Author's Note: This story is split into two parts: before Graduation and after Graduation. The first part takes place at Hogwarts (obviously), and the second part takes place at another secret location, which will be revealed at the beginning of part two.
Also: this story is very AU, having diverged from canon somewhere after/around GoF. It takes place in the trio's seventh year of Hogwarts, without much regard to anything that took place after their fourth year. I urge you to remember this as you read on.
Warning: This chapter contains somewhat graphic depictions of violence/gore. It's nothing too terrible, but if you're sensitive to that please be careful.
It took him four seconds to realize that he was not in his bed, and another four after that to realize that he was staring up at a forest of darkened treetops. Even in his sluggish and groggy state, Remus Lupin was quickly able to recognize that he was in fact in the Forbidden Forest, and that he definitely wasn't supposed to be here.
Remus shifted on the cold ground, his blurred vision and a sudden spasm of nausea making the movement difficult. He always got nauseous just before the full moon.
The full moon.
An entirely different kind of anxiety set in. The Professor blinked several times to focus his failing eyes. All he could see was the blackened canopy of trees above.
The last thing he could remember was making his way down to Severus' office to get his final dose of Wolfsbane for this week. For some reason he had no memory of arriving in Severus' office or getting his potion.
As if on cue, the faraway memory of a spell hitting him from behind fluttered into his mind. He'd been stunned. Adrenaline happened to kick in just then. Remus bolted upright, his eyes focusing and scanning his surroundings. There were plenty of trees; the kind of trees you only see when you're deep in the Forbidden Forest. This was bad.
The screeching yell caught him off guard. He turned sharply, letting out a groan of protest at the state of his tired joints, aching with anticipation of the impending transformation. Moonrise must be close, he thought, a lead weight settling in his stomach.
"Remus," The voice spoke again, and it was only now that he recognized the owner. Hermione Granger was most distinguishable by her wild, curly hair and the Head Girl badge pinned onto the front of her school robes. If he hadn't been able to recognize her for her hair or the badge, her school robes and the fact that she'd called him "Remus" would have given her away. Only a few current Hogwarts students called him by his first name, and of them she was the only female.
"Remus, you have to run! Get away before-"
A hand yanking roughly at her hair cut her off. Behind her stood a tall, looming figure, their wand pressed into her throat. The person had a slender figure and long platinum hair. The initial shock at seeing Lucius Malfoy in the middle of the forest faded away at the sight of the man's sadistic expression.
Remus leapt from the ground. "What's going on?" He patted the pockets of his robes in search of his wand, but it was no use. His wand was gone.
"Run!" Hermione shouted again, and this time he could pinpoint the terrified tremble in her voice. "You need to run!"
The man behind her silenced her once more, his hand twisting in her hair. Remus started to advance on the pair of them, prepared to engage Malfoy in a physical fight if he needed to.
"Stop!" Lucius commanded, his voice deadly. "I'll kill her." He twisted the wrist of his wand hand, as if preparing to rattle off a Killing Curse. Remus halted. His eyes met Hermione's a split second later. She looked uncharacteristically frightened, but the rigid set of her jaw and shoulders showed determination. She knew what was going to happen and she knew that they had to get out of here.
"Alright!" Remus shouted, throwing his hands up into the air and stepping back. "What do you want and why have you brought her into this?" His eyes flicked between Hermione and Malfoy as he spoke.
"You've grown old and slow, Lupin," the man spat, eyeing Remus' shabby robes with disdain. "Can't you see why you are here? The moon rises in only a few moments…"
A shiver raced down Remus' spine. Hermione began to struggle in Malfoy's grip. "Fine, I'll explain for your slower mind. The Dark Lord wants Potter's friends taken care of." Malfoy sneered down at Hermione, "As I've been assigned this task, I've decided that the Mudblood ought to be the first to go. It was just my luck that she was rather easy for me to get my hands on."
Hermione began to struggle again. Remus couldn't quite make out the expression on her face anymore–the light was too sparse–but he knew she was afraid. It wouldn't be long now before moonrise…
"And why am I here?" Remus demanded. His temper was always short before the full moon. The present situation only added to his irritability.
"Patience," Malfoy chided, "I'm getting there." With another pause, he glanced at the shadowy forest around them. His eyes trained back on Remus, "the Dark Lord graciously rewards his followers when they are clever and efficient about how they accomplish their tasks. True to my nature, I've come up with a clever way to finish off the girl, and with your involvement there are a couple added bonuses that I will be rewarded for handsomely." He spoke with the same blind arrogance that he had possessed in his youth. Lucius had been several years ahead of Remus at Hogwarts, but they still had their fair share of encounters in their school years.
Remus paled. He knew where this was going, and he now understood why Hermione had been so vehement about telling him to run.
"You think I'm going to kill her," he said, gauging both Lucius and Hermione for a reaction.
"I know you're going to kill her." Malfoy's expression turned from one of arrogant passivity to one of cruel delight. "And after you kill her Dumbledore will ship you off to Azkaban straight away. Then once the news hits the public all remaining Werewolves will be locked away as they should be." His sneer was equal parts proud and reverent. "I can just imagine poor Potter's face when he sees the remains of his dear little Mudblood," he huffed out a laugh, "murdered by his favorite Professor."
Watching the Death Eater before him speak with the utmost confidence, it struck Remus how dreadful this situation was. They were deep in the recesses of the Forbidden Forest. Moonrise was only minutes away and Remus was without his final dose of Wolfsbane for the week. In short: Hermione was doomed.
"It won't work!" He shouted, stepping backwards in a feeble attempt to put distance between himself and Hermione. She was trembling. "I'll kill myself first!" Remus shouted again. He studied their surroundings, searching for something that could incapacitate himself.
"No!" Hermione shouted. Lucius was laughing but neither of them paid him any mind. "Remus you can't!"
He suddenly became very angry with her. She was naïve for thinking that she had any chance at all if he remained alive. Once he transformed she was as good as dead. The wolf would rip her throat out in a matter of seconds. He turned to her, tamping down his rage and trying to get his brain to work properly. "I am not going to kill you, Hermione," he murmured.
Lucius' accompanying laugh drowned out her fearful gasp. Remus took several more steps backwards, searching among the trees for something of use.
"It's too late, Lupin," Malfoy drawled, looking up at the sky. He was right. Remus could feel the moon as if it were an extension of himself. The telltale signs of a nearing transformation were already here: skin crawling, muscle spasms, aching jaw.
Abruptly, Lucius shoved Hermione away from him, causing her to stumble in Remus' direction. "Don't scream too loud," he whispered. In the next second the Death Eater turned on the spot, Disapparating with a resounding crack.
The clearing was silent for a split second before Remus started shouting at her. "Run!" he growled, "Hermione, get away!" His voice cracked with the tension and Hermione knew that the transformation was starting. Not needing to be told twice, she willed her clumsy legs to move and took off at a run through the canopy of trees.
Hermione focused her gaze on the ground, trying to avoid any tree roots as she ran in a direction that was either further into the forest or deeper. She had no way of knowing. Her only intelligible thought was a desperate hope that this was all some terrible nightmare.
Remus' first scream of pain reverberated through the woods. The following screams followed her as she fled through the trees, evolving into something more and more beastly with each passing second.
All at once the screams of agony were replaced by one long, guttural howl. Hermione could feel the cold sweat breaking out over her skin. There was no way she could outrun a werewolf. It was impossible, especially with the density of the trees obstructing her movement. If only she had her wand… but no, Malfoy had taken that from her and snapped it long ago. She had to figure out another way out of this without magic.
The young witch ran for a long time, some inherent sense telling her that he would catch her within seconds if she stopped.
He'll catch you even if you don't stop, a traitorous voice whispered in the back of her mind.
With an abrupt thumping sound, a tree root caught her toe. Hermione slammed into the ground, her hands and knees breaking the fall. A sharp pain travelled up her wrist with the impact. She could hear noises behind her. When she turned she saw the menacing wolf bolting towards her, weaving through the trees.
Panic overrode all other senses, and Hermione searched her surroundings for anything that would help. There was a rather sizeable fallen tree branch to her left, but it was too far away. Remus—no, the wolf—had stopped his jogging pace. He was now stalking towards her at a careful pace, bright amber eyes focused on her shaking form. An idea floated into her mind at that moment. It was a spell she'd been practicing for a while, the only wandless magic that she felt confident in doing. Perhaps it would scare him off…
Hermione decided to try it. She lifted her hand, her palm facing upwards, the incantation forming on her lips. In her mind, she concentrated, imagining fire erupting from her palm, illuminating the forest.
She gasped as wild blue flames sprouted up, dancing on her palm. The wolf backed away, affronted by the sudden burst of fire. She could feel his eyes on her, but she focused on keeping the flames alive.
It was no use. The fire died out not a moment later. Perhaps it was the adrenaline that allowed Hermione to sense what was going to happen next, for she knew beyond a doubt that he was going to attack. She flung herself aside in a vain effort to grab the tree branch she'd spotted earlier. That was when the wolf decided to lunge. He was a blur of dark fur and feral amber eyes coming towards her. His claws dug into the shoulder of the arm that had reached for the tree branch with a burst of excruciating pain.
"HELP!" she screamed, hopelessly trying to use the branch to hit him or get him off of her somehow, "SOMEONE HELP ME!" She could feel the beast's claws tearing through the flesh of her back and shoulder. It burned and stung. Hermione thought for a moment that she was about to die purely from the pain of it.
In her struggle against the wolf, Hermione's foot somehow found purchase against a protruding tree root. She used it to push herself away from him, simultaneously kicking at him with her other foot.
A growl tore from his throat, and she knew that she had angered him. Her stomach dropped. She pushed herself away from him once more, but it was too late. His next moved seemed to happen in slow motion. She watched with anguished terror as he opened his jaw and dug his teeth into the flesh of her lower calf.
Hermione let out a shriek of pain. The tearing of his teeth hurt, but the strange and immediate burning sensation was ten times worse. It felt as though his teeth were on fire, sending waves of flames licking up at her leg and scorching their way through her body.
It was only seconds later that the adrenaline kicked in. Hermione somehow found the willpower not to faint and instead to grasp the large tree branch tightly and swing it at the wolf.
The branch met his skull with a loud thump. Immediately, he released her leg, letting out a sharp whimper and stumbling backwards, disoriented.
Hermione gasped in agony, not daring to let her eyes leave the beast, no matter how much she wanted to glance at the wound on her leg. Her blood felt like it was on fire, and she had to actively remind herself that it wasn't possible.
The wolf made eye contact with her and she was sure that he would pounce and kill her now… but he didn't. She held his gaze with a bravery that she didn't know she had and he just stood there, staring her down, shoulders hunched and jaw dripping with her blood. It was several long moments before Hermione realized that he might not attack her again. Maybe she'd scared him off.
She didn't take her eyes off his, afraid that he would kill her the moment she did. Instead she just sat on the ground, holding onto her tree branch, ready for him to come at her.
As the moments crept by, the pain in her leg was becoming more bearable. Judging from the blood that was trickling down her arm and shoulder he had scratched her pretty badly there. On top of that, of course, was the throbbing and burning of her lower leg, where he had bitten her. She didn't want to think about what that bite meant, so she pushed it all out of her mind for now.
She had a long time until sunrise, but she would wait. She would wait as long as it took to save her life and–in a way–his own.
Author's Note: Reviews, questions, and comments are greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading!