FernWithy (fernwithy) wrote,
FernWithy
fernwithy

Shades, Chapter Sixteen: Interlude (4): Fade, pt. 3

Ugh, I have a headache. It's making me sour-tempered. My hands also hurt, becaue they've given us a table instead of a desk, and it's maybe six inches higher, and in order to work the keyboard, my arms are at entirely the wrong angle. I didn't notice it building up until late. Tomorrow, I'm going to mess around with the chair to get it higher. Meanwhile, I think I'm going to go put my wrist brace on.

Anyway, what better way to take it out than some werewolf scenes. I wrote some of this longhand, but I'm not sure how much I can still decipher!

Greyback has been called away with the DEs to do some mischief under the full moon, and Remus is left with the others. He's able to slip away and get Moody to warn him about Greyback, and when he gets back, he finds himself talking to Sweet, who's been talking to a Death Eater. He stays a bit too long (it's getting close to sunset/moonrise), and is shooed out of the females' area. The other men gathered in the meeting clearing are hostile, so he runs back toward his shed, where Alderman finds him, and they get to the cave where the boys transform just in time.

Table of Contents and Summary So Far




It is raining and the cave smells of moss and wet fur and rabbits' blood.

There is no squabbling over the carcasess when he gives them a sharp grow. One pup bares his teeth playfully, but the others only sit on their haunches, whining. The other grown wolf rolls over and shows his belly.

Blood floods into Lupin's mouth, the scent of it boiling into his brain and blotting out the name so tentatively trying to surface. He eats his fill, then leaves the remains to the others. The urge to hunt is still with him, though his hunger is sated. He moves up in the cave, away from the pups.

A howl breaks the silence and he follows it up toward the surfce, toward the cool, wet air outside. He smells her before he sees the outline of rocks against the stormy sky and he runs toward the scent, the overpowering smell of her.

She howls again and he nearly runs full tilt into the rocks.

He howls back.

She scratches at the rock from the other side, digging and making sharp, yapping sounds, and the smell is stronger.

He digs at the rocks until his paws are bloody and he leaves smears on their surface. The rock tips.

Then there is a yowl of pain, a new scent, still a scent of
them, stronger and filling his skull. The new one nudges at the rock and it rolls back into its place.

He sidles to the edge of the rock, the narrow passageay to the outside, too small for him. He runs at it anyway and is thrown back. As he lies, dazed on the ground, he sees a grey-furred paw reach inside. He makes a lazy grab for it with his jaws, but only catches her skin before she pulls away, howling.

He howls back and paws at the rock.

He does not know how long this goes on, but it is still happening when the pains begin again he is twisted backward, thrashing against the rocks, and he

was aware of himself as he changed, aware of his body collapsing inward, aware of the layer of sweat that covered him, aware--keenly--of his body's urges releasing themselves painfully as he transformed.

Remus lay quietly on the rocks, his eyes closed. He could feel the blood rising to his face and knew he was flushed. He felt distantly ashamed.

"You'll want to clean up," Alderman said from somewhere above him. "Before Greyback gets a good whiff and knows it was you she came after."

"She?" Remus muttered weakly. "What? What do you...?"

"Probably Mina," Alderman said casually. "Whichever one is Greyback's usually goes after someone else if he's gone, and she was making noises about you yesterday. That's why I brought you here. I saw her headed up to the shed. Figured you'd have a longer life expectancy if I got you clear of her."

Remus considered the implications of this, and nodded, getting to his feet. "Thank you," he said.

"Greyback aside, I don't figure anyone would want to wake up with Mina."

Remus smiled. "Good guess."

"I mean, she's pretty enough. But not really the brainy sort."

"Oddly enough, transformed, that didn't seem to be an issue of vast importance."

"Tell me about it. Do you believe me about them now? What I was telling you back in August?"

"Oh, yes."

"Bloody evil, they are." Alderman shook his head helplessly. "You... well, not transformed... your girl... is she smart?"

"I don't have a girlfriend anymore."

"Oh. I just..." He shrugged. "I wondered. I never had one."

"I didn't live in the forest when I was fifteen, and still hadn't had one."

"Right." Alderman nodded, then disappeared into the shadows.

Remus spent the next fifteen minutes sponging down the area around the mouth of the cave with a wet shirt Blondin brought for him, then had a quick, cold bath in the lake. He was nearly lulled into a pleasant if weary post-transformation euphoria when Hamilton ran back into the cave shouting, "Greyback's back! He wants everyone at the waterfall."

Remus groaned and swam to the shore, pulling on his clothes against his wet skin. The air outside was cold, and he shivered as he followed the boys down to the flat area by the river. He could hear voices before he saw the gathering.

"I didn't do anything!" Mina was protesting. "I didn't do a bloody damned thing, and you can smell it!"

"I found you at the boys' cave with a hole in your hand. Looks like someone trying to drag you around that rock and you not fighting much."

"It's not why I went! Don't you reckon if I meant to sneak on you that I'd have gone to one of the other blokes? One of the ones out running about?"

Remus came to the edge of the clearing. Mina had fallen to her knees in front of Greyback, but she looked sullen and argumentative. Her hand was bleeding, and he remembered biting her.

Greyback paced in front of her, apparently not entirely certain what to do with her protestations. "You went there," he spat. "You think I don't know what you meant by it?" He turned on Remus and the boys. "Oh, of course. Lupin." He sniffed at Remus. "And all clean and prettified, too. Someone think that would be a good idea?"

"I was in the cave all night," Remus said.

"And she were right outside it!" Greyback flailed an arm in Mina's direction.

"But not inside it."

Greyback sniffed. "That bath you took was stupid, Lupin. You can't lie to save your life."

"And I'm not lying when I tell you that there was no betrayal."

"Listen to him!" Mina said, moving forward on her knees. "I..." She looked at Alderman and bit her lip, and Remus guessed she was afraid that someone would talk about her "making noises" yesterday, but Alderman said nothing. "I only went because one of the little ones wandered away. I had to bring her back. You wouldn't want one of the little ones out in the woods with the blokes, now would you?"

Remus sat down heavily, thinking of the fight when Mina had appeared, the first he'd dug for, the first...

He took a shaky breath, but no one noticed.

"Which one was out of the cave?"

"I don't know," Mina said. "I'm not usually in there. I came when I grew up. I don't know who they are when they change."

Greyback spun on the group of huddled girls. "Come forward!"

The girls moved up in a group, bent forward.

"I was outside," Evelyn burst out. "We... we all... Well, there was a passage. We never saw it... we..." She looked around frantically. "I don't know where..."

"You don't lie any better than he does," Greyback said, cocking his thumb in Remus's direction.

"I was out," a tiny voice said, and Sweet pushed her way forward through the crowd of girls. "Evelyn was just trying to cover for me. I swam under a rock before sunset."

"You see!" Mina said. "It was her!"

"Quite a scratch on your face," Greyback said, examining four parallel marks on her scarred cheek. "Mina did that?"

"No. I... I went at that gate. After Mina... helped me back. The one by our cave? You know the one. It threw me back. I broke some branches and cut my face on them."

"I've told you to stay away from that thing," Mina said frantically.

"Now, why would you tell her that, when she's always inside?" Greyback asked.

He went among the three of them, sniffing and questioning, but finally couldn't prove to himself that Mina had done anything deliberate to be near the cave, that Remus had done anything to assist her, or that Sweet hadn't been hurt in the manner she described. In a high temper, he slapped Mina backhand and sent her sprawling into the water, but stormed away before he did any more damage. Remus sat through all of it without saying much, his mind gnawing at the idea that the first female he'd smelled, the first he'd tried to get through to, had been a child not old enough to have been Sorted into a House at Hogwarts.

"I didn't do anything," Mina muttered again.

"Oh, don't mind Greyback," the man Stanfield said. "He was going to bring us some comp'ny today, and the bloody Aurors got in his way. They guessed this fellow might have made someone angry, what with his rabble rousing and insulting the new order. Whole place was locked down tight and some one-eyed madman was standing around insultin' us 'til moonrise. Bloke's lucky we didn't bring him back."

Remus clamped his jaw and didn't speak, not wanting to send himself into another tailspin like last month--nothing had happened, after all.

But it was only because of well-placed rocks.

After a bit of desultory talk about the nastiness of Aurors and the Werewolf Capture Unit, the meeting broke apart, and Remus was left in the clearing with Mina, Sweet, and Alderman. Mina grabbed Sweet and started talking to her in an intense whisper that Remus couldn't hear.

Alderman sighed and shook his head. "Let it go, mate," he said. "I helped kill someone and I don't look as bad as you do."

Remus blinked. "I'm sorry," he said. "I... I'm being awfully selfish, aren't I? Do you need to talk about that?"

"No. It's over. And I'm getting away from Greyback. I don't care how. I'll stay as long as I have to, but I'm getting away from him. I don't like this. The Werewolf Capture people are right. We're monsters. I don't want to be. I want to..." He shrugged. "I want to register with the Ministry and be good."

"Greyback isn't asking you to spy on me, is he?"

"No. But I reckon that's smart thing to ask."

"I'll help you."

"I hoped you would." Alderman nodded sharply and left the clearing.

Remus took a deep breath and got to his feet, heading toward Sweet and Mina, who were still having a heated, whispered argument.

"...want to keep watching what comes from your mouth you little--" Mina was saying.

"You're lucky I was out," Sweet hissed. "Gave you an excuse."

"I didn't need any excuses."

"I knew what you meant to do. I went out to stop you. It's not nice and Greyback would have hurt Remus, the same as that other chap got hurt last year."

Mina started to say something, then apparently couldn't think of what she meant. "Fine," she said. "But don't you go talking about claw scratches. Though I don't see any difference, to tell the truth." She looked disdainfully at Sweet's scars, and stalked away.

Sweet looked at the ground, but turned to Remus. "I... er..."

"Never, ever leave the cave under the moon again," Remus said.

"All right," she agreed immediately, then looked up and smiled shyly. "You're fine, though?"

"I'm fine. And you?" He looked at the harsh cuts below her eye. "Those 'broken branches' scratched you pretty deeply."

She touched her face distastefully. "One of them really was. I did run at that gate. It was like it was calling. Only it threw me away. The bottom scratch really is from a branch."

"What do you mean, it 'threw you'?"

"I mean, I took a jump at it and it was like hitting wires or something. It threw me quite a long way, actually. Do you know what it is? You know about magic things, don't you?"

"It may repel dark creatures." He winced, wishing he hadn't used the term around Sweet, but she didn't seem to notice it. "I'll see if I can find anything out about it."

"Do you hate me?"

"What?"

"Do you hate me? About what I did? I must have followed your scent or something, and it must have been on purpose and--"

"I don't hate you, Sweet. I just want you to stay in the cave."

She nodded. "Right. It's embarrassing."

"There are things we know about a long time before we should."

"I was going to try and stop Mina. That's stupid. She's bigger than I am."

"You're a brave girl, and you tried to help a friend. But don't do it anymore."

She laughed. "I get the idea."

"Good."

"I should go back," she said. "I'll... I'll see you at lessons, all right? Can I still come to lessons?"

"Of course you can."

She nodded and walked away.
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