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Moonlit Meetings by KilledByDrapery
Chapter 35 : Half Moon and the Holidays
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 2


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Chapter 35: Half Moon and the Holidays

 

I stared out the back bay window, watching the boys swoop around on the makeshift quidditch pitch. Sirius bashed into Peter, who fumbled and dropped the quaffle into James’s waiting hands and they cheered, laughing.

“Even in the dead of winter, they’re out there practicing,” Lily commented from beside me. She shook her head. “I don’t get the appeal.”

“I think the correct terminology would be ‘out there playing,’” Mary corrected. “That doesn’t look much like the practice I’m used to.”

I smiled. “No, it really doesn’t, does it?”

Lily had arrived promptly at two that afternoon, with Mary maybe twenty minutes later, apologizing because she said she couldn’t find a cabbie from the train station. I had told her I would have come get her, but she just waved her hand and told me that it wasn’t a bother, she just hated to make us think she had stood us up.

I felt more at ease with them there beside me. Just like Casper--who was currently out on the “pitch” with the rest of the guys--it was like having a tightknit safety blanket within reach. I just hoped the buffer blanket would work.

I watched as Sirius touched down, waving and yelling something to the guys before leaning his broomstick against the siding. He slid open one side of the two-panel glass back door and slipped inside, closing it behind him to keep in the warm air.

He walked over with a smile and kissed me, his lips cold and soft against my own. “Hey,” he greeted when he pulled back. “You should really come out and join us. Seeing Peter up on a broom is just about the best Christmas present anyone could get,” he told me with a laugh.

“I’m sure.” I looked out the window, my eyes catching onto James. I thought for a moment he might look over and our eyes might lock, but they didn’t and it made me feel horrid for thinking it in the first place. I looked back at Sirius. “But I’m not gonna leave my girls,” I joked, throwing an arm around Lily and Mary.

Lily rolled her eyes, pushing her bright hair over her shoulder as she squirmed out of my grip. “We don’t need babysitting, Serena.”

“It’s not babysitting,” I told her sternly. “I prefer the term ‘helicopter parenting.’ It’s for your own good, you know,” I added with a wink.

“Well, in that case you can say I just came in for some of those tasty finger sandwiches,” Sirius announced, sweeping into the kitchen and grabbing a handful of sandwiches, stacking them up and stuffing them one by one into his mouth.

“Dad will be so pleased to hear you say that,” I laughed. “He basically turned into Julia Child creating them.”

“They’re quite tasty,” he nodded through a mouthful of bread and cheese. A fleck of food flicked out of his mouth and Mary jumped, trying to dodge it.

“Gross!” she squeaked.

Sirius’s eyes grew wide. “And that’s my cue,” he decided, disappearing back toward the door. “Later!”

Mary glared over at me. “And that’s the love of your life?”

I shrugged.

“Nobody’s perfect, Mary,” Lily piped in. “And he’s not bad to look at, so there’s worse--”

Mary gaped at her. “Did you just admit to thinking Serena’s boy is hot?”

“What?” Lily blushed. “I didn’t say that. I just meant that he’s symmetrical and--”

“Symmetrical, huh?” I teased, jumping into the mix. “Do I need to start looking out for you?”

“Oh Merlin, no!” she exclaimed, her face turning even darker. “I just meant…” She looked over at Mary, who just cocked an eyebrow at her. “I mean, Potter is handsome too! But you don’t have to worry about me going after him!”

“You’re into James?” Mary asked, a grin on her face. “Well, he’s not taken, so I think we could arrange that.”

“Merlin, Mary!” Lily nearly shouted. “That’s not what I meant!”

Mary started over to the door. “I should just have a quick word with him…” She pulled the door open partially, sticking her head out. “James!” she called.

“Mary, stop it!” Lily ran over, pulling her back inside and slamming the door closed behind her. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m not trying to date Potter.”

While the two bickered, I looked out the window and saw James paused in mid-flight, his eyes trained over at the group of us in confusion. When his gaze turned to me, his face turned blank and he turned back to the game, swooping off to find the quaffle.

My stomach flipped, but I did my best to ignore it, turning back to the girls and slapping an amused smile on my face.

“That’d be a treat, wouldn’t it?” I chimed in.

“It really would,” Mary grinned over at me and then back at Lily. “You would have the most adorable babies.”

“Oh Merlin, please stop…” Lily groaned, moving away from Mary. She started off into the kitchen, then hooked to the left and moved her way up the stairs, with us both close in tow.

“We’re just trying to help you find true love!” Mary insisted.

Lily hit the second floor landing and started down the corridor, making a right into my room--which was also doubling as Lily and Mary’s room during their stay.

Once we all piled in, Lily dropped down onto the mattress beside my bed. Mary sat down on hers at the end of my bed, leaving me to take my rightful place on my actual mattress.

“What do you need to say that has to be so private?” Mary prodded, gesturing to the room.

“Quite literally nothing,” Lily told her, her voice exasperated. “You both are being ridiculous.” She flopped backward, throwing her hands up above her head. “I will be single until I’m 53 and then I’ll adopt thirteen cats and live in a hovel.”

“You’ll do none of those things and you know it,” I pointed out with a roll of my eyes.

“Except for the cat bit,” Mary added. “I could see you with a cat.”

“Yeah, but not thirteen,” I agreed. “Maybe only like four or something. A reasonable amount of cats.”

“Four is a reasonable amount of cats?”

I nodded. “Four is a family. Thirteen is excessive. That’s like inviting your in-laws and weird extended cousins over.”

“Like today?” Lily asked, propping herself up on her elbows.

I laughed, my stomach flipping uncomfortably again. “Yeah, something like that…”

I laid down as well, tucking my hands beneath my head. I thought about Sirius’s smile and James’s distant stare. I thought about Charlotte’s perfect laugh and her bearded fiance. I thought about all of the rudding things that had happened lately and I stopped thinking. I didn’t want to think about it anymore.

“Do you guys want to go out tomorrow night?” I asked.

Lily and Mary turned to look at me, their faces equal parts confusion and intrigue.

“Go out?” Lily asked first. “Go where?”

“Like...to a muggle club or something.”

They both stared at me like I was insane. Which, granted, I might have been.

“You want us to go to a muggle club?” Lily repeated.

“Can we even get into a muggle club?” Mary asked, her voice more curious than anything else.

“We could go to a wizard club,” I shrugged. “But I think we would have to take a train into the city.”

“Can we even get into a wizard club?” Mary asked again.

“Or any club?” Lily added.

I shrugged. “I’m sure we can find one we can get into. Otherwise, we are wizards.”

Lily narrowed her eyes. “Did you just suggest using underage magic outside of school?”

I propped myself up, raising an eyebrow at her. “You, Crush-On-Potter Evans, are giving me lectures about going by the book? James is about as off book as you can get. This is chump change.”

“They’ll find out,” Mary said. “They’ll find out and expel us.”

“Then we won’t go somewhere we’ll have to use magic,” I said with another shrug. “I just offered it as an option. It’s the holidays, not purgatory. I’m sure the Ministry has more important things to deal with than a couple students transfiguring themselves some new photo IDs.”

“Sometimes I worry about you and the way your brain works,” Lily commented, her eyes narrowed like I was a particularly difficult puzzle she was trying to work out.

“Remember when you didn’t talk to people?” Mary pipped in, changing the subject. “I used to think you hated all of us.”

“I didn’t hate you,” I told her. “Any of you,” I added, glancing over at Lily. “I just had a lot I was dealing with.”

Mary looked like a hurt puppy when I said that. “I’m sorry… I didn’t mean…”

“It’s fine, seriously.” I waved her off, flopping back down on my bed. “I have all of you now.”

“And quidditch,” Mary added hopefully.

“And quidditch,” I repeated with a grin. “Dear old quidditch. A most reliable mistress.”

“Honestly, the way you people talk about quidditch is slightly disturbing.” Lily rolled her eyes and fell back onto her makeshift bed once more, resting her hands on her stomach.

I heard Mary shift as well, and then we were all laying on our respective beds, staring up at the ceiling of my bedroom in silence, just breathing and being there. After a couple minutes, I closed my eyes, enjoying the silence and the smell of cherry strudel that wafted up the staircase from the kitchen. I could still hear the boys in the backyard even through the walls as they laughed and joked and yelled their discontent at Peter’s quidditch performance.

“I could go.”

I opened my eyes, turning onto my side to get a better view of Lily.

“What did you just say?” I asked cautiously.

She didn’t look over at from her her pointed gaze at the ceiling. “I said I could go.”

“Go where?” Mary asked from the end of the bed.

“Go to a club,” she shrugged.

Mary and I exchanged bewildered looks. The words had come out of her mouth so easily, like it was a perfectly reasonable thing to agree to. Lily Evans. In a club. Dancing. To actual music. Possibly with liquid lubricant.

“What?” she asked, her voice coming out in a snap. “It’s not that weird of me to say it.”

Mary grinned. “No weirder than Serena suggesting it in the first place,” she pointed out with a laugh.

“Alright, then it’s settled,” I announced with a clap of my hands. “Tomorrow, we dance!”





Somehow, through careful planning and coordination of always moving rooms thirty seconds before her, I managed to avoid Charlotte and her bearded bo until dinner. And then I definitely didn’t have that option anymore.

I had convinced Mum that dinner should be earlier--“because everyone’s been traveling all day, so they must be hungry. What if they didn’t eat on the way here or on the train or something?”--so I wouldn’t have to worry about it getting too late. Even though I had taken the potion Dumbledore had sent me by owl, I didn’t want to chance anything with so many people at the house, so I had planned to sneak out of the house as the sun set. Or before, if things worked out right.

The dining table, normally big enough to fit a company of six, had been extended and adorned with all of my parents’ nicest plates and goblets, with fancy cloth napkins I hadn’t been aware we even still owned. Mum had placed burning red candlesticks along the center of the table in silver candlesticks, and large ceramic bowls filled to the brim of everything from turkey to stuffing to potatoes and more were scattered between them.

Mum and Dad had sat themselves on opposite sides of the table, taking the head spots on either end and leaving everyone else to situate themselves however they felt with the remaining spots.

The boys, as well as Charlotte and her fiance, were already milling around the kitchen grabbing drinks when Lily, Mary, and I came downstairs.

“I’m just so excited to have everyone here together,” my mum was saying, cooing her usual praises. “It’s just so lovely, isn’t it darling?”

My father nodded, smiling at her. “It’s very nice, yes.”

“Tyler would have just loved it.”

Charlotte, seizing her opportunity, cut off my path to the fridge. “What would you like?” she asked me with one of her sunshine smiles. “I’ll grab it for you.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” I waved her off, my stomach already rolling around in anxiety. I went to move around her.

“No, please,” she insisted with a small tilt of her head as she smiled at me. “Let me.”

I stopped and told myself to smile. I’m not sure it worked, but if it didn’t, she didn’t comment on my expression.

“Alright, I’ll just have a butterbeer then,” I conceded.

Charlotte turned around, her long blonde hair flipping over her shoulder as she bent over to retrieve the dark bottle from the fridge. When she turned back, she handed me the cold glass bottle and let her hand linger on it in silence for a moment before dropping her hand.

“It’s nice to see you,” she finally said when she let go, her voice lower but still clear.

Smile, Serena.

“It’s nice to see you too, Charlotte.”

 

 

When Tyler showed up at the end of spring semester with a girl in tow, I had absolutely no idea what to think. And neither did he, apparently, if I took into account the dopey look on his face.

“This is Charlotte,” Tyler introduced, stepping aside and placing his hand on the small--and I mean small--of her back, giving her a slight nudge forward.

She was tall, but not as tall as him, and skinny like a gazelle. She had some of the brightest eyes I had ever seen, and shiny maize hair to boot.

Charlotte pushed her short, bobbed hair behind her ear, some of it coming loose a second later as she cleared her throat, thrusting her hand out toward my parents.

“Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Colton,” she greeted, her voice high as sparrows but somehow wobbly with nerves. When she had walked into the room with Tyler, she had walked tall and didn’t look like the kind of person who would get nervous “meeting the parents.”

I was young still, that was true. I hadn’t dated before. But I hadn’t really thought about dating, to be honest. There was this one third year in Hufflepuff that sometimes smiled at me in the corridors on my way to Charms, but that hardly counted. And I didn’t even really know his name. I had nicknamed him Carl just so I would have a name to call him in my head. But, no. No relationships. No anything, really. And the thought of dating and being around someone like that was a horrifying thought. Everyone else would be so much better at it by the time I reached an age that boys would even look my way. And by then they wouldn’t want to.

But something about seeing this model of a specimen get nervous meeting her boyfriend’s parents was comforting.

Dad was the first one to take her hand. “Hello, Charlotte. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Mum took a minute more, looking at this girl like the sight of her was the oddest thing she’d ever laid eyes on in the Colton household. For a second, I wasn’t sure she was going to end up saying anything, but then she took a step forward and extended her arms, pulling Charlotte into a warm, if not also super weird, embrace.

“You take care of my baby boy,” she whispered in Charlotte’s ear, just loud enough for me to hear.

I nearly choked on laughter and Tyler looked at me curiously, having not heard the remark.

When Mum let her go, she looked a bit dazed, but turned her hand toward me next. “Are you a hugger too?” she asked a bit on guard.

“A hearty handshake is good for now,” I told her with a grin.

Charlotte looked a bit relieved, which I tried not to take personally, and we shook hands before she returned to her spot glued at Tyler’s side like a magnet.

“Cool,” Tyler grinned, taking Charlotte’s hand and dragging her toward the staircase. “We’re gonna go snog now.”

Charlotte turned bright red, ducking her head down as my dad seemed to choke on air.

“Tyler!!”

 

 

“So, Jacob,” my father started while everyone was still getting settled. “What do you do?”

Jacob, now pulling Charlotte behind him by the hand, took the two seats to the left of my father, sitting down nearly in unison.

“I work with acquisitions at the National Museum of Magical and Enchanted Artifacts,” Jacob explained, scooting his chair in and grabbing the cloth napkin off his plate, draping it over his lap. It was an odd thing to watch a lumberjack act like proper table manners were their forte.

“Oh, that sounds so lovely!” Mum cooed. “Do you just adore it there? What’s your favorite part about the job?”

Charlotte beamed as if it were her they were actually praising.

She used to do that when people talked about Tyler.

“It’s really quite fascinating,” Jacob was saying. “I get to travel a lot and work with just an amazing amount of really diverse people.”

Sirius popped up by my side and gave me a kiss on the cheek, which I leaned into, thankful for its warmth.

“Care to sit next to me, love?” he asked with a smile.

I turned to look at him, taking in the slight stubble popping up around his chin and the way his hair sort of tousled itself on the top of his head. I reached up and ran my fingers over his cheekbones, caressing the smooth of his face, taking in each curve and dimple. I don’t think I had looked at him--really looked at him--like that in a while. Or looked at the way he looked at me. His eyes were warm like melted chocolate and I wanted to delve into them.

I moved my hand to his chin and pulled him forward a bit, reaching up on my toes to meet him partway. I kissed him slow, cherishing the way our lips fit together just right.

When I pulled apart, he looked just as dazed as I felt.

“I’d love to,” I told him, answering his earlier question.

“That was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen,” Mary breathed from beside me, putting a hand over her heart like she was watching a romance novel come to life.

“I think the words you’re looking for are ‘disgusting’ and ‘Oh dear Merlin, stop’,” James piped up, correcting her.

Mary shot him a look. “Don’t be rude. Their love is pure.”

“Yeah,” Sirius laughed, winking at his best friend. “Don’t be rude, Potter. Didn’t you hear Mary? Our love is pure.”

James shifted his eyes to me. “Is it though?”

“Of course it is,” Remus said, pushing past James and grabbing another butterbeer from the fridge. “Just look at all those puppy dog eyes he gives her. It’s almost sickeningly pure.”

James’s eyes didn’t leave mine for another moment, daring me to say something.

I turned and took Sirius’s hand, moving toward the table and taking two spots in the center. “Here okay?” I asked him.

Sirius gave me had a squeeze before dropping it to pull out my chair for me. “Here’s the best.”

Mary, next to Remus, sat down on the left side, with Peter on the other side of Sirius and James and Lily across the table next to an eerily silent Casper. When I made eye contact with him, he stared back at me for a solid ten seconds before he smiled.

He knows. He knows and he hates me again, my mind started whirring, through up possibilities. He knows and he’ll never talk to me again because not only am I a monster, but I’m also a horrid girlfriend.

“I don’t think I’ve ever really known someone who has worked there,” Mum was saying, turning her eyes toward my father and nodding her glass toward him. “Right honey? We don’t know anyone there, do we?”

“I don’t think so,” he replied.

“Well, now you do!” Jacob grinned. “And anytime you want a tour…”

“Oh!” Mum clapped her hands together in delight. “A tour! Did you hear that Serena?”

My body jumped in my seat at my name, my eyes jerking away from Casper with a snap. “What?” I asked, confused.

“Jacob’s just said we can come by the museum for a tour. Isn’t that just the sweetest of him?” Mum repeated patiently, as though she hadn’t noticed me being entirely rude and ignoring their entire conversation. Which I’m pretty sure she had indeed actually noticed.

“That’s awesome, Jacob,” I cooed, trying to match my mother’s enthusiasm without sounding like a complete and utter wanker. “I’ve always wanted to see that museum. We talk about it so much at school.”

Casper shot me a look and tried to suppress an amused smile.

“It’s true,” Lily piped up from the other side of the table as she leaned forward to look at Jacob and Charlotte. “We’ve talked about it a lot. I haven’t been since I was a child. Right after I got my letter.”

“I’m not sure 11 counts as a child anymore,” Mary pointed out. “That was only a handful of years ago.”

“A lot can happen in 5 years,” Charlotte pointed out, her eyes darting toward me and then back at Lily again.

“Exactly,” Lily nodded. “So it’s about time to go back.”

“I think so too,” Remus agreed with a brisk nod. By now, everyone had begun piling food onto their plates and Remus was helping himself to a generous portion of potatoes. “Last time I went, I didn’t get to go to an entire wing of the museum because my friend got sick and had to go home.”

“I did not!” James announced, throwing a hand to his chest like he was super offended by the accusation.

“I didn’t mean you,” Remus told him, rolling his eyes.

James, Peter, and Sirius all exchanged a look.

“You have other friends?” Peter asked, breaking his silence.

Sirius and James roared with laughter. Sirius thumped on Peter’s back, who immediately turned sheepish again and crimson red under the attention. Even beside me, I could hear Mary laughing and my dad doing the same at his end of the table.

Remus’s cheeks pinkened and he glared over at Peter. “I might have to get better ones after this holiday.”

“No, no,” Mum interrupted, despite a smile on her face. “This holiday isn’t going to break up any friendships. Only make new ones.”

“Mum…” I warned her, giving her a knowing look.

“What, pumpkin?” she asked innocently. “I just meant…”

“Mum,” I repeated.

She made a gesture across her mouth like she was zipping her lips and then threw away the key. “I’m done.”

I felt a sigh of relief pass my lips and I looked across the table at James unconsciously.

Not everything was going to be that easy.





After dinner, Mum and Dad retired to the living room with Charlotte and Jacob in tow--though not entirely by choice, I think--with coffees and biscuits. I volunteered to do the dishes, but Mum waved away the offer and said she’d just have them do themselves when they were done with their drinks--just as I knew she would. The girls were yawning by the end of dinner and said they were content to going to sleep early--also as I knew they would--and after my own faked yawns, the boys seemed to think the same idea wouldn’t be as bad. Casper left soon after, and the group of us started upstairs to get ready for bed.

Well, they did.

I said I would shower last and let them get on with things, spending the time thinking up my excuses in case they realized I wasn’t in my bed in the middle of the night.

1. Sirius and I went to take a walk around the town.
2. Sirius and I went to take “a walk” around the town (this one would involve a lot of winking and suggestive eyebrow wiggles).
3. I’m a werewolf and I didn’t want to eat you incase Dumbledore’s magic wolfsbane potion didn’t work.


All solid choices.

My overnight bag was already packed up and stored behind the couch in the front room, a decision I had made very strategically since I didn’t want Mum to find it in her massive cleaning spree and ask why I had chains, rope, water bottles, a change of clothes, and various ointments and such to clean wounds. You know, normal teenager stuff.

I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have any problems leaving the house. It would be getting back in the morning that would be the real issue. But I had (mostly) a plan for that too.

Thankfully, by the time Lily and Mary had both showered and climbed into their respective beds, they didn’t look like they’d last the average time of a shower, which meant there wasn’t much to worry about when I ditched out.

“Okay, my turn,” I announced to the sleepy room and grabbed a pair of pajamas off the end of my bed.

Mary mumbled something that could have been “have a good shower.” Or possibly “have a booed bower.” Who could know.

Lily didn’t even respond, her mouth gaped open a bit as she snored softly, completely asleep.

I smiled to myself and made my way out of the bedroom, shutting the door softly behind me, and ducked into the bathroom next door, putting my pajamas on the bathroom counter. I pulled my wand out from my waistband and pointed it at the shower. Whispering the incantation, I charmed the shower to run by itself for half an hour and then shut off. Putting my wand away, I picked up my pajamas and stored them in the bottom cupboard, nestled behind the towels and extra linens.

I slipped out of the bathroom then, trying my best to be stealthy as I made my way down the hallway. I could hear faint conversations coming from my parent’s bedroom, and the guest room, and Tyler’s old room too, though that sounded more like laughter. The first floor would be abandoned by now, but I tried my best to stay quiet nonetheless, not wanting to take any chances.

As I made my way down the staircase, keeping my feet close to the bannister where I had learned, with years of practice, that the boards squeaked less. When I stepped onto the landing, I pivoted toward the living room and made my way over to the couch, reaching around and scooping up my backpack. Slinging it over my shoulder, I made my way toward the front door and slipped out as quietly as I could, pulling the door securely shut behind me.

Out in the cold winter air felt the most relaxed I had been all day. My muscles finally loosened, unknotting the day’s tension with a long, deep breath that I exhaled into a puff of hot air.

I started down the path that would take me to the windmill, running my hands through my hair--already cold to the touch in the chilled air--as I walked.

The sun was just sort of touching the horizon, sending echoes of pink across the quiet landscape and through the trees. I made it past the Gerald’s house, glancing up at where I knew Casper’s room was. There was a light on past the blinds, alerting me to the thankful fact that Casper was home and not out on a poorly timed evening jog. Well, poorly timed for me. Not necessarily for him.

Or, hopefully, not for either of us.

I thought about the wolfsbane potion.

Hopefully.

The path to the windmill was empty, like I knew (or at least hoped) it would be, and when I reached its entrance, I only had to pull out my wand and whisper a quick alohomora to open the padlock.

It had been an entire semester, but it was just as I remembered.

I was the windmill’s only real occupant--if you didn’t count the creepy crawly things--and my straw bed had been left undisturbed at the back of the cylindrical building. I turned and locked the door behind me before walking over to my night’s resting place and dropping my backpack down beside me.

Dropping to the ground, I made myself (relatively) comfortable on the straw and then stretched my arms out in front of me. I didn’t feel anything yet, which was a good sign. The sun would be fully down past the horizon soon, and if anything happened, that would be the time.

I sighed.

Unzipping my bag, I pulled out its contents and grabbed the chain, turning around to face the wall behind me. For reasons I couldn’t fathom, the was a line of old iron horse rings all around the windmill, which--after a bit of extra enchantment to make them as indestructible as I could--worked quite well as a place to put my chain through to lock myself up. I threaded the chain through the ring now, fastening my left hand into the handcuff bracket at the end. I left my right hand unchained, figuring I would have enough time to fix that if the change started.

Instead, I leaned up against the wall and pulled a book out from my bag, opening it to my makeshift bookmark--a piece of wrapper from a candy I had eaten on the train back from school--and starting to read.


It wasn’t the summer heat that made her sweat just then, her small, smooth hands running over the back of her neck in an attempt to draw the sweat--and by proxy the heat--away from her body. It was the boy next to her on the park bench.

She tried to avoid eye contact, taking the time to appreciate how lovely the trees looked that time of year, even if the grass stood speckled with brown in the summer heat.

But she knew he was still there. She could feel his presence as full and warm and real as her own body.

“I know that you know,” he said after a moment.

She could feel the heat spilling from his body now as he turned to face her, his arm just inches away from her own.

“You don’t have to keep pretending that you don’t.”

His voice was stronger than she thought it would be during this conversation. She had been putting it off, to be sure. But she didn’t want to lose what they had built. They had a life now. They had a life when everything was said and done and she didn’t want to set it all aflame and sit in the ashes waiting for something else to come along and sweep her up into the dustpan with it.

“I don’t--” she began but he cut her off.

“You do know,” he insisted. “I can see the way you started looking at me.”

With love? She wondered. Like it doesn’t even slightly or remotely matter to me?

She knew neither of those things were actually what he felt about it all, but she couldn’t stop her heart from hoping he could understand. Hoping that he knew she didn’t care about it all. About everything.

“It’s not like that,” she tried to insist. “I do.”

She forced herself to turn and look at him. His eyes were dark, even in the light, and they squinted at her now, disbelieving and confused and angry and twenty other things all wrapped into one.

“I do know,” she continued. His face fell even further than she thought possible. “But I don’t care.”

He laughed, a choked sort of sound like someone drowning in their own sorrows.

“You can’t just not care. That’s who you are. You care. You care about this too, just not in the right way just yet because you don’t know enough to run for the hills.”

She reached forward and put a hand on his, their hands like the sun melting the earth. “That’s not true.”

He pulled his hands away. “You don’t know what I am. You don’t understand what it means.”

“I refuse to believe that a transformation once a month will make you someone else,” she urged.

“Something. Not someone.”


I hadn’t been aware of just how much I had been squinting until I looked up, resting the book in my lap. The sun had nearly all vanished, and the inside of the windmill was dark albeit for the slivers of light creeping in from the rectangular windows near the top of the mill. I reached into my bag and pulled out my battery operated lantern. It was a muggle contraption, but one that was sold at the town next door in their general store, and I figured out a while back that it was safer to have something like that instead of relying on lumos when it was dangerous to have my wand near my wolf.

My wolf. I would never get used to those words.

I settled back against the cold brick behind me, wondering when the moon would come up. Wouldn’t be too much longer, I figured, since the sun was waning with every passing minute.

I felt my eyelids drooping and closed my book, putting it back into my bag and using my wand to move my things to the other side of the windmill, handing my wand in a hollow brick near enough to reach when I woke up. Then I shackled in my right wrist--just in case--and leaned back against the brick again, letting the rush of sleep take over.





I knew I was sleeping. I could feel the heaviness of the dream surrounding me and weighing down my limbs, like I had to push through a sea of jam to move in any direction.

“You’re here.”

I turned around at the sound of the voice. I was standing in some sort of clearing, surrounding in all directions by a massive graveyard about a kilometer back. I could see the tombstones peaking up all around, some rectangular, some pillars, and some other shapes, angels and dragons and maidens with flowers. I don’t know how I could see them all so clearly being so far away.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

The figure in front of me had a masculine voice, but the body was so average, with a blank face that shimmered and shook so I couldn’t get a good look at it, that it could have been just about anyone. Or anything. I was making this all up, after all. It was just my imagination.

Some spirit guide sent to look after me and give me advice.

Like in Balto.

“You’re here,” it repeated. “I thought you were dead.”

“Dead?”

It may have been my imagination talking, but I wasn’t sure I liked where it was going.

The figure nodded. “You were dead, I saw it.”

“When?” I asked, a feeling of panic setting into my skin. “When did you see it?”

The figure pointed behind me.

I turned and the gravestones were directly in front of me. In front of us. The figure was next to me, still pointing. I followed its gaze down before us to a simple gray tombstone, etched with my name.

My name and today’s date.

I turned back to the figure. “What does that mean?” I could feel the panic bubbling inside.

The figure turned toward me, craning its neck like an owl as it directed its blank face at my own.

“You know what it means. You died. I saw it,” it repeated like I was supposed to understand. Like it was so easy.

“I’m not dead,” I told it, trying to make it understand. “I’m right here. You said it yourself. You thought I was dead, but I’m not.”

It turned back to the gravestone.

“There’s still time.”





When I woke, it was the sound of a howl I heard first.

My eyes were dilated in the dark and I pulled against my chains as I went to stand, not fully recognizing where I was. I struggled against them for a minute before my heartbeat calmed, giving me a moment to think it all over.

Winter. Back home. Windmill. Chained arms. Full-moon.

I took a deep breathe.

Still human.

I only had a minute reprieve before it happened again. In my dream-raddled state, I hadn’t been a hundred percent sure I had actually heard it, but there it was again. A familiar howl, pained, in the cold night air.

The hair on the back of my neck stood straight on end, my skin tingling in a way that had nothing to do with the cold. I knew that howl. And, as my heartbeat skyrocketed again, I knew my wolf did too.

Kin, I felt my mind answer before I could even process it myself.

It’s another werewolf.

 





A/N: As per usual, thank you all for being so patient as I get these new chapters together and out for your reading enjoyment. And we're almost there!! Next chapter, people. NEXT CHAPTER. I'm pretty sure you should all know what I mean, but for those of you who don't, I won't spoil it for you. ;) Just know that the next chapter is going to have A LOT going on! Thanks for rating/reviewing! I appreciate every one of you!  -KBD


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