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Chapter 13 : Somethings Not Right
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The day after being branded and her first date, Ryu felt uncharacteristically normal, and to be quite frank, it was putting her a little on edge. Morning classes and breakfast had gone on without a hitch. Even Kettleburn managed to ignore her during lessons, and that truly was quite extraordinary.
Yet, even though flying under the radar was something she had longed for since first coming to Hogwarts, and it seemed as if that dream might yet be fulfilled, she still had a sinking feeling in her stomach. As if something was on the verge of going wrong.
Going down to breakfast, Ryu kept a wary eye out for Otto considering she had worked out that she only had friendly feelings towards him. Luckily, she never saw him. The better part of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team seemed to have skipped breakfast entirely. She remembered wondering what in the world could cause an entire team to skip a chance to eat, considering food was the second most important thing next to Quidditch, but she managed to shrug off the oddity as inconsequential. She really wasn't looking forward to dealing with the issue of Otto and the meaningless kiss.
Walking into the Great Hall for lunch she was sure she'd be confronted, but looking around only revealed a similar scene. It was quite obvious, from the huge gap in the Hufflepuff table that they were going to be absent again.
She couldn't help but think that maybe Otto was avoiding her, just like she was avoiding him, and it angered her slightly to think that was the case. Of course, she didn't feel anything for the boy, but it was for some reason infuriating to think he had kissed her only to lead her on.
Her tumultuous thoughts had managed to cloud her vision of the Gryffindor table as she walked towards it, so she became abruptly aware of her missing friends as she took her seat. Lily was the only ones there
Looking around confused, she turned to Lily who was reading a large Potions manual just like she always did at lunch and addressed her friend. “Lils, where is everyone?”
Lily's eyes briefly glanced up at Ryu before returning to the page she had been reading. She answered distractedly. “Jason and James came running in not too long ago and went rushing out with the rest of the boys and Sonny in tow...Can't quite remember why though...I wasn't paying attention, I think it had something to do with Quidditch.”
Lily went back to eating and reading just as Dina and Rebecca sat down. They looked just as confused as Ryu as to why their friends seemed to be missing.
“Where is everyone? Usually we come in and James and Peter are arguing over the last biscuit” Stated Dina as she scooped some beans onto her plate.
Ryu shrugged, “Apparently there is a big to do out at the pitch that has them all skipping lunch.”
Rebecca snorted in disbelief. “Skipping lunch!” She cried. “I doubt that! It would have to be something real big... Jason and James usual insist that acting like garbage disposals at every meal is necessary to maintain proper Quidditch fitness.”
Ryu frowned. “It all does seems a bit strange, but I wouldn't give it too much thought. Although I have had a nervous feeling in my stomach since this morning, like I'm waiting for disaster. I feel like I need to go find out what's going on, but to be quite honest, I want to run in the opposite direction of whatever is going on.” She confided.
Dina stopped eating and looked up at Ryu. “You have a bad feeling?” When Ryu nodded her head in response, Dina rolled her eyes and threw her hands in the air. “For the love of Merlin run! Run in the opposite direction! The last thing we need is another crazy Great Hall moment from you.”
Ryu's eyes went wide at the thought of more public humiliation, and she hastily got up, nodding in agreement with Dina, while grabbing a few tea sandwiches and hurrying out of the Great Hall. There was no way she was going to wait around for something else in her life to go haywire. She was going to avoid it at all costs.
A couple of floors above the Great Hall, Ryu found a suitable ledge in front of a large window and sat down to munch on what she had grabbed off the table as she ran from the Great Hall. The window gave a panoramic view of the grounds and the Black Lake. She found herself enjoying the scene before her.
The Forbidden forest, in all its mystery, still seemed to be calling out to her, but it wasn't as hypnotizing from this far up in the castle as it was when she was on a level with it. Usually looking into its depths, it was as if she had been hooked by a fishing line that was reeling her in. Just gazing at the treetops from the window caused a similar tug, but one that was not nearly as all consuming. The feeling was irksome and always brought up questions she didn't have answers to, so she shifted slightly on the sill so that the forest wasn't in her direct line of sight and let her eyes take in the Black lake.
Its smooth glassy surface was dotted with small disturbances caused by what one could imagine as anything from Mer-people to Grindylows. Yet it wasn't the small blips marring the mirror-like surface of the lake that caught her attention, she was focused in on a group of people standing near its shore.
It only took an instant for her to realize it was Sonny, James, Jason and the rest of her missing friends. What was strange was they seemed to be standing as a united front and facing what looked to be the majority of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team. She wondered what could possibly be going on, but upon registering their stance and body language, she was able to conclude that harsh words were being exchanged. She was sure of her conclusion as she saw the shape of Sonny fling herself at a person who appeared to be Frederick… and upon seeing her friend begin a fight, she was up and running to help in less than a second.
She must have been running at breakneck speed because when she pushed open the doors of the castle, the boys were still trying to pry the two apart.
She immediately hurled herself into the mix “What in the bloody hell is going on here?” She roared as she easily lifted Sonny off of Frederick and threw her back into her teammates.
Sonny looked livid and she threw an accusatory finger toward the Hufflepuff’s. “Why don't you ask those bloody gits.” She seethed “Go on Otto, why don’t you tell her what you told Dumbledore!”
Ryu turned towards a nervous looking Otto and looked at him questioningly. How Otto had pissed off Sonny so bad was beyond her, and to be honest, she wasn’t sure she really wanted to know. Afraid of the answer, she hesitantly asked the question. “What did you tell Dumbledore? And why the hell has it got one of my best friends so pissed off?”
Otto looked almost pained. It was obvious he didn't want to tell her. It took him a minute to work up the resolve to do so, and by that time Ryu had already worked out that it was definitely something she didn't want to hear. His voice seemed tormented when he spoke, “Jason mentioned that you, ya know...you had never been sorted. Said it was lucky that Dumbledore just kind of let you stay in the Gryffindor Tower over break because they had the most students who chose to remain over Christmas that could keep you company and show you around. Said he was going to try and get you to play Quidditch for the house team since I told him how good you were at flying. After hearing that, I got to thinking that you ought to be sorted. So I just kind of mentioned to the Headmaster that you should go through the motions of becoming a student here like everyone else had to. I told him you should be sorted so that you could be a legitimate player on a team and there could be no quarreling over an unfair advantage.”
Ryu paled upon hearing his words. Did he just imply that she might have to, once again, move to a place where she didn't know anyone? Sure she had been at Hogwarts for awhile, but everyone except her friends pretty much stayed away from her. It seemed as if all the other students were really freaked out by her, and with all the craziness surrounding her, she couldn’t blame them. Gryffindor was her home and her friends were her family. He had basically just threatened to take them away from her.
“You told him what?” She asked dangerously quiet.
“C'mon Ryu!” cried Otto nervously upon hearing her tone. “You have to understand that it wouldn't be fair to all the other teams if you were just put on the Gryffindor team without even being sorted into Gryffindor! It would be an unfair advantage. You have to understand!” He pleaded.
Ryu turned venomous eyes towards his. “You really think I'm going to understand that you thought it necessary to rip me away from the only friends I’ve ever had so you could even out Quidditch odds?” She said bitingly, she was furious with his idiocy. “Before you put your idiotic two cents in to Dumbledore, did you ever consider that I might not even want to play Quidditch!” She screeched loudly, her volume increasing with every word.
Otto flinched slightly at her volume, but he look a bit dumbstruck by her words. “Why would you not want to play Quidditch?” He asked seemingly confused and baffled as to why anyone wouldn't want to be involved in the game
Ryu felt herself becoming extremely angry and she couldn’t leash it. “Not only do I not know how to play Quidditch, I don’t want to learn either! Especially not after what you’ve gone and done.”
Otto looked bewildered. “But you're so talented! It would be such a waste!”
Ryu could feel the magic pulsating through her, and she didn't need to see the widening of the Hufflepuffs’ eyes to know that she was glowing. Her voice resonated powerfully with every word without even having to yell. “I could care less about your stupid game! What I care about is staying around people who care about me. Merlin help me if I get put into Hufflepuff or any other house but Gryffindor! I don't have a family Otto, I'm a bloody orphan for Merlin's sake. The closet thing I have ever had to friends and a family are the people that you quite possibly just took me away from. How could you do this to me! I thought you liked me!” She roared at him angrily. “I should’ve guessed that Quidditch was the only thing you'll ever care about! If I get taken out of Gryffindor because of you, you'll be lucky if my friends hold me back from doing to you what I did to Lucius. You know what, how about you just stay the fuck away from me Otto! I can’t believe how thick you can be!”
Otto’s face went completely white, and happy with her threats Ryu marched back toward the castle in a huff and still glowing with anger. How could this have happened? Otto was supposed to be her friend for Merlin's sake! More importantly, how was she going to get out of this? Could life get anymore disastrous? Thousands of questions were buzzing through her mind and everything around her was glowing in gold.
Marching through the entryway of the castle she didn't even realize that lunch had just let out. The students of Hogwarts were familiar with the unusual, but seeing one of their own pulsating with a golden glow left more than a few jaws dropped. Others just assumed she had been pranked. Still, it was obvious that the girl was livid, and as her friends from Gryffindor clambered through the huge doors behind her, followed by the Hufflepuff Quidditch team, people's curiosity got a hold of them. Soon Ryu was stomping through the halls with a procession of students unknowingly at her back.
As they reached the third floor it became quite obvious that she was headed to Dumbledore's office. Several students fell back to go to class as they realized this, others were brave enough to risk detention to see what was sure to be a fiasco. They didn't have to wait long for it to begin either, Dumbledore was outside his office conversing with Professor Sinestra and Ryu was headed straight for them.
Dumbledore turned just as Ryu approached, and although his twinkling smile never faltered, his eyes hardened slightly at seeing Ryu followed by practically the entire student body.
Ryu cut right to the chase. “Is it true Professor? I've been here for almost two months, and I'm happy in Gryffindor, is it true that now I'm going to be sorted?”
The whole of the student body at her back gasped audibly at the mention of her being sorted. Ryu turned around and instantly stopped glowing only to go ghost white upon realizing that her worst fears had come true.
She had caused another spectacle.
Laying low was just not an option for her.
She turned back around meekly, facing Dumbledore apologetically. She leaned towards the Headmaster and in a low voice said. “Just for the record...I didn't know they were following me. It’s the whole glowing thing ya know? Clouds my vision, not to mention rational thought. I swear to Merlin I didn’t know they were there”
Dumbledore’s expression remained rigid. “Something clearly has dulled your ability to think in a manner appropriate of a student. Especially a student in such a precarious situation as yourself.” He told her bitingly.
Ryu flinched. Dumbledore had been nothing but accommodating. He had done everything in his power to make her comfortable. Marching up to his office in such a demanding manner, while drawing extra attention to herself was quite blatantly a slap in the face and was sure to be construed as questioning his authority.
She recognized her mistake instantly, and she felt bad for putting him on the spot after he had already stuck his neck out so far for her. If it was required of him to sort her she was going to have to do it. She tried to smooth things over even if it was minutely. “Uhh...shall we continue this conversation in your office?”
Dumbledore nodded his head and they began to walk towards the door. They stopped in their tracks, however, as an extremely snide voice piped up and a person stepped through the crowd revealing themselves. It was Lucius Malfoy. “Isn't it customary that all students be sorted in front of their peers? It is only fair that she have an audience like the rest of us.” His smirk was so pleased she almost launched herself at him.
Dumbledore sighed resignedly. “You are most unfortunately right Mr. Malfoy. Ryu, we will have to sort you at tomorrow’s breakfast. That is all I have to say on the matter. Everyone to class...Now!” The crowd dispersed immediately at his unusually stern tone, and he excused himself to his office. Ryu tried to follow him up, but he held a hand up, indicating he wasn't in the mood to even discuss what had just happened.
Ryu's disappointment was palpable. She wanted to get this over or dealt with instead of having it in the forefront of her mind. Depression visibly settled over her as her shoulders slumped and all emotion left her eyes. She wasn't the one who had done anything wrong except rightfully feel anger. Yet why had she approached Dumbledore in such anger? She was cursing herself for the mistake and she didn’t want to talk about it even though all her friends did.
Sirius and James were there in an instant trying to console her, but she ignored their comforting words and pushed her way through the crowd trying to find a place to be alone. Her friends were almost as dismayed as she was as they watched her walk away despondently.
“Fuck.” said Sonny. “Fuck....Just fuck!”
“Very eloquent Son.” James told her. “What the hell do we do now?”
Sirius looked about to boil over. “I'll show you what we fucking do.” Before anyone had an inkling of what the passionate boy meant by his statement, he had walked into the huddle that was the majority of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team, tapped Otto on the shoulder and sucker punched him hard as he turned around. Everyone was too shocked to do anything as they watched Sirius hop on top of the older Hufflepuff only to throw more punches as he hit the ground.
Frederick and Will were there in an instant, pulling Sirius off of their friend. Otto was up as soon as Sirius was pulled off and restrained. Otto took the opportunity to retaliate, punching Sirius right in the mouth while his friends held him.
Immediately the rest of the Gryffindor's hopped in, pulling Sirius out of Otto's friends' grip. Everyone had wands out and it looked as if the two teams were about to get in an all out brawl when, out of nowhere, Fulton Davies stepped between the two groups.
“Move out of the way Davies.” Warned Sonny dangerously.
“No.” He answered. “Look, I don't know what this is about--”
“This is about Quidditch advantage.” Interrupted Otto angrily.
Sirius had to be physically held back. The volume of his roar was astounding. “YOU FUCKING WANKER! This isn't about fucking Quidditch! Get that through your snitch sized brain! This is about Ryu! Do you realize that! Do you realize your messing with a person’s life… all for bloody Quidditch!” he seethed. “Did you see how she looked when she walked off? She's just gotten used to this… used to Hogwarts and used to the Wizarding World! She's had to work her arse off to catch up to sixth year level, the Ministry is monitoring her progress, she's stressed out and just now learning how to deal with it, and you go and throw this bullocks into the mixture. This is about someone’s life, someone who has no fucking desire to play Quidditch regardless of her natural talent! Do you realize this? Do you realize what you've gone and done? What is wrong with you man!”
“If it’s not about Quidditch, then why did Jason seem so confident that she’d be on the team.” Asked Frederick.
Sonny scoffed and sent a glare Jason’s direction. “Jason is over confident in everything he does! He tries to one-up everyone, but he’s all talk. Merlin you of all people, being our competitors, should know that! He lies to get under your skin and make you worry! Besides, I told you, and she told you, that she wanted nothing to do with Quidditch! Hell, it was her first night even on a broom, and thanks to you she'll probably never get on one and enjoy it again!”
“Listen” Said an exasperated Otto, “I'm sorry that it had to be this way, but she needs to get sorted anyway, things have to be fair when it comes to the cup.”
Fulton Davies turned towards Otto. “Things have to be fair to who? To you?” He questioned harshly. “Have you even given thought to how fair this is to Ryu? Especially considering she really doesn't want to play Quidditch, which is your reasoning behind having her sorted. If you haven't noticed, people around here kind of avoid her, and she avoids them and their stares as well. Now you’re putting her in a situation where she has to cope with the fact that she might be alone without friends. I understand your seriousness for the game—I love it too—but was all this really necessary? Couldn't you have approached her before Dumbledore? You really screwed up mate, and considering you were having dinner with her last night, I'd say you really screwed up your chance at a great girl.”
The whole Gryffindor side felt validated that Davies saw what they were saying. It felt as if they had won the standoff, so with a couple of dirty looks, they turned to leave as a group.
Sirius was the last to turn and go, he was still boiling in anger. James had to grab him by the arm to get him to move. He did so, but not before looking Otto up and down with a contemptuous look. He turned his back on the Hufflepuffs sharply and walked with his friends back up to the Common Room in silence.
Once back to the Common Room Sirius went straight up to his dorm to get the map and look for Ryu. His task was only stalled briefly upon seeing a sickly Remus lying in his bed. He hadn’t even noticed the boy was missing in all the hub-bub. The full moon was this evening, and he had little time to find and console Ryu before he was going to have to be by Remus's side, just as he had done so many times before.
“You alright Moony? You take the Wolfsbane yet?” He asked as he rushed around the room searching for the map.
“Of course I have Sirius. This isn't my first rodeo.” Said a lethargic but still humorous Remus. His friends’ concern was always endearing, but it also made him chuckle. It was funny to see them worried after they’d done this a million times.
Sirius paused in his search, a confused look on his face. “What's a road-e-o?”
Remus just grinned. “Nothing. What are you looking for anyways?”
“I need the map to find Ryu.”
“It's right here Sirius.” Said Remus holding up parchment. “What's wrong with Ryu? And for that matter why is your lip bleeding?”
“Thanks for the map.” said Sirius. “Ask James about Ryu and my lip, I have to find her now so I can be ready for tonight. Sorry about the rush mate. It's just it might take awhile considering she pops up on the map one minute then disappears the next. I'm starting to think it has something to do with the whole glowing bit. I'll be back after a while.”
He was gone before Remus had a chance to say another word. The whirlwind state Sirius had been in had the ill boy slightly uneasy.
Sirius rushed out the Portrait Hole scanning the map intensely, looking for a blip marked Ryu. His eyes never found one, so he decided to start at the top of the castle and work his way down. The Astronomy Tower was where most people would go to think about things, but she wasn't there, and she also wasn't in the Room of Requirement. He searched all the hidden passageways he knew, and found nothing. All he found in empty classrooms and broom cupboards were snogging couples. He thought about checking out the kitchens, but knew there was no need because of the House Elves incident. All that he could deduce was that she had to be outside, and if that was the case, it could be disastrous considering Remus's furry little problem.
Looking at his watch and realizing that sunset wasn't too far off, he decided to book it up to the Common Room and tell the guys.
When he burst through the Portrait Hole he spotted Pete and James playing chess with an attentive Alton spectating. He caught James's eye and motioned to their dormitory. James quickly caught on, and him and Pete met him upstairs. Remus looked to be getting out of bed, but as his three friends entered the room, Sirius looking particularly anxious, he knew something was wrong and sat back down.
“What's up Padfoot? Did you find Ryu?” asked Remus
“No.” Sirius answered nervously. “I searched the whole castle, every last nook and cranny...She has to be outside.”
The room went silent and Remus became noticeably paler. “What are we going to do? We have to find her! She can't be outside, not tonight!”
“Relax Moony, I'm sure Padfoot has a plan...” said James in an attempt to calm his sickly friend down.
Sirius shot James a look, he didn't have a plan. James returned Sirius's look with a look that practically shouted 'Well you damn well better come up with one and quick!'
Sirius began pacing back and forth. “I think we are going to have to go over to the shack early. It's definitely going to be hard to accomplish without the cover of night, but it’s the only way we can look for Ryu knowing Remus is somewhat contained. We'll use the cloak to get him in the tunnel and once he's in the shack we'll have a little under... what time does the moon rise tonight Remus?”
“7:20” Said the young werewolf “and it's 6:30 now.”
“Shit we need to move now. Sirius get the cloak.” James said. “We'll work on the plan as we go. Pete go ahead of us and get in position under the tree. We need to make it to the shack in record time, so be prepared when we yell to you from under the cloak.”
Remus was up as quickly as he could manage, James and Sirius stood on either side of him in order to help steady his slow painstaking steps.
Remus was talking as he walked “Sunset is at 7:20 but the moon rises early... it will reach its peak just after sunset. It’s supposed to be clear as well, so the first stage of the transformation will start almost immediately and will conclude rather quickly. I was just coming down to get you, as you all came upstairs! We have fifty minutes to make it to the shack and it takes close to forty to get there. How are you going to find her in ten minutes? The grounds are huge! What if I transform early?”
“Remus save your energy and quit talking. Concentrate your efforts on walking.” Said James “Everything will be alright, we'll find her.” Even though he was saying the words, he was having a hard time believing them himself, and Sirius could tell.
“Don't worry Remus, it'll be fine.” He assured both Remus and James. “Once we get into the tunnel, I'll switch with Peter, then turn into Snuffles and work on sniffing her out. I'll get her back into the castle before you even transform. Everything is going to be fine.”
Their progress was slow but hurried though unimpeded, and when they reached the entryway they pulled the cloak on. Making their way out onto the grounds, they could see Pete's small shape scuttling around beneath the tree. Once they got close enough, they called to him to disable it for safe entry into the tunnel. It wasn’t until after they were in the tunnel that they pulled off the cloak. Then everyone watched as Peter transformed back into his usual self.
Sirius signaled to him. “Pete c’mere.” He ushered the boy to take his spot in aiding Remus. “You're going to have to take my spot and help James get Remus to the shack as fast as possible. I have to find Ryu.”
Peter nodded and took Sirius's place without so much as a question, but as they got going again it was obvious that, even though Peter was helping, their pace with Sirius's help had been much quicker. Sirius, however, had the more important job in finding Ryu.
Just before exiting the entrance to the tunnel, Sirius transformed into Snuffles and sprinted out from beneath the Whomping Willows canopy narrowly avoiding a debilitating blow. Watching his breath turn to fog in front of him with his wandering animal eyes, he paused to see if he could catch her scent.
No such luck, and no time to waste. Without really thinking about which direction he was going in, he began to sprint. His ears flopping in his eyes were slightly hampering in helping detect Ryu, but he knew he'd smell her before he saw her, so he kept up the fast pace. He worked his way down the front lawn of the school, around the Quidditch Pitch, along the tree line of the Forbidden Forest, past Hagrid's shack, and back to the school without so much as finding a whiff of a trail. He let out a bark of frustration and paused to try and think about what to do.
Thinking really wasn't a strong suit of dogs. Dogs think differently than humans, and although he had spent many hours as a Snuffles, it was kind of hard to assimilate himself into the animals' way of thinking. Everything was a bit muddled and run together. Each thought really seemed to be more of a picture represented by smells and feeling than anything else. It could be confusing and overwhelming. Yet as he saw the sunlight disappearing over the horizon, it was easy to decipher the meaning behind the rising of his hackles and the smell of feral beast and blood in his nostrils. A full moon was shining in his mind’s eye and a worrying anticipation took over his mood. He didn't have much time, he had to find Ryu.
He took off at break neck speed, his saliva frothing and his breath ragged with effort. He ran behind the castle praying that she was nowhere near Hogsmeade as darkness settled over the landscape. When he finally heard what he had been dreading to hear all night, sorrow overcame Snuffles.
The smell that he was recalling, after hearing the howl, was deranged beast. The image that came to mind was accompanied by disapproval, but in Snuffles it evoked pity. As a dog, Sirius had a sense that this werewolf—this cousin of Snuffles—was unnatural and wrong. Experiencing the full moon from a dogs perspective left one with a sense of edginess, but even more so a deep sadness at the existence of such a despicable creation. It left Snuffles with feelings mixed of disgust and pity. When Remus's transformation was complete, Sirius would always pause to forlornly howl at the blue glowing orb that was the moon. The moon was the bringer of the beast, and as a dog he longed to voice his outrage. However, unlike any previous full moon, he had no time to howl his protests towards the sky, he had to find Ryu.
His survey of the land behind the castle turned out to be frivolous. Ryu was somewhere between him and Hogsmeade. Worse, she was somewhere between Remus and his Hogwarts romping grounds.
Sirius was scared out of his wits, and the depiction of the young werewolf in his mind’s eye only reminded him of the creature’s impeccable senses.
James was pretty much carrying all of Remus's weight by the time they were halfway down the tunnel. He was wondering why Peter was even feigning helping anymore, because it was quite obvious that he was doing nothing. He was in bad shape and breathing ridiculously hard for only having the weight of Remus's left arm. Every other part of Remus was relying heavily on James to stay upright. James had to tell himself that there was no sense in getting angry if it wasn't going to help him get Remus to safety. He just planted one foot laboriously in front of the other, and kept going. For Remus he would keep up the pace if it killed him.
When they finally reached the end of the tunnel James was afraid to check his watch, but knew it was necessary just so he would be prepared when the transformation began. 7:10, Ten minutes and counting. Hopefully enough time to lug Remus's semi-incapacitated body up two flights of stairs in the worn out condition that his own body was screaming at him for. The adrenaline and thoughts of Sirius looking for Ryu were the only things that kept him from taking a break. If he could just manage to get Remus upstairs, he might be able to figure a way to lock or block the rooms busted door and buy a few extra minutes to help Sirius search the sprawling grounds of Hogwarts.
He hauled a barely protesting Remus over his shoulder, and set a shaky leg on the first stair to begin his climb. Peter just looked up at him tiredly from his spot on the ground where he had collapsed to catch his breath. James ignored him and, relying heavily on the precarious and dilapidated banister, made it to the landing before deciding that it wasn't safe for him to be carrying Remus over his shoulder relying on such a railing. The last thing Remus needed was to be injured before transforming.
He sat Remus on his feet and directed his hand to the railing. Together they took it one step at a time and made it into the room just as darkness fell. James hurriedly settled his friend on the bed before exiting to the hallway and pushing every piece of furniture he could find, broken or not, in front of the bedroom door. He hadn't progressed very far, due to his tiredness, when he heard Remus crying out in pain as the first wave of transformation took hold.
James called down to Peter “Brace yourself Wormtail, it's started. Transfigure if you already haven't.” He piled some chairs uselessly on top of a dresser, before looking around and realizing there was nothing else for him to use to obstruct the door. He ran down the stairs, transfigured into his Animagus, and posted his stag self in front of the front door. Remus was going to have to get past him to leave.
The transformation was over for Remus in a matter of minutes, and culminated in a loud poignant howl emitted from the lips of a newly transformed beast. It was a howl that echoed morosely through the shack and out into the dark and could be heard for miles around. James braced himself as he began to hear the sounds of thrashing upstairs that followed. He could hear Remus hurling himself at the door and knew it was only a matter of time before he made it passed the makeshift blockade. Still, it happened rather faster than anticipated.
On his fifth time hurling himself at the door, the sharp crack of wood splitting against its grain could be heard. And on the sixth, there was a deafening crash, and a large commotion as claws could be heard scrambling for a hold.
All his stag instinct had to be over ridden in order to stand his ground, and as he heard the thumping of a creature coming down the stairs, he was almost overwhelmed by his animal need to run away. After hours of spending time as stag, it still wasn't as easy to exert control as one might think. Full control as an Animagi only came after years and years of experience, but he somehow always managed to barely reign himself in and brace for confrontation with Remus. He managed to exert his human mind over his animal instinct to run. What wasn't James Potter capable of doing for a friend?
When Remus rounded the corner on the landing, everything seemed to go in slow motion for James. Remus stopped and leaned back on his haunches, his hair matted and lathered with sweat as he growled at the animal blocking his way. When Remus launched himself off of the stairs, James lowered his antlers and dug his hooves into the ground waiting for impact, and boy did it come.
Remus hurled his whole beastly body at James with all of his strength, not giving a damn about the threat of the stag’s sharp horns. He slammed himself into James disregarding the cuts and punctures caused by the antlers trying to fend him off. He would kill himself trying to get past the stag.
James realized this as the wild red irises and snapping frothing mouth of Remus inched closer and closer to his animal neck with each rebounding and injurious effort. He couldn't hold him without killing him. He had to let him through.
When Remus backed off to redouble his efforts, James opened up the doorway and let him through, but prepared for him to attack again.
Remus bounded out the door and rounded on James. For a moment, Remus looked as if he might attack, but with just a twitch of his dog-like noise, he became momentarily distracted and quickly caught the scent of something...a scent that sent him sprinting towards Hogwarts.
Ryu whirled around and quickly felt the hum of magic within herself as chills ran up her spine. What was that howl? It was so...was there even a word to describe it? So forlorn! Her eyes looked to the moon and at the darkness around her. She quickly realized just how late it had become and felt the urgent need to get back to Hogwarts.
She had been outside for hours walking around the grounds. Sometimes sprinting to release frustrations, and sometimes laying down in the grass to take a deep breath. She was trying her best not to let her mind even wander towards the subject of getting sorted, and for the last hour she found solace forgetting her troubles by standing on the edge of the Forbidden Forest near Hogsmeade, battling the almost overwhelming urge to run into the forest’s depths. It really took all of her willpower not to screw it all and enter, but she enjoyed the temptation, and was battling with it as a way to get her mind off life. It felt good to feel in control of herself considering her life was always seemingly out of her hands. The gut-wrenching cry, echoing throughout the night like a warning, was the only thing for hours that had been able to shake her stoic concentration and bring back the knowledge of her own existence.
Even with the golden glow of magic about her, the moon shining so ominously made her wary of the night. Something didn't feel right about it. Something about the magic in the dark air was twisted, and the prickling of her senses told her something was amiss. She knew she needed to get back inside as quick as possible, so she broke into a sprint once more.
She made her way onto the trail leading back to Hogwarts not slowing down her pace at all. She was pretty far out, but she was a fast runner, and she wasn't showing any signs of fatigue whatsoever. Her breathing hadn't even become labored when she felt something approaching behind her. She picked up the pace as much as she could and she couldn't help but think she was running as fast as a horse. Nonetheless a black object broke the tree line, and she could just make out the shape of a mangy black dog struggling, but keeping up with her.
The animal didn't seem to be trying to catch her, it kept glancing left and right as if it were watching out for something else. It was almost as if it were escorting her to safety, but she couldn't be sure and wasn't willing to risk slowing her speed only to receive a dog bite. She kept running and so do did the trailing dog.
It wasn't until she had made it to the front lawn of the school that she relaxed a little and slowed up. The dog did too, but he did so while circling her and looking about in all directions. She was sure that it was trying to protect her now, and became curious as to why. She approached the thing from behind, careful not to touch it, and crouched down next to it looking out into the night in the direction that it seemed concerned about. She turned to look at it just as it began sniffing the air frantically. “What is it that's out there buddy?”
As she spoke the dog began to bark incessantly and move its feet restlessly.
“What is it boy?” She asked the dog while standing up and looking in the direction from where she had just come from. If she squinted her eyes just so, she could see a silhouetted mass moving towards her at an ungodly speed. It was the object the dog was barking at.
She didn't wait a second, she was sprinting in the opposite direction instantly. She refused to look behind and glimpse the beast, but she could almost feel him closing the gap. She was going to keep running and never look back but that plan fell short when she heard a painful yelp. She instantly recognized the sound of the protective dog and halted. She knew she should've just kept running, but the dog had tried to warn her and for some reason she felt obligated to help him.
She skidded to a stop and turned her head to view the scene behind her. It seemed as if there were two dogs grappling on the ground but, upon a closer look, the scene was much more sinister. The dog that had been following her was doing its best to restrain a much bigger, uglier, and violent, doglike beast from reaching her. Every time the creature would lunge towards where she was, snapping its jaws and leering at her maniacally, the other dog would rush to grab hold of the beast’s leg or tail as a means of restraining it from reaching her. This only caused the much bigger creature to snarl in rage and kick the dog off with its superior strength and come at her again in a renewed effort. The small dog was becoming bloodied rather quickly attempting to try and prevent the beast from catching and harming her. And with every yelp of its pain, she felt her heart wrench.
She didn't know she was approaching the fierce fight as her legs first began to move, but she went with it once she realized it. There was something seriously wrong about the creature in front of her, and she felt the magic pulsating frantically within her as she neared the thing.
In reality, she was moving at a pace faster than she had ever traveled before, but to her it felt like extremely slow motion. She didn't know what was happening, or how, or even why she was moving towards the beasts’ back so quickly, but in an instant she was near enough to touch him. And in that instant, just as she laid hands on the creatures matted fur, a jolt that felt like lightening surged up her arm leaving her eyes to bulge and her body to spasm. It was as if all her extra nerve-endings fired simultaneously in pain, and then sucked in something so revolting that it left her spewing her guts and displacing all the twisted magic from her in a mini sonic boom that burnt a picture of an agonized Remus into her mind.
What the bloody hell just happened?
The noise was loud and it left her ears ringing even as she regained consciousness. To her right lay what seemed to feel like a human being, and as her eyes righted themselves in the darkness, she could make out the lifeless shape of none other than Remus.
Wait a tic?
She was utterly confused.
Wasn't she just hurling herself at some deranged creature? Then how come now she was sitting next to a peacefully sleeping Remus? She shook her head trying to remember what had happened when she laid her eyes on the still form of the black dog.
Scrambling to her feet she ran over to kneel beside the animal. She was afraid to touch him less she hurt the poor thing. It seemed as if not one inch of its body was unmarred. Her heart ached. She reached out her hand to stroke the dogs scruffy ear and, for the second time that night, as she laid a hand on its blood splattered fur, a jolt, considerably less painful this time, ran up her arm and the dog in front of her transformed into a bloodied Sirius.
She gasped, momentarily dumbstruck, then she panicked as she realized he was unconscious. He was breathing, but they were shallow labored breathes. His flawless body had taken a horrid beating. He looked as if he had been chewed on, and indeed it seemed he had.
Ryu became flustered. She didn't know what to do. One of her best friends was laying in front of her dying, and seemingly due to her other friend, who was also laying unconscious just a few feet away. It was like a nightmare, and she knew she wasn't going to be able to carry Sirius to the school without worsening his already fragile condition. Tears were streaming down her face and she didn't even know it.
She was going to have to figure something out. No she was going to figure something out. Dumbledore told her she was capable of anything, and if she was capable of anything, she was most certainly capable of saving one of her best friends. She was just going to have to approach it like the vault, probe until she saw what to do.
She embraced and absorbed all the magic around her and placed Sirius's hand in her own as she probed him, sending her magic into and over him to create an impression of him swathed in the gold of magic. What she saw brought despair, but she held onto it only momentarily as her resolve firmed. This was going to work.
She started by probing once more, but this time she concentrated on one area at a time. Once she picked out an injury, she looked to the surrounding tissue to see how it was formed and used the magic inside him to create duplicate cells which she strung into place to repair any damage.
She traveled throughout his whole body pausing longer to repair serious wounds, and only shortly on the minor. Her major concern was his loss of blood and, once she had patched him up, she set to regenerating his blood cells. It only took her a few seconds of observing the process to figure out how to recreate it with magic. She was pleased with the condition she had returned him to, but it still left her staring worriedly at his unconscious form.
She sat there staring pleadingly at his closed eyes when she heard footsteps approaching from far off. She reached out with magic, swathing the land with gold in her mind’s eye and created an image of Hogwart’s lawn to give her a birds-eye view that only she could see. In her mind she could make out the forms of James and Peter running towards her from the direction of Hogsmeade. She got up to greet them.
James was first to reach her and he didn't say anything beyond inspecting her to make sure she didn't have a scratch on her all the while breathing raggedly. Once his inspection was over, he began to survey his surroundings. As his eyes found Remus sleeping peacefully, they bulged, but once they found Sirius, they panicked.
“What happened?” James cried as he sprung toward his best friend and tore off the bloodied shirt only to find Sirius was unharmed. He looked confusedly to Ryu, still appearing distressed. “What is all this blood? How is everyone okay? What happened?”
Ryu looked to James and shook her head, just as fearfully bewildered as he was. “I’m not sure to be honest.” She said licking her lips and running a hand through her tangled hair. “At one point all three of us were passed out, I was just the first to come to. What I think happened is that Sirius…the dog, was trying to keep Remus, the Werewolf? Away from me at the cost of bodily harm.”
“What bodily harm?” Asked James confused and a bit hysterical, giving his friend a once over once more. “His clothes are all bloody, and he's unconscious, but there's not a scratch on him! And how, for the love of Merlin, is Remus sleeping and not a fucking Werewolf!”
Ryu sighed and bit her lip shaking her head unsurely. “James I’m confused as you are and, frankly, a bit shaken. Sirius almost caused Remus to kill him by trying to preventing him from getting to me. He lost a lot of blood—“
“—and had some serious lacerations,” She continued after glaring at James, “Even a broken leg… but I—I healed him.” She saw the disbelief on their faces so she just shrugged trying to get across how it had all just happened so quick. “Remus isn't a Werewolf anymore because I somehow touched him and he transformed back into himself… I know it sounds ridiculous, but when I touched the big black dog it turned into Sirius so that's where I'm drawing my parallel from. It’s like if I touch someone whose transfigured themselves, they transform back into their original state.”
James was looking at her dubiously now but not disbelievingly. “What are you?” he asked more rhetorically than anything else.
Ryu just shook her head uncertainly and glanced at her unconscious friends sorrowfully. “I don't know James. Though, I definitely learned a few things about what I am capable of tonight. You should probably concentrate on getting Remus somewhere where he can be restrained, in case he turns again tonight. I'll stay with Sirius until he comes to, and I'll meet you back in the dorm to talk later.”
“We have a lot to talk about so don't you skip out.” James eyed her seriously. Then he nodded, satisfied that she hadn't shied away before he and Peter levitated Remus between them and made their way to the shrieking shack for the second time that night.
Ryu turned back to Sirius and knelt beside him, waiting for him to stir. She couldn't help but sit there, staring at his face, thinking about what might have happened had she not been able to pull 'magical being' shite out of her arse at just the right time. She broke down even more thinking about how this never would have happened had she just stayed in the castle instead of marching around the grounds in a tizzy. She couldn't bear the thought of not having a friend like Sirius around. Her tears turned to sobs thinking about losing him, even in the small sense of changing houses. The sadness of everything bearing down on her caused her to lower her head onto Sirius's chest as sobs continued to escape. She only managed to choke them back as she felt a hand beginning to stroke her hair comfortingly.
She looked up, eyes still filled with tears into the tired, but smiling grey eyes of Sirius.
“What's wrong love?” He asked her. “I've been looking for you all day, trying to find you to talk. You know Otto's not worth your tears right?”
Just coming to consciousness and he was still concerned about her. She managed a half smile and looked to him wiping away tears “I'm not crying over Otto, I'm crying over losing friends like you. Sirius you frightened the wits out of me. Before I healed you, I thought you were going to die. Don't you ever do that again, do you hear me! If some wild animal is about to maul me you better let it!”
Sirius chuckled “I don't think I can promise that, I'm here to help you regardless of whether you want it or not. By the way what happened to Remus― Shit he didn't get you did he?” He said bolting to a sitting position and maneuvering Ryu around to inspect that there were no bite marks.
“No he didn't get me,” She chuckled slightly wiping her tears with her hands. “I touched him and he transformed back into Remus. James took him back to the shack just in case.”
“Ha!” Barked Sirius sarcastically. “Should've figure that you'd turn out to be able to fix Remus's furry little problem.”
Ryu didn't see the why he was so happy. In fact, to her it just drove home the point that he had almost died and that she might've never been able to hear his voice or his laughter again. She threw her arms around his neck and the tears began flowing again. “Sirius, merlin Sirius I thought I lost you.” She gripped him all the harder. “I've only just gotten you and I couldn’t bear to lose you. I've never cared for people in my life and seeing this just....just....I can't deal with losing any of you. It would destroy me.”
Sirius was slightly awestruck at such strong emotions coming from her. Unless it was anger, Ryu had a way of bottling up her feelings, and seeing her act like this really put into perspective what she had been through. She really thought he was a goner.
He embraced her, pulling her close and wrapping both arms around her warmly. “Remus couldn't possibly take me away from you.” He said softly and lightheartedly
Luckily it brought a smile to Ryu's face as she pulled away and smacked him lightly. “Always have to be joking!” She sniffled and pushed away from him. “C'mon,” she said getting up “We have to get back and meet up with James.”
Sirius lugged himself to his feet tiredly and got up and followed her back to his dorm. When they got back, Ryu was still a bit shaken up and wanted to calm down with a scalding shower. Since James wasn't back, and she knew he'd be mad if she left, she asked if she could borrow a towel and hop in the shower. Sirius happily obliged.
The water was soothing and wonderfully warm but it didn't take away any of what she was feeling. She couldn't shake the feeling of losing her friends for good. Hopping out of the shower and drying off, she got dressed and went back out into the boy’s dorm. Sirius was asleep on his bed with a magazine in hand when she entered. She couldn't help but sit down on the edge of his bed and just look at him. He was really beat up earlier, and she couldn't get the image out of her head, it was bringing tears back to her eyes.
Just as she went to wipe a tear, Sirius popped an eye open, and seeing that she was once again crying, snaked an arm around her waist to pull her down to lay beside him on his bed. “I'm still here love. No need to fret.”
Ryu smiled half-heartedly. “I know. I just have never been so close to losing anything I cared about before because I never cared about anything! It’s just a lot to digest. I never even considered losing any of you before today. I don't think I could take it. Really, it’s too much.”
“Life always goes on Ryu…No matter what. Even if you don't want it to.” said Sirius “Things will be taken from you, but you will be fine. Go to sleep, you need to rest. I'll keep James off our case for tonight.”
“Sirius?” she asked
“Hmnn?” He replied looking into her eyes questioningly while pushing a damp strand of hair behind her ear.
“Do you mind if I just sleep with you tonight? It’s just all kind of surreal, everything that happened...seeing you so beat up.” She finished meekly.
“Of course, love. Stay as long as you like.”
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