A/N: This is written by cathartic. I am the Color of Boom is kindly beta-reading. :) This is more of an Adventure than a Romance, that being said there will be eventual slash. =) I'm assuming this story will be about 100k words, maybe more, but we'll see, shall we? Updates should be weekly. I'm branching out a bit from my usual style so I hope you all will give it a try! Heavy referencing to the first chapter of Order of the Phoenix in this chapter, but the style and story will drift as the story progresses. Happy reading!
The hottest day of the summer was drawing to a close on Privet Drive. Drowsy silence and the hum of crickets hung over the large, square houses like a heavy blanket. The grass was yellowing and stiff, and the air was thick and humid.
The entire neighborhood had taken refuge in the cool shade of their houses. That is, assuming the entire neighborhood did not include a skinny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who seemed to live in the garden of Number Four.
According to the inhabitants of Number Four, he probably didn't count.
Harry Potter's appearance did not endear him to the neighbors. His awkward, lean look of someone who had grown far too much in a very short period of time – his ripped jeans and oversized shirts that hung in odd places on his thin form – most all of them took to pretending he did not exist.
The green-eyed boy in question gave a low hum of thought as he maneuvered his way behind the usual hydrangea bush. It helped him remain invisible to the passer-bys, who seemed to think that his clothing should be an offense punishable by law.
Harry had taken to the spot upon the realization that firstly – it was very hard to see him there. His aunt or uncle would only see him if they were to stick their heads straight out of the living room window and look directly down. The second deciding factor had been that, this way, he could hear the news.
Without the teeth-grinding, and the vicious questions and glares.
He hummed quietly, scuffing the heel of his faded trainer into the hot, hard earth beneath him. He strained his ears to hear the television over the grumblings of his uncle.
"Anyway, it's not as if there'd be anything about his lot on our news-" Uncle Vernon grumbled on about his distrust of Harry's desire to watch the news.
"Vernon, shh! The window's open!"
Harry contained a chuckle. A Fruit 'N Bran breakfast cereal's jingle played cheerfully in the background and he sighed, his eyes drifting half-closed drowsily. A spider crawled absently over a leaf to his left and he looked over, smiling at it gently as it made careful work of setting up the edge of a web.
Mrs. Figg, an old lady who lived down the street, ambled slowly past the house. She seemed to be muttering to herself and Harry felt immense relief to be out of view. She was a nice enough lady, for Privet Drive, but as of late she had taken to asking Harry to tea every time she saw him on the street.
That was fine and all, but Harry had already heard the stories about all of her dead cats quite a few times by now. She had babysat him often for the Dursleys when he was younger.
She had rounded the corner and disappeared from view when Vernon Dursley's voice floated out the window once more.
"Dudders out for tea?"
"At the Polkisses'. He's got so many little friends, he's so popular," Aunt Petunia said cheerfully.
Harry nearly choked on his own laughter. Surely enough, Dudley was out somewhere smoking on a street corner, vandalizing another playground, or throwing stones at passing cars and children. The Dursleys were content to remain blissfully ignorant of this however, and Harry couldn't be bothered to correct them.
The seven o'clock news' opening music played, and Harry's ears strained desperately.
Nothing. The opening story was about holidaymakers in airports.
Harry listened for a few more seconds, hoping perhaps something of use might come soon after. Nothing was forthcoming however. Nothing that couldn't be explained, that was oddly brushed off in a Muggle way for simply being "odd" or "mysterious".
He scooted an inch or so away from the window, making sure to steer clear of the spider's web, and began to push himself on to his knees and elbows to crawl away from underneath the window when a loud crack! broke the silence like a gunshot.
Harry leaped to his feat without thinking, his head colliding with nauseating force to the open window. He unsheathed his wand unsteadily, watering eyes shooting from left to right as he looked for the-
"Put. It. Away!" Uncle Vernon snarled into the wizard's ear, his meaty hands wrapped around his throat. "Before-anyone-sees!"
Harry's head felt like it had been split in two and his vision swam. "Get off me," Harry gasped in response, struggling to get away from his Uncle's nearly choking grasp. He fumbled at his fat fingers with his left hand, his right hand still holding his wand aloft as he looked for the source of the sound.
The pain in Harry's head gave a particularly nasty throb and suddenly Uncle Vernon yelped and jerked his hands away from the boy's throat, as if he had received an electric shock.
Panting, Harry fell forward into the bush. He stood up as quickly as he could, and looked around.
There wasn't any noticeable thing that should have caused the loud crack. There were however, very nosy – and seemingly annoyed – neighbors, peering out their windows.
Harry quickly stuffed his wand away as Uncle Vernon called out a greeting, making some odd comment about a car backfiring. Harry walked away while his uncle continued to grin in a sort of manic way until all of the curious neighbors had retreated back behind their curtains.
"What the devil do you mean by it boy?" Vernon snarled at his back. Harry turned to face him curiously, frowning.
"What do I mean by what?" Harry asked in a cold, resigned tone. No conversation with the Dursleys ever went well.
It went one way.
The Dursleys decided something was the case – for example, Harry was lying, Harry was wrong, Harry was plotting something… and so on.
Harry provided reasons and evidence as to why the things they had decided were unreasonable or untrue.
The Dursleys called Harry a liar.
Harry provided the simple fact that he didn't have much to gain by lying.
Uncle Vernon said something insulting, and Aunt Petunia made some sort of agreeable sound.
Harry lost his temper.
Uncle Vernon used this to reaffirm his suspicion of whatever he had assumed Harry had done in the first place.
Harry walked off.
And so it went this time. He knew he would be in trouble now – he had left particularly early in the conversation. Harry, however, was not terribly worried about that as he strolled down the corner of Magnolia Crescent.
Harry vaulted over a locked park gate and trailed toward a familiar old swing. It was the only one left that Dudley and his gang hadn't managed to break yet.
He sank into its low seat, sighing as he mulled over the lack of information he had been getting over the summer.
No one could tell him what was going on. What they thought was happening. What they could tell him was that they didn't know when they could tell him what they knew they could tell him.
Which was not only confusing, but horribly frustrating.
Harry sighed, shutting his green eyes and kicking his feet against the ground to push the swing into motion.
The sun was finishing its setting and ducking low into the sky, a faintly visible moon just beginning to loom.
It was a full moon. Clear and bright in the nearly cloudless sky.
Harry's eyes flickered open and he sighed, wrapping an arm around the chain of the swing and scuffing the toe of his shoe into the ground moodily as he slowed the gently rocking swing to a stop.
He didn't know how long he sat there, musing grumpily over the letters he'd gotten from Sirius, Ron and Hermione, and debating strapping his broom to his trunk and heading to the Burrow on his own, before the sound of shrieking and shouting in the distance startled him from his thoughts.
"Get help! Dudley get help!" a teenage boy screamed.
Harry stood upright, eyes wide with alarm as he reached almost subconsciously for his wand, whipping it out.
The shrieks quieted for a moment and Harry took a few steps forward in the direction of the shouts, wand held aloft.
Two dark figures came racing into view in the dark. The moon was now glimmering in the sky, the sun having fallen under the horizon.
"We can't just leave him!"
"We'll get him help!" Dudley cried. "Come on, come on," he gasped.
"Dudley?" Harry called, eyebrows furrowed in concern.
His cousin ignored him, moving faster toward Harry than he had ever seen before. Just behind him was one of his friends, Malcolm.
"What's happened?" Harry asked the approaching boys who were gasping for breath.
"Piers! He's been attacked!" Malcolm cried. "Do you have a phone or something? We've got to call someone!"
Dudley's eyes nearly bugged out of his head at the sight of Harry's wand.
"Who's attacked him?" Harry demanded.
Malcolm shook his head. "It's-it's some sort of, dog, or wolf, I don't know, we've got to call someone, please," he cried.
"He's not got a phone," Dudley snapped.
"MRS. FIGG!" Malcolm shouted suddenly at the top of his lungs, peering around both of the boys. He bolted forward, shouting anxiously at the woman. "You've got to come, you've got to come now."
"A wolf?" Harry asked incredulously.
"It was you, wasn't it?" Dudley demanded accusingly, taking a step forward and shoving the smaller boy.
Harry reeled back in shock, jaw dropping. "What?"
"You brought that bloody thing here! You've always hated me and Piers and now you've gone and killed him! I see you with your.. your.. thing out in the air, I know it was you!" Dudley snarled, hands balling into fists as he whispered intensely to the boy. If Harry hadn't known better, he'd have thought he saw something wet building up in his cousin's eyes. "You killed him!" he roared.
Harry jumped out of the way of a swinging fist. "I didn't do anything you idiot," Harry snarled. "Where is he?" he demanded, stepping forward and looking into the distance. "What kind of dog has got him?"
Dudley was whimpering now, holding his face in his hands and shaking his head. "He's dead," he choked. "It's-it's not a dog, it's not a dog," he gasped.
Harry ran forward without thinking, the frustration from the summer curling up inside him like a flame.
He'd done everything he could – avoided fights, kept his nose clean, just like Sirius had asked. But after three months of hearing nothing, three months after Cedric's death.
No, he wasn't about to stand by and let someone else get hurt.
He raced forward toward where the two other boys had come from. Dudley looked up in a mixture of horror and shock, and Harry heard him give a weak call after him, but he pushed on, wand held out.
A stray dog would not be so awfully hard to deal with.
After he'd traveled some distance in the dark, he heard weak, short gasps of pain. He moved toward the sound, eyes lighting upon a dark figure curled on to the ground.
Harry leaned forward, wand held in his right hand still. "Piers?" he asked as he walked over to the boy's side.
His foot stuck to the ground in a tacky way as he walked forward and he looked down to see what he'd stepped in. The moon illuminated off of some sort of sticky liquid, and the sharp smell of iron assaulted his senses.
Harry nearly took a step back at the size of the puddle but pressed onwards, moving to the boy's side as he gasped and shuddered horribly.
"Piers? What happened?" Harry asked quietly, in as soothing a tone as he could manage. He looked at his wand, desperately wishing that he knew some sort of healing charm.
He had come prepared to fight. He had no idea what to do at this point.
What kind of dog could have done this?
Piers gasped something unintelligible and Harry leaned down, closer to the boy. His arm shook as he desperately fought for something, some distant memory of some healing charm.
Something, something, there had to be something damn it-
"Go," Piers barely managed to force out.
Harry stared down at him in shock. "What?" he said. "Piers, calm down, it's okay," he struggled to reassure the injured, bleeding boy. He noted a large gash in his side and scrambled to tear off a piece of the boy's pant leg and pressed it on to the wound, applying as much pressure as he could. Piers gasped in pain and shuddered and Harry felt the blood soak through the material and on to his hands. He held back a grimace, his throat tightening.
"It's going to be okay. Malcolm and Dudley, they're going to get someone," Harry said quietly to the shuddering, twitching boy. He was giving small convulsions now, and Harry was beginning to panic. "Don't worry, it'll be all-"
A melodic, eerily familiar howl drowned out his sentence and Harry looked up sharply from the wound he had been trying to tend to, his face paling in the moonlight.
Piers moaned in agony. "Go," he pleaded with the other boy one last time.
Harry lifted his wand, green eyes wide with disbelief and horror as he stared into the darkness around him.
For just an instant, his gaze flicked up to the sky, and to the full moon that seemed to hang mockingly in the sky.
"No," Harry murmured.
It couldn't be.
And then it stepped forward. It was a horrible, grey thing with large, human-like eyes. Its muzzle and front paws were soaked in blood, and thick, furless scars ran down its chest.
Its snout was shorter than most wolves'. It was incredibly large. Standing on all fours it towered over Harry.
The moon seemed to reflect in its horrible eyes and its tongue rolled out of its mouth as it sent a grin right at the wizard.
"Stupefy!" Harry shouted, flicking his wand and pulling himself to his full height.
The unsuspecting werewolf gave a yelp of pain, being blown back straight into a tree at the edge of the park, knocking the breath out of it.
Piers was unconscious now but Harry pointed his wand at his bleeding body. "Locomotor corpus." The body shot up into the air and Harry pushed it forward and began to run, his heart pounding in his throat and head.
A werewolf? In Little Whinging? No, no it couldn't be, it doesn't make any sense-
He tripped, stumbling over a large stone in the dark playground and cursed as he tumbled to the ground.
A snarl was the only thing announcing the furious predator as it leapt through the air. Harry rolled away from its snapping jaws, drool mixed with blood spraying on to his arm.
He managed to scramble to his feet when something snagged his shoe and he gasped, falling back down, his wand tumbling from his hand.
"No," he gasped, reaching desperately for his wand and yanking his foot away, his shoe ripping off. He silently thanked Aunt Petunia for forcing him to wear Dudley's uncomfortably large shoes – the wolf had only grabbed the empty space at the end of the toe.
He snatched up his wand and leapt to his feet as the wolf spat out the shoe, squaring its broad shoulders and facing him again.
Its eyes were manic with glee and drool dripped from it jaws as it snapped at him from a distance. Harry was breathing heavily as he faced the creature, his wand targeted unsteadily at its face.
The wolf ducked under the red curse and leapt up through the air. Harry jerked away but the wolf's claws scraped a heavy blow to his side, ripping through his shirt and into his skin.
Harry gasped, hand instinctively clutching the wound as blood began to bead and drip on to the parched grass below him.
The wolf gave some sort of high, chatter-barking noise, wheeling around to face its opponent again.
Harry pulled his hand away from his wound and began to back up, cursing and stumbling slightly as his shoeless foot fumbled on to a sharp rock.
The wolf leapt again, going for Harry's weakened side.
Harry made to move away as the wolf jumped but it grabbed his wand with its front teeth.
He gasped, yanking his wand back with full force and refusing to leave it in the jaws of the beast to be snapped in half.
The grey wolf allowed Harry to pull the wand and itself forward, seeming amused. Harry punched it in the nose, causing it to yelp in shock and release the wand, jumping back.
Harry shook now with every breath as more blood dripped from his wound. His vision swam and his legs threatened to buckle.
The wolf watched him curiously and approached at an almost leisurely pace. Harry took three unsteady steps back for every step it took forward. It narrowed its perceptive eyes, its lips parting to reveal a mouthful of knife-like teeth as it growled.
"Impedimentia," Harry gasped, flicking his wand. "Reducto, Petrificus Totalus," he tried again and again.
"Incarcerous," Harry shouted quickly as the wolf stumbled dodging the last spell. It hit the animal solidly in the chest and Harry gasped in relief as it gave a growl of rage, invisible ropes seeming to wrap around it and cause it to crumple to the ground, snarling and kicking.
He scrambled away, eyes searching desperately for Piers, who he seemed to have lost in the fight. Guilt gripped his insides like an icy hand.
"Piers?" he cried, turning around, eyes flitting around the dark, unclear surroundings.
Something heavy and solid slammed into him from behind, pinning him to the ground with a huge amount of force.
Harry let out a cry of shock, his glasses tumbling from his face and his wand flying from his hand.
The wolf on top of him let out a victorious snarl and before Harry could begin to react, dagger-like teeth sank into his shoulder as if it were made of butter.
Harry let out a deafening scream, his left hand desperately attempting to drag himself away from the knife-like claws and the burning, horrible teeth.
The burn from the wound in his shoulder spread like a fire, down into his entire torso and seeming to pump through his very veins. It burned and seared and blood painted the grass underneath him.
As suddenly as the wolf had jumped on him, it was gone.
The weight disappeared and Harry forced himself to his feet, blood continuing to pour from his wound as he looked for his attacker blearily in the dark night.
He looked down to his right to where his glasses sat in the grass, and as he reached for them with his left hand, all of his vision fizzled out and his knees buckled, taking him to the ground with a muted thump.
"Harry?" an alarmed voice hummed distantly in his ears as the darkness swept him away.