Chapter 3 : The Full Moon
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As a howl broke the forest around her and the crackle of the dry autumn leaves began to draw closer, Victoire felt the goosebumps rise on her arms. She was really starting to regret volunteering for this assignment - two weeks of desk duty suddenly wasn’t looking that bad.
She didn’t understand how her friend Micah could do this on a regular basis. She’d always thought that he was a little cracked for joining Werewolf Capture, but now that she was actually out here, she was starting to seriously consider the possibility that he genuinely needed a Healer.
There was something about werewolves that made her skin crawl in a way that trolls and acromantulas and manticores didn’t; the idea of a human being trapped inside a bloodthirsty wolf’s body made her feel deeply uncomfortable, and having to consider her opponent’s well-being went against every fibre of self-preservation in her body. Nobody cared if she killed a murderous kelpie or a troll. Plenty of people – herself included – would care if she killed a werewolf.
Victoire shifted her grip on her wand. There was a rustle in the bushes behind her, and she spun around and cried, “Stupefy!”
A werewolf fell out of the bushes and lay motionless on the ground.
The howl sounded again, and this time, another answered it. Both sounded close, and Victoire cast her eyes across the indistinct dark shapes of the underbrush and the long shadows cast by the towering trees, trying to identify any hint of movement.
That was the other issue with werewolves. Victoire wasn’t afraid of the dark, but when she was battling against dangerous creatures, she liked to see where they were. Unfortunately, with werewolves, that wasn’t really an option.
She heard the soft snap of a branch behind her and spun around, pointing her wand at the approaching shape.
Van was faster. “Petrificus Totalus!” she heard him cry, and another werewolf sprawled onto the forest floor, stiff as a board. The moonlight glinted off its teeth, and she suppressed a shudder. It was very difficult to look at those teeth and remember that these were really just human beings.
The night was suddenly alive with snarls and breaking branches as werewolves and ministry officials alike trampled through the foliage. Jets of red and yellow light shot through the forest, and through the light cast by one of the stunners, Victoire saw a small werewolf cowering behind a tree, its tail between its legs.
She felt a stab of pity toward it as she pointed her wand at it and said softly, “Petrificus Totalus.”
The spell hit the werewolf square in the chest. It looked up, saw Victoire, and bared its teeth.
She backed away. “Stupefy!”
The jet of red light shot out of her wand, hit it, and had absolutely no effect. It began to approach.
“Stupefy!” she heard Van cry. Another jet of light hit the werewolf in the back. Like hers, it had no effect.
It broke into a run, and she felt her heart leap into her throat. “Stupefy!” she cried again, more out of desperation than any expectation that it would work. There was, again, no effect. “Impedimenta!”
She heard Van yell something indistinct, but she didn’t dare take her focus off the werewolf.
If the usual spells weren’t working, she decided to take a page out of her cousin Albus’s book. “Aqua eructo!” she tried, and the jet of water that issues from her wand knocked the wolf back. She continued to back away, and pointed her wand at a nearby bush. “Bombarda!”
The sudden explosion seemed to startle the werewolf into momentary submission, but Victoire had no time to congratulate herself. A sudden growl from behind her made her whip around, and she saw the glint of two feral eyes as another wolf leapt from behind a shrubbery.
“Stupefy!” The werewolf slumped over the bush, its mouth wide open as its saliva dripped onto the bare branches.
Victoire turned back to the other wolf, but it had disappeared. A crack in the bushes to her right alerted her of the danger, and she turned her wand toward the source, blessing the fact that it was autumn and therefore made it difficult for anyone, let alone mindless beasts, to move around without detection. As the small werewolf emerged from the bushes, she saw the moonlight reflect off something metallic around its neck. It lunged at her, snapping and clawing, and she kicked out at it. Her foot connected with something, and it fell back with a whimper.
She heard someone or something else crashing through the bushes.
There was no way in hell that she was going to let a few werewolves take her down. She pointed her wand at a rock on the ground a few feet away as the werewolf shook its shock off and said, “Locomotor rock!”
It zoomed into the wolf’s head, and it collapsed, twitching feebly on the ground. Victoire turned toward the oncoming noise, her wand raised and her heart racing wildly.
Van emerged panting from the bushes. He stared at the werewolf for a moment, bent down, and yanked something from around its neck before pointing his wand at it and saying, “Petrificus Totalus!”
It finally stiffened and lay there, unable to move or make more noise than a barely-audible whimper. Victoire listened for any other noise around them, but the only sound seemed like it was too far away to be any immediate threat.
She slumped to the ground. Her entire body suddenly felt like it was on fire.
Van turned to her. “Are you okay?”
“I think so.” Victoire reached down to rub her leg, which seemed to hurt the most. She found her trousers in tatters below the knee, and her heart sank when she felt something wet and sticky. When she brought her hand away, it was covered in blood.
She looked up at Van. His face was shrouded in shadow, but she could hear him suck in his breath. “Shit.”
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