A/N: This chapter is dedicated to Olwyn. Without her Beatles Song Challenge, I never would have been able to put the characters I have had floating in my head for eons into words and create a story I love as much as this one. Thank you so much for all of the inspiration you have given me!
This story goes with the characters and story in Lie To Me, a one-shot songfic that won 1st place in the Beatles Song Challenge. This should be able to stand alone for now, but I would recommend reading it if you have not done so because it stands somewhere between a reference and a prologue.
Also, thanks to Miss MarlaG for beta-ing this for me and notreallyblonde44 for helping on my summary! Your help on everything has been so wonderful and absolutely priceless
Mental. Off. Uneasy. Those are the words often used to describe the thing that is coming towards me now. I know I should be shaking in fear, but I'm not afraid of the big bad wolf. That's Fenrir's job.
Fenrir was always a little odd. Not quite normal, but not strange enough to be a topic of conversation. He's always been different and not a soul at Hogwarts dares speak of it. His coldness is an accepted fact, no questions asked. Maybe he likes it that way, but I assure you, I sure don't. I know why he makes other people uneasy and I might just be the only one. At least, for now.
"Jo." I felt a tap on my shoulder from someone who must have been trying very hard to break my concentration and productivity. "Jo" they tried again. "Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo." I continued to ignore them. "Josie Posey with cold toesies, When she's angry, her cheeks go rosy and takes her anger out on tea cosys, thus why house elves are always so bony-" I slowly turned in my armchair to face my dear friend Laurence, who was feigning innocence and hoping I wouldn't get too angry at him for calling me Josie. At least he didn't play the full name card, and he looked desperate, so I decided to give him a minute to explain himself before I got angry at him.
"How may I be of assistance?" I sighed, unable to hold my glare any longer. "Or did you seek the enjoyment of disrupting me from my studies and plan to run off to go frolic about the grounds on such a fine day as this?"
"Josie, sixth year hasn't even started and you're already working! Mental, you are some days." Laurence whined as I commenced examining my quill. They're quite fascinating once you start to study them.
"Can't you hear me chortling along with you?" I responded dryly. "Which essay did you forget to do over the summer?" I groaned in defeat as I realized I had given into his pleas between the lines.
Laurence blushed and pushed a well worn piece of parchment onto the table I had been working at in the Slytherin common room. "Can you help me write this? It's for Margaret and I can't exactly think of what to say. So far I've got, Dear Margo, he trailed off, but did not continue, much to my dismay. I really do care a lot about this boy, but some days he needs all the help he can get, and this is definitely one of those days.
I nodded and flattened out the parchment to see a very neatly written two words, and nothing else. "So, what are we going to say?" I asked, trying not to let the impatience get to me. Fenrir would be back from his meeting with Professor Dumbledore anytime now, and Laurence wouldn't leave me alone to talk to Fenrir until this was finished, so better now than then.
"If I knew, I would have written it. And I'm trying to apologize for not sticking up for her when Delphine singled her out in Quidditch practice. And I want to tell her that I love her a whole lot." He looked at me expectantly, so I copied down what he said with the help of my thesaurus and some creativity, and handed it back to him.
He read over it and smiled. "Only you could drag sauerkraut into this, and make it work. Look, can you try and warm Margaret up to me, because I want her to come to my New Years Party, which, yes, you are coming to, and yes, I can arrange for Alexander to be there, and yes, I'll see about getting you some sauerkraut, and does Margo really hate me, because she seems to hate me like my goat hates being milked. Trust me, whatever you pay for goat cheese, be thankful because Lolly is one mean little goat!"
I tried to tune Laurence out as he went on about his poor goat and whatever tangents came to his mind following Lolly. I couldn't say I was listening, but his cheerful voice in the background of the looming thoughts of the future put a much needed smile on my face. I think that's why we're friends; he needs me to help him focus and make sense of everything for him, and I need him to help me though the times when I need something that makes me laugh and treasure his little anecdotes. Not to mention he lived next to Alexander Bryce. Oh Alexander, how I love thee. I mean, you're stuck living with your horrible uncle in that awful village called Little Hangelton, and I can actually talk to you in a way I can't talk to anyone else with. Well, anyone other than Fenrir, but I'm not sure what to think about him, after everything that I saw in the days before we left for summer break last year.
I think Laurence was talking about Margo when in came the very person I had just been thinking of - more specifically, lining up interrogation questions so he could not escape without giving me an answer. "Wren, Jo," Fenrir nodded to each of us and gave a slight wave towards the other students scattered around the common room before slowly making his way over to the fire, away from the other students.
"Hey, Fenrir!" Laurence exclaimed as he saw who had entered. Fenrir wasn't incredibly happy about being addressed with such cheer after what must have been a rather difficult meeting with the one professor he truly did not like.
"So Fenrir, you wanted to talk to me?" I asked nonchalantly. He didn't appear to be in a great mood, but I could handle whatever he wants to talk about. It was just Fenrir, right?
"Not here. Not where everyone can hear you Jo. Outside maybe? There's a closet just outside the common room where I can explain it all. Wren, do yourself a favor and pretend Jo has detention or something." He dragged me by my elbow and I gave one last look at Laurence before I was shoved into the closet that indeed, was just outside the common room.
"How much do you know? Jo, I know you saw and I know you've been fighting the urge to tell Margo and Felix, but I need you to stay quiet. How much do you know?"
I wanted to tell him that he asked a very useless question, as if I didn't know it, then how was I supposed to know how much I know? Instead, I dropped my voice to a whisper and asked him, "Who bit you?"
That told him everything he needed to know, based on the look etched across his slightly scarred face. I bit on my lip before continuing. "That's why you have your meetings with Dumbledore? I heard him one time, you know. It all makes sense now. Why don't you listen to him and try to get yourself out of somewhere that you put everyone in danger?"
A moment passed where I was waiting for something, anything, from Fenrir. I looked up and when his cold eyes met mine for the briefest of harsh glares, he clenched his fists and let loose.
"Jo, I'm a monster! How can you just wave it off and tell me to listen to that fool and his ideas about building me a place to be every full moon. I'd go insane if I couldn't run free. I'm already mad enough."
A monster. That's all that he was. A figment of a child's imagination if they didn't behave. A creature so horrible nobody dares to speak it's name without necessity. A werewolf.
"Fenrir, you know I'll accept you for who you are, but every morning I wake up thinking about that mangled body, left to die in the forest. I can't keep quiet about this, you know that. It's not right."
Fenrir looked at me with a pleading look on his face, hiding the guilt and rage I knew was within him. He would never admit it to me, but he knew if anyone could uncover his secrets and destroy him, it would be me. And our friend, Felix, of course, but alone he wouldn't have the means or cunningness needed to plan Fenrir's destruction. I am Fenrir's closest friend, but possibly his greatest enemy.
"Look, Jo, I know your trust in me had significantly decreased over the summer, but I need you to keep it quiet. If you tell Felix, I can't stay here, Jo, you know that." His heavy breaths prickled on my skin unnaturally and sent a shiver down my spine.
Merlin, if Margo hears that I was in a closet with Fenrir, I will never hear the end of it. Then again, it's probably best that both Fenrir and I were unarmed and had enough sense left to keep our voices down. I hoped to the Heir of Slytherin, whoever that was, that these first years don't start cowering in fear every time they see Fenrir and me. Last year's ickles were horrible, I mean, I only broke the older Prewett boy's nose, and I even fixed it for him immediately after! There really is no need to cower in my presence. Unless you piss me off. Then you run and hope to Salazar that I am late for something and will forget about you.
"And what would I gain from staying silent?" I hiss and add, "you act as though I am the reason that poor woman nearly died, when in fact, I simply saw something unnerving that you want to have kept quiet. How long do you think you can just keep running off to the mountains every full moon?"
He gave me a glare that would send any normal person running, but I knew he couldn't hurt me right now. Nothing I couldn't defend myself against. "Jo, I know you wouldn't send me away like that. You may be dangerously good at getting your way, and even better at revenge, but you're not the kind of person who would do that unless it was absolutely necessary. We have our differences, but at the end of the day, you have to admit that you like having me around."
I felt my eyebrow inching upwards and I stood up straighter, so I was nearly as tall as him. "Care to further explain why you think I value your company?"
He sighed and let his expression soften. It certainly couldn't be considered kind, heavens no, but if looks could kill, it would only seriously maim rather than murder. Quite an improvement. "None of our other friends are on your level of wit and intelligence and use it like you do. Jonathon is so close-minded that anything we say around him makes his face go red and he'll stop talking for an hour. Felix can't be trusted with such things; we both know he looks out for himself and only himself, even if he is brilliant and a fairly nice bloke. Laurence would just stress himself out if he knew about half the things we've discovered. And Margo, she's without a doubt a good friend, but you have to admit she's just not as trustworthy as others. I'm the only one you trust enough to discuss things that matter with, and there is no denying it. I accepted it ages ago, and have found myself with considerably fewer bruises."
Maybe he was onto something. Fenrir really was the only person I trusted with my weaknesses and secrets, as only he knew enough about what's really out there to actually get me to talk about it all. "Alright, so maybe I do want you here, as no one else ever achieves anything worth talking about, or cares about anything worth the effort. But that still doesn't make up for how reckless you are. I can't keep hiding this from everyone."
"But Jo, you have to know what this means! You think you're all that and can just open your mouth because it's wrong to do what I did. I get that, I do, but I can't control myself and it was her fault that time!" His voice was rising and I could feel my temper bubbling up as I took in what he said.
"Exactly! Perhaps you are under the impression that it was her fault for coming near a were- a werewolf, but what about next time? Or the time after that? You don't put any effort towards keeping everyone around you safe. It's always lies and cruel twists and just barely making it this time. Forget next month, it's all in the moment and you never plan ahead!"
"Fine, leave. Tell the world who I really am. Forget all the times you've come to cry on my shoulder and whine about your family and your life. Forget all the times when I've covered for you, risked a hell of a lot for you, laughed at your jokes that no one else would understand. Forget me, because I'm a flaw in your perfect little world of Josephine and Alexander, meant to be together since they met, ruling over a kingdom of happiness and families that stay together and love their children."
His tone was icy as he pushed past me and stepped out into the eerily empty corridor. I knew I should have gone running after him, but I wanted to let him mope about for a while and let my anger fizzle out. I finally shook myself back into reality and quietly make my way back to the common room. As soon as I stepped in, I found myself face to face with Felix, while Jonathon lingered behind him, obviously interested, but he knew better than to get in the way of Felix when something suspicious was happening.
"Felix, to what do I owe the pleasure of your expecting my return? I can't imagine you would want to challenge me in wizards chess, though if you insist, I don't mind an easy win, again." I knew he wanted to know about Fenrir, but if I stalled long enough, Margo or one of my other roommates would have to come and distract him. All I had to do is keep him guessing.
"Surprisingly, I'll pass on the wizards chess. I don't like to deflate your ego more than I have to; your self-assuring is what keeps me going in the days, because when I feel miserable, I can always count on you to give me something else to think about. Namely, yourself."
His tone was playful, but I could tell there were real feelings behind his words. I know I am a very self assured person, but I'm not egotistical. That would imply that I was unable to do everything I think I can. I prefer the term confident.
"Ahh, but you always manage to go above and beyond your quota of deflating my ego, so one more win for me would actually help get me back to where I ought to be. You know you love seeing your little soldiers smashed."
"So where is Fenrir?" He snuck it into the conversation so naturally, an outsider would have thought it was small talk or a simple inquiry, but both Felix and I knew it was a game we played. One of us would have a secret and the other would have to play mind games and steal the knowledge. It always was a game; no conversation lacked an ulterior motive.
"I thought he was with you," I replied with the same casual air. After five years of evading the truth, we had both gotten quite good at the game and thus it was always a great challenge to find anything out. Spar after spar, lasting long silent hours, days, and more often than not weeks. One false move, and all of Hogwarts knows your deepest darkest secrets.
Felix linked my arm in his and took me over to one of the sleek sofas before sitting us down. "Well then, I suppose we will just have to wait for him, yes? Tell me, how is Margaret these days?"
It took me a moment to register that he was talking about Margo, as he and Wren insist on calling her by her full name. They also called me Josephine at one point, but I was much less relaxed about my full name. It's Jo. Wren can call me Josie, but he's the only one. The rest of the world doesn't know Josephine; she is a different person. A weak young lady, prim and proper, always allowing herself to be taken care of and forgetting to live as she plans ways to evade death. Margo doesn't see two different people between Margo and Margaret, but she always shudders when someone other than Wren or Felix calls her Margaret.
"Margo is the same as she was a mere three hours ago when you saw her last at dinner. I believe she ate next to you, and has not appeared to have changed since then. How is Jonathon?" I added, knowing full well two could play this game.
"I assume he is as he was when you sat next to him at dinner. Am I not correct in assuming such, as you yourself jumped to conclusions in the same manner?"
"Touche, and I am getting rather tired, so if you don't mind, I'll be going to be now. Being late to our first day of classes our N.E.W.T. year would be a shame, don't you agree?" With that, I slip out from under his grip and leave to go to my dorm. I won't be going to sleep, heavens no, but I won't be going back downstairs to do my research anytime soon. That would be entirely too dangerous.
"Margo, you up here?" I called into the darkness. "Yana? Cassandra? Noelle?" I tried, hoping my other roommates weren't here or were sound asleep. If anyone found out what I would be getting to the bottom of, I'd ruin my chances of ever saving Fenrir from the life he's falling into. He is becoming the monster he so despises.