She’s red, my girl. The fire reflects off her skin (so pale, delicious, light dancing at her throat). Her stomach does not yet swell under a crimson Christmas sweater
Her husband reeks. He is covered in the false, saccharine smell of spearmint toothpaste and cheap shampoo.
But it’s not him I’m here for.
She doesn’t know I can see her. Thinks she’s safe here. She has disillusioned the house, walking the perimeter with the same spells she used in the war. The signature is too obvious; a wolf might wonder if she really wants to hide. Though I didn’t find her by her Salvia Hexia.
That smell. I would know it anywhere. I would find it anywhere.
I didn’t always, though.
* * * * *
We were bound in the dungeons after the battle. That drunken soothsayer clipped my head, rebounding glass shattering around my feet. She couldn’t kill me, of course – it is not so easy to kill our kind – but one moment of oblivion was enough for them to feel victorious. The ginger and the brown-haired oaf had me chained between Alecto and Rowle.
Their Order was unused to chaos. They didn’t delight in it as we did. As I did. As I do, again.
In all the noise and smoke, in their grief and exuberance, they forgot we were there. Forgot we had eyes and ears, that we had been cunning enough to keep them on the run for years.
I heard her, talking to the house-elves. Trying to free them. She knew how hard it had been for them, how they had been enslaved, kept from realising their potential. She offered them hats and scarves, told them she would fight for them. That she would fight for all oppressed magical creatures.
The elves fled. I smiled. It is easy to devour a heart so transparent.
* * * * *
She came on the eighth day. I was becoming weak by then, but they do not understand how different we wolves truly are. How long we can go without. How easily I would recover from their rough handling, from starvation, from thirst. That the shaking and listlessness, the matted hair and cracked skin, were a gambit.
I would not eat for any of them. I would not speak to any of them. Her now-husband shoved pictures of the Gryffindor girl’s corpse into my face, as though I should feel remorse instead of hunger. The giant set out steaks, as though that would tempt me. The aurors wanted torture, but were not allowed.
Her name was the only word I spoke: “Granger.”
And on the eight day, she appeared before me.
She was flinty-eyed and wary, still dressed for battle, flanked by two aurors with wands drawn. Muscles taut, ready to strike, she planted her feet and spread her legs.
Soil and caves and wet stone. It was just beginning. She may not yet have known.
Her name escaped through my teeth on a moan. It was not for show; this had not been a part of the game until I smelled her.
Her thighs tensed as she stuck herself to the spot. She didn’t say anything.
“What do you want?”
“We feed you. Every day. If you won’t eat, that’s your choice.”
“Can’t eat. Will be killed…Azkaban.”
“You won’t be killed in Azkaban. The dementors are gone. You’ll be safe.” She pressed her lips together. “Which is more than you could’ve said to us. More than you could have said to Bill Weasley.”
“No.. Death eaters. Our Lord –”
“Voldemort. Tom Riddle.”
“Promised me death. They are still loyal.”
“You’re one of them! They won’t kill you.” She put her hands on her hips. “You’ll have a trial and go to Azkaban, where you’ll be treated in accordance with Ministry Protective Decree 21, also known as the Black Rules of Procedure, which ensures due process and a fair trial to all prisoners.”
“No…never….The Dark Lord – “
“…forced me. I am not…I am not of them.”
“Forced you? You wanted to join them so you could attack people! Eat them, and disfigure them, and turn them! Like you did to Remus!”
“No…I am not…he would have killed…I am not marked.”
She balked, her neck snapping to catch the aurors’ eyes. My captors had not told her that much. I raised my left arm, chains dragging against the ground, and shook back my robes to show my forearm, still free of his mark.
She opened her mouth. Closed it again. Opened it, paused, and then, “But you’re a - You’re a…”
“No. Never. Never. He would have killed…” I lapsed into coughing.
“Him.” I coughed again.
She turned to the larger of the two aurors. “Is this true?”
“We knew he was unmarked, but he hasn’t said a word to anyone.”
She tried to whisper. She did whisper. They didn’t know I could hear them breathing, hear the shuffling of their robes against the floor, hear the wet drag of their eyelids with each blink. “You don’t know he’s a Death Eater, but you’re holding him anyway?”
The shorter one leaned in “We know he did Bill, and Lavender, and that Montgomery kid last year.”
“And Remus,” said the taller one. “Don’t forget Remus.”
“Of course not!” She was louder than she meant to be, and lowered her voice at the next. “But if he’s been coerced…well, that does change things.”
Both aurors looked at her sceptically. Rightly so.
“I want to talk to him.”
I expected nothing less from the great young crusader.
With teeth like mine, it’s easy to hide a smile.
* * * * *
They chained me to a thick wooden chair. They’re big on chains, this lot. As though I couldn’t have just broken the chair.
There were magical barriers between us, too. Perhaps that’s why, when I refused to talk, she sent the aurors from the room, her knuckles white around her wand.
I didn’t tell her I could break my seat in two and lunge, or that years of blood had made me strong enough to withstand a fast, or that I could smell the red stream pooling between her legs.
I did tell her that Voldemort threatened my family, that he killed them one by one, that I had sent my (long since eaten) father into hiding, that the Dark Lord threatened to skin me if I didn’t turn the victims of his choosing. That he would have made me a hearthrug. That he was experimenting with combining Nagini’s venom and my blood. That I was stunned and used for samples.
She wanted me to go on the record, for a committee on the wellbeing of magical beasts. I agreed, of course.
By the time she left, she had relaxed enough to part her knees. The smell….
Tears filled my eyes. Voldemort’s pureblood mania had come with certain imperatives. Killing was permitted. Maiming. But our enjoyment was incidental, lest we become too sated to strike at his command. It had been too long since I had had this. I wanted. I want.
“Thank you,” I whispered, looking up.
She was startled. “You’re welcome.”
She didn’t begin to realize what I meant.
* * * * *
It took her half a year to launch her Commission on the Protection of Magical Beasts. Most of the trials went by in the first five moons. They never came for me. She never came for me; not in those months.
They left me in a detention facility, a dim basement somewhere in London. I could hear the traffic, smell the pavement, see occasional rain against the grimy windows at the top of my cell. They force-fed me Wolfsbane. The weather grew warmer and then colder. The days longer, then shorter, then ever so slightly longer again. The guards wore sprigs of holly for a week. They continued to use their chains. Not that I minded.
At the eighth moon, the food changed. Steak, not grains, and not burnt to a crisp. They didn’t know the ways of my pack; that we didn’t need food before the change, that craving was its own end. But this, I might eat for pleasure.
At the ninth, she came back.
It was four days before the full moon. She was no longer in the muggle-style clothes she’d worn after the battle. She was wearing robes appropriate for a Ministry job, holding a folio with the Ministry crest. Her heels echoed across the slate floor as she came to stand outside of my barred cell.
“Fenrir Greyback, you are hereby placed under Protective Decree Number 37, also known as the Buckbeak Convention, concerning the seizure and trial of magical beasts. In accordance with PD 37 you are to be pardoned for coercive acts or acts resulting from irrepressible and/or protective instincts, and must be held in accordance with species-specific standards of care. You are still culpable for any premeditated wrongdoing, and are entitled to a full trial in front of the Wizengamot, to be conducted in accordance with the Black Rules of Procedure. If found guilty, you may be held in the Magical Beasts Wing of the reconstructed Azkaban Prison, and will be directed towards rehabilitative programming wherever possible.
“As a werewolf, you are required to register with the Werewolf Registry, now housed in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement’s Sentient Beasts Unit, and will meet with a liaison from Werewolf Support Services. In this transitional period, I will take any species-specific requests necessary to your care and comfort, whilst the auror division completes interviews with members of your pack regarding your actions under Voldemort’s Regime.”
My pack were well trained and well-rehearsed. At the first hint of my story they would concur. Afterwards, they would never waver. I was practically free, if not sated.
“We will begin your formal interview with a review of the accommodations provided to you. Are you fed daily?”
She still hadn’t looked up from her parchment.
“Is your diet appropriate for a sentient magical beast of your species?”
“Are you provided with clothing adequate to the weather conditions of your ministry-appointed housing?”
“Are you provided with doses of the Wolfsbane potion adequate to ease your monthly transition?”
I paused for the second it would take to break her stride. “Yes.”
She frowned. “Have you sustained any injuries while in Ministry care?”
She looked up, then. “Please provide details of any injuries.”
I curled in on myself, pretended to hide from her stare. “An unavoidable part of transforming in captivity.”
“Do you find the Wolfsbane inadequate to the task of easing your monthly transition?”
I shook my head.
“Do you or do you not find the Wolfsbane adequate to the task of easing your monthly transition?”
I shook my head again, and prepared for the next possible questions.
“Would you benefit from an increase to your monthly allocated dosage of the Wolfsbane potion?”
My panic at that suggestion was not entirely artificial. “No!”
She couldn’t hide her shock at that. “What? But it makes it less painful!”
“Yes, it does. We’ve done research. We’ve consulted with the American Werewolf Association and the Académie de Magie, and experts at both confirm –”
I howled. Never fails to stop them in their tracks.
She was a fighter, though, my girl. From the start.
Fighters always taste best.
“No, no. Experts – no.” If it weren’t such a part of my “irrepressible and protective instincts” I might’ve been ashamed at this unravelling. But if the Ministry was prepared to protect it…
“But they’ve confirmed! I’ve written on it. And we know anecdotally that wolves who take proper doses of Wolfsbane can ride out the full moon as peacefully as dogs.”
Clearly, that gristly excuse for a Dark Arts professor had gotten to her.
“Werewolves who are overdosed with Wolfsbane can sleep through the change,” I know his story, too, and how to use it. “But it only makes it harder. The organs and limbs shift without being properly stretched. There’s internal injury. Any regular Wolfsbane potion user will be ill well after the transition.” I could see the light of recognition in her eyes. “Maybe for weeks. The combination of confinement and Wolfsbane…the pain is…indescribable.”
“But it lets you integrate with wizarding society. To have jobs, and families.”
“But at what cost to us? The pain…”
Fury lit her eyes. “To you? At what cost to the rest of the world if you don’t? You kill people! You turn them! You maul them and slash them up and cut them to bits! You turn them into killers! We can’t let you go off and do that!”
She expected an argument. She wasn’t prepared for agreement. “No. I know. You can’t.”
“But you can’t want to stay here. We’re working on reintegration programs. If you’re acquitted or after time served your Werewolf Support Services liaison can help you reintegrate into civilian life, contingent on your continued compliance with a Ministry-approved Wolfsbane regimen.”
She looked so concerned. So young. Her knitted brow creased her skin, which was flushed in anger. She pushed her hair back from her face and exhaled. Shifted her weight from one foot to the other. Then, quietly, “There’s only so much we can do if you won’t take it. There’s no other way.”
I didn’t say anything. It was clear from the first, in her pursuit of the house elves, in her agreeing to see me, in her questioning of the auror guard at our first meeting, that she was too curious to leave it at that.
Indeed. “...Is there?”
It is difficult for a werewolf to look ashamed. We don’t feel it. Our faces resist its shape. I had practiced, though, to convince Voldemort of his supposed control. To put the Death Eaters at ease. Still looking at the floor, I drew in my shoulders, hunching them around my ears. I made my eyes very large, then drew in my brow, and angled my face away from her. It was effective enough.
I nodded, slightly. Shuffled my feet – the perfect, perfectly human, affectation. She couldn’t resist.
“There is?” I nodded again. “What is it? None of our research shows – nothing.”
“Not potions.” I mumbled, knowing she’d give me an excuse to fill in the blanks.
“What was that?”
“Not potions. Or spells. It’s….tradition. Wolf lore. Wizards wouldn’t write it in their histories.”
“Wouldn’t write what?”
“Blood…human blood. If we’re injured in the change. If we lack the human blood to sustain it. It’s blood loss and pain that make us howl or run or hunt. Or wizards’ training. On our own we’re no more dangerous than feral wolves. We travel in packs and eat animals like them, but there’s no need to eat humans. We think there’s some instinct against it. But there’s never been a way to prove it.”
The wheels were turning. “But human blood is attainable. Muggles store it for their medical procedures, we could –“
I schooled my features into sadness and shook my head. “No, the blood must be untreated and fresh. The attempt to use preserved blood drove the Wagga Wagga Werewolf to madness. None of us have dared try it since.”
“But that’s the only source! Where else do you get fresh human blood, if not from your victims?”
I turned away and shook my head, and didn’t face her again as she finished her bureaucratic litany. Better to let her think it was her own discovery. Better to let her think I was shy. Better to hide the jagged teeth my smile would’ve revealed.
* * * * *
It took her three days to come back; exactly what I’d calculated from her scent in our previous interactions.
There was no official ministry-speak that day.
“I figured it out. What you meant.”
I didn’t move from the cot that had been bolted to the wall, or turn my face towards her.
“I interviewed two members of your pack. They’ve confirmed it.”
Bless them. They know my tastes. Share them.
“I’m making some inquiries.”
I whipped my head halfway around, then pulled it back. Showing curiosity, timidity.
“I know there’s a full moon tomorrow, I don’t know if I’ll have made any progress by then. The SBU is mostly men. And it’s a new branch, very small. But it’s a scientific cause, and…well. We’ll see. I’ll return when I have news.”
She didn’t wait for a response, nor did I need her to say anything more. I could hear her heart pounding, could smell her fear. Her excitement. Among other things.
* * * * *
Her answer came just before the next moonrise. A guard with a particularly disgusted twist to his face brought in my dinner tray. Steak. Greens – ministry required, always uneaten. A dose of Wolfsbane. And a small glass phial with perhaps half an ounce of something dark and viscous
Almost black. But around the edges – red.
I unstopped the bottle and almost wept.
It was cold and beginning to die. But after ten moons without any, after years without this…
This blood didn’t smell like gore, or intestines, or death. It was blood for wolves, living and running, freely given. It smelled of life.
It was – it is – impossible to collect only the blood. There is always something else. In tasting her blood I knew what she had eaten. A vegetarian. Usurprising. I knew what she had done that morning. Some exercise, likely running, had left a salty note. And I knew that she wanted. That she wanted badly, and that she’d come. Not very hard, not enough to make the blood flow more freely. But enough to tell me that she was the kind of woman who would come and bleed at the same time. The kind of woman who could enjoy it.
With the guard watching, I shot the Wolfsbane. Would’ve done anyway; her blood wouldn’t ease the transition in the least.
When he returned to his post, I poured her blood over the steak, let it become saturated in her. I ate it with my hands, licking at each bite before tearing it off. Letting her blood pool in my molars and cover my fingernails, so that when they became claws they appeared as they should.
When I woke the next morning, naked and hard and still aching to run free, I knew it would never be enough.
* * * * *
Similar phials arrived at six, four-week intervals. One ounce, unlabelled, with a rare steak. Always hers.
News was less forthcoming. I remained in my cage, no longer weak but no more eager to be hunted as a fugitive.
It became stiflingly hot as the nights got shorter, and traffic seemed to grow louder outside my window. She stayed away through it all, until high summer began yielding to autumn. She appeared at the new moon, folio in hand. She didn’t look up before reading.
“Fenrir Greyback, Ministry of Magic Captive Werewolf held under the terms of Protective Decree Number 37, also known as the Buckbeak Convention, concerning the treatment of magical beasts, you are hereby registered as a werewolf and have been assigned to Werewolf Support Services for rehabilitation and reintegration. As your liaison to the Department of Magical Law Enforcement’s Sentient Beasts Unit, I will issue your biannual Prisoner Health and Safety Survey and begin your transfer to Werewolf Support Services. Do you consent to these procedures?”
“We will begin your formal interview with a review of the accommodations provided to you. Are you fed daily?
“Is your diet appropriate for a sentient magical beast of your species?”
Red spots blossomed on her cheeks. All that blood, so close to the surface.
“Are you provided with clothing adequate to the weather conditions of your ministry-appointed housing?”
“Are you provided with doses of the Wolfsbane potion adequate to ease your monthly transition?”
“At your last review you indicated that you had received injuries while in Ministry care. Have you received any new injuries in the last six months?”
She struggled not to look up. So curious, my girl. She tightened her grip on her quill, but her voice did not quaver.
“Please provide details of any injuries.” Cool. Calm. Professional.
“Bruising, mild internal bleeding, tears to tendons and ligaments, dislocation of hip and shoulder joints.”
She furrowed her brow. “The SBU has undertaken experimental trials regarding supplemental natural remedies to alleviate side effects of the Wolfsbane potion. As a member of the Ministry’s SBU Trial of Alternative Remedies, or TAR, facility managers are directed to supply you with alternative remedies prior to the full moon. Have you been supplied with these alternatives?”
So that’s what she was calling it.
“As part of the Ministry’s Wolfsbane SBU TAR, please report on the effects, if any, of your monthly supplements.”
I had remained half-hidden by shadow, and pulled my face entirely back from the light, as though bashful. If she saw me shaking she must have thought it was fear, rather than mirth.
She was standing stock still, under the light of a particularly harsh orb reserved for visiting officials. Her knuckles had gone white around the quill and her index finger was shaking from the tension. She stared at the parchment, but her skin had taken on a uniform flush. I could see the vein at her collarbone pulsing.
“Mr. Greyback, please report on the effects, if any, of your monthly supplements.”
“I have sustained fewer and less serious injuries. Without being able to fully stretch or run free, some injuries are inevitable, but they have been less painful and faster to heal. The…alternative remedies” her shoulders tensed “seem to increase my natural speed at healing, so injuries have fewer lasting effects.”
“Would you describe the SBU TAR as very successful, somewhat successful, neutral, unsuccessful, or very unsuccessful at reducing the pain of your transition?”
“Would you describe the SBU TAR as very successful, somewhat successful, neutral, unsuccessful, or very unsuccessful at reducing your appetite during and after your transition?”
“As one of the Ministry’s initial sources for exploration of alternative remedies, can you speculate on why the trials have been somewhat, rather than very, successful?”
She was startled into looking up, confusion crossing her face when she couldn’t at first, see me leaning back against a wall of my cell.
“The freshness of the, as you say, alternative remedy determines how well it works.”
We had gone off script. She didn’t know what to say to me, to a man, a wolf, who had tasted her blood. The evidence of her wanting was so ever-present that I had assumed I was not alone in tasting her, but this discomfiture suggested otherwise. The thought that she might not have spilled those liquids for another made me shiver with desire then, as it does with bone-deep lust now.
“Mr. Greyback, the alternative remedies are….” she scrambled for something safely technical “…gathered shortly before they are delivered to you, and placed in magically sealed containers. Their freshness should not be up for debate. Please explain what you mean.”
“You interviewed other members of my pack?”
“They did not explain this?”
“They explained that I couldn’t – it couldn’t be stored over long periods of time without deteriorating. But they didn’t say it couldn’t be stored at all.”
“It can be. But not without some effect.”
“Mr. Greyback, I don’t understand your intimation. Are you suggesting that even brief periods of storage can undermine the efficacy of the remedy?”
“But then how—” She trailed off, uncertainty flickering before she drew herself up, accusatory. “How?”
“Di—” She was, still is, so tiny at moments, so soft, that it has always been easy to forget that she is a veteran, too. A lesser woman would have squeaked or dropped her quill. Not my girl. She drew herself up and spoke evenly. “Directly?”
“How is that possible without inspiring a frenzy?”
“Historically, it is in the hours before the first full moon, while we are still human, so that we are already sated before the transformation begins. When received directly, the remedy is at full strength and may last all three days, though it is sometimes…readministered.”
“More than once?”
“It is not necessary, but it is advisable.”
“How?” This time, her voice was quieter, though no less resolved.
“As you say, directly.”
“Mr. Greyback, that is a highly irregular experimental procedure.”
I was similarly quiet. “I understand.”
We were both silent for a moment.
“Mr. Greyback, we must continue the interview with regard to your transfer to transitional detention. Do you consent to continue?”
This was a curious turn. “Yes.”
“Upon interviewing members of your pack we have confirmed that violent acts committed under Voldemort’s regime were coerced under threat of violent retaliation. Based on the testimony given by your fellow pack members you are being offered a sentence of 18 months with 15 months credit for time served, after which you will be released to transitional probationary housing, if you agree to appear before the Ministry of Magic’s Council for Reconciliation to corroborate your pack’s testimony and issue statements of apology to your victims. You will have two weeks to consider this offer, at which point you will be connected to a liaison with Werewolf Support Services and may choose to either accept this offer or work with the DMLE SBU to stand trial for reduced charges in all cases. Do you understand these terms?”
“Do you have any questions before the conclusion of this interview?”
“You may ask questions now. “
This question was important; I knew it then, and grasped at the right words. “The liaisons, the DMLE…are they…will they be fair to someone who was not a Death Eater, but was among them?”
“All parties will be advised of your unmarked status. SBU Employees and members of the Wizengamot are assigned to specific cases with attention to their personal histories. All parties involved will behave in a just and unbiased manner.”
My scepticism was well-founded, and I remembered the aftermath of the Dark Lord’s first rise well enough to know it. But her faith in the system would be a far more valuable tool. “Thank you.”
She nodded. “Do you have any additional questions.”
“No, thank you.”
She nodded again and left, without ever looking me in the eye.
* * * * *
Fourteen days later, another cold phial appeared next to my dinner. I took it down in one gulp, and then placed myself next to the wall.
As my fingers lengthened into claws, I leapt, throwing my shoulder into the wall with all the force of my still-lengthening legs.
* * * * *
I woke in St. Mungo’s, magic and metal chaining my left leg and right arm to the bed. The door and a single, narrow window were barred. I was alone, covered only by a thin pair of trousers, save my bonds.
My free limbs pulsed with a dull ache, but that was to be expected. They still don’t know how quickly we heal, that injuries last only until the next transformation. They would have assumed I was in much more pain.
Several minutes passed before a Healer came in, under the guard of familiar men in auror’s robes. Magical monitoring – they had known I was awake. Given the agony I should have been in, it was a telling delay.
The healer conducted diagnostics and cast several healing spells without speaking. The aurors stood at attention while he worked, but didn’t follow him out. The reason was apparent when she entered.
“Fenrir Greyback, as your assigned liaison to the Special Beasts Unit of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, I am here to take a report on the acquisition and extent of your injuries.”
The Association for Magical Dramaturgy couldn’t have arranged a performance better than mine. By the end of it, she was pale with sympathetic agony.
Though she never broke stride, my girl. She delivered the last question with barely a quaver.
“As a participant in the SBU TAR you have suggested that the freshness of alternative remedies would be effective at reducing injuries and increasing healing speed. Is that still correct?”
She looked up at me, then. Her eyes ran over the length of my body, and she nodded, determined.
“Thank you, Mr. Greyback. I will consult St. Mungo’s about additional care.”
The aurors followed her out, with the tall ginger resting his hand at the small of her back as he held the door for her.
It was his voice I heard outside of my room that afternoon.
“She can’t be serious. She just can’t.”
The brown-haired oaf responded, “It’s a bit gross, yeah.”
“A bit—? A bit gross? He mauled my brother! He’s a killer. I don’t care what she thinks about the bloody elves, they’re harmless. He could bite her in fucking half. He could turn her, Nev.”
“I’m not arguing with you, mate.”
“And if she thinks I’m going to…after he has….she’s got another thing coming.”
“Damn right, she does! It’s revolting. It’d be like kissing a werewolf!”
“Still not arguing, here. But you know she’s just thinking of Remus.”
“He’s not Lupin!” This would have been unmissablly loud even without the benefits of lycanthropy.
“Ron, calm down, we’re on duty. I know it. You know it. Harry knows it. Ginny knows it. Even Luna knows it, and you know how she is about those things. But Hermione’s more stubborn than any of them. If she thinks there’s a principle to it…well, you know. SPEW.”
“This isn’t fucking SPEW! This is spreading her fucking legs for a killer.” He sounded desperate. Furious. Terrified. “There’s no principle! Just a hungry werewolf looking for a fresh, willing meal.”
I had to hand it to him. That was more brains than I’d thought the Aurors capable of.
* * * * *
A different set of aurors came for me in the late afternoon. They brought a healer, who checked me over quickly, nodded, and left before they loosened my chains, throwing another set around my left arm, then pulling me to my feet.
“You’re to come with us.”
They took me to an almost-empty, windowless, white room, with only a metal bench bolted to the floor, an examining table, a few cupboards, and a set of hospital curtains. They attached my chains to hooks in the wall and looped another set around my waist, binding me to the back of the bench and adding a modified Incarcerous.
They didn’t look at me. Didn’t speak to me. They didn’t look at or speak to her. She was flushed and tense when she came to stand in front of me, looking at the lingering bruises on my exposed shoulder before she began.
“Fenrir Greyback, as a sentient magical beast under the care of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement’s Sentient Beasts Unit, you are being held under Protective Decree Number 37, also known as the Buckbeak Doctrine, which entitles you to housing, feeding, and medical care appropriate to your species. As a participant in SBU’s Trial of Alternative Remedies, or TAR, you have been the recipient of alternative treatments to offset the effects of Wolfsbane potion. Ministry investigation has confirmed that these trials are somewhat but not maximally effective for the safe detention and reintegration of werewolves. Following your recent injuries you are invited to participate in further trials. Unless you have any objection these trials will commence immediately so we can further study their effect on your healing and pain management during your transformation. If you have any objection to full participation in these trials, please speak now.”
“The aurors and I will leave this room preceding the commencement of the trial. They will stand guard outside of the doors, which will not be locked. They will magically monitor the room to ensure the safety of all participants. Trial procedures will be apparent. If you have any questions you may call for the aurors before the trial begins. You will remain bound throughout the duration of the trial. When the trial is complete, the aurors will escort you to your accommodations for the evening. I will monitor your transformation and return to collect additional data after the full moon.”
She turned and strode from the room.
The aurors pulled the curtains shut, leaving them only inches away from my knees, and left.
Across the room, behind the curtains, another door opened. I heard footsteps, and then the metallic whisper of a clasp coming undone. Then another, and another, and another, and then robes being hung against the door. Several more pieces of fabric moved over skin. A button popped through cloth, a zip came down, and one naked foot and then the other slapped against the linoleum floor.
A soft “Wingardium Leviosa,” and the shadows showed a large object settling on the floor in front of me. She was indistinct behind the curtains, but the sound of her breath was not. It came in nervous gulps, and her footsteps were uncertain as her silhouette neared the examining table.
She leaned over it, pulling what looked like two identical sticks from the foot of the table. Then there was the crinkle of paper as her shadow was swallowed into the larger one. I could hear her settling herself, lowering herself down against the paper. And then.
Her smell had become familiar over the last few months. From the moment the door opened, there hadn’t been any doubt in my mind that it was her. I knew those salty overtones, had already come to know the difference between sweat and wetness. I could tell when someone had slipped meat into her food, probably a broth. Could tell when she’d come.
It was nothing to the smell that met me when the outline of one foot, and then the other, came to rest against hospital stirrups.
There are not many things that will shock a wolf. But I could not have spoken in that moment. She smelled like fear, like sex, like anticipation.
Another quietly cast spell brought the object forward until it pushed through the curtains, revealing the bottom half of a hospital examining table, on which she lay, legs spread open as each heel rested against a stirrup. A spell held the curtains closed, shielding her top half from view.
Goosebumps were raised across her pale, hairless legs. She had a runner’s tone to her calves, as I’d suspected, and a birthmark on the back of her left thigh, barely visible in the shadow of her legs. Her arse, not quite at the edge of the table, was tightly clenched, trying to hide the darker skin and light smattering of hair around her arsehole. Her thighs were as close together as the stirrups would allow, but quite insubstantial in spite of her aerobic regimen. She had tended her hair, removing all but a neatly groomed patch above her slit. Her lips were entirely bare, the longer inner labia pushing past smooth majora. When she tightened her vaginal muscles, they pulled together beautifully around a clear, flexible stem.
A spell pulled my chains taut, so I could only move from the waist up. Then a pale hand reached down beyond that stem. As she pulled, it widened to reveal a clear, bell-shaped receptacle, which then came free entirely. And her blood came spilling forth.
There was more of it than I had ever seen come from a woman at once. I pulled back to watch it spill out of her, coating her arsehole before pooling below her cheeks. She pulled her thighs together reflexively to try to stem the tide, which only spread it across her labia and onto the fleshiest bit of her thighs, turning her slick and red and leaving her squirming in her own blood.
I did nothing, for a moment. Unwilling to reveal herself outright – though she must, by then, have known enough to realize all anonymity was gone – she didn’t issue any directions. After several long moments she pushed her arse to the very edge of the table and struggled to relax her legs, pulling her knees apart until I could see tiny pools forming at her entrance.
There was no telling whether this vision would be repeated. It was too delectable to let pass, to not show her what it might be.
I leaned forward until I was certain, by the tightening of her thighs, that she could feel my breath ghosting over her. I ran my tongue over my teeth and flattened it into a thick plane before giving her one single slow lick. Her breath caught, but her hips stayed still.
I moved to her thighs, licking at the streaks of blood that were drying there. I cleaned them in long, systematic stripes, bringing my lips to the shaking muscles as I moved downwards.
Nudging her thighs apart, I kissed at the crease where her legs met her pelvis before coming, again, to her lips. I licked up her outer lips as I moved up, then sucked the inner ones into my mouth as I moved towards her arsehole. She couldn’t suppress the urge to move towards me any longer, though she had tried. She was strong then, my girl. Still is.
Up and down, up and down, and then, pausing, I pushed the tip of my tongue into her very centre, laving it against her opening before drawing one long stroke up to her clitoris.
She gasped, then, and pushed forward in earnest, only to remember herself and begin to draw up the table. I caught her arse with my teeth and she stilled immediately, only too aware of what a harder bite might do.
She had tasted like sweat and earth and metal, like people and forests and the night. With the addition of fear, she became tart. I became hard.
Forcing herself to relax, she brought her hips back parallel to the table and tentatively re-opened her knees.
I returned directly to her clit. Let her know my intentions from the off. Then moved over her opening, going so far as to brush a cheek against her thigh before returning to work in earnest.
She was richer and warmer than anything that could come in a phial. I could taste more than had ever been revealed before. The way her own wetness thinned her blood when I pushed my tongue into her hole, how fresh sweat made it particularly savoury, the lingering hints of her daily exercise overpowered by the tangy note of fear that lasted even when her thighs relaxed and her hips took up a rhythm against my face.
I fucked her with my tongue, searching for every last drop I could find, breaking only to worry her clit between my lips so that her walls relaxed, letting me work my way ever further inside of her. We worked towards a shared pace, her pelvis bucking upwards to make sure I didn’t stop at her entrance, my hands clenching my chains to stave off the urge to pull the hooks off the wall altogether.
I brought our pace to bear on that single bit of tissue that could have her pushing into my mouth. Her hips stilled at first, but she compensated with half-hidden gasps. I moved more quickly still, burying my face in her cunt and lapping at her until her hips began a subtle rotation, pressing upwards towards my tongue.
I heard her fingers digging into the edges off the table, heard the stirrups shake as she braced her toes against them, heard the quietest whisper “fuck…oh” escape her lips. And then she was coming, shuddering against me as her cunt pushed more blood forward, decorating my chin as I slowed to collect the fluids at her entrance, licking down towards her arsehole and then the table to collect everything that had spilled out of her at the start.
My forehead rested against her thigh as I turned my head to lick the table clean beneath her. I could feel my face covered in her, feel her sticking to my beard, taste her hiding between my teeth.
Her breathing slowed, but still I stayed, listening to the rushing pulse of her femoral artery, watching the fluttering of her lower abdomen as she tried to calm herself.
She didn’t pull away till I did. I had one last glimpse of her, streaked sloppy with red, dripping with my spit and her come, as the curtains shut, hiding her from view, though the trembling in her toes shook the cloth. The table scraped against the floor this time, jerked roughly backwards. It was another moment before she moved, but then she was all efficiency. I was only sorry when, after directing one towards herself, she aimed a cleaning spell through the curtains at me.
Still hard, I had looked forward to savouring those leftovers as I came.
* * * * *
She could’ve sent a replacement. Some officious bureaucrat with an identical folio and list of questions. But she didn’t even wince when she came to my bedside two days later.
I was chained, as I had been before. One arm, one leg.
Two familiar aurors flanked her. The clumsy brunet just looked wary, but the ginger who smelled like her shook with barely contained rage. His wand was already in hand and he came to a stop just inches behind her, as if torn between his official duty to protect and his unofficial desire to rip me limb from limb.
She rested her weight on the side closest to him, though she didn’t lean back to reassure him with her touch. Instead she straightened the parchment in front of her and began to read.
“Fenrir Greyback, as a sentient magical beast under…”
I breathed deeply as she spoke. She was still bleeding, though without the same force.
“…additional assessment of alternative remedies…”
I could smell moonstone, too. And hellebore. Draught of Peace. No wonder she was so calm.
“…ministry procedures prohibiting human subject research…”
The brunet tightened his wand grip even as the ginger, strangely, looked more relaxed.
“concluding all official experimental trials and returning to standard treatment with monthly administration of Wolfsbane alone.”
My eyes snapped to her face.
“While the Ministry understands that supplemental treatments may have minor effects on healing time and ease of transformation, the SBU has concluded that effects are too minimal to outweigh the ethical difficulties inherent in the use of human subjects.”
The ginger was smirking at me then, leaning forwards as though to show his ownership of my girl.
“While we have concluded that additional means to ease transformation may be appropriate, the SBU, in conjunction with Werewolf Support Services, has decided to reallocate personnel and financial resources to focus on structural solutions and preventative care. You will be moved to restricted probationary housing and provided with facilities more appropriate to a Sentient Magical Beast of your species classification. With access to an outdoor area and more room to move during the transformation, we anticipate that any ill effects stemming from the challenges of the physical transformation will be minimized or prevented altogether. Do you have any questions?”
I was speechless.
“Wherever possible, preventative care is both ethically and legally preferable to experimental medical treatment. The ministry concludes that this shift in standards of care is in line with Ministry Protective Decree Number 4, also known as the Dobby Principle, which increases agency and independence to pre-empt the possibility of harm to any Sentient Magical Beasts or Creatures. A representative from Werewolf Support Services will be in touch about the logistics of your transfer to the care of their division. We wish you the best in your continued recovery and reintegration into Magical Society.”
She turned to leave, the broad-shouldered humans to either side of her. The brown haired one turned to follow immediately, but the ginger lingered just for a moment to catch my eye and draw a finger across his throat. Then he turned and followed her from the room, pulling the door shut behind him.
* * * * *
Their representative, sent later that day, was a squat old wizard who spoke in a slow monotone. He was as far from even the faintest remnants of bloodlust as I was from satisfaction, his soul as dry as his tendons have since proved to be.
I accepted their sentence, officially. Instead of returning me to my prison, they sent me to a “holding facility,” a deteriorating house on the outskirts of London, designed for “rehabilitation and community reintegration” where I could “discover ministry alternatives for managing lycanthropic instincts.”
The ministry’s idea of rehabilitation wasn’t so far from their idea of punishment, except that they allowed us an hour of daily “recreation” in an overgrown lot hidden behind heavy protective enchantments and visitors in dingy, institutionally casual parlours.
Two other members of my pack were already there. A vampire and two hags rounded out our numbers.
Other wolves came to call on a few occasions. They were unemployed, living together on the outskirts of muggle towns, with few kind words for the SBU. They encouraged me to stay under the ministry’s protection for as long as I could. They shared a liaison from Werewolf Support Services. A wide-eyed, brown-haired woman, older, pureblood by the accent and widowed in the war. Not my assigned keeper. And none of them had seen my girl.
At the next moon we were to be allowed into the “recreation yard” for the transformation, one leg chained to charmed fence posts. Like common crups.
And then, with dinner, brought to my room – cramped, single bed, barred window, writing desk without a quill, hardback chair, shabby wardrobe, draughty enough to let in biting mid-autumn winds – another phial.
Ministry alternatives. Reintegration into human society. Without bloodlust. Without frenzy.
I held it up to the fading sunlight. It had already begun to separate, an almost-black sedimentary layer settled towards the bottom while other fluids had separated towards the top, light streaming through them to cast pink shadows on the woodchip walls.
I worked the stopper out slowly, slowly, until I could be sure. My girl. It was still my girl.
But this was too precious to drink. I spilled some into my palm and dabbed a bit behind each ear, rubbing it in until it was invisible beneath my hair. Covered the pulse point at each wrist. Restoppered it, set it to rest in the wardrobe, and started towards the yard.
* * * * *
I knew she’d come. Would think it was her fault. Wouldn’t be able to resist her guilt. Or her curiosity. One way or the other.
And so she found me, bed-ridden, with two barely-healed puncture wounds in my neck and two more above my left palm.
Vampires have terrible self-control. Don’t usually go for werewolves, but this one was clearly unstable, attacking like that, unprovoked, without even a hint of human blood to explain it. They’d have to consider putting him down.
I looked up at her, eyes still half-closed. “Where is…” I didn’t know his name. She took it for a sign of illness.
“As supervisor for the SBU, I oversee all cases of injury, abuse, or extreme incident involving Sentient Beasts in Ministry custody. I am here to take a full incident report so as to best determine what care is necessary and how to prevent similar instances in future. You were found unconscious, in human form, this morning in the Ministry-Approved Recreation Yard by members of your pack. A Ministry Healer has diagnosed blood loss, vampire bites, torn muscles, surface abrasions, and a fracture of the right ulna. All abrasions and fractures have been healed. Given the particularities of vampire bites and the conflicting recommendations of your pack members, we have not yet administered treatment for blood loss. You may continue experiencing weakness and fatigue until we find an appropriate cure. First, please describe the incident in question.”
“On the way to the yard…vampire attacked.”
“The attack occurred before your transformation?” She was startled.
“You have indicated before that werewolves’ ability to heal is supplemented during the transformation when in combination with alternative remedies of the sort you were provided yesterday. Why haven’t those effects been replicated in this instance?”
Because my fellow wolves had obliged with a few post-change injuries for maximum effect. “Didn’t drink.”
“What?” She had stood up, abandoning the room’s only chair to loom over me. “What do you mean?“
“Wardrobe.” She barely had to strain to reach the door. The phial was almost the only thing in there, and she saw it quickly, bending over to retrieve it before turning back to me.
“You said it was over. Didn’t want to make trouble.”
“Mr. Greyback, it’s true that this sample was provided as part of research on reintegration rather than as an official part of the TAR, but it was provided for your safety and well-being, with the understanding that you would take advantage of resources offered to you.” She unstopped the jar, wrinkling her nose. At a day old blood smells like the beginnings of death. Oxidized and brown, well separated. “I will administer the treatment now, to speed your heeling.”
Her steps back towards the bed were stiff and small. She pulled the chair towards the edge of the bed and sat down, her posture rigid. She held the phial to my face, taking a steadying breath before she used one hand to pull my chin down, opening my mouth.
I turned at the last moment, spilling blood down my face and onto my neck. She gasped. “Too old…not…won’t work.”
In the silence that followed I could hear droplets hitting my chest as they fell off my beard.
She whispered. “You can’t mean…I can’t.”
I coughed. Shook my head, turned it away.
“You won’t get better otherwise, will you?”
A long pause. “Yes.”
“Will you be safe here while unwell?”
I said nothing.
“We can arrange a transfer to your previous holding facility—”
“No!” I struggled to sit up. She pushed me back to the bed and studied my wounds for a long moment.
“Incarcerous.” My legs were bound to the bed, hands tied together over my stomach. “Muffliato.”
She reached into the wardrobe for one of the few spare shirts the Ministry had provided, and tied it tightly over my eyes. If I seemed to struggle, it was only to constrain my growing erection.
I heard the heavy fabric of a cloak hit the ground, then a few lighter pieces piled on top of it.
The edge of the bed sank, a breeze passed over me, and something warm settled and heavy settled across my arms.
She settled across my arms.
I could hear her uneven breathing, feel the tension in her thighs as she tried to hold them still.
She shuffled forward, clearly unaccustomed to holding herself in this position.
Her knees were next to my ears now, the backs of her thighs against my shoulders. I could feel her against my chin, hear the scratching of her neatly trimmed stubble against my unruly beard.
Barely more than a whisper: “Open your mouth.” She drew herself up onto her knees and her fingers almost brushed my nose as she reached between her legs. I obeyed, and was rewarded with a fresh warm flood that left me coughing, working my throat to keep it from overflowing my mouth.
She grabbed me round the back of the head, spread her legs further, and pulled me towards her.
I lapped at her opening, fucking her with my tongue until blood ran down the sides of my face. My cock throbbed as she rocked against me, now rolling her hips against my mouth, pressing her pelvic bone into my chin, angling her clit towards my tongue.
I licked back and forth across it, hearing her free hand slam up against the wall behind us, the other moving my head to bring still more pressure to bear against her.
In her distraction, I pulled my cock free and drew it up between my bound hands, stroking from base to head and back again, feeling my bollocks tighten as I worked up a steady pace.
She had drawn her knees together around my ears. I could hear the blood rushing to her cunt. As she rocked against me, my makeshift blindfold began to fall backwards, revealing first a view of her red-coated thighs, then her waist, and then, as she pushed forward again, her small breasts, barely moving as she wound against my mouth. Noises spilled out of her then, a soft litany of gasped curses until she was arching back, pushing blood and sweat and come into my mouth, her thighs shoving my blindfold off completely until I could see the look of unhinged pleasure that crossed her features. And then, as she collapsed forward, one had still braced against the wall and eyes shut tight, relief. Catharsis.
My stroking had reached a fever pitch, and before she could move, before she took the taste of earth and salt and sex away from me, I came, splattering her back with strands of hot come.
Her eyes flew open at that and she gasped in shock even as thick white lines began dripping down the cleft of her arse.
She pulled back, but I followed her, laving the broad plane of my tongue against her lips. She leaned back and spread her legs instinctively, and then I was reaching for strands of my come, tasting myself against her arsehole, gathering spunk on my tongue and fucking up into her again, mixing it with her blood and holding my tongue against her opening as she pushed down again, rolling her shoulders back for leverage until she had one hand resting on each side of my ribcage. She gasped and writhed but still I blocked her entrance, bucking my shoulders up to send her tumbling onto her back, her hair tangling around my cock as her head fell between my still-bound legs.
Her thighs fell open in front of me and I strained to hold my head up against the weight on my chest, still managing to press into her again, using gravity and my tongue to push whatever I’d managed to gather even further inside of her.
The view was as unfettered as it had been before, and now I could watch her stomach shake and her breasts move as she ground into my face.
Before I could have anticipated it, she was coming again, muscles expelling one last feeble wave of blood.
But no come, so far as I could see. It was inside of her. I was inside of her.
Her breathing never calmed, only switched from orgasmic to panicked. She was off me in a moment, throwing on her clothes and casting hurried cleaning charms at herself, the linens, and finally, without looking, at me.
She paused to collect herself. “Mr. Greyback, the ministry wishes you a quick recovery.”
I could smell her fear, almost as delicious as the traces of blood that still lingered between my teeth. She wanted to know if I would tell on her, ruin her.
I would have her, one way or another. I was certain. Am certain. But I’d never do such a thing to a future packmate.
“Thank you. Good day, Miss Granger.”
With a quick “Finite,” she was gone.
* * * * *
I will admit that I awaited the next moon eagerly. I wanted her to come again, as much as I wanted her blood to be otherwise occupied. In the moment it had occurred to me to breed her, I had been captivated by the thought. She could not turn me away, our children, our future pack away, without publicly betraying everything she stood for. Without privately betraying her most core principles. I would make her mine.
I will admit to experiencing some disappointment when my ministry-appointed liaison to Werewolf Support Services returned two days later.
I will admit to feeling as much rage as hunger at the thought of her reticence.
But we wolves have enough experience with rage to contain it.
Wolves know about waiting. We wait for the moon each month, for the return of superhuman lust. For the bone-deep satiation that humans will never know.
We wait for a next meal, willing or not. We wait for the hunt, for the chase, for the blood.
Waiting was not a problem for me.
* * * * *
She did not come back at the next moon, or the next. If she was with my child, I thought, she would have.
My pack mates hadn’t seen anything of her. The vampire had long since disappeared. The hags, now three, didn’t speak to us.
The phials continued to arrive, congealing and cold. So unlike her.
I paced the yard, the end of my probation ever nearer. My bloodlust ever stronger.
“Exercise,” I told my liaison. “Training,” I told my pack.
I read the Prophet, reviewed OWL-level charms, sent away for pamphlets on new ministry programs.
“Preparation,” I told my liaison. “Research,” I told my pack.
I listened to her on the wireless, giving the keynote speech at a conference on post-war reconciliation.
“Sentient Magical Beasts are our partners in building a magical community. For too long, we’ve treated them as sub-human, as non-entities or as dangers to ourselves and our children. But in the course of doing so, we have made them our enemies. We have consigned them to poverty, to ignorance, to fear. When we recoil from Sentient Magical Beasts, it is not at our fear of them, but at rightful shame at what we have done to them. To see them as our equals, we must, first, treat them that way. We must educate the house elves, feed the vampires and werewolves, employ the hags. When they have nothing to fear from us, we shall have nothing to fear from them.”
“Ready to reintegrate,” I told my liaison. “Ready to hunt,” I told my pack.
Two days before the next moon I was officially “reassigned” to a transitional program. My eighteen months were up. The end of November approached. I would be allowed to leave our overgrown shack during the day to look for employment, effective after the full moon. I had been an exemplary prisoner.
* * * * *
I had thought it might take some time to get injured. But a werewolf and suspected former Death Eater was a prime target even a year and a half after the last battle. It took only two visits to Diagon Alley, less than a week, to collect a series of bruises and abrasions that looked far worse than they felt.
I had thought it might be difficult to find her, to pick her out of the crowd leaving the ministry without drawing attention. To elicit her care without attracting official notice. But she worked late – so diligent, my girl – and I’d know that smell anywhere. Even without blood flowing from her cunt, I could tell she was walking before I caught the scent of her sweat, her perfume, her saliva as she leaned in to talk to the rangy ginger who had once been so enraged at her good works. He seemed to have recovered. I doubted that he knew about our most recent visit.
As she turned the corner, failing to notice me in the shadow of a nearby entryway, I saw the reflection of light on her hand. A ring. He wanted to lay claim to her cunt. Exclusive claim.
That could not come to pass. Nor would he want it to, if he knew. She would never be his.
I followed them as they took a leisurely lover’s walk to a flat – Theirs? Hers? His? – on a mostly muggle block not twenty minutes from the ministry. I kept to the shadows, hidden in an alleyway across the road as she opened the front door and he followed her in to a well-lit vestibule and up the stairs. A moment later, lights clicked on in the front room of the second story.
She moved towards the window and then away again, and didn’t come back for some time. I was cold, standing behind somebody’s bins in early December with bruises blossoming across my torso. But I was hungrier still.
I could barely make out her voice over her neighbours’ televisions and conversations. Wolves hear everything, but I wanted only her breath, her voice. Her cries.
She became clearer as her neighbours began to retire, lights clicking out up and down the street. I heard his voice too, nasal and loud, rambling on about crime and quidditch and making crude jokes. She laughed. Unexpected from my dark, writhing, brilliant girl.
And then their voices became quieter, his and hers, and then disappeared altogether, though the light stayed on in the front room. I strained to hear, wondering if I had missed my opportunity. Their neighbours to either side were asleep or on their way to it, lights out and breathing evenly. But the two of them were not. A door opened and shut. Her breath quickened, and then his. A slow rhythmic banging began. Wood against plaster. It got faster. A headboard.
My vision swam. Shame may be unfamiliar to a wolf, but rage is home. He was fucking her. Claiming her. He was grunting in time to the headboard, likely covering her in his filthy sweat. I imagined her tiny frame, pushed into the mattress beneath him as he shoved into her. And then he was coming, swearing and panting before collapsing onto the creaky bedframe.
I howled. I had meant to all along. She had to know I was hurt, that I was a wounded Sentient Magical Beast in need of her care. But this cry was more than pain. It was fury, hunger, ownership.
But she had never known a real wolf. Only that vile, stringy traitor Lupin. She would not know the difference.
After a moment’s pause, the bedframe creaked again. Footsteps. She came to the window in a thin robe, craning her neck to look up and down the street.
I howled again, tightening my throat to produce a whimper that echoed down the alley, and forced my uninjured legs into an imitation limp that brought me out of the shadows.
I saw concern cross her face. Fear.
So clever, my girl. She knew. If she helped me he would object. If she didn’t, she undermined her own crusade. If she didn’t, I could ruin her.
She yelled over her shoulder, paused by the door, and opened it, appearing a moment later in the vestibule. The overhead light revealed everything. Her chest was flushed, her hair thoroughly dishevelled, her lips bitten. She must have stepped into the heels she’d worn home, and the white satin robe she’d tied at the waist would hardly protect her from the cold.
Then she was stepping onto the pavement, looking for cars, crossing the road, approaching me slowly.
I whimpered again.
“Mr. Greyback, what are you doing here?”
She didn’t step any closer. “What happened?”
“Attacked by whom? We can call the aurors.”
“No…good people. But I am a wolf.”
Her features hardened. “They can’t be very good people if they would do this to a living thing.” I didn’t speak. She went on, “I’ll floo St. Mungo’s, just wait right there.”
“Mr. Greyback, I know for a fact that St. Mungo’s has always provided you with excellent care.”
She knew why I had come and, even on the empty street, she dropped her voice to a furious whisper. “I can’t help you like that.” I whimpered again. She took a step closer. Two more and I would have her. “Even if I could, it’s not that – It’s not the appropriate time of the month. I can’t help you.”
I muttered a few nonsense words under my breath. “Mr. Greyback?” She took another step closer.
“I can’t help you. I only know basic first aid, and your injuries appear to be more extensive. There are no other options. We can floo to St. Mungo’s together, and they’ll tend to any injuries thoroughly and professionally.” She shivered against a cold gust.
Medicine would help the bruises, but not the need that had brought me here. I did not need their science. But she did. I could play along.
“Your proteins…linked to the blood. Will heal, still.”
“Please. I need…” I nodded towards her thighs.
“I can’t,” she whispered. “I…” She straightened. “There’s no evidence of that. The Ministry requires that all medical protocols be thoroughly vetted by committees from St. Mungo’s, and the DMLE must review clinical findings before any treatment is administered to Sentient Magical Beasts”
“Not at the ministry.” She looked shocked at that, as though she hadn’t quite realized she was half naked on a street corner instead of hiding behind a Ministry crest. “Please. Help.”
She looked over her shoulder to where the light still glowed in the front room of the now-quiet flat. There was no movement. She turned back. “How do I know it will help?”
“Please. Trust me.”
I thought she might soften at that. Instead, she nodded tightly. Maybe she knew she couldn’t refuse without risking exposure, whether as deviant or intolerant. Maybe she even wanted to believe. “Quickly, then.”
I nodded and drew back into the alley. She followed, after a moment. “Here?”
I dropped to my knees, facing the brick wall behind the bins. “Here. No one will see.” She nodded again, keeping her distance as she walked around me to reach the wall. She stood in front of it with her back straight and thighs clenched. I shuffled forward, still on my knees, until my mouth drew even with her waist.
I rubbed my face against the fabric of her robe, my beard catching the satin and pulling it open. She froze at the intimacy and pushed my head away. “No,” she said, “just tell me how to help.”
“Open your legs.”
She nodded, tightening her sash and spreading her feet to shoulder’s width.
Her smell was familiar. That same saltiness, deep and rich, even without the blood. But I could smell something more there. Him. Lingering there, like milk gone off, dirtying my girl. Rage, again. I would not let him have her.
I rested my haunches against my calves and bent forward, bracing my arms against the brick behind her and pushing into the space between her legs. She opened them a fraction further to permit an exploratory lick. I drew the tip of my tongue over the soft hair that had come in over her lips and felt her shudder against me. Again. Again. But her legs didn’t open any further.
I drew back and looked up at her. Her eyes were closed, head tilted back, her upper body held stiff against the wall. “I can’t quite…” I moved a hand up the inside of her thigh and cupped the back of it, pulling it towards me. Her arse lifted off the wall, her robe falling open around her hips. She followed my lead as I draped her leg over my shoulder. “Thank you.” She nodded, eyes still closed.
Remnants of him were dried across her thighs, and when I pulled her to my face and slipped inside her hole, the bitter taste of him was waiting. It couldn’t be allowed to remain. It couldn’t be allowed at all. I scraped my tongue against her walls, drawing him out of her. I pulled back and spat through her legs, his spunk and my spit and her sweat steaming against the cold brick.
And then I cupped her arse and drew her to me, burying myself in her, licking her clit until she was shaking, until she let me lift her other leg so that she was pressed between my face and the wall, until her fingers tangled in my hair and she was moaning, shifting her weight against my shoulders to open herself further against my mouth, scraping my back with her heels.
I could not let her come. If she came, she’d run. And I was not finished.
I pressed her back into the wall, shifting her weight onto one shoulder and lowering the other leg to the ground. One of my hands held her steady as the other scraped up her inner thigh, pulling his spunk from the fine hairs that rested against her skin. I would replace it with my own. My cock jerked at the thought.
She stiffened when my fingers reached her, when I rested two fingertips at her entrance. I licked along the thigh that still rested on one shoulder, drawing ever closer to that glistening knot of nerves and tissue, until she sunk down onto my fingers, desperate for something more.
Eyes still closed, she began riding my hand in earnest, angling her hips towards my mouth in search of that final lick that might give her release.
It would not be forthcoming.
I added a third finger, and she moaned her approval. My breath ghosted her clit but I didn’t come any closer. I wanted enough distance to see my fingers pushing into her and pulling back out, slick and shining. I wanted to see her when she reached into her robe, cupping one breast, squeezing a hard nipple between her fingers as the other hand continued to pull at my head, his vile rock catching in my hair when she urged me closer.
I had known her desire from the first taste. Had known she sought pleasure. I had learned, as she rode my face, that she had the lust to be a wolf. That she, too, wanted for something.
So it was not surprising that she let out a disappointed whimper when I withdrew all but a finger. I worked the single digit into her and held it there. I could feel her muscles tightening in search of it. I crooked my finger towards the front of her abdomen, rubbing the spongy tissue that turned her thin cry into a gasping moan and then a whisper: “More.”
“More?” I looked up to catch the tiniest nod of her head. I withdrew my hand and dropped my shoulder, sending her leg back to the ground. “Turn around.”
She stiffened. I took hold of her waist and turned her, finding that her feet followed even if her body remained stiff. I stood, unbuttoned my trousers and pulled down the flies. Her shoulders tightened at the sound, but she didn’t close her legs.
I leaned forward to run two sticky fingers up the back of her leg, her robe beginning to pool around my wrist. I reached for the knot and dropped it to the ground, then stood directly behind her naked form, my cock pushing into her lower back, my mouth above her ear. “Bend over.” Nothing. “If you want more.”
She was slow to move until I dug my teeth into the flesh at the back of her neck, but then she braced her forearms against the brick, dropping her head into the crook of her elbow and stepping back to spread her legs. Her muscles were tight from ankle to arse, her heels just tall enough to bring her into line for my cock. I kept her there a moment, exposed, her body throbbing with a pounding heartbeat.
I put a hand to each hip and angled her towards me. Her pulse quickened. Her nails dug into the skin of her upper arms.
She almost howled when I shoved into her, a wolfish keening moan that echoed off the brick. I did not relent. I thrust into her like I would another wolf, until she was gasping for air, her forearms scratched, her fingers grappling for purchase in the brick. She raised her head, a wild look across her face as she cursed and begged.
I heard it before she did. Before she could. Her name shouted across a flat.
I fucked her harder still, feeling my bollocks tighten as she struggled to keep her footing against the onslaught.
A door opened and shut, heavy footsteps in the stairwell.
I turned her so we were both hidden by the bins, our sides to the wall. But I did not stop. Would not stop until I had made her my own. She tried to stand, to move away. I put a hand to the back of her neck to push her forward again, holding her down, bent out of view with her cunt in the air for me.
The creaking of a building’s front door, more footsteps. He called her name again, this time so she could hear.
She froze at the sound of his voice, but I did not. I could feel blood rushing through my ears, filling my chest, keeping my cock hard inside her. And then I was coming, slamming into her stillness, stifling the cry that I knew would bring his unwanted attention, and filling her. Her chest heaved with silent sobs, her body sagged against the wall. Still I pumped into her until her cunt was overflowing, until each thrust displaced more of my seed than it delivered.
He broke into a jog, heading south and calling her name.
I began to soften, but did not stand. If I stood, so could she, and it would all fall away. I slid a hand from her hip, putting fingers to her clit without letting her straighten. She shuddered and hit my hand away. “Need,” I whispered to her. “Come for me.” She shook her head, eyes shut tight and leaking.
I got to my knees behind her then and laved a broad stroke from her entrance to her clit, focusing my attention there. I buried my face, my own taste mingling with hers. Still, she did not come. Tried to pull away, even though my grip was strong around her thighs.
I held her there for a moment longer, postponing gravity’s effects, resisting the desire to crawl under her skin. If all was successful, I already had.
My come poured out of her when I let her stand, splattering the pavement, leaving thick white streaks down her thighs. She didn’t turn to face me. She didn’t say anything.
I tucked my cock into my trousers and did up the flies. Took a step back.
She avoided my eyes when she picked up her robe. It was pilled from the brick, stained and damp from the pavement. Before she could wrap it around herself, I saw my future.
She had my seed. She was covered in me. Wet and dirty, naked, her face streaked, howling at the sky, hungry and clever and strong. She will be a small wolf, but formidable. We will run wild.
She left on shaky legs, her ankles trembling as her heels hit the pavement. I didn’t stop her. Didn’t need to. If she wanted like this, she was already mine.
His footsteps reached my ears before she could hear him. She was trying to turn the doorknob, trying to force it open without a key or a wand when he rounded the corner. He called her name again, and she sagged against the door.
He ran to her, and she collapsed into his arms. She told him everything. Almost everything.
Not that she had asked for more. Not that she had moaned against me. Not that she had let me lick her afterwards.
Not that it was the third time. Not that she had agreed. Not that I know what she looks like when she comes.
Not that I was still hidden in the alley. Not that he could have killed me then and there.
She apologized. Said she had been wrong about me, but couldn’t he see that the principle was still right?
He threaded his fingers through hers, kissing his ring, and promised to take her away. He had a key. He took her inside and drew a bath when she asked for one. He came to the window while she soaked and looked up and down the street before pulling the curtains shut.
When I returned the next night, the flat was dark. I couldn’t smell her amidst the crowd of ministry workers at the beginning of the next day, or the end. The lights stayed off all week.
At our next scheduled meeting, my liaison to Werewolf Support Services said she had taken a personal leave. Even when I tracked him home, even when I began to eat long strips of his skin, he swore he knew nothing more, just personal leave and something about a cabin in the north. I bit him, ate him, left him in a pool of his own fluids. Even his blood was tedious.
And then I headed north.
* * * * *
It took almost three weeks to find her here.
She’s well hidden, my girl, but her friends were not. The saviour was easy to find at this time of year, so many public events for the holidays. I caught his scent outside of a party for her house-elf protection scheme. He had agreed to speak in her absence, uncomfortable though he seemed in his dress robes. I could smell her perfume on him. He had seen her. Would lead me to her.
It was easy enough to guess where they’d go, once north. Somewhere near the school, near Hogsmeade. Harder to find an exact location. I waited, under a heavy cloak and disillusionment charm, outside of the Three Broomsticks every night until I picked up his scent, broom polishing oil and treacle. He stumbled out into the snow with a group of ginger-haired men, hers among them, barely escaping Rosmerta and her mistletoe. I followed at a distance until they disappeared into a hedge only a few minutes’ walk outside of the town. A cheap tactic, but the young always think highly of their own inventiveness.
Come morning, the saviour and all the gingers but hers left the same way they’d arrived, disapparating just beyond a ward. I marked their point of entry and waited. She would leave. He would leave. I would wait.
They did not move from their hiding place. Others have come and gone, and they have not moved. But this morning, I could smell it.
Blood. Fresh. Flowing from her again, as it has every month. Every month that she is not with my child.
Snow started falling on the village two days ago. The moon is almost here for me. When I turn, my prints will be enough evidence to force me away from here. From her. Which leaves me one night before she is turned. This night.
The air is crisp. The wind carries a hint of frost. Everything is white, down to the fairies lighting Madame Puddifoot’s window. I am alone with my footsteps.
I slip through the hedges, expecting more resistance than I find. I knew to expect these spells, had to test them while in human form. Even considered bringing my own wand, though I’d lose it in the transformation. I cut through her wards with my Werewolf Support Services liaison’s instead.
The ground floor is just a kitchen and living room, both with large windows that open on to a small garden. They’re on the sofa together, holding mugs and chatting while the fire blazes. There’s a tree by the hearth, and a small stack of gifts. Christmas is still a few days away, but most are unwrapped.
The flames jump and crackle, and I can hear them talking in low tones. He makes a joke. She laughs and switches sides so she’s curled into him.
The redness of the light makes him look like a child’s stuffed toy, a long-limbed bright red doll.
It makes her look alive. It glances over her pulse point, flickers over the white skin of her chest where her jumper makes a deep vee. It catches in her hair. When she smiles, her teeth catch the light. This is the how she will look when she feeds, blood taking the place of flame.
He slips an arm around her and I can see a ring on his finger. They’ve done it, then. The gifts. A Yule wedding. He thinks she will only be his.
Even through glass I can smell her now, now that I know her so well. Rich wet earth. Iron. Salt.
He goes to put on the kettle and comes back with a chessboard. They play on the floor in front of the hearth. She toys with fallen pine needles. I see her eye strategies she won’t use. He takes her mug when the kettle whistles and returns with two steaming cups of tea. She lets him win.
He packs up the pieces and goes to put the game away. She glances over her shoulder when he leaves the room, quickly and then again for longer, and I wonder if she can see me against the hedges, lit by the moon. If she’ll come to me.
She turns back towards the fire when he approaches the threshold and comes to stand behind her, circling his arms around her waist, folding his hands across her pelvis. Her emptying womb.
He kisses her head.
He won’t fuck her tonight. Not this kind of man. If she comes tonight it will be by her own hand. I wonder how she will do it. If she’ll sneak away for a bath, if she’ll slip a hand into her pants over the sink, if she’ll try to stay still in their bed, touching herself as he snores beside her. If she’ll open the door and spread for me, the snow soaking up her blood as I slam into her again.
This kind of man is too scared of blood. He’ll claim custom or disgust. But we wolves. We love blood.
There is no substitute for it. No amount of magic or meat or will that can replicate the power of human blood in our veins. There is no potion that can create life as she can, no salve that can replicate the pure pleasure of that viscous, metallic liquid. Humans have never understood that. But we wolves have seen them. Tasted their muscles, drunk of their ventricles, cleaned our teeth with their bones. We are not afraid of their bodies.
Some of us will even admit it. Admit to revelling in the fearlessness that comes with stripping skin off the kind of bodies we used to inhabit. Admit to finding that blood from the thigh, or the neck, or the womb tastes better than blood from the kidney or liver or brain. Admit that even when we assume human form we crave it, that we want to see what’s underneath. That we thrive on it. On them.
I have always been among that group. Reviled not just for loving the blood, but for refusing to deny it. For seeking it out without the wolf for an excuse. For glorying in the strength of my limbs, my nails, my jaw.
She will too. She will not let them hide her away, my girl. She will speak with ligaments in her belly, with blood under her fingernails, with my children in her womb.
She will see this when she is with the blood and he is without it, when he is pale and shrivelled in the early morning light. When she is full and warm and stronger than she has ever known.
I will return here tomorrow. I will call to her at moonrise. I will break down the doors. I will set my wolf’s tongue to her blood, will have her legs around my muzzle. I will fuck her as a wolf, will show her why she needs a wolf’s strength to withstand what we share. I will bite her when I come. We will feast on him together.
The fire is almost dead in the hearth. He pulls her towards the stairs and they ascend by moonlight. He comes to the window first, and she follow behind him, runs a hand through his hair almost as though directing him towards where I stand.
I expect him to be more relaxed, in the bedroom with his wife, but he is strangely tense as he reaches into his pockets. Perhaps he, too, will be seeking furtive relief this evening.
I will not stay to see it. I will slip back through the hedges and prepare for tomorrow. We will need to leave while she adjusts; it may be some time before we return to the comforts of civilization.
But when we do.
I turn my back to them, standing out from the hedgerow to steal towards the hidden entrance. Behind me, the creak of a window sash. But I am unconcerned. Fresh snowfall will hide my prints. Until tomorrow.