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Despite the aches that filled his body warning of the transformation to come, Remus was happy. He had spent the evening before talking with Harry and showing him the secret passageways of the staff which led all over the school. It lightened his heart to know that he was back on good terms with Harry once more and Harry was happy too because he was friends with Ron again. Or at least almost friends again at any rate. Things were still strange between the two friends, just as they were between Remus and Harry at times when flickers of their arguments would come back to them. At those times they would feel awkward but Harry always managed to say or do something to lighten the moment or at least to amuse Remus in someway, even if it did involve his own humiliation.

Remus allowed the rest of the repulsive Wolfsbane Potion to slip down his throat, wishing that he had lost the ability to taste, although there was something to it which he hadn’t recognised inside it – an unusual stickiness which was almost sweet in its way. His suspicions were not aroused however; Severus had recently been experimenting with the potion on which he depended in a vain attempt to put an end to his curse, once and for all. Remus would once, in his own naivety, have believed the man to have done it from the kindness within his heart but time and experience told him that his work was upon Dumbledore’s orders and that Severus had no kindness within whatever empty shell of a heart he possessed. He set the emptied goblet down on his desk and walked across the room.

Remus curled up on his sofa and grimaced as the dull ache in his body flared up and became something close to agony. Something close to the pain he would feel that night. Close to the pain that he had felt once a month for around three decades. Close to the pain, the agony and the torture, but not quite. That pain was to come in the evening and all he wanted was to curl up in his office and hide from anyone and everyone until the night has passed but that wasn’t possible.

For many a moon Remus had dreamt of company for the duration of those agonising nights whilst he was no longer himself throughout the longs years before Sirius returned and more recently, since Sirius had gone again but now that he could finally have the company he desired he found he no longer wanted it. He wanted solitude in his pain, to feel that burning inside him as his bones broke, his limbs became dislocated and another mind warred with his own and now that solitude was to be taken from him by a boy. The boy wouldn’t give in to his pleas to be left in isolation and although part of him swelled inside with his refusal to desert him, the rest of him silently begged him not to return to him that night.

His name murmured to him and a cool hand pressed gently to his forehead dragged him from his hazy consciousness and into a clearer perspective. His eyes opened to see the boy who would not leave him and the slightest of smiles touched his face before his eyes closed again. Images flashed infront of his closed eyes of the past: fallen friends mixed with flashes of green and, as always during this time, he found that he could no longer keep his eyes shut with his mind open to those images, some imaginary and some frighteningly real as hints of his transformation took him. Another flash behind closed eyes and he whimpered slightly, a whimper which he had not intentionally allowed to leave him but which had nonetheless. The almost continuous flashes of green were replaced with a deeper green which didn’t so much as flicker in the eyes of his godson who held his gaze, riddled with anxiety and helplessness. Remus wasn’t sure which green he preferred but he longed for his loneliness again.

“Is there anything I can do for you?” The voice, which hid it’s emotions well, quavered only very slightly as it asked the question it knew the answer to.

Remus could barely make a sound leave his lips when he wanted it to. Of course when I don’t want my godson to hear me whimpering it’s quite another matter… he thought bitterly. He mouthed ‘no’ to Harry and another ever so slight smile accompanied it although he couldn’t make it touch his eyes.

He always hated people seeing him in his weakest moments and this was definitely one of them: between the time of inhuman brute strength and his human strength of mind he was neither man nor beast, at least that was the way in which he felt. He had allowed but four people to see him in this state in his life and few others had seen him without his permission such as Severus for instance. He was still making the potion for him although reluctantly and was right now most likely smirking at the pain the potions master must know he was feeling.

Harry was biting his lip lightly as he watched Remus, unsure of what to do for him, if anything could be done. Remus turned slightly from his gaze, wishing so much that Harry would just go, so that he would not see him in agony, wanting to tear himself apart as the moon rose in the sky. He could not stand to be seen as the weakling that he truly was inside, the weak and pathetic man that he had spent many a year hiding from the world but came out once a month, howling in pain and ready to end his own life, were he not too cowardly to do it.

Of all the people to see him in this state… of all the wizards he knew who were powerful, strong and imperturbable why Harry? Why the one person for whom he desperately wanted to remain strong?

He bit down hard on the inside of his cheek to prevent the cry of pain escaping his lips as he felt the moon rising closer and closer to the horizon and would have clenched his fists had his hand not found itself around that of a younger person, desperate to offer comfort in anyway possible.

Leave me, Harry… Please!

Never. Replied a quiet voice in his mind and Remus didn’t need to open his eyes to see that using the physical connection between them Harry had formed a metal one.

You ought to…

Remus, even if I was still six inches tall— Harry started.

Five.

Five? Harry asked him.

Inches tall, Remus smiled. He felt a flicker of annoyance mingled with amusement but didn’t comment.

Okay, so even if I was five inches tall still I wouldn’t leave you to go through this on your own. Harry argued with him, feeling a faint smile in the back of his mind as his only reply.

Harry raised his gaze from Remus and up to the window across the room from where there was a dim glow which, as Harry looked at it, became brighter. The moon was beginning to rise. He had no time to observe the silvery light lighting the grounds outside or assisting the glowing fire in the illumination of their present room – Remus’ living room.

Remus gasped as pain shot through him and Harry’s eyes became fixed upon him once again, his fingers squeezing his tightly, showing him the only way he could that through his pain that he was not alone. Harry knew that his voice was wasted upon him now and so was communication with his mind but he spoke and thought to him regardless. Constantly reassuring him that it would end soon, that he was there with him…

Harry fought the urge to pull away from Remus as he felt something else stirring in his mind. He could not understand the growling in which it tried to communicate but it’s meaning was clear. Harry realised that he probably should have pulled away from Remus when he had the chance to as Remus knocked him down with a single strike… the wolf was winning and though he knew that as soon as the transformation was complete his guardian would be in control, at the moment he was not.

In an instant Harry transformed into the ruffled, black wolf and stood to the side of Remus, waiting for his change to become complete. Harry watched in horror as Remus’ arms and legs grew fur and their bones broke, reforming into the limbs of a large and intimidating wolf. He howled an unearthly cry, which was an unsettling mix of human and the beast within.

After what felt like hours, it stopped. Harry gazed upwards at the large wolf which towered above him and seemed almost to gaze down upon him. He took a step forwards to the wolf, cautiously and unsure of himself. The wolf growled slightly but did nothing to stop him. Harry took another step forwards and so did the wolf, stopping Harry dead in his tracks. The wolf walked slowly around Harry, examining him with bright eyes until it stopped in front of him and Harry forced himself to meet the eyes of the wolf which he doubted Remus would be seeing through. He was almost certain that something had gone wrong with the potion and he was now very afraid of finding himself alone with an unrestrained werewolf on the night of the full moon.

The elder of the two wolves did not make a move so Harry stepped gingerly towards him, closing ground until his own front paw reached out to Remus’ and touched it gently. The wolf eyed him suspiciously but did nothing as Harry pressed his mind into it and through it into the mind of the wolf.

Remus?

Harry felt a sense of panic in the back of the wolfs mind as he pushed gently into it’s subconscious through the uncertainty in the front of it’s thoughts.

Remus? He asked again, fearful that the wolf should react badly to him and push him away. He could feel inner turmoil in this part of the mind which had previously been under control by his guardian as two beings fought one another and for a moment Harry’s own name drifted through to him from Remus but after that he felt the wolf draining him of his power and resolve. Harry knew that he would not hear from Remus again that night.
Harry pulled away from him and the wolf surveyed him carefully, deciding upon whether the cub in front of him was any sort of threat. It growled slightly and Harry took a step back, fear showing in his eyes but he refused to drop his gaze from the wolf which seemed to accept him.

The wolf stepped towards him and felt a sense of recognition as it breathed in the scent of the young wolf as well as an urge to protect. The wolf had missed having a pack. A long time since it had run wild with a dog, a stag and a rat but that time had long since passed. The dog had then finally returned but had left him once again, only to be replaced by a young unknown, and yet familiar cub. He would not let this cub leave him, he would remain a part of a pack, however small it may be and he would protect his young cub which looked up at him with dazzling eyes.

The young wolf walked away from the elder, now more secure in the fact that he was not about to be attacked at any minute. Harry lay down in front of the warm fire, using a little wandless magic to move the coffee table and the sofa back so that the wolf could lay next to him for warmth in the cool room.

Two pairs of eyes closed, both of them surprised by the coffee table and the sofa moving as they had but neither of them bothered by it as they let sleep take them whilst outside the moon continued to rise.


***


Remus felt himself slipped under a heavy duvet and mumbled something into his pillow, noting the silkiness of the pyjamas that covered him which were so different to the plain cotton ones he normally wore.

Harry smiled sadly at Remus before turning the light off as he left the room and walked quickly into the living room, waving his wand quickly to move the sofa and the coffee table back to their original positions.

Turning around, Harry walked over to the window which had been charmed to appear to show the Quidditch field, the lake and the more beautiful view of the grounds. He touched the glass with his fingertips and pushed, a lit passageway on the other side with marble flooring and stone walls which he remembered from only two nights before as Remus had shown him from his classroom to his office. It seemed that the passageways were enchanted however, as Harry had used the passageways the day before and had not got lost once, although he had never known where he was or where he was going.

Picking the way which he thought would lead up to the Gryffindor Common Room, he started to walk and soon found himself walking upwards on a slope. He walked along, heedless of the fact that he could walk into one of the staff at any moment until echoing footsteps met his ears. Panic hit him and he desperately wished for a way out.

A way out met him to his left by means of an intersection which he was almost certain had not been there moments before but he did not question it as he ran into it, risking a look back as he saw Pomona briskly walking past.

That had been close. Too close. Harry endeavoured to be more careful in future of where he walked and made sure that he would listen out in future but until he could get out of the passageways, he would run as quickly as he could and hope that he ended up in Gryffindor Tower.

“Look, mum…” Harry heard Ron’s voice say in an exasperated fashion as he stepped through the passageway which had managed to come out through the portrait of the Fat Lady so it appeared he had just stepped through the portrait hole. “Shhh… someone’s here!”

“Only me, Ron.” Harry called to him and he heard a sigh of relief across the room as he walked towards the fireplace where Molly’s head was hovering in an agitated manner.

“Hello Harry, dear.” Molly said to him and smiled wearily at him. “Anyway, I must be going…”

“Take care Mrs Weasley.” Harry said to her and she scowled slightly.

“Call me Molly.” She insisted.

“Mum, I’m sure they’ll be alright…” Ron said to her but his mother didn’t appear to hear him as she bid him goodbye and disappeared from the fire with a pop.

“What was all that about?” Harry asked Ron, knowing that it wasn’t really his business but he had managed to ask before thinking about it. Ron sighed and sat back on the sofa behind him and Harry sat in a nearby chair.

“It’s Bill and Charlie…” Ron said, running his fingers though his tousled hair. “They’re going to try and break into Azkaban.” There was stunned silence whilst Harry tried to take in just what Ron had said.

“You’re kidding me…” Harry said quietly and Ron shook his head.

“It’s a plan that Dumbledore’s cooked up in an attempt to get a look at Voldemort’s defences. As always he’s confident that nothing’s going to go wrong but Dad, Mad Eye and Flitwick only just got out of Malfoy Manor alive, Merlin knows how they’re going to get out of Azkaban!” Ron moaned, burying his head in his hands.

“So they’re going right into the building?” Harry asked them and Ron looked up to him and shook his head.

“Not right inside, but close enough on the outside so that they can get a good look at their defences so that they can then see the best way to get right inside the building afterwards, something that they’ll probably end up involved in as well.” Ron sighed and Harry put his hand on his shoulder in as comforting a fashion as he could. He didn’t want to say anything for fear of causing another rift between the two of them so he stayed silent, hoping that Hermione would arrive at some point or another so that he would no longer be left alone with his distressed friend.

“Come on, let’s go get some breakfast.” Harry said to Ron eventually, “I bet Hermione’s already down there reading at the breakfast table or something. You know what she’s like…” Ron nodded.

“I know. Drives me up the bloody wall.” Ron smiled slightly. “Still… at least it’s Saturday so we’ve got two days until we have to worry about lessons again, well when I say ‘we have to worry about lessons’ I mean ‘until you have to worry about Potions’ and by ‘worry about Potions’ I mean ‘worry about shrinking yourself again’.” Ron grinned and Harry who pulled a face at his friend as they left the common room through the Fat Lady and walked out onto the seventh floor, briefly causing Harry to wonder just how he could get into the teacher’s passageways from the Gryffindor common room as they descended down to the sixth floor.

“So, do you fancy stopping in at the Hospital Wing and seeing whether Madam Pomfrey’s managed to deflate Malfoy yet?” Harry grinned at Ron who smirked and nodded.

“Definitely. I hope he’s still floating around on the ceiling…” Ron said.

“Although when he turned blue was quite amusing as well…” Harry added and Ron agreed.

“MR MALFOY! IF YOU DO NOT STAY STILL THEN HOW TO YOU EXPECT ME TO TRY TO PUNCTURE YOU?!” Madam Pomfrey yelled as Harry and Ron stuck their heads around the corner of the Hospital Wing doors and saw Malfoy, still rather large, rolling across the ceiling from the matron who was carrying a large metal rod, which appeared to be much sharper and longer than the one that she had been carrying two days before.

“Ah, Mr Potter.” Poppy said as she saw Harry and Ron in the doorway. “Good to see that you have returned to your natural size.”

“Yeah, I just had to wait for it to wear off in the end…” Harry said to her and cast a smug smile at Malfoy who glared at him from the other end of the room.

“I don’t think that the same will work for Mr Malfoy.” Madam Pomfrey said to him, glancing across at her most stubborn patient. “And I expect you to be punctual tomorrow evening, Mr Potter, my office.” Harry nodded as he and a rather puzzled looking Ron were shepherded out of the room.

“Punctual for what?” Ron asked as they walked down to the main entrance and through to the Great Hall.

“Oh, I never told you, did I?” Harry said, realising that he had been saved from telling Ron about his healing lessons just after the Quidditch match by the large party that their house had thrown. “I’m taking lessons from Madam Pomfrey in Healing Magic.”

“Really?” Ron said and Harry could detect no sign of jealousy or ill will in his voice. Harry nodded, “How is it then?”

“Really difficult.” Harry admitted as they entered the hall and saw Hermione sat at the Gryffindor table in their usual seats, eating cornflakes whilst reading. “I can only heal small cuts and not even on myself either… I can’t see myself getting better at it any time soon and to be honest I don’t think that Madam Pomfrey thinks that I can either.” Harry said, feeling rather unhappy as he thought of his unsuccessful lessons.

“Well you can’t be great at everything, mate.” Ron said to him, the tension between them almost vanished now.

“Why, what’s Harry not good at?” Hermione asked without looking up from her book as they sat down opposite her.

“Healing magic.” Ron said and Harry quickly shushed him, not wanting anyone else to know what magic he could perform. He felt as oddly protective of his hidden Healing Magic skills (or lack thereof) as he did with his wandless magic, which he had to admit was coming along much better than any of his other magic was. He seemed to have reached a dead end in Potions after a half decent start, which he could only have put down to having previously made a Polyjuice potion. He supposed that things were slowly turning back to normal, although Snape still felt like picking on Malfoy on most opportunities and failing that then he would begin bullying Harry.

“Healing Magic is really difficult, Harry.” Hermione said, “It’s post-NEWT level magic. I’d be very surprised if you could do it!” This made Harry feel slightly better as he tucked into some bacon and eggs in front of him. “Although I fancy giving it a try though…”

“So since I can’t do it then you must be able to do it.” Harry said and Hermione looked up at him from her book but, upon seeing that he was smiling, she merely smiled in return and ducked back behind her reading material.

“So how’s Remus then?” Hermione asked Harry, lowering her voice and Harry glanced up at her sharply. He hadn’t told anyone where he was going last night and he wondered how she had known where he was. “Last night was the full moon and you were nowhere to be found. That you were with him was the obvious conclusion.” Hermione explained before Harry so much as had the chance to ask how she had known his whereabouts.

“He’s fine. Sleeping now though.” Harry said and Hermione nodded.

“Poor man…” Hermione said before delving back into her book. Harry glanced at the cover of it and noticed that it was the same Animagus book that he had been given for his birthday, by her in fact. He smiled slightly at it but didn’t comment, allowing her to continue reading. It was apparent that she had still not managed to become the Kneazle that she wanted to be, although she had managed it once (by accident) she could not manage it again, no matter how hard she tried.

Harry had heard through Remus that Tonks believed she would manage it either during or before Christmas, although Hermione had not been told this and Harry would certainly not be the one to tell her.

Just the thought of Christmas made Harry feel cheerful, although it was only nearing the end of October, he still felt that childish wave of excitement wash over him when he thought of the festive season and the promise that he would be back at Grimmauld Place again with his ‘family’. At the idea of Christmas at Grimmauld Place, Harry’s mind immediately moved onto Sirius and he felt the familiar dull ache inside him which had once been filled by his godfather. The idea of having Christmas in his house but without him present seemed so cruel and so incredibly wrong…

“Don’t you have an Apparation lesson to go to?” Hermione asked Harry and he nodded, taking one last bite out of the bacon on his plate before leaving it half full as he went to floo to Grimmauld Place, his godfather forgotten whilst he tried to think of a good counter-curse to aim at Mad Eye who would certainly attack him the moment he stepped through the fireplace (or fell out of it, as the case more commonly was).

A/N: Sorry this chapter's a day or so late but I spent a long time writing it and I'm rather pleased with it as well actually and I hope that you are too :o) Anyway, the new chapter has yet to be written but should be up by the end of the weekend, depending on whether I take the sensible route of getting school work done, or just decide to write this instead. Well, I look forward to your comments which cheer me up beyond belief and at some point or another I'll also get another chapter of When Boredom Strikes up, but I'm uncertain as to when. Thanks for reading! :o)

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