback was experimenting on him and a few others, trying to make them stronger.”
Phoenix bent down and kissed Remus on the lips. “Shut up, would ya?” she asked, smiling. “You can talk when we’re back at Hogwarts.”
Remus smiled and nodded as best as he could, but it seemed even the smallest movements caused him a great deal of pain. James and Sirius picked him up between them, each with one of his arms draped over their shoulders. Phoenix turned to see everyone else packed up and ready to go, then looked at Dumbledore.
“I want to apologize for how I spoke to you earlier,” she said quietly, but Dumbledore raised a hand to silence her.
“No need for apologies,” he said, smiling softly. “Your worries were justified.”
Phoenix nodded slowly, then looked around at the League. They’d all taken one of the boys between them, and on her mark, they began disapparating. Everyone met up in Hogsmeade, then traveled up to the castle, happy to be on safe ground again.
The following morning, Phoenix waited in Gryffindor Tower for a few students as they came down to leave. When Harry, Ron and Neville spotted her, she already had Pandora, Phelan, Fred, George, Ginny, Des and Hermione surrounding her.
“What’s going on?” Harry asked as he approached.
“We were waiting on your lazy butts to get out of bed,” Phoenix said, smirking. “Come on. I have a surprise for you.”
“What about Jakob?” Ron asked, looking around. “Where is he?”
“Jakob is already there,” Phoenix said. “So is Mina.”
She led them out of the common room and down to the hospital wing. “Wont we miss the train?” Hermione asked.
“Transportation has already been arranged,” Phoenix said, stopping at the doors. She turned and faced them, smiling. “Go on in.”
Harry and Des were the first to move towards the doors. Everyone else poked their heads around the two and peered in. Remus was on one bed, being tormented by James and Sirius, and there were four other boys they didn’t recognize in other beds. Two with black hair had two women and one man fussing over them, while a boy with very white hair had a beautiful blonde hugging him repeatedly. The fourth boy had orange hair, and he didn’t seem to have anyone there to see him. Around another bed, though, was a group so large it was impossible to see who was in it. Harry recognized one to be Ecaterina Saxton, and she stepped forward to hug a brown-haired boy, providing a gap large enough to view the boy’s face.
“Adam?” Desdemona breathed, then threw open the door and bolted down the hall and threw her arms around Adam as soon as Caty moved.
“Miss me?” he laughed, wrapping his arms around her.
“I hate you,” Des cried. “I hate you so much…”
Adam laughed more, then turned and saw everyone else walking towards him. “Feel free to hug, pinch, poke and punch as much as you want…but only for an hour. If Des keeps hugging me like this, I won’t survive any longer than that on the oxygen allowed.”
Desdemona laughed softly and let go, wiping away her tears on her sleeves. Hermione nearly tripped over Marius on her way to hug Adam next. Without waiting for her to move, Ginny also hugged him. He smiled as he returned their hugs, whispering a few things that no one else could hear, then kissed both girls on the sides of their heads, then released them so he could be hugged firmly by Harry.
“I thought you were dead,” he said softly.
Adam nodded and released Harry, then sat back on the bed when he saw that no one was going to hug him yet. Hermione sat on one side of him, Des sat on the other, and Ginny knelt behind him. They hugged his arms, and Ginny had his neck, all refusing to let go. “I thought I was, too,” he said quietly. “My neck broke…that was for sure. But it didn’t kill me. I just couldn’t move. It hurt so bad that I couldn’t think, either. When Greyback realized I wasn’t dead after he apparated away, he was going to kill me. Another man saved my life. He healed me, and he trained me personally. He altered my…condition…and I became more powerful than even Greyback.”
“Your condition?” Fred asked.
“He’s a werewolf,” Pandora said.
Fred, as well as several others, turned to look at Pandora. She and Phelan were watching Adam, then looked around at the other boys. “They all are,” added Phelan.
“Except for Dax,” Adam said. “How’d you know?”
“Call it an educated guess,” Pandora said. “Just an odd feeling, really.”
“Dax…is that what you called him?” Phelan asked, looking at the bed where the orange-haired boy laid. “He’s not a werewolf, but he is something, right?”
“Werecat,” Adam answered. “And one hell of an acrobat.”
The group continued to talk, and Dumbledore entered the hall a while later. He walked over to the three people standing with Edward and Damien, then talked to the blonde sitting with Wynter. Finally, he spoke to Dax, then ventured over to Adam.
“Your friends will be attending Hogwarts as well, next year,” he said to Adam. “Their professors at the Eagle Academy have been notified of their survival, but they understand that they wish to attend Hogwarts. As you can see, Damien, Edward and Wynter have had their families notified, but we have yet to find any of Dax’s relatives.”
“You wont,” Adam said. “He’s an orphan. He has no family.”
“Ah,” Dumbledore said, looking over at Dax. The boy had curled up at the end of his bed, where the sun shone down upon it. “Then we’ll have to find a place for him.”
“Can he stay with us?” Adam asked quickly, looking between his father and grandfather.
“Anything for you,” Robert said, smiling.
Adam nodded, then looked back at Dumbledore. “One problem down. One more to go.”
Dumbledore raised a brow. “And what would the other be?”
Adam sighed, slumping over slightly. “I’m hungry.”
A/N: I realized I hadn’t given Cassidy and Miss Mooney a chapter yet, so you both get this one. Yeah, you have to share one…but this chapter was originally supposed to be two. I just couldn’t split it.
Yeah, Adam’s back. For anyone that didn’t catch on to how he survived, well…it’s simple. Des and Harry heard his neck break, but it didn’t kill him. He was healed by a mysterious sorcerer (three guesses who), and he became stronger than ever. He’ll get stronger, of course, but we wont see that for a while.
I’m sorry this took so long…but as I said before, this was supposed to be two chapters. I tried and tried to split it after I wrote it, but yeah…it’s not working any other way, so here you have it. ^_^
KenTaurus – I didn’t put “drug” in this one. I just searched the whole document to make sure. ;)
I hope you all love this chapter, because it was a pain and a half to write. And yes, for those who are wondering: I was planning the Adam-coming-back-to-life thing all along.
P.S. – I’m going to be awesome and plug something very important. The trailer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will air online today at noon! You can find it at the Happy Feet movie site. (Great movie, by the way.)
Thanks to MuggleNet.com for the tip! (If you don’t visit that site already, DO IT!)
Inspiration for This Chapter: “Requiem for a Dream” composed by Chris Mansell, “Voices” by Disturbed, and the movies Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa and The Perfect Score. (For those of you who don’t visit my Fanfiction Encyclopedia, I portray Adam with the actor Chris Evans, and Anya is portrayed by Scarlett Johanssen. You can find the link to my Fanfiction Encyclopedia beneath my name in my profile here on HPFF.)
Write a Review The Gate of Fear: Chapter Eleven: Weres