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Chapter 20

Run the Moon

The morning broke with excitement. Remus and Felicity emerged from their room buoyant and joyful because they were together, in love and the wizarding world outside Wolvin seemed very far away. As they walked down the stairs to the main living rooms of the house, however their delight was outmatched by the hustle and bustle of activity. People were arriving in small handfuls and as they gathered in and about the house. It hummed in anticipation.

The tradition of the werewolf in the small hamlet had developed over long centuries of secrecy because of the prejudice against their kind. The human and the wolf were not so very different. They were both hunters who were able to hunt alone but prefer packs. They were both very social creatures. As a group, as a unique people, the werewolves of Wolvin had adapted to their plight and made it something special.

It was generally accepted in the world outside Wolvin that wolves were unconscious in their werewolf state and dangerous to man and that they would hunt down and kill a human with no thought for the life that they took. They were animals that only responded to the call of their kind. For the short space of the moon time they were hateful and horrible creatures to be killed or avoided. That was what Remus Lupin, alone in his psyche and alone with his guilt had always thought of himself as a werewolf. He had never been sure that he wouldn’t kill someone he loved. He barely remembered his transformations, but he did remember impressions from them. He remembered the feeling of joy, a human emotion to be sure, when he’d run with the marauders all those years ago. They were together. He and his animal friends played together and ran before the moon with a joy of existence. It was why Sirius was so tortured by his captivity. It was why taking the wolfsbane was a necessity. That he was harmless during the change after he’d taken the wolfsbane was a good thing. He’d always felt that way until Agatha Gray had told him on that first day that he’d met her that things could be different for him. When she had shuddered with sympathetic distaste that he’d taken the wolfsbane for so many years, he’d wondered. When she’d hinted that there was another way, he’d hoped.

Remus had wanted to come to Wolvin to experience what they had only vaguely implied from time and again in the few months since he’d first discovered them. They’d given him hope that there was another way and whatever happened in the next few hours, he knew that it would change the way he looked at himself forever. He stood in the Gray’s kitchen bursting with anticipation.

Felicity smiled up at him feeling his eagerness. Her werewolf was discovering his self and the dragon in her couldn’t help but find happiness in that.

“In Wolvin, a moon night begins at dawn, you two lay abouts,” admonished Agatha who was stirring a big pot of something that smelled delicious on the stove.

In fact, the large and spacious manor kitchen was a beehive of activity. There were several pies and cakes on a large long table in the middle of the room. Kate was busy at the end of the table filling meat pies and there were several other women stuffing birds and pounding meat about the room.

“It looks to me as if you’re making enough to feed an army!” said Remus.

Agatha turned a mock glare on him. “YOU! Mr. High and Mighty have never been to a Run the Moon before!” she said with her hands on her hips. “You’re a blowhard who has no idea what he’s talking about!” Kate giggled gleefully from the table. Agatha gave a real glare to her daughter who she wished to have more respect for her elders. Kate looked properly down at her meat pie stuffing. “We’ve a crowd coming tonight and all must be stuffed with food before the transformation.” She looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

“Stuffed?” he asked.

Agatha came closer to him and waved the spoon that she’d been stirring the pot with. “You’ve much to learn young man,” she said with a gleam in her eye. “So little you know of your own kind! We feast to fill before the change.”

Remus felt his pulse quicken. Everyone around him was happy and excited for the moon’s coming. He felt it, too. Their mutual anticipation was so much sweeter than his usual lonely dread.

“Felicity! Felicity!” called Kate from her task. “You promised to show us your transformation. You promised you’d fly for us before the moon comes.”

Felicity smiled with elation. Flying, she would be flying!

Agatha gave her daughter a proud look and then turned to Felicity. “Yes, luv. I would dearly want to see it. You sit down and have a bite, though. We’ve much to do before we’ve time for it, however. We’ve nearly two hundred to feed. So many are coming Remus for your first run.”

Remus looked up surprised as they sat down at the table piled with food. “For me?”

There was sporadic giggling from the women busily at their tasks throughout the large room.

Agatha wiped her hands on her apron and sat down. She was bursting to tell him. She slapped a large spoonful of a scramble onto his plate. “Yes, they’ve all heard by now about how you stood beside my husband against Malfoy at the Teashop. Everyone is proud that you are a werewolf alone in the outside world, a high ranking member of the Order of the Phoenix and that you were a professor at Hogwarts.” She smiled proudly. “I may have had a hand in the details,” she said.

“I think saying that I’m a high-ranking member of the Order is stretching the details a wee bit, Agatha,” said Remus blushing. Felicity laughed at the suddenly frightened look on his face. He was not a man for the limelight.

“We’re hoping that you’ll come to Wolvin’s School, Remus!” cried Kate excitedly. “Everyone’s come to see you. We’ve never had a Defense against the Dark Arts professor, before. Father always teaches it.”

Remus looked alarmed. “I’m touched, really,” he said carefully. “I-I hope that everyone isn’t disappointed.”

Several ladies, including both Felicity and Agatha snorted. “Pish-posh, Remus Lupin! As I live and breathe! You, a handsome werewolf and so smart and important, who could be disappointed in you, son?”

A strong urge to escape from the room of women washed over him but thankfully young Barnabus opening the back door kitchen so hard that it banged against the wall saved him the trouble.

“She’s foaling!” he cried, then stopped short and looked down at the ground when he noticed Felicity and Remus sitting at the table.

“Merlin preserve us!” cried Agatha slamming both palms on the table. “That beast has the very worst timing.”

Both Felicity and Remus looked confused.

Kate looked sullen. “I wish I could see them,” she said.

“Do not wish the dead on you, young lady or you’ll rue the day!” snapped Agatha standing up and undoing the sash of her apron. “Come on, then, Remus, Felicity, get your cloaks. It’ll be cold going down to the barn. You’ll want to see this, the birth of a Thestral is something to behold.”

They followed she and Barnabus out to the barn that was a short walk away from the house. It was beautiful country, hilly and treeless except for pockets of forest. The sky seemed to swallow up the horizon. The hills were white with a snow dusting and all was peaceful.

It was then that they heard the shrieking sound, as they got closer to the barn. It was a weird struggling sound that sent involuntary shivers down the spine and visions of death to the mind.

Inside the barn all was alarm and movement. Two of the Gray’s sons rushed around getting the horses from their stalls and out the back door. The poor animals were jittery and unnerved by the sound of the Thestral. David Gray was desperately trying to calm the great dark creature with the enormous belly by rubbing its neck and with soothing sounds. Thestrals were usually skeletal and thin, but this mother creature had transformed as the baby inside had grown. Her coat was black as ink and shown with the effort of the birth. Her shrieking wail filled the barn.

“Barnabus!” yelled David. “Come hold her head and comfort her. It’s time.”

The boy jumped to do as he’d been told. David tipped his head to acknowledge the others but was busy with the birth.

The three stepped back to watch. “I’m so surprised that you’ve thestrals, Agatha,” said Remus. “I had no idea that they could be tamed.”

“They’re hardly tamed, Remus. This here is Dervish and she’s the tamest of the lot. None of the others have birthed indoors. David has been working with Thestrals since he was a young boy. They’re his passion and most definitely an obsession.” Agatha crossed her arms and clucked. “I do believe he prefers their company over mine, sometimes!”

“It’s amazing,” said Felicity in awe as they watched David assist with both hands and then the new life burst out in an oozing mess. The young Thestral was completely red, not black as its mother and looked about mewing softly. Dervish snapped at Barnabus nearly getting his hand before he snatched it away just in time. Thestrals were vicious creatures but as she moved to stroke the baby with her tongue, she seemed calm and serene as any mother.

David stepped up to them with a proud papa look on his face. “He’s a beauty that one!” he said. “That makes an even dozen in our herd!” The little thing flapped its miniature wings as if it knew it was he that David spoke of. “We’ve something more to celebrate today, Remus.” He slapped his friend on the back, beside himself with pride. “I love to see new life come into the world. It’s why we’ve had five children. I was at the birth of every last one of them.”

Agatha nudged her husband playfully on the shoulder. “As was I, you old wolf!” she said. “You just wait Felicity until you’ve had a child. It’s truly glorious!”

Felicity looked sad and aggravated. “I’m not sure that’s possible, Agatha,” she said not looking at Remus. “Never in the history of my people has there been a dragon human give birth.”

Agatha looked stricken. “There are no children amongst your people?”

Felicity shook her head and dared to look at Remus who she knew would listen to her every word. “The dragon people usually take the heart and soul of their dragon when they’ve already lived their human and dragon lives. I’m different. I-I …my dragon and I melded when we were young. No one knows what will happen.” She felt a surge of need within herself, within her dragon. “I find it hard to imagine the possibility. Master Tang, my teacher and the other elders have said that they do not think it would be possible.” She turned away. Suddenly, she wanted only to be alone. Without thinking what the others would think of her, she turned and walked quickly out of the barn.

The air was cold. She didn’t walk back toward the manor house but off toward a valley below on a path no more than a foot wide. She wanted to be alone with the sky. She wasn’t, in truth really that disappointed by the fact that she would most likely never have children, but somehow she had felt confused for Remus’ sake. She had always assumed that a child was the one thing that her dragon and she could not do together. She had suddenly felt vulnerable, less than her usual assuredness. Remus should be happy, she had thought. He should have a family of his own. He should live amongst these people.

Her heart caught in her throat. It would not be possible for her to stay. She would need to go home. She must return to her people. The winter wind bit at her as she walked more swiftly down the path. She rounded a corner and came upon a magnificent view of the valley below. Someone had placed a bench on the very spot to view it.

She would someday have to leave him and it tore at her.

Felicity had loved many men and women since becoming a dragon. She carried their healed souls within her heart. She was quite proud of her accomplishments and even Master Tang had often lamented that her youth had made her a master at healing where her elders were perhaps lacking.

But to leave Remus, that would be difficult. She’d not loved him to heal him as she’d done for the others, as she was doing for Severus. She’d loved Remus for the simple reason that she couldn’t help but love him. Her heart, her dragon heart was breaking at the inevitability of losing him. She’d left the others and they had gone on to create their own lives without her. But Remus, somehow she ached at the thought of losing him. She sat on the bench and cried as she watch the barren scenery of the valley below.

She was so intent on her strange and new emotions that she didn’t hear Remus as he jogged up the path.

He plopped down next to her on the bench panting. “You should know, Felicity,” he said breathing heavily. “I’m not the man I used to be. I once was able to chase down a young female without feeling I might have a heart attack.” He smiled down at her tear-stained face and folded her into his arms. “Silly dragon,” he said kissing her forehead.

She wrapped her arms about his waist squeezing him fiercely. Her dragon strength made him wince.

“I’m sorry,” she said releasing him. “I suddenly couldn’t live with the idea that someday I must lose you. That someday you’ll go on with your life, that you should stay here with your own kind and that I’ll return to my people.”

She looked up into his face and Remus felt he could have died of happiness at the look of devotion on her face. Of all the moments that they’d shared together, he knew that this was the one that he would always remember. His love was mourning their love before it’d ended. She was afraid. The dragon woman, his fearless Felicity was afraid of losing him.

“Felicity,” he said, his voice hoarse with emotion. “You’ve no need to lose me.” He kissed each of her wet cheeks fondly, his arms enveloping her. “If you must return to Tibet, then I’ll go with you.”

“Now who’s being silly?” she said burying her face gratefully into his shoulder. She breathed in the smell of him. Remus, he was her Remus. “Neither you nor I are able to leave while Voldemort still fights us.” She kissed his neck feeling his pulse quicken at her touch.

They were silent with each other for some moments, just enjoying their closeness. “If what Agatha said about children upset you, there’s no need,” whispered Remus. “I’ve never expected it.” He smiled down at her upturned face. “I’ve been so ignorant of what I am that I always thought that I’d pass on the werewolf and I’ve never wanted to do that.”

“But now you know differently,” she said sitting up. “And you also know that there is a better way. These people are obviously happy. That young girl, Kate has her eye on you, for instance.”

Remus looked shocked. “Felicity, I’m old enough to be that girl’s father,” he said. He shook his head. “I don’t know if I’ll ever understand your dragon ways. Even to suggest such a thing seems vulgar to me.”

She smirked. She was what she was. A dragon. No more. No less. She had no illusions about sexuality or coupling. He wasn’t too old and the girl would soon be old enough. Dragons were practical.

“Would you have me leave you just to have children that I don’t necessarily want?” he asked.

She faltered. Her smugness left as suddenly as it had come and her vulnerability overwhelmed her. “No,” she said hugging him to her. “I won’t lose you. I can’t.”

“And you won’t.” He cupped his hand under her chin and brought her lips to his. The wetness and warmth of his touch sent waves of want through her. He was so much more than a man. She clung to him deepening their kiss.

Her dragon nature took hold. She craved his touch and so she coaxed him beyond the bench to a sheltered spot where they made love in the open. The emotion of the day and the anticipation of the night made it imperative to feel each other thoroughly under the open sky. She needed him and he needed her.

It was afternoon before they returned to the house. By that time, the kitchen was exploding with people carrying food out to a tent that had miraculously been erected on the back terrace. The magic tent that was large and spacious on the inside. Everyone seemed to have a task in setting up the feast on long banquet tables. Remus and Felicity stood watching at the entrance as Kate and Barnabus came up to them.

“Mother almost sent me out to look for you because you were gone so long,” said Kate breathlessly. She reached out to touch Remus on the arm. Barnabus, who seemed ever silent and watching, had a dark look.

“We went for a long walk,” lied Remus smiling down at the girl. “What’d we miss?”

“Everyone is here almost,” she said. “We’re nearly ready to begin. The feast is very long and the moon will rise early tonight.”

“Why do you feast, Kate?” asked Felicity.

“A full stomach will not hunt,” said Kate as if she was reciting a lesson. “A full stomach is the freedom to run the moon in peace!”

“Well, that makes perfect sense!” said Felicity.

“I hope it’s all right with you but our feast is almost entirely meats and stews and soups. The vegetables don’t stay down during the change.”

Remus looked surprised. “How very interesting,” he said.

“It’s so wonderful, the change is so fun,” said Kate dreamily.

“Come, Kate,” said Barnabus sullenly dragging her away from them. “We had better go tell your mum that we’ve found them.”

The children left to go back to the house.

“That Barnabus is a strange young man,” said Felicity watching them go.

“He reminds me of Harry these days,” said Remus sadly. “Harry often has had that same 'weight of the world' look on his face of late.”

“I think that boy has a dark history,” said Felicity. Her instinct told her that something inside the boy was troubling him greatly. “Did Harry like his Christmas?” She was embarrassed that she hadn’t asked.

“It went very well. Sirius is happier than he’s been since he came to Grimmauld Place.” Remus sighed and reached out to hug her to him. “I still fear that he’ll be worse again when Harry and the others go back to school. Dumbledore will most likely insist that I keep an eye on Wolvin if Voldemort is planning something here. I won’t be able to keep watch over Sirius.”

Felicity worried over Sirius. His soul ached and she wanted so much to help him but she didn’t dare. Dumbledore had forbid her with interfering with Harry and her primary agenda was to help Severus. She couldn’t help him, too much was at stake now.

Their melancholy thoughts were swept away as soon as the feast began. Mountains of food were laid out on the tables and droves of people had come. Remus and Felicity were the guests of honor and sat with the Gray family at the head of one of the long tables. It seemed hours of eating, drinking and talking. Remus felt as if everyone in the room had approached him to chat and shake his hand. The feast went on and on with speeches, singing and strangest of all, howling.

Every so often one of the guests would howl and everyone in the room would answer. It was disconcerting for Remus at first.

“Why do they that?” He asked of David who sat next to him at the table. “Why do they howl like that?”

David gave him a sly look. “Have you tried it?” he asked. He let out a long loud howl and there arose answering howls throughout the room. David pounded his fist gently on Remus’ chest. “You’ll feel it here. Try it.”

Remus looked around sheepishly and everyone waited watching him with knowing smiles on their faces. “Whooooohooooooo!” he cried and then laughed at the feeling it produced within him. “It feels…somehow…freeing!”

“That’s right,” said David. “It’s inside of you. Your wolf calls out and we answer you. We are your kind, your family. The moon will rise soon, we should go outside.” He rose from the table and many of the others followed in kind.

“Daddy,” cried Kate. “We didn’t see Felicity change!”

“That’s right!” said Felicity. “May I change before you?”

Everyone excitedly exited the tent and made the short hike down to the school Quidditch pitch. No torches were needed though it was dark. It was a cold brisk winter night and a light snow falling making it easy to see even without the wolf’s night vision. This was a moon’s run and all save Felicity would be wolves soon. The moon’s rise was barely a half and hour away and the excitement and anticipation had already started to mount. There was sporadic howling let out by the crowd as they went.

The whole crowd formed a large circle on the pitch to wait the moon.

“Change now, Felicity,” begged Kate, holding onto her hand. “Do it now before the moon comes!” The young girl’s eyes shown with her excitement and she jumped up and down with anticipation.

“Yes,” said Agatha dragging her daughter off Felicity. “You must allow us to see!”

“But all these people,” said Felicity hesitating. “I’ve never changed before so many.”

“We all drop our cloaks at the change, girl,” said David cheerily. “You’ve no reason to be shy around us. We are all of us beasts”

She smiled at Remus and kissed his cheek sweetly. He was as excited as the rest of them.

Felicity moved to the center of the circle and dropped her cloak onto the ground moving into her dragon pose. She centered her mind and began the rhythm of human to dragon and back faster and faster until they melded in a blaze of light. A gasp went up from the crowd as Felicity the dragon emerged with a roar. It had been too long. She was free and from the very center of her she cried out with an ecstasy released.

She roared again, this time sending a stream of magic fire flying high into the sky. Her wings flapped and she threw herself into the air. Free! She was free! Giggling, the gurgling sound emerging from her throat she rose higher and higher above the trees. It was splendid to have her flight back again. She rolled about in the sky, swooshing to and fro and almost forgetting her audience below until she rose so high as to see the moon just peeking on the horizon.

She dived head first toward the ground to feel the wonderful lift of her stomach from the rush of it and then landed only a few feet from Remus. She towered over him by a few feet and she flapped the air with her wings to show off for him. She lowered her head to better see him with her opalescent reptilian eyes.

He was laughing at her.

She nudged him with her head nearly knocking him over. Kate reached out to touch her and David held his daughter’s hand back looking unsure of Felicity. She lowered her head even lower and rubbed it against him. He, too, began to laugh.

Someone cried, “The moon! The moon!” and all at once people let out howls and dropped their cloaks in excited anticipation.

Felicity turned her head to Remus to watch. It had been a few years since he had changed without the wolfsbane and it had never been a joyous occasion for him. She worried. He watched the sky and then turned his head to her with a look of real fear.

David reached over to him and slapped him on the back. “We’ll run together, my friend,” he said dropping his cloak to the ground. “You’re about to have the time of your life.”

Remus smiled bravely and dropped his cloak just as the full moon broke above the treetops.

Felicity had seen Remus change once before but this experience was entirely different. Just under two hundred humans stripped naked began changing all at once. For a short moment they seemed to cry out in pain together but that cry turned to howling almost instantly. Remus’ face took on a frightened dread and then changed altogether. His nose, his whole lengthened and grew hair, his arms and legs seemed to grow of their own accord and in only a few minutes he was a werewolf, hairy and baying at the moon with the others.

Felicity felt a surge of power from the group, as they all seemed to greet each other and then move together off the pitch. She jumped into the air to follow them from above. At first they traveled en masse but then the group split into smaller groups as they traveled toward the treeless hills. All the way they nipped and tucked amongst the group, yipping and yapping in playful chatter. Felicity followed from above fascinated with watching but also relishing her freedom, her solitary flight in the sky.

Throughout the entire evening they ran about the countryside until the sun began to rise. Luckily, it wasn’t snowing and the sun shown with some little warmth as the scattered remnants of the werewolves staggered together naked onto the Quidditch pitch to gather their cloaks and head for home. They had run through the night and looked exhausted, battered but overall happy.

Felicity also had changed back into her human form and she stood waiting for Remus. A group of five or six naked men and women strode by her quickly, some with arms around each other and laughing.

“Cor, but it’s too cold to be naked, mate,” said one.

“Colder than a witches’ tit,” said another. Then he’d noticed Felicity smiling and stopped, his cloak in his hand. “Sorry, m’am. No offense meant to you, of course.” He put his cloak around himself grateful for the warmth.

“None taken,” said Felicity laughing at the young man.

“You were amazing to watch, miss,” he told her.

“And all of you, as well. It was an amazing night.”

“Aye,” he laughed as he moved off to his mates. “Running the moon always is. Cheers!”

She watched until she felt the familiar arms of Remus envelope her from behind. “I’m shattered,” he whispered into her ear. “Let’s go to bed.”

She turned in his arms and smiled up at him. He was filthy and there were slashes about his face and neck but he looked happy. “How was it?” she asked.

He looked down at her with shining eyes. “Brilliant,” he said, his voice gravelly. “It was brilliant, darling.”


I'd love to hear what you think of this story. Pru

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