“It’s late, mate. Where are you going?” a very groggy Draco mumbled across the dorm room.
“I just have to... err... finish my potions essay,” Harry answered quickly. He heard a muffled ‘Oh’ from Draco, followed by the shuffling of his sheets as he shifted in bed to get back to sleep.
I have to see this for myself, Harry’s thought to himself. Moony’d never hurt me. He’s my godmother, for heaven’s sake. He chuckled at the age old joke.
After his birth, his father and Sirius had snuck in and put down Remus as his godmother, much to the healer on duty’s confusion and their own amusement.
That story wasn’t relevant now, though.
For years he’d been subjected to keep the secret, because it was the right thing to do. He had absolutely no problem with keeping Remus’ secret, but in all his years he’d never even once seen Moony, so keeping the secret of something you knew... but didn’t know... existed, was getting on his nerves.
His father and Sirius’ animagus forms were much more familiar to him, as Padfoot and Prongs were a big part of his life as a young child – be it for protection or the amusement they offered, but every full-moon, like clockwork, his father and godparents would leave him in the very capable hands of Lily Potter.
Every month it would be the same story.
Harry: I want to go. Lily: Absolutely not. Harry: Why do dad and Sirius get to go, then? Lily: Can you turn into a massive dog or stag?
And with that the conversation was ended. He was told that they’d help him find his form in seventh year, and then he’d get to come with them to the forest near Remus’ little cottage, but two more years seemed like an excruciatingly long wait.
He silently made his way up the stairs into the Slytherin common room, and paused to listen for any sound. Hearing only the final crackles of the dying fire, he walked through the room towards the exit.
“What’re you doing up, Harry?” a girl’s voice sounded behind him, making him jump into one of the pillars beside the door.
“Ouch!” he gasped, and rubbed his – now throbbing – knee. He looked up and met the eyes of Pansy Parkinson. “Pansy?” he said, straightening out and backing against the pillar.
“The one and only,” she said with a quiet voice and smiled innocently through her fringe.
“I’m... err... I need to go to the bathroom...” he stuttered stupidly.
“Isn’t there one in the boy’s dorm?” she said, tilting her head slightly to the left. “Wouldn’t that be the obvious choice?” she said snidely.
Harry’s irritation flared up – it was almost time for Moony’s transformation and he was having his time wasted by the girl that had a crush on his best friend. “I’m shaking things up, or something. Why does it matter to you, anyway?” he snapped.
“Touchy, touchy, Potter.” she mocked in a very childish voice. She saw his hand twitch towards his wand, and rolled her eyes again. “Now, now. There’ll be no need for that, I was on my way to bed anyway and I have no desire to be subjected to a cranky Harry Potter.”
Harry raised his eyebrow. “And yet, here you are,” he paused, indicating to her dramatically. “Wasting my time,” he continued.
With a huff, she turned around and marched towards the stairs that led to the girls’ dormitory.
Malfoy’s going to love me for getting her into a mood, Harry chided himself. He checked his watch and started at the time - 11:35.
He wasted no more time and threw his invisibility cloak over himself, making sure that he was completely covered. He then cast a silencing charm on his shoes so that no one would hear him as he ran through the castle to get to the boundary where he would be able to apparate – a skill he’d been practising at home with Sirius without his parents’ knowledge.
The castle was eerily quiet and – much to his surprise – Harry didn’t find anyone on his way to the door under the clock tower. His brain was struggling to accept the fact that his feet weren’t making a sound, and he had to check that they were still there every minute or so.
Once he reached the open door (which would have bothered him at any other time, but he was in too much of a rush to care) Harry hurtled to get across the wooden bridge so that he would be able to apparate.
Checking his watch, Harry was relieved to find that he had 15 minutes left to get to the woods by Remus’ cottage.
He pulled out his wand, pictured the shabby cottage he’d spent so much time in since birth, and turned into nothingness.
“Hold on,” Ginny said as she propped herself up on her elbow. They were now lying down on his couch: him facing the ceiling and her tightly against him against the backside of the couch.
He’d been telling her the story of himself back in fifth year, but had left out Remus completely. As far as she was concerned, his parents were visiting Sirius in a cottage by some woods rumoured to contain a werewolf.
The obscurity was obvious in his story, but she wouldn’t let herself press him for any more information than he was comfortable with. So she accepted the fact that his parents were in the cottage by the forest and that he’d heard them speaking about a werewolf prowling the forest there every full-moon. She would, however, ask him about the story again later – when he was allowed to tell her everything.
“You say you apparated?” she asked with confusion on her face. “I thought a person couldn’t apparate until they were of age?” Her finger was tracing his chest, and she was following the movement with her eyes.
He felt his skin betray his embarrassment. “Strictly speaking, people can apparate from the moment they first hold their wand, but they’re not allowed to until they’re seventeen.”
Ginny shot him a sly smile. “So, you did it illegally, then?”
Harry chuckled but nodded. “Sirius had been teaching me – without my parents’ knowledge, of course – or so I thought at the time.”
She bent her head down to kiss him on the lips. “I’ve always preferred bad boys,” she whispered against his lips before pulling back and propping herself back up on her arm.
Harry pushed the stray hair off her face, and she nuzzled her cheek into his palm. “I really like kissing you,” he sighed.
Ginny smiled at his remark and kissed his hand. “And I really really like kissing you,” she giggled. “But we’re straying off the path. What happened next?”
The cool wind tore at his cheeks and sent shivers up and down his spine. The lack of crunching leaves and twigs, thanks to his silencing charm, pierced his ears as he strained to hear anything but his own breathing.
Harry’s watch told him that it was approximately two minutes to midnight; he had to find Remus’ cabin before then or else he’d miss the entire event.
“Point me,” he whispered and his wand spun in his hand, showing him where North was from where he was now. He adjusted his heading a little to the right, as had begun travelling in a Western direction.
Remus’ cabin should be just up ahead, he assured himself.
Suddenly a male voice tore through the night air as if he’d been subject to a nasty Cruciatus curse. Harry froze.
‘It’s one of the most painful things I’ve ever had to endure, Harry,’ a ghost of Remus’ dialogue flashed across his mind. ‘I wouldn’t wish it on my greatest enemy,” the voice echoed again.
The tortured screams of Remus Lupin disappeared and were replaced by the howl of a fully grown werewolf – well... he assumed it that that was how a fully grown werewolf sounded. Harry walked, thankful for the charm that silenced the leaves that would have been crunching loudly under his feet if not for it, until he found himself in the shade of what looked like an ancient wall that consisted out of the trees that must have been growing there for centuries.
Beyond the wall-like barrier, Harry could make out a clearing. While appearing empty, the clearing contained an old wooden cottage.
Movement on the far rim of the clearing suddenly caught Harry’s attention. Out of the shadows created by the trees, came a creature that vaguely resembled a wolf – its snout low as if in search of something.
Moony, Harry mused to himself. Stories had been told of this counterpart of Remus’ personality, but Harry had never truly been able to picture Remus as a wolf. The fact that the werewolf in front of him didn’t even remotely resemble a natural wolf, didn’t exactly simplify things either.
The animal’s – Remus’ – limbs were elongated would have looked humanlike if the end result didn’t look so unnaturally out of proportion with its body. Its pelt was a very dirty white thanks to the silver lighting from the moon and the natural grey it would be in the sunlight.
A rustling above Harry’s head, almost gave him a heart attack. His head shot up to look for the culprit of the disturbance. The branch’s movement was the only thing that gave the little bird’s position away. It seemed to be hiding from – something. He almost laughed at his reaction, but his smile quickly faded from his face when he looked back at the clearing to find that the werewolf wasn’t at the opposite side of it anymore, but a mere ten feet away from him. A deep growl escaped from behind its bared teeth.
His breathing – along with his heart – stopped completely and he could have easily confused his limbs with solid steel. Even if he had had enough breath to scream for help, his mouth wouldn’t even open no matter how hard he tried.
The werewolf took one step forward, lowering its posture into that of a predator stalking its very vulnerable prey.
Invisibility cloak? Harry’s thoughts switched in survival mode. Too far away to make a grab for it, he reasoned, as if he were struggling with a complicated spell. The wolf would have me dead on the ground before I was even halfway there. His thoughts – no matter how panicked – had a point: The cloak was still behind the trees were he’d appeared via apparation and he wouldn’t be able to get to it in time.
His hand twitched to life beside his body, and started moving towards his back pocket where he’d put his wand.
The wolf seemed to notice his movement and snarled very suddenly – and very loudly – at Harry.
Harry’s heart jumped back into action once he’d heard his godfather (Sirius)’s voice echoing from the cottage.
The wolf’s head shot around in search of the source of the other voice.
“There he is,” James Potter’s voice reached Harry’s ears. “We’d better shift... Wait... Who’s that with him?!” Panic was immediately in his father’s voice.
“Harry?” Sirius said as if he couldn’t believe his eyes. “HARRY!!!”
The werewolf had started shifting its weight as if it wanted to attack Sirius and James, but it had something else it had forgotten about.
Harry stepped back unsurely, but thanked whoever was listening for the genius of the silencing charm.
“Your wand Harry!!!” James shouted – agony in his voice. His only son was inches away from death, and he couldn’t do anything about it. “Stun him, or apparate, or... Just use your wand!”
Sirius knew he’d have to keep the werewolf’s attention or his godson would be in very grave danger. “Oi! Dog-breath!” he shouted at Moony. “Over here!” he flailed his arms and started jumping up and down.
James caught on quickly and joined Sirius in the act of jumping around like a madman.
Harry’s right hand closed around his wand and he pulled it out of his pocket. The action was overwhelmed by the shaking of his hand, though, and the wand dropped to the ground.
Moony, who’d started inching into the direction of James and Sirius, heard the little piece of wood fall to the ground and spun around to find Harry on his hands and knees in search of his wand.
“HARRY NO!!!” James bellowed and leapt forward, transforming into a massive stag in midair. Sirius mirrored the action and was running with the speed only an animal in distress could manage towards a paralyzed Harry.
Harry felt Ginny stiffen beside him and chuckled shakily – the story still got to him even after all these years.
“I’m guessing it would be a stupid to ask if you were alright?” she said with a slight quiver in her voice.
“I thought I could get through to him, you know?” Harry said without thinking. “I mean, I knew the guy since I was born – you wouldn’t have suspected him if you knew Remus by day...”
“Remus? As in Remus Lupin?!” Ginny said quietly, panic now more prominent in her voice.
“Hmm?” Harry said, it took him a second to realise that he’d let Remus’ name slip. He cursed under his breath, hitting his forehead with his fist. “Ginny, you can’t tell anyone! I wasn’t even allowed to tell Draco and we’ve been friends since the beginning of Hogwarts...” he stammered.
Ginny’s lips found his – shutting him up completely. She pulled back and stared into his wide eyes.
“I’m serious, Gin...” he began, but she put a finger to his lips.
“I don’t care that he’s a werewolf, Harry,” she started, shaking her head when he looked as if he wanted to say something more. “I know that Lycanthropes lose themselves when they transform, I wouldn’t want people to judge me or be afraid of me for something I couldn’t control, so why would I judge or be afraid?”
Harry frowned. “You don’t understand,” he began, causing her to roll her eyes and sigh heavily.
“You see, I rather think I do,” she said with a slight frown on her forehead. “I wouldn’t tell anyone about Remus, even if this,” she wrapped her arms around Harry’s right arm and squeezed it gently, “wasn’t happening. I won’t tell a soul, Harry.” she promised and he smiled a crooked smile that she immediately fell in love with.
Harry sighed with relief and started kissing her. Her hand was around his neck and she pulled him even closer – deepening the kiss.
Suddenly she pulled back, cooling her face with her right hand. “Weren’t you telling me a story... or something?” she asked with a confused expression.
He smirked. “Oh... Right... Yeah, I was!”
Harry felt the tree bark digging into his back and he pleaded with the wolf. “Remus, please, it’s me, Harry!”
About thirty feet away, the great stag fell to its knees with an agonised sound rumbling through its body. The wolf had leapt forward and Harry had screamed in pain.
Sirius, who had been much closer to the wolf, whimpered slightly as he heard his godson’s agonised cries.
“Dad!!!” he yelled over the guttural growls Moony was making.
James barely heard Harry, but he felt strength gathering in his stag-body, he was on his feet and galloping with his antlers ready to knock the werewolf off his son.
A mass of black fur collided with the werewolf, causing it to stagger off the mess of blood and leaves and twigs that was Harry.
Fury pulsed through the wolf and he swatted the giant dog with one of its huge front paws. It threw Padfoot into the tree to its left, and was about to jump back onto Harry to finish the job, when the antlers that had kept him in line for so long, collided with massive force into its side.
Padfoot was back on his feet as soon as he hit the ground – the tree had caused damage, but he could deal with that later. He heard the wolf yelp in surprise and pain as well as Prong’s furious barks.
He assessed the situation and ran towards Harry. The stag was keeping the wolf well under control, as the wolf was so injured by the onslaught of the antlers that he was still on the ground, whimpering.
Prongs positioned himself between the wolf and his son, whose blood was tainting the air with its metallic odour. The deer stomped its hoof as if to signal the dog that he had things under control.
Sirius shifted and knelt down to a shivering Harry.
“Harry, lay still,” he started. A nasty looking gash stretched from the young boy’s shoulder to his chest. Blood was running steadily out of the wound.
“Sirius, I’m sorry,” the boy coughed. “I didn’t mean to...”
“Shh,” Sirius said, putting his trembling left hand on the boy’s forehead. “Save your strength, champ.” He looked over his shoulder. The wolf was still on the ground, seemingly unconscious. “It’s bad, Prongs,” he said, his voice sounded shaky as he said this. “He’s in too bad shape for me to apparate him to Mungo’s; we’ll have to send a Patronus to Lily.”
The stag huffed and turned its head towards the cottage. “Got it,” Sirius said quickly.
He took out his wand and said confidently, “Expecto Patronum.” A silvery form resembling a dog burst out of his wand. “Go get Lily, Harry’s been hurt badly,” he said and the dog shot away in the opposite direction.
Sirius conjured a stretcher and log rolled Harry onto it. Harry was barely responding and was bleak as well as cold as death, which scared Sirius. He commanded the stretcher to float to the cottage and transformed quickly. The stag shifted its position so that it was in between Moony and Harry at all times; even if Harry was halfway to the cottage – all thanks to the speed of the floating stretcher.
When the door of the cottage was closed behind them, Sirius shifted back to human form and commanded the stretcher to lay Harry gently on the couch. The door opened seconds later.
“Where is he?” A very panicked James almost shouted.
“In here, James,” Sirius called from the tiny living room. He’d removed Harry‘s shirt and was busy cleaning the blood off the boy’s face.
“Oh Merlin,” James gasped, falling to his knees. “Is he...” he choked.
“Breathing? Yes, barely.” Sirius said, knowing that it wasn’t what James was going to ask. “It seems that some damage has been done to his lung, it sounds as if some blood has started to flow into it,” he said without much emotion. “Where the hell is Lily?!” he shouted.
“I’ll go get her,” James said, his face blank.
“Like hell, you are,” Sirius denied. “I sent a Patronus to her; she should be here any second now.”
“Dads?” Harry whispered. Usually he would chuckle when he addressed them in plural, but the gurgling sound emanating from his blood-filled lungs transformed the simple statement into a very depressing moment. It immediately commanded all of their attention.
“Harry?” James sobbed. Sirius laid a hand on the boy’s forehead.
“I love y...” he tried almost inaudibly, but failed to complete the sentence.
Sirius’ body froze. The weak rise and fall of Harry’s chest had stopped altogether. “Oh no. No no no no no!” he didn’t know what to do or where to put his hands. The boy was slipping away from him rapidly.
A loud crack sounded in the kitchen and Lily, still dressed in her green healer uniform, quickly ran into the living room. Her eyes widened at the apparent damage, but she wasted no time.
“He’s not breathing,” she said in a slightly panicked voice. “How long has he not been breathing,” she asked, her training had kicked in – erasing her emotions from the equation.
“Probably thirty seconds,” Sirius answered immediately. “He spoke to us and then... nothing.”
Lily nodded, a very small smile of relief flashed across her face. Only thirty seconds, that I can work with. She flicked her wand and a very large black bag appeared next to her. “Sirius, I need your help,” she said promptly.
“Anything,” Sirius said immediately, glad at the distraction.
James was sitting in the far corner of the room, clutching his knees to his chest. ‘Entirely my fault’ he was murmuring.
“Open the bag,” she started waving her wand over her son’s body. “There should be a clear potion that labelled Blood Replenishing Potion, I need you to try and get it down his throat as soon as I have the heart beating again.”
Sirius nodded and pulled out the small bottle.
Please work, Lily murmured subconsciously. “Vulnera Sanentur,” she murmured softly as if it were a song. The bones that had been broken by the vicious onslaught and shear power of the werewolf grew back instantly and the surrounding skin creeped over the gaping wound and started to knit together again.
Lily paused her song and pointed her wand slightly to the left of Harry’s chest. “Cor animantis,” she whispered.
“Damnit, Harry, come back to me!” she yelled, “COR ANIMANTIS!!!”
The body twitched slightly and Lily nodded at Sirius. “Quickly,” she said and returned to healing the gash across her son’s chest.
Sirius lifted Harry’s head and fed him the potion. Immediately a little colour returned to the boy’s cheeks.
“Is that all, Lils?” Sirius asked, letting out the breath he didn’t realize he was still holding.
“I can handle it from here, Padfoot, can you check on James for me?” she said as she used a spell to remove the remaining blood from Harry’s lungs. His breathing was immediately stronger and his body seemed to relax a little thanks to the relief of stress.
“Sure thing,” Sirius nodded. He walked over to where James sat against the wall and ran his hand through his hair. “He’s fine, Prongs,” Sirius sighed.
James didn’t react.
“James, listen to me. Lily got here in time – Harry’s fine,” Sirius urged again.
“He’s anything BUT fine, Padfoot,” James’ voice rasped. “Thank Merlin he’s alive, but he is NOT fine.”
“I’m so sorry, James,” Sirius said, letting his head fall in shame.
“For teaching him to apparate?” Lily prompted and Sirius nodded sadly.
She had stood up from Harry’s side and was pushing his wet fringe out of his face. “Don’t be ridiculous, Padfoot – we all agreed it was better if he could apparate early,” she sighed. “Remus isn’t going to get over this one,” she said sadly. “What happened, exactly?” she asked in general.
“We arrived a little later than usual, and we saw Moony with a person,” he said, nodding towards Harry. “We tried to get his attention, but Harry dropped his wand and Moony attacked – we almost didn’t get to him in time,” he shuddered. “I tried to fight him off, but he would’ve killed me if Prongs hadn’t collided with him.”
“If I’d just left home earlier to get here, Moony wouldn’t have been out in the forest alone and Harry would have been perfectly safe,” James sobbed. It wasn’t an easy thing to see your only son get mauled by a werewolf, then hear that his heart had stopped as soon as you think he’s safe.
Lily smiled sadly and got on her knees in front of James. “You’re the reason he’s alive, Love,” she said and took his hands in her own. “He would be dead if you and Sirius hadn’t been there.”
Harry had taken Ginny’s hand and entwined his fingers with hers.
“You died?” she asked softly, her voice little more than a whisper.
“For less than a minute,” Harry chuckled darkly. “If my mother hadn’t gotten there in time...” he trailed off and she squeezed his hand a little.
“She did, though. Remind me to thank her someday?” she said genuinely.
Harry chuckled. “I will,” he said and kissed her gently.
“Something’s bothering me, though – how do you know what happened after you... well...” she said uncertainly.
“Died?” he prompted. “My dad has a Pensieve at home,” he explained. “You can use it to relive your own, or in my case, someone else’s memories.”
“Where you fine when you woke up?” she asked.
“My mother used numerous pain numbing spells on me – even though she’d healed most of the damage, with the werewolf being a dark magical creature and all...”
“It hurt like hell,” she finished for him. She was staring into the fire as said this. “Thank you for telling me, Harry.”
“Anything for you, Love,” he said with a smile.
Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as he called her ‘Love’, and she turned her head to his, kissing him with a smile on her face. Sure the story had broken her heart and she’d probably have nightmares about it, but she still smiled – for she hadn’t felt this happy in a very long time.
Can't believe it's chapter 10 already (Its a bit longer than usual for celebratory reasons)!
I know - a bit of a dark chapter, but I thought the story was yearning for a bit of clouds instead of pure unadulterated sunshine (LOLZ... clever wordplay... uhm... anyways...) but I tried to put some fuzz in there as well!
Hope you enjoyed it - PLEASE take a few minutes to leave a review even if you want to say something about my bad grammar (I ANSWER EACH AND EVERY ONE)!! They inspire me to write SOOOO much faster!! (Nudge Nudge, Wink Wink)
Love you guys! (Stay awesome!!!)