Chapter 22 : Lycanthropy and Truths
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Chapter 22: Lycanthropy and Truths
After everything that Remus said, I wasn’t exactly excited to talk to James about my condition. Considering that James came with a track record of saying things that weren’t true in order to get people to do what he wants, and Remus is quite possibly even smarter than the smartest Ravenclaw. If Remus didn’t know of a potion, why would I even kid myself that James-Sodding-Potter knew of one?
Nevertheless, I sat through my Charms exam and a double-session of Potions with my head in the clouds. What if there really is a potion that can help me? James said he knew another werewolf and, if anything, that werewolf must know all there could possibly be about such a potion…
So once 4:20 rolled around, and I was supposed to be in Study Hall in ten minutes, I told the guys I would meet them there and headed in the direction of the lady’s loo. And for the first time in my life, I skipped class. Once I figured nobody would notice me changing directions, I switched course and made my way toward Dumbledore’s office. And believe me, I was shocked when I stood in front of the giant griffin stairwell with my mind set on what I needed to do next.
I bit my bottom lip, trying to remember what the guys had told me from their last trip to the Headmaster’s office. Oh!
“Meringue,” I recited, hoping the password hadn’t changed.
Believe it or not, the griffin started turning and I hoped on, not wanting to miss my free trip up to the Headmaster’s office. Once I got to the top, I rasped on the wooden door in front of me, waited to hear the word “enter” and then pushed it open.
“Miss Colton,” Dumbledore greeted me, walking swiftly over and shaking my hand. “I wondered when you would be visiting me.”
“Excuse me, Headmaster?” I took a seat in the chair he brought me to and he moved around his desk and sat behind it. I wrung my hands in my lap, more than slightly aware that my face had paled at his words. The old man might have had cherry cheeks and half-moon glasses like the perfect Saint Nick, but revealing my secret to anyone scared the living daylight out of me.
“Of course, I shouldn’t make assumptions as to the nature of your visit, should I?” he said as an afterthought, tapping his chin with a long, bony finger. “However, you are skipping class to be here, aren’t you?”
I tried to avoid his eyes, but there was something knowing in them that made me reconsider lying to him. “Just Study Hall,” I confessed.
He leaned back in his chair with a chuckle. “I never truly liked that class back in my day, either, you know. It was somewhat too restrictive for me.” He chuckled again at the memory and then sat up straight in his chair, watching me for a moment before standing and taking a turn of his office. “So what is the nature of your visit, Miss Colton?”
I bit my bottom lip, watching him move around the room, inspecting different gadgets he had set up. “I came here to talk to you about a little…problem I’ve been having…” I started, unsure of how I was going to tell him. Just like with James, okay? Just come out and tell him!
Dumbledore paused, fingering a single dying rose in a blood-red vase. At his touch it sprung straight up, blooming all over again. “And how long have you had this problem?” he questioned, still not looking at me.
“Nearly five years now,” I told him, staring down at my knuckles which were turning white with anxiety.
The Headmaster moved to another section of his room, grabbing two goblets and filling them with a brown liquid before making his way back over to where I sat. He placed one goblet in front of me before sitting down in his respective seat and taking a swig from his own glass.
“Go ahead, it’s chocolate,” he explained, motioning to the glass. “It’s calming.”
Realizing my anxiety hadn’t gone unnoticed, I couldn’t help but choke out a soft giggle as I plucked the goblet from the table, taking a long gulp. The sugar immediately reached my veins, sending a shock of endorphins through my body. He was right, it was intensely calming. I quickly found myself wondering if there was also a bit of truth serum in the mixture as well as my mouth began shooting off information of its own accord.
“I’m a werewolf, Headmaster,” I told him with completely no control over my mouth and what I was saying. “I have been since my first year here, and I’ve put everyone at danger for nearly five years now. I understand if you need to expel me, but you’re the brightest wizard—or so I’ve heard—and if anyone can help me, I think you can. Can’t you, Headmaster? James told me that there’s a potion I can take, but he wouldn’t tell me anything more about it until—“ I froze, realizing I had just thrown James under the Night Bus. He was the one (well…not the only one now…) person who I had told about my secret and now I could have just endangered his werewolf friend.
Dumbledore put up a hand in a calming gesture which surprisingly helped my nerves. “You didn’t say anything wrong,” he told me softly, gesturing for me to continue drinking. “And I’m not going to expel you,” he added once he noticed my hands shaking. “I am, however, surprised that you didn’t come to me sooner. I always knew you had a sort of independence that most people don’t ever come by, but being an independent werewolf is another matter entirely.” The old man watched me carefully, the charms on his beard clanking together as he moved his head. “You have incredible courage,” he continued. “The Sorting Hat was definitely right to put you in Gryffindor.”
Even though I knew he meant his words as a compliment, I could sense an undertone of disappointment in my actions which made my heart sink. I knew that I probably could have handled the situation differently (especially know that I knew there were other werewolves I could learn from), but I did what I felt I needed to do.
“The paintings around the school tell me you’ve made a habit of visiting the Room of Requirement on nights you transform,” Dumbledore continued after a moment, lacing his fingers together and resting his elbows on his desk. “That’s a smart choice, you know.”
A thought popped into my head and I furrowed my brow, frowning. “If you knew about me, and the potion, why didn’t you confront me?”
Dumbledore stood, taking another walk around the office. “Do you remember when you first found out about the Room of Requirement?”
“It was in January, during the first full moon after I was bit,” I recalled, my eyes narrowing as I watched him move. “I had found a book in the library that mentioned secrets rumored to be hidden within the castle walls. Actually,” I thought for a moment, “it was written in the margins of one of my werewolf novels.”
Dumbledore stopped moving and spread his arms out at me. “Quite nice penmanship, don’t you think? Although I did feel bad about writing in such a nice novel, afterward…”
I swear I saw a twinkle in his eyes as my jaw nearly dropped to the floor. Seriously? He’s been looking out for me all this time?? “Headmaster, you’ve been—“
“Yes,” he said quickly, cutting me off. “I look after my students, Miss Colton. Especially when those students might be a danger to themselves or others. I need to make sure Hogwarts is a safe place for parents to send their children; you understand?”
I nodded slowly, drinking in his words. He had known ever since I came back to school after the Holidays my first year and he’d been looking out for me and making sure I didn’t do anything rash every month since. It almost felt like I’d had a guardian angel for all of these years.
“Of course, Headmaster.” I took a moment and then looked back up at him. “Why didn’t you intervene earlier? Isn’t it a big risk keeping me here?”
Dumbledore paused, glancing up from the globe he had started spinning absentmindedly. “Do you recall ever having a difficult time making it to the Room of Requirement?”
I almost cringed, thinking back to the few times I nearly didn’t make it into the room. Those were the times I thought about telling someone because I knew I was putting the whole school at danger. “Yes,” I managed to say after a minute.
“Did those times make you think about everything in a different light?”
I hesitated before speaking. “In a way, yes. But I never did tell anyone like I had thought I should during those times…”
The Headmaster tilted his head, raising a bushy gray eyebrow in my direction. “Didn’t you?”
That really made me pause. Didn’t I? I did tell James…but was that really because of those times I didn’t make it into the Room of Requirement…? “So you left me be, even though I was a hazard, because you knew I would eventually tell someone? How could you be so sure?”
His eyes once again twinkled. “I took a leap of faith with you, Miss Colton. And I dare say that taking the risk was well worth it. I would never want to take away the personal choice of yours to tell or not to tell and when.” He grabbed a bowl off a counter in the back of his office and came back to offer it to me. “Gingersnap?”
I grabbed a biscuit out of the bowl and chomped down on it thoughtfully as he took his seat.
“Headmaster,” I asked, swallowing. “What’s the potion I heard about?”
He nodded, taking a bite out of his own biscuit. “It’s called the Wolfsbane Potion and it’s a terribly hard potion to make. However,” he said, taking a pause to let me know I needed to pay careful attention to his next words. “It will control the dementia that causes your transformations. So you won’t transform unless the full-moon directly hits you.”
My heart lifted. Finally! I thought, elated. My wildest dreams have finally come true! There’s really a way for me to become a normal girl again! I can go back home during the holidays again instead of always darting out on the last minute! I can finally focus on my life instead of the one driven by the beast inside of me!
I found myself leaning forward over the desk. “Can you make it?” My eyes were wide with wonder and I knew anyone looking at me would know that now that I had my proof, I wouldn’t be dislodged from my latest quest.
Dumbledore’s lips spread into a smile and I couldn’t help but smile with him. “I can and I will.”
My foot tapped against the corridor’s stone floor as I impatiently leaned against the wall, waiting for Study Hall to be released. I chose a spot hidden from the doorway, that way I could pull James aside without also alerting Sirius and the rest of the guys who didn’t know my secret as of yet. Answering all of their questions about what we were conversing about was at the very bottom of my want-to-do list.
I watched the double doors swing open and a river of students came pouring out. Scanning the crowd, I noticed one particularly messy head of hair belonging to one James Potter. Reaching out, I got a firm hold on his sleeve and yanked him toward me, pulling him into the broom cupboard I had strategically stood in front of. Closing the door as noiselessly behind me as possible, I mutter Lumos and watched as the confused face of James came into light.
After a moment he came to his senses and his mouth twitched into a smirk. “Going to make this a new habit, Colton?” he asked teasingly. “Does dear Sirius know about your obsession of me?”
I rolled my eyes, shutting him up long enough for me to hear the confused voices of Sirius, Remus and Peter coming from the corridor. Unfortunately, James heard them too, and that only fed his idiocy.
“You know you have a boyfriend now, right? These meetings are becoming more and more unacceptable in the guy-code book.”
“Then that’s your own slip-up, isn’t it?” I snapped back, annoyed of his antics. “I told Dumbledore.”
James smiled (as close to a real smile as I’d seen the past couple weeks). “Really? Atta girl!”
“I’m a werewolf, James, not a dog. Don’t ‘atta girl’ me.” I rolled my eyes again, daring him to continue with his usual jokes when I was trying to be serious.
James pretended to zip his lips, throwing the imaginary key off to the side.
“He says he’ll make me the…uh, Wolfsbane Potion,” I continued after I was sure he wasn’t going to interrupt me. “So when do I get to meet the other werewolf?”
James cocked an eyebrow. “Meet?”
My brow furrowed. “Yes, meet. When do I get to meet your mysterious werewolf buddy?”
James threw up his hands in the tight quarters. “I never said anything about meeting them, Colton.”
I felt like I was about to explode, I was so mad. He is NOT going to do this to me! “You said that once I told Dumbledore…”
He continued to shake his head, adamant on his point. “I never said that I would introduce you once you told. You misinterpreted my concern for you! You needed to tell Dumbledore so he could make you the potion! Isn’t that enough for you? No more transformations! You’re home-free!”
“You don’t seem to understand,” I growled, moving closer to him dangerously. “I need to meet them, Potter. You have absolutely no idea what it means to be in my situation… If they know something, then—“
“Colton!” James grabbed my shoulders and began shaking me gently to get my attention. “If they want to make themselves known to you, they will, okay? You can’t push something like this. It’s his choice.”
I rolled my eyes. “Really? Because you practically forced me to tell you. How is that any different? Oh, right. It’s different because me and your so-called ‘him’ are both werewolves!”
James flinched at the pitch of my voice and put a hand on my shoulder, shoving me against the wall behind me. The cold brick felt like ice on the backs of my arms but I shoved the thought to the back of my mind. I fixed him with my most intense gaze, shooting daggers from my golden-brown eyes. James looked annoyed at my anger, but otherwise didn’t show much emotion himself.
“You’re acting like a child,” he said bluntly like a slap in the face. “I forced you to tell me because I was looking out for you! You’ve got the potion now, Colton, you don’t need anything else other than a reality check. You’re not the only person with problems and now that yours are under lock and key, you don’t have to talk to anyone about anything. You don’t need to talk to him, got it?”
I kept my eyes locked with his. “You’re an unbelievable dolt, you know that Potter? It’s actually funny how wrong you are about all of this and the truth is that you will never understand what you’re talking about. You will never understand me, and you will never understand what it means to find another person that shares the one thing with you that you can’t tell anyone you care about of.” I paused, gathering my courage and shooting him one last if-looks-could-kill glare. “So stop trying to act like you know what I’m going through and tell me who he is.”
James countered my glare with a hard stare of his own. “I don’t,” he hissed, “pretend to know what you’re going through. Don’t you think this affects me too? Don’t you think that maybe, just maybe, I have a hand in all of this?” He moved forward, blocking me into the broom cupboard so I would have to go through him to get out again. “And what about him? Don’t you care about what this would do to him?”
I didn’t back down, thinking of how it made me feel to know that there was another person out there that shared my secret. “He would want to meet me. Tell me the truth, Potter. Don’t you think he would want to meet me?”
James gave me a look that made me quiver inside. It was like he was putting my soul in a choke-hold. “Let it go or you’re off the team.” He paused, watching my jaw drop in disbelief. “And that is the truth.” His eyes flicked over my features and I suddenly felt like he could see all of my secrets; he had a particular way of making me feel completely naked with one glance.
Would he really do that? I wondered. Hmph. Who am I kidding? Of course he would do that… Manipulative prick… I bit my bottom lip, fuming with rage. Don’t say anything…just let him think he’s won… I reached out, catching him off-guard and shoving him away from the broom cupboard’s door. Side-stepping, I put my back to the door and faced an angry-looking James.
“Why are you always so bloody difficult?”
I rolled my eyes briefly and then fixed him with another glare. “Why are you always so bloody deceitful?”
An unidentifiable look crossed his features for a fraction of a second. His hand reached up and toward me. “I’m just trying to—“
“—look out for me?” I guessed in a snarky tone. My hand reached for the door handle. “Well… Don’t.”
After such a stressful conversation with James (and such a stressful day in general), I was more than excited to have some time to myself. So, as I made my way swiftly through the corridors, I contemplated where to go next. The Astronomy Tower was no good, someone would find me there. And I couldn’t go down to the quidditch pitch—Slytherin had practice. Or, wait… couldn’t I? I paused at an intersection in the corridor. If the Slytherin team has practice that means none of our people will be down there…
After a great mental battle, I decided that my best bet for having some alone time would be to head down to the quidditch pitch. Despite Alexei’s smug demeanor and annoying tendencies, I didn’t think he would bug me if I hung around. So I made my way to the lush greens outside.
It didn’t take long before I was walking up to the pitch, and I could hear shouts and laughter from the Slytherin players. Shoving my hands in my cloak pockets, I forced myself to continue walking. I might have been a werewolf, but Slytherins still gave me the creeps sometimes.
“Crush!” Alexei hollered over the roar of broom’s zooming through the air and the sound of beater’s bats slamming against Bludgers. “If you keep letting those Quaffles through, I’m going to personally hit a Bludger into your head; got it?”
William “The Crush” Agnoli grunted in reply, not one to talk-back to the captain when everyone knew Alexei was always good about keeping his word. I watched the confrontation while silently shuffling my way up into the bleachers, trying to keep to the shadows so the evening sun wouldn’t feel as hot against the back of my neck. Finding a less-rickety seat, I plopped down and spread out my legs, stretching for a moment before crossing my legs and leaning back to enjoy my time.
It didn’t take long—as I knew it wouldn’t—before Alexei noted my presence. From my limited exposure to him (and the countless rumors I had been told about him), I knew the quidditch captain was as keen on details and as observant, if not more-so, than the one and only James Potter. He barely moved his head, but I could tell his eyes were watching me. It looked like he was 1) trying to figure out who I was and 2) trying to figure out if I was a threat or not.
Alexei tore his eyes from me and motioned for his team to touch down. He was the first to hit the down, but the others swiftly followed like the faithful followers they were. As soon as everyone was around him, he began chastising them one-by-one.
“Gerald!” he called first and I recognized the familiar tall, blonde frame of Casper’s twin brother Ethan step forward. “You weren’t nearly fast enough. Do you want to lose the Snitch to your brother?” Ethan stepped back into the circle and Alexei moved onto his group of fellow Chasers.
“Hunter!” The squat and deeply tanned frame of Dwayne eagerly stepped forward, obviously hoping for better news than Ethan. “Stop wasting your time eating pudding for breakfast and start spending your time running laps around the Forbidden Forest. If we lose because you’re moving even slower than a slug, you’re going to be moved to reserve and Doug can take your place.”
Vesper and Doug, Italian brothers with similarly crooked noses and over-sized ears moved forward and took Dwayne’s place. Alexei turned to them, looking them over briefly. “Vesper,” he said, addressing the older brother. “You weren’t bad today. Try and work on your turns for the next practice.” I bet that’s the closest thing to a compliment he’s ever given his team, I thought with a chuckle as I watched Vesper’s face light up. “And Doug, stop dropping the Quaffle to your brother any time he gets remotely close to you. If I saw it, the other team will too and you’re setting yourself, your brother, and this team up for failure.” Doug looked down at his feet and stepped back.
“Dmitriy,” he moved to address his younger brother. “Move closer to your target before swinging, okay? And Boyko, check behind you for Dmitriy so you don’t get knocked out again.” Alexei moved around the group, saying a few more individual comments in a lower voice before shouting, “Alright! Hit the showers and meet back here tomorrow; same time!”
As the group started flowing toward the locker-rooms (which were on the opposite side of the field than the Gryffindor ones), Alexei turned and watched me in the bleachers. He might have been waiting to see if I would leave now that he had deemed practice over, or maybe he was waiting to see if I was going to say anything; I wasn’t sure what he was really thinking, his face seemed to be completely blank from any and all emotion. And just when I thought he wasn’t going to move at all, I heard a loud snap and suddenly he was right beside me. I would be lying if I said I didn’t jump straight out of my skin.
Alexei’s blue-gray eyes bore into me, making me wish he wasn’t such a handsome Slytherin. I tried to look away, but his gaze held me steady.
“What are you doing here?” he asked bluntly, not waiting to find out who I was (it seemed he was still deciding who I was and whether I was a threat or not).
“Hiding,” I told him truthfully. Although I didn’t really have much time to soak in my thoughts (which was actually probably a good thing), I did enjoy sitting there watching the others swoop around the pitch in their green and white robes.
His eyes narrowed thoughtfully as he scrutinized my appearance. “You’re the new Gryffindor Keeper,” he settled after a moment, crossing his muscular arms over his even more muscular chest. His finger tapped anxiously on his forearm, making the notes of a song I didn’t recognize. After a moment he stopped, and tilted his head to the side. “You’re that Ravenclaw’s sister.”
I wasn’t sure how I felt about him calling my brother “that Ravenclaw,” but I assumed it was a miracle that he remembered Tyler in the first place, so I didn’t complain. Tyler might have been an amazing quidditch player, but that didn’t mean that everyone knew his name or even what team he had played on.
“Yes,” I answered, watching him as intently as he was watching me. After a moment, I crossed my arms to match his posture, hoping it made me seem like he wasn’t intimidating.
Alexei noticed my movement and couldn’t help but emit a chuckle. He dropped his arms and leaned up against the railing behind him.
“What’s your name?” he asked after another minute, tilting his head to get a better look at me.
At first I was reluctant to tell him, thinking he might somehow use it against me, but looking in those blue-gray eyes I didn’t think he would. “Serena.”
Alexei looked up at the sky for a moment and thoughtfully tested the name on his tongue. “Srenya…”
I was taken aback. He normally spoke with the region’s accent, but as he said my name he suddenly spoke in a husky Russian accent, obviously something he never quite shook from his time back home. I went to correct him, “It’s Serena. Sir-e-na,” I informed him, sounding it out.
But Alexei stood by his new name. “No,” he shook his head. “Srenya. Ss-reen-ya.” He said it fast again, putting an extra emphasis on the “e” for my benefit. I still had no clue why he was calling me that, but then again he was a Slytherin and I didn’t have a clue why Slytherins did ninety-nine percent of what they did.
Alexei started talking again, pulling me out of my thought. “So,” he said without his Russian twist anymore. “Srenya. Why are you hiding?”
“So I don’t do anything stupid,” I said, thinking back to how James said he would kick me off the team if I kept pushing.
“Is this about Potter?” he guessed, still tilting his head.
I looked up, my eyes wide in shock. “Why would you say that?”
Alexei gave a small shrug and crossed his arms again. “You have an air of anger about you. That usually follows a confrontation and the only person in Gryffindor that people get angry at on a regular basis is your prick of a captain.”
I raised an eyebrow, amused. “He might say the same about you.”
“And I bet he does,” Alexei agreed with a curt and somewhat approving nod. He liked knowing people thought about him; as a prick or otherwise. “So you’re hiding so you don’t do something stupid and this all has to do with Sir Roar’s-A-Lot?”
“He threatened me if I kept pushing at something,” I continued, not knowing why I was telling him any of it even if I was being vague, “that he’s going to throw me off the team.”
Alexei’s brow furrowed and he glanced back down onto the pitch where a group of Slytherin’s were walking now dressed in their school uniforms. “Was it something quidditch related?”
“No,” I clarified. Why are you telling him this? The voice in my head wailed. He could use it against you! Or the team in general! I thought for a moment more and decided if Alexei could use anything of this conversation against the Gryffindor quidditch team it would indeed be a feat and therefore well earned.
“Then he’s just being his normal prick-like self. He’s manipulating you.” Alexei explained, still watching his players a moment longer before looking over at me, fire in his eyes. “If you’re as good a player as rumored, he’d be a fool to kick you off and his arrogance is going to bring him down in the end.” He paused, chuckling internally at some silent joke. “No, he won’t kick you off the team. Push all you want, Srenya, Potter’s all talk.”
And with one final loud crack, he was off to Merlin-knows-where and I was once again left sitting alone in the silent and wobbly bleachers wondering how the bloody hell I had just gotten into such a serious conversation with Gryffindor’s number one mortal enemy.
A/N: Hey everyone! I hope you enjoyed this chapter! :D I had so much fun writing the Alexei part and picking out Serena's new Russian nickname! ;) As always, please rate and review! Taking the time to leave a comment will 1) make me soooo happy and 2) help me help you for the chapters to come! And while you're at it, comment with how many chapters you think this story should have! I can't promise what you say will happen, but if I keep writing and writing will you all continue to read?? That's the general gist of what I'm getting at. :) Thanks everyone!!
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