Madam Pomfrey sat anxiously in her chair, twiddling her apron between her fingers. It was rare that Albus made a trip to the infirmary, but not entirely uncommon considering that the werewolf girl wasn’t back safely in her bed yet. She licked her dry lips, watching the Headmaster as he paced the width of the room.
“She should have been back by now,” Madam Pomfrey voiced what had been floating around both of their minds for at least an hour.
It was eight, so the sun had been up for about forty minutes. Thankfully, it was also a Saturday morning, so they had not had to fend off any of the girl’s friends yet. She yawned absentmindedly, thinking how nice it would have been to not have to wake up at five in the morning on a Saturday and wait for a student’s return to the hospital wing.
Albus ran his fingers along the end of an unoccupied hospital bed, a frown deep-set into his features. He had all faith in his students, especially Serena, but he also knew that she was a student usually known for her punctuality.
Both froze as the double-doors to the wing were shoved open.
“Bloody frickin’ hell. Bloody frickin’ hell!” James swore through clenched teeth. He leaned forward, resting his palms on his knees as he caught his breath.
“Mr. Potter,” the Headmaster asked, moving forward swiftly. He put a hand to the boy’s shoulder. “Where is she?” He waited for a moment and then asked again, the twinkle gone from his eyes. “Where is Miss Colton?”
James opened his mouth but nothing came out. He took another breath and tried again. “She… She’s gone all wolf, Headmaster. I don’t…” He trailed off, standing up straight and locking eyes with the old man. “She’s in the Room of Requirement and I don’t know what to do.”
It took everything for James Potter to admit defeat, but now was as good a time to ask for help as any, Albus had to give him that. Behind him, he could see Madam Pomfrey visibly shaking in her robes.
“What does that mean, exactly?” The Headmaster pried, trying to figure everything out. “The sun is out. She hasn’t turned back?”
James’s brow furrowed. He shook his head as he continued. “She’s…”—He considered his words carefully—“back in her body. Not in her mind.”
“Oh Merlin.” Behind them, Madam Pomfrey collapsed in her chair, fanning her face with her hand. “Oh, Merlin…”
“Poppy, get ahold of yourself,” Albus scolded in a hushed voice before turning back to James. “Mr. Potter, if you would please fetch Mr. Lupin. Perhaps he can shed some light on the situation from his years of research.”
James turned to go, but hesitated. “Professor…” He began, unsure of himself. “Remus doesn’t know about Serena.”
Albus raised a bushy, gray eyebrow. “Is that really what you are worrying about at this moment, Mr. Potter? Shouldn’t you be focused on something like, I don’t know, your friend ‘going all wolf’?”
James stayed glued to his spot on the stone floor. “Professor…”
The old man raised a hand to quiet him. “Don’t fret. I will not inform Mr. Lupin unless it is utterly necessary.”
James nodded once before turning and making his way toward the Gryffindor common room.
Madam Pomfrey stood, legs wobbly and head swimming. “Albus,” she began. “Are you sure you can help the girl? Her injuries were quite extensive last night. Might the continued effects of dementia have something to do with her condition when the transformation began?”
The Headmaster turned, staring out the hospital wing’s giant windows. The first floor, contrary to popular belief, gave way to a brilliant view—as was the view from almost any window in the castle. Something about it captivated his attention as Albus wracked his brain for answers he was not sure he possessed.
“If that is true, which seems very likely, I see no sure-fire way to bring her back.” His eyes locked with hers for a moment before he looked back out the window, his eyes glazing over slightly. “Perhaps if I was able to secure the Wolfsbane ingredients sooner…”
“We may have to bring her to St. Mungo’s,” Poppy insisted.
“No.” The response was plain, blunt and utterly non-negotiable. “She is an un-registered werewolf, Poppy. If the Ministry was to find that she has kept this from them for five years, there is no telling what they would do to her. Especially if she was a threat when discovered.” He paused for a moment, wrapping his robes further around him. They swirled around his ankles before hanging still. “No. She stays here.”
James climbed through the Gryffindor portrait hole, eyeing the room’s occupants wearily. A few groups sat scattered around the common room—first-years, mainly—but none of them included the person he was searching for. Picking up the pace, he jogged up the staircase to the boy’s dormitory, pushing up the sixth door swiftly.
“Prongs, mate!” Remus greeted him with a smile. He wasn’t usually one to hold a grudge, and had taken to treating James normally for at least three days now. Remus was sprawled on his bed, his Charms textbook and a scroll of parchment laid out in front of him.
Typical, Sirius and Peter were still in bed. Blake, however, was nowhere in sight. James stepped into the room, sitting down on the trunk at the end of his bed.
“Fancy seeing you here,” Remus joked with a chuckle. “Thought you’d never come back.”
James tried to relax his features, giving off an air of nonchalance. “Oh, you know, just terrorizing some Slytherins.”
“Typical day in the life of James Potter,” he teased. Remus set his quill down, careful not to let any excess ink drip on his duvet. “But you don’t look like that’s what you were doing.” His brow dips, knitting together as he inspected James’s composure. “Stop fidgeting and tell me what’s wrong.”
“Dumbledore sent me.”
“You were with Dumbledore?” He almost seemed amused.
“Went to see if Serena was feeling any better and I ran into him on the way,” he explained swiftly, not wanting to get caught up in any intricate deception. Keep it short; keep it simple.
Remus nodded knowingly. “Guilt over visiting the best mate’s girl? Do go on.”
“Never said that,” James responded stoically.
“Didn’t have to.” Remus rolled onto his side, pushing himself on his mattress and reaching for the robes that hung from his bedpost. Shrugging it on, he turned back to James. “What does Dumbledore need?”
“He’s hoping you could help him solve a bit of a Moony Mystery.” James stepped to the side, letting Remus move past him to put on his loafers.
“A wolf issue? He should just ask Serena, she’s always reading about that sort of stuff,” he laughed.
“She couldn’t help,” James answered truthfully. “Dumbledore thought you might be able to help.”
The two started off down the corridor, making their way down the steps to the Gryffindor common room. Remus frowned for a moment, thinking.
“Aren’t there people way more qualified to help him out than me?” Remus asked after a moment.
“Don’t know that he wants to get a bunch of people involved. He trusts you.”
The corridors were just starting to fill up with people as they weaved their way through the castle. A staircase in front of them went to swivel, so the two stayed put for a minute until it decided to come back. They moved quickly, although James had to restrain himself from breaking out into a full-blown run.
“What’s the hurry?” Remus asked once they had made it to the first floor.
James bit his tongue. “He sounded like it was urgent.”
The two were stopped just outside the hospital wing by a feverish-looking Madam Pomfrey. She rung her hands on her apron, eyeing Remus with a look James himself usually pointed toward one Alexei Borshevsky.
“Headmaster Dumbledore asked me to inform the two of you that he will be waiting patiently within his office. The password is ‘licorice.’”
That stupid human. He was swifter than I had expected, and clever too, but that did not mean I would just lay here and take what he gave me. There were cold, dark things on my paws and they hurt. Oh, how they hurt. Digging and biting in places they did not belong.
And I was cold. Someone had done something to my fur. The human… I growled deep in my throat, remembering the look of panic in the human boy’s eyes as he used some sort of flying stick monster to bind me. He had put something over me, a kind of synthetic fur—silky and thin like I had not encountered before—but I had long since wriggled free from its grip. But now I was cold.
Something clicked, loud. My ears perked up, my snout working overtime as I tried to put my paw on who or what was going to disturb me next. Please don’t let it be the stupid human boy.
It was a human, but smaller and frailer than the first. She had a scent like…cats.
I pushed against my bonds, letting out a growl. If this cat human wanted to walk freely into my lair, why not let her? Silly being, indeed.
“Miss Colton,” the human spoke. Her lips barely moved and she had one of those silly flying stick monsters in her hand as well. Oh, no. Not another one. There were odd things around her eyes, which she pushed up her nose. “I was sent by Headmaster Dumbledore to watch over you while this entire situation is handled.”
She walked straight up to the cage’s entrance and I willed the stupid human forward. Perhaps she would get sloppy and do something in my favor.
Her lips pulled downward and she waved the stick. Everything around me turned restrictive and I growled a warning tone, thrashing about to find some sort of release.
“Really, Miss Colton. Keep those clothes on,” the human insisted. “You’ll catch cold.”
Clothes. So that was the name of these bindings. I craned my neck, grabbing hold of the clothes with my teeth and yanking. The clothes ripped, letting my collarbone breathe freely again. My eyes snapped back to the human, daring her to wave her stick again. She would not out smart me.
“A wolf’s mind?” Remus repeated, making sure he was taking in everything Dumbledore had just piled on him. “How is that even possible?” His sandy hair fell into his eyes and Remus pushed it away. “Where are they? Somewhere in the castle?”
“That is none of your concern, son,” Dumbledore assured him with a half-smile. “And, at the moment, the least of my concerns.” He set a hand on Remus’s shoulder. “Right now, I would like to know your opinion on what you think will bring this person back.”
“Have you tried the Wolfsbane Poton?” Remus inquired, drumming his fingers against the arms of the chair he was sitting in. “It’s a long shot, considering the fact that they aren’t transformed. But it could cure the dementia. Unless they aren’t actually suffering anymore and their minds have collided.”
James took an unconscious step forward. “Collided?”
Remus bit his bottom lip, thinking back to the last time he had done extensive research on those of his kind. “It’s been a while since I’ve read about it, Professor. But there were a few accounts of the wolf and human colliding, in a way…” He hesitated, looking up at Dumbledore with an expression that showed so much more than concern for a fellow werewolf. “I didn’t think it possible. I was sure that the wolf psyche and the human one would stay separate…”
Dumbledore lowered himself, crouching in front of the chair so he was at eye level with the boy. “Listen to me, Remus. These were extreme circumstances and what matters right now is helping this individual and giving them back their mind. Their life.”
“How do you know it isn’t going to happen to me one day?” Remus persisted, gripping the armrests and digging his nails into their padding. “Being bit is an extreme circumstance. And yet it happened!”
James crossed the room, putting his hand on Remus’s unoccupied shoulder. “Moony, we’re not going to let that happen. Which is why it’s so important that you help this other werewolf. That way, if it even begins to happen, we know how to cure you.”
Remus watched the two of them, mind wheeling. They continued to speak, doing the dance of it-doesn’t-effect-you or call-to-action, but he could hardly hear the words; his thoughts were elsewhere. What was the best way to separate the two psyches? His mind briefly flickered on a time before he had the Wolfsbane Potion to keep his mind from turning.
“Have you tried to talk to them?” Remus asked, interrupting whatever James had been saying at the time.
“Have you tried to talk to them? Remind them of their former self?” He continued, eyebrows up in anticipation. “If it just happened, you can probably still get to their human side.” Remus looked from James to Dumbledore. “Right?”
“You realize that staying in such a state will make it quite difficult for you to help us win the Quidditch Cup this year?” McGonagall inquired.
The human was in my cage now, pacing in front of me, taunting me. But something about her words was familiar. Quidditch Cup? Something about it was important. I wanted it. I wanted this “Quidditch Cup.” If the human had it, I would tear out her throat and take it for myself.
My ears twitched at another loud click and two more figures entered my lair. The stupid human boy was back, and he brought with him another tall, frail thing along with him. Also male. Though he kept a large mane on the front of his head. I howled, pushing myself back as far as I could before the cold bindings bit and snarled back.
“Did you make this, Mr. Potter?” the old human asked, moving his hands to motion at my lair. I snapped in his direction. He would pay for intruding on such a sacred place.
The stupid human shook his head. “No, this was her creation. I just tightened the chains to keep her here.”
Were they talking about me? Chains? Was that what bound me? I snarled.
The old man turned to the female. She began to speak, feline odors seeping from her pores. “She perked up when I talked about Quidditch,” she informed the others.
“James,” Old Human instructed Stupid Human. “Go see if you can get through to her. We’ll be right outside.” The frail ones left, the loud click following them.
Now alone, the boy—James?—moved forward and stood in front of me—fighting stance—with his hands on his hips. His eyes were narrowed and he regarded me carefully. I bared my teeth at him for good measure.
“Serena, I know you’re in there.”
Serena again. It must have been what the humans called me. It probably stands for something ferocious. A surge of pride spread through me.
“I’m not leaving until you’re back to normal,” he informed me. I snarled, a growl boiling up inside of me. The James individual took a step backward. Point made.
It took him a moment, but he stepped forward once again. “You know what, Colton? It surprises me how dense you are sometimes. Are you really so weak that you would just let the wolf take over like that?” His words were probing, calculated. I felt something inside of me move, but I pushed it aside. He was trying to aggravate me with words that had no meaning, yet angered me all the same. I did not understand why, so I lurked forward in my chains and snapped my teeth together—barring them to show I meant business.
The boy started back up again, a new energy in his manner. “I should have pushed you off first-string when I had the chance. You know you’re never going to be able to win any games for us. You won’t be able to save any of the goals, no matter how hard you try.” Something within me moved again, but it elicited sadness more than anger. An emotion I had not known I possessed. “I trained you because I pitied you. I saw what your brother did to you, and I used it against you.”
Brother. I knew that word. What was he saying about my pack?
“Tyler. You remember Tyler?” The name rang a bell, but I did not move. I did not show him that he knew something true. James’s face knit together and the human moved dangerously toward me. “Are you telling me that you can’t remember your own brother? You can’t remember Tyler? You can’t remember the man who taught you everything you know? Who was there for you when you were invisible? When no one knew you existed?” Something in my ribcage tightened. It hurt. I shrunk away. “Colton, do you really not remember him? He was killed. He died, Serena. Your brother, Tyler, died and you can’t remember that?”
I screamed in pain. I came out high pitched, wailing and not at all like the howl I thought it would. Something was different. My chest felt like it was going to split open it hurt so much. Who was this “Tyler” and why was he causing me so much agony?
“And what about Sirius, hm? Do you remember your own boyfriend? Or what do you call it in werewolf lingo… Mate? What about your mate? Would you really pick this new life over one where you could sit with him and snog instead of wanting to rip his throat out like a beast?”
I snarled at him, hoping he would get the hint and stop blubbering all of this nonsense. I could not recall a mate. Nor a pack in the first place. Why didn’t I have a pack…it didn’t make any sense. Just like the human boy.
He moved forward, putting his face only inches away from the furthest I could reach. “And what about me, Serena? What about me? Don’t you remember me?”
I peered forward, matching his eyes with an expression I hardly knew. Something about those stupid eyes, that obnoxious hair and ridiculous words was so familiar. There was something about him that pulled me to him like I needed to know what he was going to say next. He’s going to help. I don’t know where the thoughts came from, but I found myself needing to believe them. The stupid boy was going to help.
I contorted my mouth into shapes strangely familiar to me. “Help. Me.” The result was a mixture of growls and human-like words, but as I looked up at him, I knew he understood. The pounding in my chest was overwhelming.
“You have to help yourself,” the boy insisted. “You need to push through this for everyone’s sake. Do you think that Tyler would just let things go? Do you think he would want you to just roll over and turn into some retched beast? What about Tyler?” He pushed himself closer to me, putting a hand on each of the chair’s arms and towering over me as I pushed myself further against the stone back. “What about Tyler, Serena? And what about the rest of us? Don’t let yourself go until you have a chance to tell the people you love the truth. The truth of how you’ve been lying to them for years. Of how you’re just another wild, man-eating, uncontrollable beast—”
Something within me snapped. Warm tears pulsed out of my eyes, sliding down my cheeks and I pushed forward, smashing my fists against James’s chest. He stumbled backward, a look of shock across his face.
“Just stop, okay?” I begged, wrapping my arms across my chest. “I’m not…I’m not a monster…”
James flicked his wand before dropping it to her floor and rushing forward. The chains unclasped and I fell into his arms, sinking onto cold stone and into warm flesh. He wrapped his arms around me, rocking and cooing choruses of “shh” in my ear.
“Shh…”—I buried my face in his robes, heart pounding furiously in my chest—“I know you’re not, Serena. I know…”
A/N: Wow, I haven't updated this story since last year! Well this changes that, now! Sorry about the long wait... I hope some of you are still checking and reading stories on HPFF, or I'm going to be super sad. For those of you still out there, thanks for sticking around, it means the world to me! So please! Rate/Review so I know you're all still out there somewhere! :) KBD
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