Prisoner of Azkaban 21 – Moonshadow
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Draco kept his word and Rhiannon’s secret, and without the stress of their constant skirmishes, the last week of term flew away from them – although Madam Pomfrey refused to magically heal the palm-shaped bruise, the cut on his cheekbone or the rather marvelous black eye Hermione had given him, saying the lesson might stick better if she left them to heal the usual way. All at once it was the Easter holidays, and while Rhiannon’s friends planned to go home to their families, Rhiannon and Dudley had other ideas. As usual, the Easter holidays fell on the full moon period and they decided enough was enough – Professor Lupin couldn’t just stay shut in his office on a holiday as well as a full moon. So while the others packed to leave, Rhiannon and Dudley, along with Ron, Ginny, Luna and Hermione, decided to stay behind and spend the holidays at Hogwarts.

Professor Lupin was adamant about staying away from humans during the full moon, but with enough badgering from the two younger werewolves and assurances from Hagrid that they would be safe and undisturbed, he reluctantly agreed to join them for their monthly wander through the forest and moors.

On the first night, the fifth of April; Rhiannon, Dudley and Remus made their slow, limping way down the hill from the castle to Hagrid’s cabin. The younger werewolves supported Remus on either side, as he went without a cane and seemed to be in far more pain than they were – no wonder he skipped classes, Rhiannon thought grimly, as again she resolved to get him a cane. None of them spoke – without their human friends around there was no need to, as they picked up eachother’s needs from body language and scent.

Thanks to Remus’ nerves they were a little early, and Rhiannon broke away from her brother and professor to rap lightly upon Hagrid’s door – he’d restocked his tea stash, and she’d much rather sit and drink tea than stand around outside on aching knees. Loud, dragging footsteps heralded Hagrid’s presence and she stepped back quickly as the door-handle clicked and then the door itself swung open. “Rhi, Dudley – and Remus! Great to see yeh out o’ the castle fer once. Ye’re a bit early, come in – I got extra chairs now, come in, come in – sorry ‘bout the heat, gotta keep it warm in here for this wee lad,” he explained, looking more than a little harried as he beckoned the three werewolves inside.

Rhiannon shuffled through the open door, noticing as she drew closer that Hagrid held a small, wriggling greenish-brown – to her muddled eyes – blur in his arms, something that yipped and whined softly and, to Rhiannon’s sensitive nose, smelled very distinctly of dog. She peered closer, both fascinated and cautious, while her companions struggled to restrain their laughter.

Hagrid grinned and shooed her away into a chair, then settled himself in his own armchair holding the small bundle like an infant. “This here’s an Orthros – two-headed dog, traditionally used fer herd guardians. They’re right popular but hard to get hold ‘f without smugglin’ – same as Fluffy, people like ‘em to guard stuff, and Charlie set this little man up wi’ me while they track down the guys what prob’ly have his mother.” he explained, ruffling the tiny bundle’s ears. It wiggled and whined some more, and Hagrid murmured to it and bounced it gently, tickling it with one incredibly gentle forefinger.

Rhiannon hadn’t thought about her fear of dogs in some time – being a werewolf and at a school where cats and owls were the most common pets, it just wasn’t something she ran into all that often. Fang she’d gotten used to, gradually. And her wolf mind didn’t fear dogs the way her conscious one did, so it was easy to forget about altogether. But she couldn’t quite shake the niggling, persistent sensation of unease and she settled herself into a chair as far away from the apparently two-headed – not that she could see so, without her glasses as she always had to be around the full moon – puppy.

Dudley flopped down in the armchair next to hers, and reached over to squeeze her hand reassuringly. “It’s ‘cause of Ripper, right?” he murmured. Rhiannon nodded stiffly, and Dudley growled softly. “Didn’ like him either. You might not remember but, Aunt Marge had a different dog before him. She bit me right on the calf when I was a kid. Never brought her round again. So when she brought Ripper over, well... same fear different dog, you know? But if it helps, this one is really tiny – smaller than Cheshire.” he added quietly, referencing Luna’s runty juvenile blue-and-cream kneazle-cat.

Rhiannon nodded mutely and hugged her knees up to her chest, though it did bring her some comfort to have a clearer idea of what the unfamiliar dog was like – it was no small part of her anxiety, seeing it only as a brownish blob with no clear picture of its size or body language. And to know that Dudley shared her fear to some extent – not that she’d wish it on anyone, but it helped remind her she wasn’t just being irrational.

Remus raised an eyebrow, perplexed. “You don’t like dogs?” he asked curiously, seemingly having not heard their murmured conversation. He was cross-legged in a third armchair now, cradling Hagrid’s puppy in his lap as Hagrid bustled about making tea for the four of them. “I could never afford one now, but my mother had a dog when I was younger, always helped me feel like – I don’t know, more sane.”

Rhiannon shrank into the armchair, and Dudley struggled to keep the growl out of his voice as he replied for her. “My parents thought it was funny to watch a bulldog chase her around the backyard while they locked the doors,” he said, audibly struggling to keep his voice level. “She’s covered in old bite scars. Look, it’s not about liking dogs, we like Fang just fine – it’s a fear thing, so when there’s a new unexpected one, it throws everything off. Just, give us a minute to get used to it, alright?”

Remus winced, and Rhiannon put a hand on Dudley’s arm in an attempt to calm him. “I’m sorry, that’s – I don’t have the words. I know from your Boggart and what you go through with the Dementors that the family you were placed with were abusive but that’s... I’m sorry, it was an insensitive question.” he apologised, anxiously rubbing his hands together.

Rhiannon shrugged uncomfortably. “Y-yeah but, kind of-f-ff-f-f a fair one if you didn’t know, you’d ex-x-x-x-x-p-pect me to be good with dogs since I sort of am one,” she replied, ignoring Dudley’s growl as she brushed aside the minor offense, though she did notice a fleeting frown cross Remus’ face as she likened herself to a dog. The more pressing question in her mind was, why hadn’t Remus overheard their quiet exchange? Even at a new moon Rhiannon could hear something like that. Did he just keep sensory jinxes on strong enough to reduce his senses to human levels, or was it something else? Because that wasn’t the first time that year she’d noticed something odd about him with regards to what a werewolf should have noticed.

Come to think of it, Rhiannon had never seen his eyes reflect like hers did even with all the wandlight that got thrown around in his classroom, and she’d known he was a werewolf only moments into their first meeting – but for him to notice that she was one, she’d almost had to outright declare it. Even when he was angry at Professor Snape, she’d never heard the slightest trace of a growl in his voice, and he repressed his instincts to roam freely each month in favour of shutting himself in under his desk. Rhiannon had no frame of reference for what werewolves were ‘supposed’ to be like, having only herself, Dudley and Remus himself to draw on, but she couldn’t quite shake the niggling sensation that it was wrong somehow for Remus to completely lack any sort of bleedthrough traits or instincts.

Rhiannon was nudged out of her ruminative silence as Hagrid pressed a warm mug into her hands. “Best take your potion first, then use this to wash out the taste,” he advised her. Rhiannon grumbled to herself, smacking her lips and grimacing at the intense sensory memory of the Wolfsbane’s taste. With a sigh she drew it from her coat pocket and downed it in a gulp, then hastily sculled about a third of her tea.

As anyone could have told her, the tea was much too hot to drink that fast, so on top of the overwhelmingly astringent taste of the Wolfsbane potion Rhiannon’s mouth was now thoroughly scalded and she sprayed tea everywhere as she coughed and gagged, eyes watering with pain. Dudley, seated beside her, made the strangest noise and when she had recovered enough to look up at him she saw him vibrating with withheld laughter, squeaking and wheezing softly as tears ran down his cheeks. “Oh my God Rhiannon,” he whispered, his voice cracking with mirth. “You’re not supposed have wolf brain yet, slow down!”

Rhiannon drooped in her seat, as Remus and Hagrid burst out laughing too now that they were reassured she was unharmed. The Orthros puppy yipped and whined, nipping at Remus’ wrist in complaint at the sound and they all did their best to settle down. “Don’t worry, I won’t bring ‘im out with us,” Hagrid reassured Rhiannon and Dudley, seeing their wary glances. “He’ll fall asleep again in a bit, he’s just up now ‘cause it’s dinner time. So long as I feed ‘im again right after we get back he should be alright.”

Rhiannon side-eyed the wiggling blob and returned to her tea, sipping it at a more sedate pace this time. She cast a glance at the sky outside, then back at her mug, and considered how she felt in her body – aside from the burnt mouth. Already her arms prickled uncomfortably with the first vestiges of transformation, and she could feel it burning in her blood. She had enough time to finish her tea, but after that she’d need to get changed and get outside or risk wolfing out in Hagrid’s living room and destroying her clothes with no Minerva around to mend them. Cautious of burning her mouth again, she sipped her tea as quickly as she could, her free hand flapping anxiously against the arm of the chair.

Dudley reached out to hold her hand, stilling its frantic motion to catch her attention. “Hey, stop, slow down. It’s alright. We’ve got another twenty minutes at least, and that’s if we go straight outside and look at the moon to rush it on.” he reassured her, before releasing her hand so that she didn’t feel trapped.

Rhiannon bit her lip. “H-h-h-h-h-how do you know?” she asked, now picking at a seam on the couch’s arm, her eyes firmly fixed on the amber liquid in her mug.

Dudley snorted softly and shook his head, visible as a blurred motion in Rhiannon’s periphery. “I pay attention to how it feels. You’ve been turning at the same time as me for the last couple of months, and it’s just barely starting for me. I think maybe you just, feel those sensations more intensely than I do and get overwhelmed and then you panic and think it’s further along than it is.” he replied with a shrug. “From when you first start sprouting hair, it can be a good twenty minutes or even half an hour on a cloudy night to when you turn completely.”

Rhiannon blinked. She’d always sort of thought of the hair and the yellow eyes as the warning signs that the change was imminent, but... she supposed Dudley could be right. She did get overwhelmed by sensations, it was a logical theory and he’d handled the full moons much better than she had right from the very start. “I... I suppose that makes sense,” she replied reluctantly. “It – it is all just, a lot.”

The three werewolves and their guide talked amongst themselves until Rhiannon, Dudley and Remus had all finished their tea. Then, one at a time they used Hagrid’s bedroom to change from their regular clothes into dressing gowns while Hagrid himself settled the now profoundly worn-out Orthros puppy into a wicker basket, guarded by an equally sleepy-looking Fang. Then, suitably equipped and Remus borrowing one of Hagrid’s numerous staves, the three werewolves all shuffled outside with their eyes fixed firmly on the ground, finding little private places behind trees or bushes so that they could turn in peace. Rhiannon limped off into her favourite nook, shielded by thick bushes at the edge of the forest, and carefully set aside her cane. Her hands shook as she untied her dressing gown and let it hang open, just enough to shield her from the biting wind that flung loose droplets of chilling rain into her face. It had rained and blustered all day, just now dying down in the evening, but the land was soaked with rain and a chill persisted in the air.

Rhiannon shivered and curled in against the cold, but there was no relent from it and she dimly realised that the shudders were more a response to the change than the cold. Begrudgingly she let the dressing gown fall from her shoulders and turned her gaze upward to the moon, the one thing that could set her free from the pain of a drawn-out change. It caught her and held her fast, relentless as a magnetic pull while her body cracked and reshaped itself bit by bit, hair in a mixture of black, brown and white spreading across her limbs and face while her torso burned and spasmed. All of it fell solidly into the category of ‘the worst pain she’d ever felt’, well beyond the few seizures she’d experienced or any of the many injuries she’d suffered in her life, but when she lived that pain five nights a month without end, well... she was long past doing anything more than waiting for it to end, silent save for the involuntary grunts and gasps the change squeezed from her lungs, huddled in a pile on the grass and staring up at the moon struggling to hold onto her conscious thoughts as the transformation threatened to tear them from her.

Finally it was over and Rhiannon dragged herself into a more comfortable sitting position, carefully shaking the last tingles and twitches out of each paw before standing and stretching with a low groan as her spine creaked and a vertebra clunked back into place somewhere in her lower back. She wondered idly if that description even worked when her spine was horizontal rather than vertical, then snorted to herself. Wolves didn’t need to worry about science, why was she muddling over that when her nose told her there were pesky invasive mink to hunt?

Rhiannon tilted her head to the side, seeking the presence of her pack-brother and the new-lone-wolf, and whuffed a soft call to them. Her pack-brother responded with his usual silly low boof and she pricked up her ears and yipped back happily, then picked up the human-cover and cane in her mouth and pushed her way free of the bushes, heading off in the direction of the big-heart-man’s den-hill to meet the others. The big-heart-man’s scent was everywhere but he was still in his den, so Rhiannon dropped her cane and cover-cloth on the ground and clambered up the stairs to the closed-way into the hill-den. She evaluated it curiously, dimly remembering how she’d usually get in, and wondered how she might translate that to her current shape.

Decisively, Rhiannon reared up on her hind paws and placed her forepaws on the closed-way with a solid thud, then grasped the fiddly let-in bit in her jaws and pulled on it insistently, clacking her teeth against the cold metal and bobbing her head up and down in an effort to open the door. Footsteps sounded from inside, and all at once Rhiannon struggled to disentangle herself from the closed-way as it swung open and she teetered on her hind legs at the edge of the stairs, before losing her balance and tumbling nose over tail down the stairs to land in a heap in the grass.

“Oi, Rhi, what’ve I said about slobbering?” the big-heart-man scolded her, his tone teasingly long-suffering. “You’re bloody lucky I’m immune or I’d be some kinda dire-werewolf by now. Euch, and there’s teeth-marks in my door-handle now ya rotter,” he grumbled, as he wiped the metal-let-in bit clean.

Rhiannon struggled to untangle her legs and rolled over, then stood back up and shook herself off, ears flat with embarrassment. She’d forgotten about the transmission, but wasn’t quite sure in that moment why it was a problem – why wouldn’t the two-leggers want to be a wolf like her, it was so much more efficient. She looked down at her paws and drooped, but perked up again as she caught the sound of pawsteps on the grass behind her and whirled to face her pack-brother as he padded out of the treeline and shook leaves from his pale coat. She bounded over and butted her head up under his chin, then nipped playfully at his ear and reared up on her hind legs again so she could grab him around the shoulders with her forepaws, while her brother shook his head and growled, his fur fluffing up as he cast an eye back into the trees and whined plaintively.

“Rhiannon Potter, what’s got into you? Settle the hell down!” the big-heart-man protested, striding over to separate her firmly from her pale-pack-brother with a grumbling huff. “I don’t have enough dittany fer this, knock it off.”

Rhiannon was about to respond with a growl and a whine, sort of the wolfish version of ‘sure whatever’, when she saw something strange emerging from the treeline over her pack-brother’s shoulders – back to where he’d been looking. Her hackles prickled and a growl rose in her throat as she made the connection between the strangeness and her pack-brother’s rank scent of anxiety, the big-heart man’s low gasp and the tremble in his breath as he murmured something to himself. Her mind made up, Rhiannon shouldered her way around her pack-brother and out of the big-heart-man’s weakened grasp to investigate the thing.

It smelled like a wolf, or near enough, but not in a way that was any comfort to her – in fact, the familiar scent served only to set Rhiannon’s nerves on edge as she took in the strange, horrifying shape of the creature before her. It walked on four legs as she did, but its hind legs were shaped more like the big-heart-man’s or another human’s and looked wrong, too long and curled up on the creature as it padded closer on spidery limbs. Its forelegs too were too long, its spine too short and tail barely more than a foot-long spindle of sparse hair. The whole creature itself was too thin, a terrible cross between human and wolf shapes, with a misshapen head and very little hair save for a thin ridge along its spine. Rhiannon had seen creatures like this before, memories of them stalked her dreams and haunted her every time she saw so much as a torch flame, memories of how they’d hunted her not like prey but for sport, and she stalked towards it stiff-legged and bristling with furious, defensive terror. It didn’t belong. This was her territory, her home, she wanted it gone – this was far beyond any fleeting irritation she had felt towards the feral dog the month before, she saw the misshapen creature as a threat to her and her pack-brother.

Still growling and bristling angrily, Rhiannon lunged at the spindle-legged creature, claws spread and jaws open as she prepared to drive it from her home. She struck it solidly in the chest and growled ferociously before reaching forward, intending to nip it firmly on the neck, but suddenly strong arms pressed in around her head and chest and her senses were overwhelmed with the distinct scent of the big-heart-man as he hauled her backwards, away from the creature. Rhiannon growled, snarled and snapped at the air to little avail – the big-heart-man held her fast, she couldn’t even nick him with her teeth.

“Bloody hell, Rhiannon, what’s got into yeh? Dudley, git o’er here, I need a hand settling her down,” the big-heart man said, panting with the effort of restraining her, a salty wetness soaking into her fur as he pressed his face against her neck to keep it safe from her snapping jaws. Rhiannon struggled against his grip, but relaxed as her pack-brother wormed his way into the big-heart-man’s embrace and nudged his head against hers. Cautiously, the big-heart-man relaxed his grip, and Rhiannon seized her chance. She leapt to her paws and bolted, racing towards the creature with her fur fluffed up furiously, did her pack not see the threat? She did! She had to protect them if they were unaware of the danger.

Something heavy struck Rhiannon in the flank and her headlong charge petered out as she tumbled to the ground, now firmly restrained again as a figure she recognised as her pack-brother flopped his entire considerable body-weight down on top of her. The ground shook slightly as the big-heart man lumbered over to them, and Rhiannon snarled as he reached under her pack-brother and took hold of her scruff, evidently taking no further chances about her getting away.

“I’m serious, Rhiannon, settle down or I’m lockin’ you in my hut and bringin’ the dogs out here,” the big-heart man chastised her. “Settle down an’ take a sniff. A proper one, think with yer brain not just yer instincts. Yeh came down ‘ere with two companions t’ turn. Two. Now, one’s sittin’ on yeh, where d’you think the other might be?”

Rhiannon growled and wiggled vainly, trying to worm her way out from under her pack-brother, but he was much bigger and much too heavy. She gave up and flopped to the ground again, trying to sort through muddled thoughts and disconnected ideas. The big-heart-man’s words touched on a dim memory but she struggled to pull it into her conscious mind. Two? Turn? Distantly she knew that she was usually a two-legger but at the moment she couldn’t quite remember what that was like, let alone why that might be important.

The big-heart-man groaned suddenly and struck his forehead with the palm of his hand, making a loud crack that startled a yip out of both the young werewolves. “Your potion, of course! You must ‘ave lost some o’ yer dose when you spat yer tea everywhere, so it’s not workin’ right. So you don’t remember, do yeh? It’s all muddled in there.” he exclaimed, shaking Rhiannon’s scruff lightly to bring her wandering attention back to him.

“So I’m gonna need yeh to listen, and think, in that muddled head of your’n. That’s a friend, alright? Friend. You asked him t’ be here. So I’m gonna let yeh go now, and Dudley’s gonna go with you, and ye’re going to go and sort things out. Without biting. Clear?” the big-heart-man told her sternly. Rhiannon’s pack-brother stood up, letting Rhiannon herself sit back up and consider what she’d been told. It was hard to make thoughts work together in her head, when that head was full of clamouring instincts and impulses. But she tried, her tongue sticking out the side of her mouth, stubbornly forcing her brain to cooperate. And if she worked hard enough at it, she could hold onto the memories the big-heart-man pointed out. She’d invited him here, it wouldn’t be fair to drive him off.

With her pack-brother’s assistance, Rhiannon stood and firmly restrained the instinct to drive the spindle-half-creature away as she looked over at it again, curling her lip in distaste. Her pack-brother nudged her firmly and she drooped, then drew herself up and squashed down the defensive instincts once again. Stiff-legged and with a bristling coat, Rhiannon padded across the damp grass beside her pack-brother, until they and the half-wolf-creature stood with perhaps a metre between them. Rhiannon flattened her ears and raised her head, meeting the creature’s distinctly un-wolfish eyes in a challenge. The big-heart-man said she had brought it – him - here, but she still didn’t know him well and even less in this state. He had to prove he wasn’t a threat, now that there was the risk he could be one.

It was almost as if the strange-man-wolf didn’t know how to be a wolf, as he held Rhiannon’s gaze – a signal of challenge, but with none of the other body language that went with such an act. She growled and snapped at him, letting her hackles and tail rise as she pushed into his space, threatening but still keeping her claws and teeth to herself as her pack-brother stood as a calming influence at her side, trembling and with his own coat prickling but determined to remain steady.

“Go on, Remus, bow yer head – make yerself small. She can’t stop thinkin’ of yeh as a threat ‘til you make it clear you ain’t one,” the big-heart-man called across the field. Stiffly, as if pained, the half-man-wolf bent his head and looked away, then folded his misshapen legs and flattened himself to the ground, making himself as small as a creature with such mismatched proportions could. Cautiously, her fur still prickling, Rhiannon padded closer and sniffed him more closely, and gradually she began to relax as she found familiar notes in his scent and reminded herself that she knew him in his usual shape.

Calmer now and reassured that she was safe, Rhiannon looked the strange-wolf over again, noting as she did the heavy coating of scars that blanketed every part of his sparse-haired, spidery body; the thinness and sour smell of the blood that bubbled sluggishly from the claw wounds she had left on his chest and shoulders and the dullness of his distinctly human eyes, devoid of the reflective gleam she would have expected. And reluctantly, she let herself feel a very un-wolfish emotion – guilt. Just as she had with the feral dog, she recognised the tell-tale stench of sickness in his scent, subtler and mingled with sharp human smells but distinct all the same. The strange-man-wolf was terribly ill, not a threat.

Seeing that the werewolves had sorted themselves out, the big-heart-man wandered over to join them with a sorrowful sigh as he settled himself on the grass beside the strange-man-wolf. “Ah, Remus,” he murmured, reaching out to scratch the top of his misshapen head. “I knew yeh weren’t takin’ care o’ yourself, but this is way beyond that... What’ve yeh done? Yeh know, I knew ‘im when ‘e was a kid,” he explained to the two younger werewolves. “They didna have Wolfsbane yet, so I was on standby in case ‘e got out on full moons. Bloody shame, lockin’ a wild animal in like that, never sat right w’ me, so I was... honestly, pretty bloody happy when those cheeky bloody mates o’ his started sneakin’ ‘im out instead. You shoulda seen them! They turned themselves into Animagi to keep w’ him on full moons, and they thought I didn’ notice when a wolf – cos ‘e looked like a proper wolf then, a dog, a bloody great stag an’ whatever that other lad turned into lef’ prints all o’er the moor!” he exclaimed, laughing as he did though to Rhiannon’s keen hearing the laugh had a trace of a sob caught in the back of it.

The strange-man-wolf, ‘Remus’, whined and settled himself awkwardly against the big-heart-man’s side, tucked up under one arm. “Yeh know, I reckon you might start t’ feel better if we took yeh out on the highlands like I usually do with the kids,” the big-heart-man suggested. Rhiannon and her pack-brother both shot to their paws and clamoured around him, yipping and whining loudly, though an onlooker could see they were careful not to tread on Remus or impede his space as they playfully climbed all over Hagrid. “Enough, enough! I asked Remus, not you clowns!” he scolded them, shooing them off him. Remus shrugged, still visibly uncomfortable in his own skin, and Hagrid took that as enough of an agreement to carry on.

“Right, you two, give ‘im some space – I know you’re just pups, but yeh gotta learn some manners sometimes, the wild pack would’na stand for this. Yeh can play all ye want so long as yeh follow us, and don’t bump Remus – got it?” the big-heart-man told them both firmly, holding their gazes until both young werewolves nodded obediently. Then he withdrew something delicious-smelling from the pockets of his cloth-cover, something that set Rhiannon’s tail to wagging as he drew it out. “Yeah, ye didn’ know I had that did yeh! Keep Scent-Dampin’ charms on me pockets since last time I got mobbed by the Thestrals. Go on, there’s one each, don’t snatch,” he told them, as he held out something in each of his hands.

Rhiannon padded closer and licked the big-heart-man’s hand tentatively, curious as to what he was offering her, and found a crunchy sort of shell-thing half-concealed in his massive palm. Careful not to snatch as she had been instructed, Rhiannon took the thing from his hand and dropped it on the ground, licking it experimentally before deciding that she liked it quite a lot thankyou and set to crunching it happily in her back teeth. It was small enough that she could carry it and crunch it as she walked, and she was mostly distracted from her lingering suspicions of the strange-man-wolf as she gnawed on it, padding a few spine-lengths behind the big-heart-man and his limping, shambling companion. The new one wasn’t pack yet, he was too strange, but Rhiannon was content to gnaw at her treat and glance warily at him so often as the night wore on and he made no move to threaten either her or her pack-brother.

The next day, Rhiannon was terribly embarrassed about how she had behaved the night before. Once she had turned back, she was able to confirm Hagrid’s theory that she’d had too small a dose of Wolfsbane to work properly and had been running on wolf instincts and her own trauma-born fears, but thankfully Remus was unoffended. He offered to return to his office for the full moon that night, but Rhiannon wasn’t about to go back on her offer. Now that she had her usual mind back, she could think back on how he’d looked and the bits she remembered of what Hagrid had said, and set aside at least her conscious suspicion if not the instinctive wariness. Remus may have taken roughly the same shape as the werewolves that had hunted her, but now thinking clearly she could see the differences between them. Where her hunters had been heavily muscled and confident in their movements, Remus was terribly thin and hesitant, every step an effort. She still wasn’t entirely sure why he took that half-form, but she was sure that it had nothing to do with a secret hidden potential for the same kind of evil those werewolves had shown, and made a conscious point for the remainder of the full moon to reassure Remus and show him some of her favourite places to explore. Maybe he wasn’t pack yet, but she wanted him to be. And more than that, she wanted him to get well again – and it seemed to her as if she, Dudley and Hagrid were the best equipped to help him do that. Didn’t she have a duty to try?

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