Chapter 15 : A Werewolf, Snape, and a Redhead
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AN: Hey guys, sorry about another long wait! This chapter was particularly fun for me to write, what with all of the character-building and interactions. Hopefully it will be just as fun for all of you!
5/7/14 Update: Chapter image added and several typos fixed.
Grace forced herself to breathe again, sighing in half-hearted relief as her attacker revealed itself. The large, black dog – Padfoot, she could only assume – positioned himself between the disgruntled demon slayer and her equally disgruntled Servitor. While she was certain that Padfoot was only attempting to protect her from Moony, simultaneously protecting Remus from himself, she knew that preventing Moony from approaching her would endanger Padfoot.
The low growl of the dog and the piercing howl of the werewolf erupted through the extraordinarily quiet forest.
Moony, in his current form – stuck somewhere between beast and man – was an intimidating sight. While his bones and muscles had attempted to lengthen and reform, they became stunted, mending into peculiar ways as Remus resisted the transformation. It caused his height to increase so that he towered over the two before him as he raised himself onto his hind legs. All of this limbs were dramatically unproportionate to the rest of his body, elongated and lanky, ending in crooked digits that looked closer to clawed hands and feet than actual paws. Though his jaw and snout had begun to grow and expand, his face became stunted and appeared closer to some deranged, malformed Tapir than a wolf's. Short, tawny-colored hairs sprouted across his body, though very patchy in places. His forehead sloped inward due to the fracturing as his head attempted to take form, and the cartilage in his ears never finished growing. Black pupils overtook the colored iris, forcing his eyes to appear black and demonic.
Despite all of this, the two souls were able to recognize her through their strife against one another, and Grace could feel their pain, confusion, and anxiety. She attempted to remain calm and confident, despite her excitement; if he were to sense that she could possibly be in danger – any bit of upset in her emotions – he would do anything to protect her. That anything would include removing the obvious threat of Padfoot standing between them.
She released the ball of light in her hands, the only light source around, and allowed it to drift gently to the side. “Back off, Sirius,” she said, finally.
The sharp yipping sound that he emitted disturbed Moony slightly, causing him to lunge forward threateningly, snarling as his front claws struck the unforgiving ground.
“Sirius, back the fuck off!”
He lowered his head submissively, backing away slightly. Turning his head towards Grace, he made a low whimpering sound and he pawed at the earth beneath his feet anxiously.
Though he continued to whine and growl as Moony carefully approached Grace, he refrained from trying to stop him. It was as though he could quite make up his mind on whether or not to trust the Trucido's judgment.
She reached up without hesitation as the werewolf neared her, running her hand over his coarse head when he dipped it low enough.
Almost instantly, his caution and confusion fled and his demeanor transformed into that of an extremely overgrown puppy.
Only because of the full moon, Moony's presence would be overpowering Remus' in the Frankensteined body.* Though it had taken time with Anne to assist her in fully transforming into a wolf, Grace suspected that, given their connection, the process would be significantly faster and simpler. It was not as though Remus would be able to transform on his own any time soon, with his reluctance to do so.
An overwhelming feeling tore through Grace; she missed Remus, and she missed Moony. After finally having met her Servitor – having waited several long years to do so – it seemed tortuously unfair to be without him, but that was a fault of her own.
Though his primal instinct for communicative interactions, especially those concerning somatic language, couldn't quite comprehend what a hug meant, the empathetical connection overrode the confusion as he allowed the girl to embrace him.
For the moment, Grace could feel happiness spread through her again. Harnessing the emotion, much like she would do to summon a patronus, she let it seep from her being to his. Due to her weak connection with Anne, it had taken several attempts for Grace to finally assist her with a full transformation, but with Remus, it seemed so simple. The level of trust that Moony displayed was astounding, letting her magic take its course through his body. While watching a typical werewolf transformation was disturbing, knowing the supreme level of pain that overcame the body and mind, this was different. It was a seemingly peaceful, painless transition into a wolf.
He no longer appeared as a monster, but as a being that actually belonged to the forest. His eyes were friendly, and his tawny pelt's guard hairs were banded with black, gold, white, and brown colors. His ears were soft, his tail bushy, his snout fully formed, and all of his legs ended in pawed feet – finally a wolf.
The night had passed without incident, though the boys seemed particularly uneasy to have Grace exposed to a fully-fledged werewolf, even if his demeanor was particularly docile after she assisted his transformation. After mild reluctance, the group of animagi, the werewolf, and the demon slayer went about their business of frolicking through the night, spending much of their time exploring the depths of the Forbidden Forest. Grace's concealment charm worked effectively to dissuade any unwanted creatures or beings from approaching the group, causing the forest to seem more appeasing than it was forbidden. Of course, with Moony as a constant at her side, she surmised that most creatures would be too wary to approach the unusual group anyway.
Peculiarly, Moony would pause from time-to-time, freezing like a statue in the heavy darkness. His gaze would lock onto something in the distance, his ears would flatten against the top of his head, his eyes would narrow, his guard hairs would raise, and his muzzle would twitch, but Grace could never seem to find what was causing his apprehensive curiosity. Perhaps it was his instinct drawing his attention to a random critter scurrying across the forest floor, but it made her distinctly unsettled.
By the time the morning light had begun to seep into the wood, the group was facing exhaustion. Even so, Grace assisted her Servitor's transformation once more, back to his human form in order to prevent him from enduring the excruciating pain that comes with lycanthropy. Remus' human soul was able to rest that night, and so she left the sleeping boy on the forest floor in the company of his friends to avoid the confrontation that was certain to arise due to Grace's broken promise to Remus that she wouldn't venture out to see him on the full moon.
She suspected, however, that they were going to tattle on her.
The surge of anger hit Grace like a bull charging her at full force. She knew that instead of a bull, Remus had certainly spotted her weaving through the sparse crowd of early-rising students, and he most definitely knew what she had been up to last night. The question was, should Grace turn and face him or attempt to disappear into the crowd and find a place to hide from him – which seemed impossible between the map and their connection.
With a sigh of defeat, she decided that facing the irate werewolf would ultimately be the best scenario, and thus stopped. When she turned, however, she was met with tired, furious, hurt eyes.
Before she could speak, she found herself being dragged down the corridor in silence.
By the time they had reached the fourth floor, Grace was becoming mildly agitated and even more concerned. She was certain that shouting would be better than the ridiculously heavy silence, though she wasn't entirely looking forward to him shouting at her either.
As she was beginning to believe that he was attempting to lead her to the Astronomy Tower in this ridiculous silence and hurtle her from the top, he abruptly stopped, causing her to bump into him. He either ignored it, or didn't seem to notice, as his attention was now on a large, decorative mirror, similar to several other mirrors that hung from the corridor walls. Dragging his finger along one of the curves carved into its frame, he pressed the center of a large curl.
With a resonating creak, the mirror swung open. They were swallowed in darkness as he led her inside, and she swallowed her uncertainty. She would always be able to trust Remus; she only wished she knew where he was taking her.
It didn't take long for the small passageway they were engulfed in to be lit by torches, easing Grace's mind as her sense of sight returned to her. The passage was narrow, and seemed to continue forever, fading into darkness down a straight line, leading somewhere unknown. Sandy-colored bricks glowed beneath the fire's light and shadows dance along surfaces in the moist air. The disruption in Remus' eyes disquieted her, and she tried so search for emotions beyond his anger.
She wanted to ask where they were, where the tunnel led, but she really wanted to ask him if he was feeling up to being out of bed so early in the morning directly after the full moon.
“Are you insane?” he asked, finally.
Grace bit her lip, but remained silent, otherwise. Any answer she could have given him would probably have been the wrong one, anyway.
“You could have been hurt,” he continued, “Or died...or worse!” He visibly paled as fear and guilt began mixing into his anger. “I– I could have–”
“–bitten me?” Remus flinched as the words left Grace's mouth. “No, you couldn't have. Even if you did, the curse wouldn't survive in my blood.”
“–You couldn't hurt me if you tried.”
It wasn't her intention to make the sentence sound so similar to a dare as she did, and didn't quite realize it until something flashed in Remus' eyes. It was almost as if he was considering testing her theory in order to prove a point as he rolled his wand around in his hand. He wouldn't, she knew, because not only was it against his nature, but a Servitor would no less be able to harm their Trucido as a Trucido would be able to harm their Servitor.
Regardless, Grace found the dare rather insulting, so she muttered, “I didn't mean it like that.”
“Do you understand what I am?” he seethed, his patience breaking. “I could have killed you!”
She shook her head, believing the conversation was beginning to circle around again. “It's only because of what the fucking wizarding population as a whole sees werewolves that you think that you're a monster, you know?”
“I am a monster! They're right to be terrified of creatures like me– of what I could do–”
“–You're not,” she pressed. “They're wrong– Lyall is wrong.”
As his father's name left her lips, Remus froze. “My father loves me,” he said quietly, though terror began flooding his stomach.
“He's still wrong about werewolves...loving you only proves that.”
In his uneasy silence, Grace wished that things weren't so awkward between them. She needed her friend back; she needed him to allow her to be there for him.
He changed the subject almost too swiftly for her to comprehend what he meant when he said, “You promised me!”
She opened her mouth, confused, but her words were lost.
“You promised me that you wouldn't go out there on a full moon!”
“But, look at yourself, Remus,” she said softly, despite her desire to match his shouting. “You're not in pain – you're out of the infirmary before eight in the morning right after a full moon...because I was there...I helped you. I want to help you.”
“I don't want your help! I could hurt you!”
“Did Madame Pomfrey even discharge you? From what I understand, she likes to keep her patients as long as she can and –”
“–Never do that again, Grace!” he snapped. “Not on a full moon; not when–”
“–You can't stop me. I'm going to help you, and you can't stop me.”
A mixture of confusion and anger left Remus at a loss for words, though he appeared to be avidly searching them out.
“It's your own cowardice that's driving you to stop me from helping you. You're afraid of yourself, because of what other people telling you what you should think of yourself.”
As fury transformed into bitter resentment, Grace swallowed hard, believing that perhaps she had crossed another line.
“How dare you,” he said lowly. “You think that I should listen to you telling me what I should think of myself? You say you want to be my friend, but you're just being selfish. You don't care about how I feel when you go out into the forest on a full moon – you don't care about how I feel when you make any of your decisions! You just want your 'Servitor'...and I don't even understand what that means! I told you that I don't belong to anybody, and that includes you. I don't belong to you!”
She didn't try to stop the livid boy from storming out of the passageway, uncertain how to explain herself to him. She didn't want to 'own' him; she just wanted her friend back.
“Did you even bring a cauldron?” Severus asked impatiently as Grace began to pace before the hidden Room of Requirements.
Of course she hadn't thought to bring a cauldron; she merely brought ingredients with her. Hopefully, the room would be able to provide the correct instruments for their task. She was almost certain that she should have rescheduled with the dark-haired boy, as she was in a particularly foul mood after her confrontation with Remus. In the very least, she hoped that her mood would prevent her from saying something that would cause Severus to, once again, become angry with her.
Annoyed already, she shoved the door open after it appeared, not bothering to turn around to explain the strange place to the other boy. To her relief, the room had done just as she'd asked. It provided cauldrons, phials, knives, mortars and pestles, brass scales, and a potion-making kit laid carefully upon several worktables.
“Yes,” she said shortly, finally answering his question.
“What–?” he began hesitantly, peering into the room from the corridor.
“Get in here, before somebody sees you,” she snapped, dropping her bag onto one of the tables and beginning to pull the ingredients required for the Draught of Peace haphazardly out of it.
She could feel his eyes on her as he crossed the room, probably wondering what the hell her problem was today, though he kept silent. She opened her textbook as he began arranging her ingredients in some sort of order, but Grace couldn't tell what was wrong with the original order of ingredients.
“What first?” she snapped, ignoring the glare that Severus shot her following her tone.
“Typically, you would grind the moonstone into a powder...but since you've bought the powered form of –”
She snatched the jar from his hands. “What first?”
He locked eyes with her, glowering and irked. “Add it to the potion.”
“How much?” she muttered, attempting to even out her tone so that he wouldn't completely lose patience with her and refuse to help her. Perhaps, if the potion came out correctly, she would take some. She could use some serenity, at the moment.
“Just enough for the potion to turn green.”
She steeled herself from arguing that there should be a stated amount of the damned powder for her to measure, so that she wouldn't merely dump ingredients into a cauldron until there was 'just enough'. She took a deep breath and, instead, glanced at her textbook out of the corner of her eye.
Suddenly, Severus snapped the book shut – much to Grace's annoyance – and growled, “Stop that.”
She turned her head sharply to scowl at the boy at her side.
“The book is useful as a guide, but it doesn't always use the best approach. If you really want to learn how to properly brew potions, you need to learn how to only use it as I guide. I'd also suggest listening to me.”
While she wanted to inform him that she only wanted to learn how to brew Morticaine and its antidote, and possibly pass potions class, she inhaled and unstoppered the jar. She shook some of the substance out into the cauldron, watching the liquid slowly begin to become a green hue.
“That's enough,” he said, grabbing her hand to prevent her from dumping more of the moonstone into the potion.
Though the contact was only for an instance, as he released her hand nearly a second after he had grabbed it – when he was sure she wasn't going to add any more of the ingredient – it shoved her back into reality. She was in the same room as her soul mate, merely inches away from him, and he was being civil, for the most part, while she had been acting particularly nasty towards him.
She swallowed and set the jar back onto the table. “What next?” she asked, unevenly.
“Alternate stirring clockwise and anticlockwise until it turns blue.”
Almost as soon as she had begun doing as she was told, he huffed with impatience.
“No, not like that – larger motions.”
Grace hesitated before trying again.
“No,” he seethed. “Like this.” His hand was on hers again as he corrected her 'stirring method'.
She smiled to herself, watching the potion change colors. “I see the difference,” she mumbled as soon as he had released her again, attempting not to look at him.
“Add more powdered moonstone until it turns purple, this time.”
“Why do we have to add it twice?” she asked quietly as she began to shake more of the ingredient into the cauldron.
He sighed, clearly annoyed that he even had to explain something so simple to her. “The potion requires a certain amount of moonstone to work properly. Sometimes, you have to take steps in-between in order for the ingredients to respond the correct way.” Before she could ask, he added as an afterthought, “Stirring allows for oxidation.”
She decided not to question him further, returning the jar to the table. “Now what?”
“It has to simmer for a while. It will turn pink when it's time to add syrup of hellebore.” He pulled a mortar and pestle across the table.
Watching him for a moment, she felt an overwhelming need to hug him. This was quite possibly the first civil conversation that they had ever had, even if it was simply making a potion. Furthermore, he'd somehow managed to shake her from her mood, without meaning to. After the day she'd had, she really needed a hug.
Without asking, she found herself embracing him – a motion that was met with startled rigidness.
“Potter,” he snapped, twisting himself into her so that he could push her away, “what are you doing?”
“Hugging you,” she said meekly.
He looked confused, holding her away from him by her shoulders. “Why?”
Grace shrugged uncertainly. “Don't know. Sorry.”
As soon as he released her however, she wrapped her arms around his thin frame again.
“Thank you for helping me,” she said softly as he pushed her away again.
“Just...crush this,” he responded, shoving a jar of porcupine quills into her hands.
Grace sat huddled in the corner of the library, pouring over her textbooks. Her stomach growled unappreciatively, but there was absolutely no way that she was going to venture into the Great Hall – she could always sneak into the kitchens later. Her objective of avoiding all four Marauders was excruciatingly difficult. They shared a House, many classes, and she was even Peter's partner in potions, making escaping them impossible. Furthermore, James continuously attempted to track her down to speak with her. It wasn't as if she didn't want to talk to her brother, she just didn't want to be lectured. They were 'the Marauders', after all, and she'd deeply upset Remus. She was certain that meant that she was equally in trouble with the rest of them.
With all of her people-avoiding, she had significantly raised her grades in most of her classes; at least Albus would be pleased. She was becoming more comfortable with taking large periods of time to do homework and study, and she'd even found that she enjoyed doing some tasks, like translating runes.
Lost in her thoughts, she'd barely registered that somebody was attempting to speak to her when they asked, “You're Grace, right?”
She glanced up at the tall red-headed boy standing next to her table, who was grinning at her with a crooked smile.
“Gideon Prewett,” he continued, after a moment of silence. “You probably know my brother, Fabian, he's in your House.”
Curious as to what House he was in, she sought out the crest on his robe, only to discover that he was a Hufflepuff.
“He plays Quiddich with your brother.”
Grace didn't know very many Hufflepuffs, and wasn't entirely certain what this Gideon was on about.
“Ancient Runes,” he tried again, pointing at her textbook. “You're in my class.”
“I saw you over here working on the assignment...I'm bloody terrible at translating. I was wondering if you could help me.”
“Oh,” she said dumbly. “Sure.” She nodded to the chair next to her.
Gideon smiled at her as he thanked her and she attempted to return the smile. She hadn't really sought to meet new people, or interact with them in any way – she thought she had been content with the girls, the Marauders, Severus, and Albus.
Perhaps making a new friend wouldn't be so bad.
AN: So, I asterisked the term "Frankensteined", which I used for 'disfigured'. Frankenstein belongs to Marry Shelley. Thanks for reading!
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