“Hermione, is now the best time?” I sighed, not wanting her to tell any of the teachers about what I had done. Hermione, now in the form of an otter, quick as lightning, scurried up my arm, and nipped my lengthened ear as she yelled. “Yes! Now is the perfect time! We have about 30 minutes before we both went back! Now admit that you practice Dark Arts!” I scratched my ear, ceasing the ringing caused by Hermione, sighing at her nosy temperament, but decided to be upfront, knowing she would pester me later, increasing the chances of us being seen as friends. “So what if I have? If I do not hurt others in my studies, then what’s it to you?”
Hermione bit my ear again, yanking my fur, the equivalent of hitting me in her human form. “You foolish idiot! You have no clue what your stupid trifling with magic like that is doing to you!” I squinted, the pain of constant blood letting myself for ink to be used in my Rune making, the insomnia filled nightmares that had plagued me for weeks after feeding Nyx, and the stomach churning lessons from my Tome teacher. “I know of the payment it has asked me, Hermione. It is within my ability to carry.”
I glanced at Hermione, the shock of her sudden transformation still in the back of my mind, but her shaking, chocolate brown eyes reminded me it was still the same intrusive girl that refused to leave me be. “It’s not a payment, or burden you should carry! Why must you be this way? You are the most stubborn, infuriating, lying, coward I have ever met in my life!” She screamed, still yanking on my fur as she did so. I just grabbed my clothes she had dropped, glancing at her after she quieted down. “I do things because I can. They are within reach of me. I simply do what needs to be done, even if the needs are harmful to myself.”
I began walking towards Chiara’s stables, Hermione still on my shoulder, shaking her head in disapproval. “You can’t keep giving up pieces of yourself to Dementors, or whatever the hell else you do! It’s not sustainable, Lucas. Do you understand? You’ll lose something that may never come back.” I took a deep breath, looking upwards to see hundreds of dementors billowing above, with Nyx’s command to stop feasting. Their swirling black cloaks fluttered in the winds that howled in their speech. Truly much too many for me to feed in a lifetime. If I ever did try, I would most likely remain just a husk of myself.
But I knew I would never get close enough to ever even try such a foolhardy idea. Luna somehow appearing from nowhere, able to see through my plans with her slightly unnerving gaze. Pansy, always an arms’ length away, would stay my hand after seeing the amount I would plan on doing, our promise to have her by my side when attempting such things, keeping me safe. Chiara would tell Hermione, and both would come together in stopping me. I could already see Hermione planning a way to stop me at this very moment.
“That’s what you are for right?” I muttered with a scoff, my begrudging friendships helping me to keep myself tethered to who I really was, Hermione as one of the only two my age to know my affliction. I couldn't help but smirk at Hermione's slightly widened gaze of shock at my words. I couldn't help but speak my mind while in this form, my altered mind wanting her to know how close I viewed her. I found myself giving Hermione a small nuzzle and quick lick to wet her nose as thanks for her worry, but also as a way to ease that same worry she had. “Please just trust me that what I’m doing now is sustainable. Not pleasant I admit, but something I can do. Partly because I have you.”
While Lucas continued walking, Hermione sat still in silence, nothing else to say back to Lucas. It was clear even to him she didn’t like the idea of him learning and practicing the Dark Arts, but she couldn’t utter another word, especially after he just made her heart skip with his casual yet intament actions and words. Hermione was left stunned, her mind overflowing with in confusion at Lucas' words. How did he view her now? Was it friendship, the desire of his beastial side to lick his friends? Or perhaps he was hinting towards much more. Slowly making it back to the stables, Lucas paused, his ear twitching a few times, listening to what was happening inside. Finally with a sigh he entered inside, Chiara jumping up in shock at Lucas’ sudden recovery. “Lucas! How did you heal already? And is that you Hermione?”
Hermione let out a content sigh, Chiara always managing to lift Hermione’s spirits. However that was as soon followed by Chiara leaping into Lucas’ arms, quickly checking and licking matted fur. She caressed and searched for any sign of hidden injuries Lucas might have not even realized himself, looking for any he could have missed through his sudden and miraculous recovery. Without a thought she had thrown herself towards Lucas, completely overlooking Hermione. After looking all around, with no injuries to find, she finally looked up at Hermione. “What happened?”
Hermione shook off the itchy feeling in her chest, and quickly explained everything, even the parts that Lucas didn’t know about Sirius Black, and why she, Harry, and Ron were all looking for Ron’s pet rat Hagrid said escaped him that day. It all culminated together into one question. “How are we going to save Sirius?” Chiara asked, not even questioning whether or not to help her friend. Lucas was much less gung-ho. “Hold on a moment. If he is being kept in the black tower, we can’t go anywhere near him in our forms. Heading into the school grounds is just begging for trouble.”
“What do you expect we do? We can’t give him back to Azkaban. We have to help!” Chiara yelled back, her shimmering eyes piercing through Lucas with righteous fury. Lucas huffed, mumbling under his breath before back at Hermione. “Change back into your human form, and close your eyes.” He ordered, not giving any room for argument. Hermione frowned, but crawled off his shoulder, and slowly changed back. After closing her eyes, she heard Chiara suddenly whine in shock, and was tempted to open her eyes, but Lucas’ large hand kept them closed.
She felt his wetted fingernail, slowly trace around her eye lid, creating a hexagram with two triangles, finally tracing what felt like a rune in the very center. He mirrored the action on her second lid, letting out a humph after he removed his hands from her face. Slowly opening her eyes, she blinked a few times, letting them focus once again, her eyes trailed from me, slowly widening in shock.
“Is… Is that a Thestral?” She gawked, unnerved at the decrepit look the beast behind me had, its glassy white eyes reminiscent of the clouds illuminated by the moon. I nodded at her, petting the creature in thanks for coming to my call. The very same one that I had taken blood from for the potion, a small incision still present on its taught black skin. It slowly revealed its large bat-like wings, gently waving them as Hermione gasped, realizing what I was thinking.
I picked her up, and placed her on the Thestral, letting the Thestral take her where she directed. With a Thestral that few could see added by Hermione’s invisibility cloak, she should be fine to get Sirius Black from just about anywhere in the castle. “Do what she says, she’ll take care of you.” I mumbled to the Thestral’s ear, the Thestral nodding in understanding, seemingly pleased to help serve me, even by proxy. Hermione could barely say a word to me before she was hurried out of the door, the Thestral already understanding much of what Hermione needed to do.
This left me alone with Chiara, silently processing in shock about Hermione riding an invisible creature. “You can allow others to see Thestrals? With your own blood?” I glanced at my pinky finger, red liquid slowly dripping from the nail. It was a Dark Art that Ekrizdis created to allow even muggles to witness the horror of what was eating their happiness. It gave a veil of power over their eyes until the blood was washed away. He found it funny to see them try and attack the Dementors in vain. It was sickening to read, but useful all the same. With the veil of power, I figured one might even see other dark creatures they normally might not, Thestrals for instance. “I guess so…” I muttered, conflicted with my teachings yet again.
I was a bit surprised to see that Chiara also knew of Thestrals, even without seeing one, but realized that if one was friends of Luna, her love of magical creatures would bleed through to them as well. “Regardless, I know that Hermione can take care of things from here on her own, and we are both exhausted.” I yawned, feeling the double waking of my beast in only a few hours take its toll on both of us mentally. The fatigue I had built up without even realizing, all being released at once.
After lying down on the bed of straw, I closed my eyes, feeling the desire to sleep in both man and beast. As I rested, slowly drifting off, the hint of sweet syrup filled my lungs, accompanied by the weight of Chiara curling herself against me, her back pressed against my chest. Without a thought, I licked her cheek, placing my arm over hers as we both slept together.