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Chapter 7 : Moons and Bludgers
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Chapter VII – Moons and Bludgers
Tuesday morning you packed your books in your satchel like normal and pulled on your sweater. You pulled the bag’s strap over your shoulder and started quietly down the stairs. Waiting for you in the common room like a gentleman was Remus. He also had his bag and was looking very solemn. Today you noticed how strained he really looked. His eyes already held the luggage of little sleep, small scars littered his face (and you guessed those weren’t the only ones), and already a few gray strands of hair had shown in his locks. Your heart fell to know that you were also doomed to the same appearance that would make people question and wonder.
“Ready?” he asked.
“No.” you replied truthfully and you both frowned. You could tell just by looking at Remus that he was concerned. He had been changing into a werewolf for years and he still wasn’t used to it. This was only going to be your third time.
Remus picked up his bag and, with a final look at you, headed out of the common room. The castle was quiet and cold. Not a single soul seemed to be awake, not even Filch was prowling around.
You left the castle and were engulfed by a giant cloud of fog. You were sure that you were on the grounds near the Whomping Willow, but uncertain where to go. Remus, however, did seem to know. He walked on carefully, constantly watching both his feet and the path ahead of him.
Out of the fog a little orange, flickering glow appeared. For a moment you merely wondered what it was, but then a fear of it birthed in your stomach, making your heart pound against your ribs. Remus stopped and you immediately stepped behind him for protection.
“Madame Fix?” he asked.
“There you are, Mr. Lupin. I’ve been waiting for a while.” A Scottish voice answered. “Is Miss Crill with you?”
The little blurry ball of light grew larger with each footstep you heard until finally you could see the face of the young school nurse. Her brown hair was pulled into a tight bun atop her head and her grey eyes were covered by a thin pair of lenses. She was tall and bony with pale skin. She held a small silver tray with a candle burning weakly in her left hand. Her right hand held a wand.
“Dawn is coming. Hurry now.” She turned and began to shuffle away. Remus followed her without question, but you were more hesitant. The nurse knows too?
The quiet of the morning was broken by the sudden, startling sounds of something large slamming the ground.
“Step back!” Madame Fix called out and Remus stopped, holding his arm out to stop you.
Again you were afraid. You looked up to Remus for some reassurance.
“It’s just the Whomping Willow.” He explained simply and you nodded.
Madame Fix’s voice rang out again and then a sharp flash of light. All sounds stopped at once. “Hurry along!” her voice came again, this time more clearly.
Remus started forwards and you followed. You hated the feeling of being lost and confused.
The fog cleared some around the tree as you approached and you were able to tell that the limbs of the tree were frozen. One particularly large limb had been crashing towards the very spot you and Remus had been standing. While you gazed up, amazed, Remus stepped forwards and ducked into a well hidden hole beneath the trunk.
“Hurry, Lacelin.” You heard his voice come from the darkness.
You climbed down slowly into the hole, but slipped and slid the rest of the way down. It was a good thing that you wore old, unwanted clothes, because that slope was muddy. Feeling more miserable by the moment you attempted to look about you, but the tunnel was pitch black.
“Remus?” you asked and reached out, afraid that he had left you. But he hadn’t. His hand caught yours and immediately little sparks jumped up your arm and sent a chill down your spine.
“Watch your step. This tunnel is rough,” he said and you nodded in response, even thought he couldn’t see you.
Remus didn’t let go of your hand, but instead led you along the way, warning you of upcoming pitfalls and other obstacles. A small smile graced your lips when you thought about how he was taking care of you, but all you could really focus on was his hand in yours.
After a good walk he stopped and let go of your hand. Your stomach seemed to sink when he let go, but only for a moment.
The sound of creaking hinges met your ears and soon a blinding light met your eyes. You immediately shielded your face until you thought you could handle to look.
Remus was pulling himself up through a square opening at the roof of the tunnel. Once he was through he turned around and held his hand out to you.
With his help, you were able to get up into what appeared to be an old, rickety building. The paint was chipping, the wood creaked when weight was put upon it, and the stairs were unsafe and falling apart. The entire building seemed to lean in the wind. The sun was coming up and shining through the grimy windows by now.
“Come on.” Remus caught your attention and started carefully up the stairs with you following. He led you down a hall and pointed to a room at the end. “That’s the second bedroom. When it gets close to the moon you should go in there. But until then, you’re welcome to stay with me.” He smiled slightly.
You smiled a bit as well and nodded. “I think I will.”
Remus opened the door to the room you stood in front of and walked inside. You were surprised, but also not, at the condition of the room. The walls and floors were ripped as if by claws, a three legged bed had ripped sheets atop the torn mattress and the window was sealed with boards.
Remus set his bag on the window seat and sat down and you did the same.
“Now what?” you asked.
“We wait,” Remus said, “and work on today’s assignments.”
“Oh, that’s really what I want to think about.” You grumbled and opened your bag.
How ironic that it was the day to learn cheering charms. You and Remus saved that lesson for last for obvious reasons. The day seemed to go by fast and soon you were heading into your own room, the effects of the cheering charm quickly fading away.
You sat on the window sill and gazed up at the sky. Darkness fell quickly and the clouds rolled away, showing the full moon. Chills ran icy cold down your spine and your stomach clenched up. Your heart began to pound quickly and painfully against your ribcage.
You stood in hopes that straightening your body would ease the pain, but it did nothing. You grasped your head and fell to your knees as pain coursed through every part of you. Your muscles quivered and jerked, beginning to mutate and grow bigger. Your bones cramped up as they seemed to break and grow back in the wrong places. You covered your eyes, as if shielding your vision would hide the pain away, but it did no such good. Your nose and chin began to extend into a snout and hair began to grow were it normally would not. You slammed your hands, now changing into claws, against the wood floor and watched your vision go from color to black and white. Your clothes tore with your body’s growing structure and finally you felt your consciousness fade away as the wolf took full control.
x - x - x
Your body ached all over. Sweat covered you from head to toe and froze onto you in the chilly, morning air. You breathed heavily trying to catch your breath, but each intake was painful to your bruised ribs. Your body was too fragile to take the labors of converting and then converting back, so they left painful after effects that other werewolves no longer received. The pain was so immense you wondered if you would ever be able to get up again. Just as you had done on your previous moons, you cried from the pain. It felt better for you to just weep, to let it all out. You hadn’t expected anyone to be there to see you.
“Lacelin? Can you hear me?”
If you could have looked up you would have. Instead, you whispered a reply to the familiar voice.
“Her body still isn’t used to the stress changing into a werewolf has.” You heard Remus say weakly.
“Should we take her to the infirmary?” That was James, so the other boy speaking must have been Sirius.
There must have been a silent reply, because Sirius bent down and gently lifted you off the ground. Almost instantly you feigned unconsciousness; you were too embarrassed and afraid of being spoken to.
“She passed out?”
“Peter, get her bag.”
“So much for her Quidditch tryout.”
Oh no… I forgot about tryouts! You thought and opened your eyes, only to see Sirius’ silky hair in your face. He was carrying you on his back through the tunnel.
“Don’t,” you paused to clear your throat of the hoarseness, “Don’t take me to the nurse.”
“Ah, so you are awake.” Sirius said. “But you need to see Madame Fix.”
“No, no I don’t.” you said, attempting to sound better than you looked. “I’ve been able to handle this on my own before.”
“Take her to the common room.”
You were glad for that. Why would you suddenly show up in the infirmary? It could make someone suspicious. Plus, you promised Jodie you would be at that tryout. For the rest of the day you laid in your bed. Every once in a while Lily would visit and at lunch she brought you food. The tryouts were an hour before dinner. By then, you were able to move fairly well so you fixed yourself up, retrieved your broom (a simple cleansweep) and headed for the pitch.
There weren’t many people there; a few hopeful first years, a few people who hadn’t made it in the beginning of the year tryouts, and a few spectators (including the marauders). Other than Sirius and James, Jodie was the only actual team member there. When you approached she waved and smiled.
“Okay! Thanks for coming out!” she welcomed. “Everyone here is trying out for the position of beater. First, I’ll want to see how well you fly. After that, we’re gonna release some bewitched bludgers and test your dodging and batting skills.”
Your flying was decent, not as good as normal, but your dodging was superb. You were knocked to the ground once and missed a few hits, but overall you did well. That wasn’t enough to make you think you were going to get the position, however. A few of the rejected from the start of term had obviously been practicing for their next chance, impressing Jodie. It didn’t help that Sirius and James would cheer obnoxiously at your every move and embarrass you.
As you walked towards the common room from the broom closet the prospect of sleep caused you to smile. You planned to head straight to your bed for a nap before dinner.
But when you entered the common room you’re attention was distracted by a group of people huddling around an armchair, all talking excitedly.
x – x – x
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