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Chapter 30 : The Wolf in Me
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Chapter 30: The Wolf in Me
To say that following Sunday was “unexpected,” or even bordering on “disturbing,” would have been an unbelievable understatement. Because when people thought up those words, they had obviously never been through what I was about to go through. But, then again, what can one truly say about forks in the road? These days, which pop up with little to no notice and seem to severely drag themselves out, are never what you expect them to be—even when you do expect them. Life seems to have a way with finding such expectations and sending them spinning; and when I say “spinning,” I mean spinning.
The day started with a bang.
I woke with a state, sitting up in bed. I drew back my curtains to see one very unhappy Mary laying upside down on the floor, cocooned in her sheets and duvet. She sighed heavily.
“Can someone please pass me my pillow?”
I chuckled, noticing that I seemed to be the only one woken up by Mary’s tumble. Pushing myself out of bed, I walked over and plucked her pillow from atop her bed. I fluffed its feathers and nuzzled it under her head. Mary exhaled deeply, smiling at me, and curled back up—only this time, still on the floor.
“Thanks, mate,” she mumbled before falling fast asleep. Within thirty seconds, she was snoring once more.
I yawned, still groggy, and made my way over to the window. Plopping down on the lip, I nestled myself up against the cold window pane. Fog had dampened the glass, so I pulled my sleeves down past my knuckles and rubbed it until a clear spot emerged. The day would be cold, of course, but pleasant enough, it seemed. An assortment of pinks, oranges, and reds reached up past the skyline, pushing daylight across the sleepy Hogwarts grounds.
I waited another twenty minutes, just to be safe, and then pulled out the Wolfsbane Potion from its hiding place at the bottom of my trunk; nestled, resting comfortably amidst my clean laundry and my extra school supplies. I swirled around the vial, watching its blue and purple contents swim. The majority of the mixture was liquid, but there were a few flower petals—wolfsbane—that rested on the bottom, which seemed to radiate a radioactive-esque glue which was more than a bit unsettling.
Climbing back into bed, I pulled the curtains closed around me.
This is it, I found myself thinking as I stared at the vial in my fingers. This little potion is going to keep me from transforming. Or… I considered for a moment. Well, at least it’s supposed to. James’s face flashed in my mind. What was that he said about it possibly not working? I shook the thoughts from my mind, trying to erase my doubts, those undoubtedly placed there by one infuriating James Potter.
I uncorked the vial, giving it one more swirl. Taking a deep breath, I lifted the potion to my lips and downed the entire thing with three good swigs. And let me just let this fact be known: it didn’t exactly taste like pumpkin juice.
Hunching over, I broke out into a fit of coughs, the mixture still coating the inside of my throat. It was horrid to say the least, and more foul than any of my attempts at cooking when I was a child. It was as though dirty socks and hot sauce had been combined into a mixture that smelled like flowers in a grassy field at springtime, but tasted like a bloody mary cocktail crossed with excrement and topped off with molding cheese and sour milk. Warm, sour milk. Warm, spicy sour milk.
And my stomach didn’t like it any more than I did.
“Oh, Merlin!” I clamped my hand over my mouth, using my other one to propel me off my bed, pushing past my curtains as I sprinted to the lavatory. I crumpled on the stone floor, lurching over the toilet as my stomach emptied itself down to the very last ounce of both the potion and my stomach acid.
I sat in that exact spot for twenty more minutes, dry-heaving, until Lily leaned in the doorframe, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She yawned, large like a cow at dawn.
“Blimey, Serena,” she exclaimed once she had gotten a firm grasp on the situation at hand. “Have you been chewing on flowers all morning? Why in the world are you vomiting violet?”
My body lurched forward once more, my stomach contracting painfully as I dry-heaved once again.
“Something like that,” I managed to say once my stomach calmed down enough for me to regain control of my body.
Lily frowned, confused. “Have you been eating lavender? Or lilacs?” she shook her head at the thought, clicking her tongue at me. “You do know that eating flowers won’t actually make you smell like them, right?”
I leaned forward, flushing the toilet and watching the entire contents of that month’s Wolfsbane Potion swirl down the drain. I couldn’t help but tear up as I realized tonight wouldn’t be going quite as smoothly as I had hoped it would.
“Let’s just say, I wasn’t doing it for cosmetic reasons,” I told her, pushing myself up onto my feet. I made my way over to the wash basin, turning on the water and cupping my hands beneath the stream. I lifted my palms up to my lips, swishing the water around in my mouth momentarily before spitting it back out again. I then repeated the process, trying my hardest to get the foul taste of Wolfsbane and stomach acid out of my mouth, while watching Lily out of the corner of my eyes. “Why are you up this early, anyway? It’s a Sunday.”
Lily shrugged. “I wanted to shower and spend some time down at the library before the Ravenclaws stake out all the best spots. It’s a cut-throat world at the library this time of year,” she laughed.
“That’s for sure,” I replied with a chuckle. I reached under the sink, finding my toothbrush and paste. I squirted the paste onto my brush, dipping it under the stream of water and brushing my teeth vigorously.
“Well, you’re having quite the morning,” Lily commented, moving past me into the back of the lavatory where the showers were. She stepped inside, stripping down and throwing her clothes out onto the washroom floor. I listened as she turned on the water, adjusting the knobs until it was just at the right temperature. “But I’ll catch up with you at dinner, alright?”
“Yeah,” I told her, spitting in the sink and rinsing my mouth out. “I’ll see you later on. Enjoy your shower.”
I made my way out of the bathroom, closing the door behind me so the noise wouldn’t wake up any of the other girls. Kneeling down at the end of my bed, I rustled around in my trunk, trying to find a clean pair of knickers. Moving quietly, I changed into clean knickers, tights, skirt, button-up shirt, sweater, and a new bra. I sat down on the trunk, pulling a pair of knee-high socks on, followed by my trainers before moving around the room to pack up my bag. I threw in my usual items: water bottle, snacks, Tyler’s old school shirt (in case I didn’t get time to come back to the room before that evening), and a notebook, quill, and inkpot. I plucked my wand off my bed, securing it in the outside pocket of my bag before I grabbed my cloak, pulled it around my shoulders, and headed out.
I didn’t know where I was going until I was standing directly outside of Dumbledore’s office. I watched the stone eagle turn, almost as though it was expecting me, and the staircase emerged, locking into place with a resounding thud.
My feet started moving me up the staircase before my brain did, leaving me with an odd sense of déjà vu when I reached the top, my hand moving to open the door before I had time to register that, like the eagle’s staircase, it was already open—waiting for me.
Inside the room, Dumbledore was standing before his desk, his hands cupped gracefully in front of him.
“Miss Colton,” he began. He sounded as if he had been up for hours and I wondered silently if he had, and if he had, why in the world he would have needed to be up so early on a Sunday morning. “I was curious if I would see you this morning.” He flicked his wand, closing the door behind me and securing it with a click. “The Wolfsbane Potion is not known for its calming nature,” he added with a chuckle. “I assume you are here because things did not particularly go as planning in the…”—he paused, considering—“digestive-area?”
“Yes, Headmaster,” I agreed with him, nodding. Perhaps it was the hour, but I didn’t blush at the statement—it was merely as though I were telling him a medical fact; not explaining that I couldn’t keep down the exact potion that would make my life so much easier. I felt at ease, despite the churning still taking place in my stomach. “I am sorry… I assume I will be transforming again tonight?”
Dumbledore gave me a knowing smile. “If you had failed to visit me this morning, yes, I dare say that you would have to. However…” He paused, turning around and returning to the chest that held the potion previously. “I anticipated such an event,” he told me, tapping his wand on the chest and watching it open before him. He reached inside, plucking out another vial of the liquid. “I had another batch made incase this had occurred.”
He walked over to me, holding out the potion. I took it with a grateful smile—and not the kind of smile you use Christmas morning when you get a pair of socks from your grandmother when all you really wanted was that new adventure novel; no, it was a real smile. A smile that basically said: thank-you-for-anticipating-that-I-would-find-a-way-to-mess-this-up and you-are-positively-the-best-Headmaster-in-the-whole-wizarding-world.
“Thank you, Headmaster,” I gushed, holding the vial close to my chest.
Dumbledore nodded, his face serious. “You should drink that now, Miss Colton.” He glanced over at the window, watching the sun continue to make its ascent. “The longer you wait, the less effective it will be.”
I nodded, uncorking the liquid. I lifted the bottle to my nose, taking a deep whiff of its flowery scent. So deceiving, I thought with a huff. I pinched my nose closed and drank the entire vial, coughing slightly as I finished.
Unlike the first time, the potion had become severely less disgusting. It was still foul, to be sure, but it didn’t take hold of my stomach as it had the first time I had tasted the potion. It was spicy still, and had the taste of something rancid, but it wasn’t as powerful—it was doable, and that’s all that mattered.
Dumbledore watched me carefully. “Are you alright, Miss Colton?”
I nodded at him. “It wasn’t as bad this time around,” I explained.
He smiled at me. “That is good news.” He paused, taking his time to think. “I would be prepared for a mildly uncomfortable evening, Miss Colton. But you will have Mr. Potter with you to summon me or Madam Pomfrey, should the pain become too unbearable. However, I do not think you will be transforming tonight; and I consider that to be an improvement to the past situation.”
“As do I, Headmaster,” I told him with a nod, the sides of my mouth twitching into a smile. “Thank you, Headmaster.” That’s more than a little improvement, I thought happily. Oh, thank Merlin that I have Headmaster Dumbledore in my life. I can only imagine how I would have gotten through this if I had never attended Hogwarts in the first place.
James woke mid-day, around noon, and pushed himself up out of bed to find Remus and Sirius in the midst of a serious conversation. He could hear water running, so Peter was most likely in the shower, and Blake was still asleep, his curtains pulled tightly around his four-poster bed.
“Yes, but you are being far too hard on her,” Remus was insisting, his hands flying wildly about by his face. “She doesn’t know you quite like we do, Sirius. You can’t expect her to change the way she sees the world just because you don’t see it similarly.”
“Now you are the one being ridiculous,” Sirius scolded. “I never said that I wanted her to change the ‘way she sees the world!’ I am merely saying that the future is not my main priority!” His brow was raised and he as well was gesturing enthusiastically. “N.E.W.T.s are more than a year away, Remus!”
Remus took a deep breath, pinching the bridge of his nose in an attempt to calm himself down. “Sirius, that is not the point.”
“What is the point?”
Remus looked at him incredulously. “Seriously? The point is that you have absolutely no drive! You have no plans for the future and, sooner or later, you are going to have to acknowledge the fact that those around you have a plan and you don’t.” He shook his head, trying to make him understand. “You’re going to get left behind.”
James climbed out of bed, stepping on the squeakiest floorboards so his mates knew he was awake. Remus glanced at him briefly, but turned his attention back to Sirius. Sirius, on the other hand, saw his opportunity to get back-up.
“James, mate!” Sirius called to him. “Tell this twit that he is making a big deal out of nothing.”
James shrugged. “He seems to have a point.” He yawned, scratching at the back of his head.
Sirius’s face looked dumbfounded. “Are you seriously taking his side?”
James looked between the two of them. “I am merely suggesting that you don’t have a plan, mate. Maybe you should just spend a few minutes making one up so that Mooney will leave you alone about it?” He raised his eyebrows at Sirius, shrugging again.
Remus sighed. “Not helping, Prongs.”
“I’m just being realistic!” James chuckled, moving to the end of his bed where his trunk sat. He rustled around in it for a moment, trying to decipher the clean clothes from the dirty ones. He lifted a shirt up to his nose, sniffed it, and recoiled in horror at the scent—it was like something had died on it. “He’s not going to be able to figure out this entire life-map in one conversation. It’s just not possible.”
Remus sighed. “I know that, but he still needs to—”
“I’ll be a freelance evil wizard capturer,” Sirius spoke up, a look of complete seriousness on his face.
“You’ll what?” Remus asked in disbelief. His eyes looked as if they might pop straight out of their sockets and roll away.
“I’ll be a freelan—”
“No, no,” Remus cut him off. “I heard what you said. I just…” He sighed loudly. “That’s not a job, Sirius. You can’t possibly think—”
Sirius shrugged. “You wanted me to have a plan for the future. There it is. I’ll be a freelance evil wizard capturer.” He paused for a moment, thinking. “Maybe I’ll even start up my own business. You know, hire some more people and just sit at some big fancy desk all day…”
“I got it,” Remus cut him off, annoyed. “I get it, alright? You don’t want to think about the future.” He sighed, his right hand reaching up and running through his hair. “I just thought you might like to know where she’s coming from, mate.”
Sirius exhaled slowly, pressing his lips together in a thin line. After a minute, he shrugged, pushing himself off the bed and striding across the room. “It’s fine. Thanks for worrying about me, mate. Don’t know what I would do without you watching my back,” he said, shooting a smile back at Remus. To anyone else, that sentence would have sounded entirely sarcastic and back-handed, but he knew that Sirius meant it genuinely.
Remus chuckled. “I knew bringing this up would stir things up. I told her it was a bad idea, but no.” He laughed, thinking about it. “She’s just looking out for you; cut her some slack.”
James didn’t have to ask, but he felt the need to anyway. “Serena?”
Just the mere mention of her name brought a smile to Sirius’s face. James ignored it, focusing on Remus, who had nodded at the question.
“I wondered what the two of you were gossiping about before Kettleburn’s class the other day,” James commented, finally fishing a clean shirt out of his trunk. He threw it onto his bed and began the search for an equally-clean, or at least not retched, pair of trousers and socks.
“Just warning her about all of the troubles this one brings with him,” Remus joked, hooking his thumb in Sirius’s direction.
“I’m not that bad,” Sirius pouted, plopping down on the radiator on the other side of the room. It wasn’t letting off enough heat to burn his bottom, but instead it gave off just enough heat to make a cozy seat. He swung his legs out beneath him.
Remus and James gave him pointed looks. From the lavatory, the boys heard the door open and Peter came out, freshly washed and in his day’s clothes.
“Why are we angry with Padfoot?” he asked, his voice as ever high-pitched and squeaky as ever. He rubbed a towel against his head, trying to dry the rest of his hair the muggle-way.
The boys laughed. “No reason in particular,” Remus answered with a smile, patting the mattress next to him. “Come on. Add yourself to our rousing game of making Sirius sound like a complete and utter tosser.”
“Hey, Serena, wait up!”
I turned, glancing behind me for the source of the voice. It was unusual for even a dozen people to be awake that early on a Sunday, and seeing Casper’s blue eyes cemented that. He was wearing just his black pants and white button-up shirt, his necktie, untied, hung loose and long around his neck. He had a messenger bag slung around his shoulders and it bounced noisily off the side of his hip while he jogged to catch up to me.
“Casper,” I smiled at him. “It’s been awhile.”
“I saw you yesterday at dinner,” he laughed.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “But I haven’t really seen you in weeks,” I reminded him. I poked him in the shoulder once he caught up. “Where have you been hiding?”
He shook his head, chuckling. “I think the better question, dear girl, is where have you been hiding?”
I shrugged, turning back around. “Oh, you know. Here and there…” I trailed off, looking back up at him. “What are you doing up so early?”
Casper laughed, straightening out his tie and moving to do a Half-Windsor knot at the base of his throat. I watched him for a moment before he spoke again. “What, so now it’s a crime for me to be awake early on a weekend?”
“Yeah,” I joked. “Something like that.”
Casper shrugged the strap of his bag up higher on his shoulder. “I had a meeting with Flitwick this morning about the Charms N.E.W.T. Apparently I need to start doing some extra work outside of class to get ready for the Practical. Quidditch is kind of…”—he paused—“setting me back.”
I frowned. “You’ve always been at the top of your class.”
“Yeah, well…” He fell silent for a moment. “Anyway,” he continued, shaking his head. “With Quidditch calming down for a while, I should be able to get back into the swing of things. Flitwick agreed to give me extra lessons outside of class.”
“Well, that’s good!” I smiled at him, clasping him on the shoulder. “You’ll be able to get back up on top again.”
He chuckled, knocking my hand away. “Yeah, yeah. So where are you headed to this early?”
I almost mentioned that I was coming back from a meeting with Dumbledore, but I decided that would most likely attract a bunch of questions that I didn’t necessarily want to sort through at that exact moment.
“I’m going to the West Tower,” I told him.
“The Owlery?” Casper asked. “Man… I can’t remember the last time I sent a letter home.” He gazed off for a few seconds before meeting my eyes again. “Do you mind if I tag along?”
Smiling, I nodded down the hall. “Not at all.”
We didn’t talk much on the way to the Owlery, but instead fell into a comfortable silence. With most other people, it would have felt odd but to us it was more like…normal. Being silent with Casper made me feel like I was back with my brother, Tyler, again. Making our way to the top of the West Tower took a while, and by the time we had gone up Merlin-knows how many stairs, I was feeling a tad bit winded. Thankfully, though, I wasn’t the only know who felt that way.
“Staircases aren’t what they used to be,” Casper chuckled. “I almost miss running suicide drills with that Potter-kid. That would have felt like a nice walk around the grounds.”
“At least we didn’t have to run the entire way,” I reminded him with a breathy laugh.
Owls squawked around us, flying between the rafters to see who the individuals were that had interrupted their early-morning slumbers. I moved over to a wooden bench, pulling my notebook, quill, and inkpot from my bag. Casper sat beside me, pulling out his own piece of parchment and a self-inking quill he had received from his parents for his birthday. We both set to work writing our respective letters.
Mum, I wrote.
I know it has been a while, and I apologize for not writing you and Dad sooner. Quidditch and classes are really keeping me busy up here. I hope this letter finds you both in good health and high spirits, as I am too. I’ve been—I paused in my writing, thinking hard about what I was going to write next—struggling with a bit of a personal issue, but with the help of a few people I trust here, I think things are beginning to look up.
I’m extremely excited to come home over the holidays, and I’m happy to say that my friends are looking forward to meeting the both of you as well. It will be a real Colton Christmas again. With lots of friends and lots of (hopefully) sweets?? Chocolates, preferably.
I love you both,
I folded the parchment in thirds, flicking my wand at it to leave a small wax seal on the letter. I whistled, watching one of the school’ barn owls fly down onto my arm. I secured the letter to the owl’s foot, giving it quick directions of who to deliver the letter to before feeling the push of its talons against my arm as the owl took flight. I walked toward the Owlery windows, looking out across the brisk landscape. It was cold enough that I could see my breath in clouds in front of my mouth, and I silently wondered how Casper could stand up in there in just his shirt, without any sort of cloak or extra layer to keep him warm. But as I turned and glanced back at him, he didn’t show any signs of the cold bothering him.
A few minutes later, he stood and picked out his own owl, sending the letter on its way. He then joined me by the arched windows surrounding the tower.
“You seem different,” he commented from beside me.
My brow furrowed. “What do you mean?”
Casper shrugged. “I’m not sure, which is odd since I’m normally able to pin-point these sort of things relatively easy. You just seem…” he paused, deliberating what word he wanted to use. “Happier. Like things are finally going your way.”
“Well they are,” I responded, smiling at him. “I don’t see what I should be sad about.”
Casper back-tracked. “No, no,” he said. “It’s not like you haven’t been happy. It’s just… You seem like something heavy got lifted off your shoulders.”
“I saw Dumbledore earlier.” I’m not sure why, but when I opened my mouth to speak, those were the words that came out—like I had no control over them.
Casper’s brow tugged downward, curiously. “You’re happier because you saw Dumbledore?”
“He helped me with a problem.” Again, I wasn’t exactly sure why I couldn’t stop talking even when I knew it would lead to a longer conversation. It was like my body was sick of holding onto everything and my mouth was determined to regurgitate everything it couldn’t keep any longer—like the first round of the Wolfsbane Potion that morning. “I’ve been dealing with it for a while now, and I thought I would never really find an answer… But Headmaster Dumbledore gave me a potion and now I’m going to be all better again.”
Casper didn’t look any less confused as the words spilled out of my mouth. “A potion?” His face actually seemed to show more concern than it had before. “Why did you need a potion from Dumbledore? Couldn’t Madam Pomfrey make you what you needed?”
It was then that my body decided it was my turn to take control, and I was stuck. It felt like everything inside of me had seized up and although time had stopped, I was frozen.
Casper turned his entire body to face me, putting a hand on my shoulder to turn me to face him as well. “What potion? Are you alright? Serena?” With his brow furrowed and his face completely serious, his eyes full of worry, I couldn’t think of a way to quickly make the entire situation disappear.
“I’m fine, Casper,” I told him. “It’s really no big deal.”
His eyes narrowed. “A girl who has to have the Headmaster make her a potion isn’t ‘fine,’ Serena.”
“I’ll be fine now,” I insisted. “I promise.”
Casper took a deep breath, keeping his hand on my shoulder and his eyes locked with mine. “Listen… You don’t have to tell me anything, Serena. But have you at least told your parents about whatever it is? You should at least talk to someone close to you.”
I stared back at him, unable to think clearly. “No, I haven’t.”
Casper’s frown deepened. “That doesn’t make me worry less, Serena.” He paused, searching my face. “You know you can talk to me about anything, right?”
“I’m a werewolf.”
Neither of us had anything to say to that.
“Alright,” I said, brushing past James at the door to the Room of Requirements. “Let’s get this over with.”
“Serena?” James’s voice was smaller than it usually was, tentative and searching. He could see the stain of tears on my face and the puffiness around my eyes. I was long out of tears, but the trails they left down my face still remained, and my eyes were still an unflattering shade of pink.
I paced the corridor, grabbing hold of the room’s door handle when it appeared. I yanked it open and James had no choice but to follow me into the room, closing the door behind us.
“Serena?” James asked again once we were both inside. “What’s wrong?”
I looked at him for a moment before walking down into the pit. I made my way over to the large stone throne in the middle of the room, clamping myself down with the chains and shackles already there. James followed me down into the cage, standing in front of where I was sitting.
“How much longer until sunset?” I asked him.
James considered before pulling a small pocket-watch from the pocket of his pants. “Probably five minutes or so. Do you want me to get out?”
“Are you fastest enough to get out of here and lock it if you need to?” I asked him, already knowing the answer.
“Then you’re fine,” I told him. I raised my arms, letting the chains jingle against each other. “I just want to err on the side of caution. You know, just in case I’m still a monster.”
“You’re not a monster—”
I cleared my throat, cutting him off. “I know. But there is one inside of me, James. That hasn’t changed. Now it’s just a question of whether or not my body can control it.”
James sat down. “I’m not worried.”
I chuckled softly. “That makes one of us.”
James watched me. “So what’s wrong?”
I looked down at him, watching him adjust himself on the cold stone floor until he was sitting cross-legged. “I told Casper.”
His eyebrows shot up. “You what?”
“I told Casper,” I repeated.
I could tell he was anxious, and he scrambled to his feet, pacing with anxiety. “You…told Casper.”
“That you’re a werewolf.”
“Yes,” I repeated once more.
“You told Casper that you’re a werewolf.”
I rolled my eyes at him. “For the last time, yes. Yes, James, I told Casper that I’m a werewolf.”
James looked at me incredulously, eyes wide. “What did he say?”
I shrugged. “Nothing.”
James’s eyes narrowed, brow furrowed. “You told Casper that you’re a werewolf and he said…nothing?” I nodded. “How could he just say nothing?”
I sighed. “Listen, I don’t have all of the answers, James. I don’t know what you expect me to say—”
“Seriously, though!” he exclaimed. “If a friend tells you they’re a werewolf, you don’t just say nothing.” He paused, looking over at me. “I didn’t say nothing.”
“No, you didn’t,” I agreed. “But then again, I didn’t really tell you… You guessed.”
His lips twitched up into a smile. “I’m a good guesser.” His smile faltered, walking over to me. “Are you…okay?”
I shrugged, the chains jingling as I did so. “I…don’t know. Yet.”
It was the truth. I had sat all day trying to figure out how I felt about the situation. When I told Casper, he had just stared at me in silence and I watched him, seeing the gears turn in his eyes. After what seemed like an eternity, Casper said he needed to get going and just…left. And I had yet to really figure out what that meant. It was big news, I knew that, but I still wished that he had taken it more like James had—but that was unreasonable of me.
James pulled the watch back out, checking the time. “How do you feel, Serena?”
“I told you, I don’t know—”
“No,” he shook his head. “Your body. Are you feeling a transformation at all?”
I paused, a smile beginning to spread across my face as thoughts of Casper took the back-burner. “No,” I told him. “I don’t feel an—ah!” I lurched forward, my body feeling the usual push and pull of transforming. But it was different. I could feel that it was different.
“Serena?” James called to me, rushing forward.
“James!” I managed to bark out between screams.
He paused in his path to me, arms out-stretched toward me.
The pain seemed to tingle, reaching down my limbs but then it all shot back up to my chest, congregating just under my rib-cage. I called out, bashing my body back up against the stone throne.
“Do you want me to get—” he asked, but my screams cut him off again.
I closed my mouth, trying to swallow down the pain, but it just made my screams sound more like growls. But as soon as I thought I couldn’t bare it anymore, it all stopped. I lurched forward, panting, trying to catch my breath.
James moved toward me, stopping just in front of the chair and took my face in his hands. He pushed me back up and I tried to ignore the fact that I was covered in cold, wet beads of sweat.
“Serena,” he urged. “Are you alright?” I looked up at him, our eyes locking. “Serena?” he tried again.
“I’m...” I began, trying to regain my bearings. “I’m alright. The potion,” I told him. “The potion kept me from transforming.”
For the first time that day, I saw the grin on James’s face and I grinned straight back at him. “I’m not going to transform.”
James’s arms curled around me, pulling me into a warm embrace, one hand on the middle of my back and the other buried in my hair. I hugged him back, almost unable to process that this was really happening.
“You’re not going to transform,” James repeated. He pulled back, holding me at arm’s length for a moment while we looked at each other—grinning at the realization that I would never have to transform into that beast again. And then he kissed me. Hard.
A/N: Well, I hope you're all having a fantastic New Years! This chapter is my New Years present to all of you for being such fabulous and lovely readers. :) I hope this new year sees you in good health and high spirits, in the words of Serena. ;) Here's to another year of HPFF and another year of Serena and her ridiculous adventures in and around Hogwarts. I love you all! :D --KBD
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