Saving the Wolf
A/N: This fic was written for the Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition Round 9: A Very Potter Disneyland. As Beater 1, my prompt was to use 'The Fox and the Hound' as inspiration. That movie is so, so sad in parts... so of course, I had to use the scene of the old lady abandoning Todd (the fox) in the game preserve for his own safety for my story haha. This fic attempts to explore Fenrir Greyback's beginning from his mother's perspective.
(quote) "If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it"—Andy Rooney.
Word count: 2994 words (Gdocs and )
A huge thank you to my team betas Lys, Arty and Ari! This is dedicated to Falcons' Chaser 2, Foxie (VulpeculaStarr), not only because of her hard work this season but because hey, the Fox and the Hound... Fox... ugh ok, fine, I'll stop :p
"Shut that boy up or I'll shut him up for good!" Amos shouted.
Mary-Anne balanced the wooden spoon in the pot and wiped her hands on her apron. Dashing out of the kitchen, she obeyed her husband's orders and headed up the stairs, flinching when another ear-splitting howl echoed through the small house. She only paused long enough to take a deep breath and plaster a smile on her face before she entered her sons' shared bedroom.
"Fenrir, honey, please come away from the window," she said.
From his perch on the window sill, her son turned dilated blue eyes to her. His thin lips were pursed and dark brown hair flopped across his pale forehead. Mary-Anne's heart clenched as she saw a look of confusion flit across Fenrir's face, as though he didn't recognise her. The look was gone as quickly as it had come, however, and with a brief smile that did not quite meet his eyes, Fenrir turned back to the window.
"Arooooooooooooh!" he howled, gazing at the large, silver moon outside.
Mary-Anne covered her ears. "Please, Fenrir, stop that."
She walked to her son, reaching her hand out to his shoulder. She jumped back, however, when the boy turned to her and bared his teeth.
"Oh, Mother, you know he is too much of a freak to listen to anyone," Lyall said.
Mary-Anne turned to her older son. He was sitting on his bed, tossing a tennis ball at the wall. Unlike his brother, Lyall's brown hair was clipped short in the front, showing off magnificent grey eyes. A slight dusting of freckles covered his nose, and his skin held a healthy glow. Where Fenrir was small and, according to Amos, "weak," Lyall was strong for a ten-year-old. She often insisted that Fenrir would grow stronger and healthier when he turned ten in a couple of years, but her husband would have none of it. Amos had long given up forcing Fenrir outside in the fresh air for exercise and now no longer wanted to risk someone seeing how pathetic his son was.
"Lyall, be a dear and play with Fenrir. I need to finish dinner and—"
"No," Lyall said, cutting her off.
"Lyall, this is important. Throw the ball to him or something, go on."
"Ha! The freak would like that, wouldn't he?" Lyall said, scrunching up his nose.
Fenrir turned and growled at him, swiping his hand as though he had claws.
"Lyall John Sley! You will not use that word in this house!" Mary-Anne placed her hands on her hips, staring at her son.
"But he is," Lyall said.
"You know he can't help it… he's just… different, that's all. Go on, you two used to have such fun and adventures together."
It broke Mary-Anne's heart to hear that Lyall no longer wanted anything to do with his little brother. Fenrir used to idolise his older brother, often wanting to go outside and play with Lyall from the moment he could walk. Lyall had been no different, often sneaking away with his brother to play in the forest during lunchtime. It was only when Fenrir had been bitten by a wild dog on one of their little adventures that they had stopped; Fenrir became quite sick from then on, and his brother blamed him for not being able to play.
She had hoped Lyall would forgive his brother and they would make up; unfortunately, weeks had passed and Fenrir had only gotten sicker. He had become rather odd, too, often pretending he was a wolf. The doctors she sought could only advise her that he had a mental condition that was best treated by keeping him indoors and away from prying eyes.
Mary-Anne didn't believe them, however; her son's mind was fine, it had to be.
"Lyall, I will only ask one more ti—Fenrir!"
Fenrir pulled his nails from the floral curtain, leaving large strips hanging off it. Instead of apologising, he turned his eyes to her, blinking slowly. It sent a shiver down her spine, and she found she was unable to reprimand him—or Lyall, for that matter—any further.
"G-go and wash up for dinner, n-now. Go on, both of you."
Lyall rolled his eyes and got down off his bed, his ball still in hand. Fenrir shrugged and turned back to stare out the window. Unfortunately, neither he nor Mary-Anne saw Lyall throw his ball, noticing only when it hit Fenrir on the back.
The effect was immediate: Fenrir leapt up from the window ledge, snapping his jaw at his brother. With his fists curled into claws, he charged at Lyall, who took off down the stairs laughing. Mary-Anne was too startled to grab Fenrir when he pushed past her, placing a hand on her chest to steady her rapidly beating heart.
The two boys thundered down the stairs, their landing at the bottom marked by two thuds. It was only when a scream pierced the air—and her heart—a few seconds later that she was startled into action. Goosebumps broke out on her skin as she descended the stairs two at a time, palms growing sweaty. She wasn't quite sure which boy the scream had come from, but as it came again, louder, she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.
When she rounded the corner, her heart seemed to stop at the sight before her. Fenrir had his thin arms locked around his brother's arm, teeth sinking into his flesh. Lyall was thrashing about, trying to kick his brother off, tears streaming down his cheeks.
"Oh no, no, get off him, Fenrir, get off him!" she shouted. She tried to pull the boys off each other, only to be knocked backwards. "Please, stop this! Stop this at once!"
The commotion stopped when Amos entered the room, his face red and dark eyes blazing. Fenrir blinked, nails still digging into his brother's arm. He yelped when Amos grabbed him by his shirt collar and threw him to the floor, scampering back against the wall before his father's boot could hit him.
Lyall, on the other hand, stood where he was, sniffling into his hand.
"Wipe those tears away; crying is for women," Amos said, glaring at his eldest son.
Lyall obeyed, lifting his shirt and using it to wipe his face. Mary-Anne moved to comfort him and assess the damage, seeing little beads of blood welling on her son's skin, but Amos raised his voice and stopped her in her tracks.
"I've had it with this nonsense! I will not deal with it anymore," he said, stamping his foot. "Damn it, it isn't normal! My son is a freak! A retard! I ought to have done away with him years ago. Damn it!"
Mary-Anne gasped. She knew Amos meant it; he had threatened to beat the abnormality out of Fenrir before, and she shuddered to think what he would do if that didn't work. Stepping forward, her body trembling and tears falling down her own face, she clutched at Amos' shirt. "Oh no, you can't, please—"
Her husband knocked her away and began to undo his belt. Mary-Anne stepped forward again, determined not to give up, and placed her hand over his.
"Please, I think the boys have learnt their lesson. Give him one more chance, please, Amos, he's our son… Just one more chance."
Mary-Anne pointed to the boys, who wore identical expressions of fear. Fenrir, seemingly surprised to find himself in the dining room, was curled into a ball. He rocked back and forth, eyeing his father's belt.
Thankfully, Amos' stomach chose that moment to rumble. Grunting, he pushed her away and redid his belt. "One more incident…" he said, wagging his finger at her. "Now, where's my dinner? Is it ready yet, or have you burnt it again?"
Mary-Anne squeaked, realising she had abandoned the meatloaf. Following Amos into the kitchen, she sent a quick smile to her boys, hoping to show them that all would be well. It was strained, however, and she knew she had to find a better solution, and fast.
'Rosewood Health Asylum [est. 1892] offers a wide variety of treatments for the demented patient. We offer tried and true treatments like lobotomy, electroshock therapy, lithium pills, and even insulin-induced comas that can help re-educate and reform even the most difficult patients of their psychological ailments.'
The brochure she was reading filled Mary-Anne with hope. The cover showed a picture of a beautiful white building, standing tall against the sky. The windows were shiny, and the building's walls and tall iron gates in front were covered in beautiful vines. Rosewood looked liked a heavenly escape, but it was the treatments that were most promising—especially the electroshock therapy. It was a method believed to help push bad thoughts from the brain, she knew. The doctors claimed that for over twenty years the method had cured sinful, sodomising men, as well as pyromaniacs.
Glancing over at Fenrir, Mary-Anne smiled. Though her son didn't have the same symptoms as these patients, he did have a short memory span and suffered from a 'crisis of identity'. Perhaps this treatment would work for him, too? Perhaps her son would be cured, and no longer believe that he was turning into a wolf? It was a gamble, trusting in such methods, particularly when they were so expensive. She wasn't sure if they would even work on Fenrir, or that Amos wouldn't find out she was paying for it with the money her late mother had left for her, but they had to work.
As it were, the clinic was only a last resort. Fenrir had been on his best behaviour ever since the incident from last week, not once fighting with his brother or howling. Watching him playing with the toy truck now, she found it hard to believe that the same little boy had ever tried to scratch away non-existent fleas with his leg, or complained that he was growing fur.
If anything, it was all her fault he acted that way, not his. What kind of mother couldn't discipline her children, or tell them how to properly behave? She had failed to give them a proper upbringing, to show them right from wrong, to make them feel loved and safe.
Turning back to the pamphlet, Mary-Anne sighed. If anything else did happen, this place was the answer.
Mary-Anne jumped at the sound of her husband's voice, too lost in her own thoughts to realise that it was already late in the afternoon. Hurriedly tucking the pamphlet into her Perfect Wife, Perfect Life magazine, she stood up and smoothed her dress. Placing a smile on her face, she walked out into the kitchen.
"Welcome home. Did you boys have fun?" she asked, ignoring the dirty tracks Amos' boots had left on her freshly-cleaned floor.
Instead of answering her, Amos grunted and sat. He placed his gun on the table, setting it next to three dead pheasants.
"I shot one, Mother!"
Lyall plopped another pheasant onto the table, grinning widely. Mary-Anne gave him a quick smile, looking at the bird's unblinking eyes staring at her.
"Cook one for dinner and put the rest away," Amos said, clicking his fingers for a drink.
Mary-Anne complied, running to the ice box and taking out the cold beer she had stored for him. When she turned around, she saw that Fenrir had slunk into the kitchen.
"Would you like some lemonade, dears?" she asked her sons, still bent over the box.
"No," Lyall replied.
"Fenrir?" When her youngest son didn't reply, she turned around to face him. "Fen—What's wrong, love?"
Fenrir was staring at the birds, salivating. He licked his lips, fists curled by his sides. Before any of them knew what was happening, he leapt at the table. In a second, he had one of them in his mouth and was shaking his head back and forth.
"Fenrir! Stop that!" she cried.
"Stop that, you heathen! Stop it now, I say!" Amos shouted, standing and slamming his fist on the table.
Lyall stared at his brother, his brow furrowed. "Hey, that's mine! Give it to me!"
Mary-Anne grabbed Lyall before he lunged forward, knowing he would only worsen the situation. Her heart pounded as Fenrir growled, leaping away from Amos.
"Stop that at once, boy!"
Still tossing his head side to side, feathers flying all over the kitchen, Fenrir swiped at Amos with his hands. It was one movement too many, and before Mary-Anne could calm Fenrir, Amos had his gun pointed at Fenrir.
"Drop. That. Bird."
"Drop it!" Amos clicked the safety off the rifle, his knuckles turning white as he gripped the weapon's handle.
Letting go of Lyall, who had ceased struggling to get out of her grip, she launched herself at Amos. Pushing the gun's aim away from Fenrir, she held the barrel and used all her strength to guide it to the table. Amos snarled at her, his chest rising up and down. His face was as red as the tablecloth, eyes blazing, but she locked her gaze on him.
"Please, Amos," she begged, green eyes glistening with tears, not daring to let go.
Amos gritted his teeth, grey moustache twitching. He jutted his chin out, attempting to reclaim his weapon.
"It needs to be done," he seethed.
Mary-Anne felt her grip slipping, her palms sweaty, but she couldn't—wouldn't—give up. "I'll fix it."
It was another minute of staring at each other before Amos finally let go of the gun, releasing it on the table with a thud. He re-locked the safety switch before slamming his fist on the table again. "Dammit! I want him out of my house! Out, I say!"
Mary-Anne nodded, still watching the gun.
Amos hit the table once more. "Hurry up and get me something to eat, I'm starving," he said, turning and heading for the living room, Lyall—somewhat shaken—in tow.
She waited until she could hear the television set being switched on before rushing to the tap and pouring herself a glass of water. Her entire body was trembling, and when she turned to face Fenrir, she saw that he was, too. The bird was at his feet, the usual mixture of shock and shame on his face as he realised what he had done.
She smiled weakly at him, her mind made up. The clinic was a gamble, but it was one she would have to make.
"Where are we going?"
Mary-Anne looked straight ahead as she walked, unable to meet Fenrir's eyes. She forced a smile and gripped his hand.
"Oh, just to the shops."
"But haven't we passed them already?"
It had been years since she had taken Fenrir with her to the shops, and Mary-Anne was surprised that he remembered the outline of the town. He had spent most of his life tucked up in his little bedroom in the dark, which had worked out just perfectly for her. She hated explaining her son's appearance and mannerisms to the gossipy ladies of the small town.
Clearing her throat, their destination in sight, she said, "This is a special one."
Her chest felt tight—like all the air was being vacuumed from it. Stopping in front of a pair of tall, steel gates embedded in a large, stone wall, she took a few deep breaths. Her hands felt clammy, but not from the soft gloves she wore. She could feel Fenrir's eyes on her, and she blinked back the tears stinging the corners of her eyes. Thankfully, his gaze turned to a man in a white coat walking down the driveway of the building.
Mary-Anne smiled at him, pushing Fenrir through the gates when the man opened them. Then, bending down and wrapping her arms around him, she pressed a kiss to his forehead.
"Madame, I must ask you to leave, now. It's hard for the patients to settle in with relatives nearby," the doctor said.
She was surprised at the doctor's statement, the man not having mentioned it when she telephoned that morning. Still, she understood and squeezed Fenrir in a last, quick hug.
Her son stiffened in her grip. "Patient?"
"I'll see you soon, dear," she said.
"We'll be in contact when he is treated," the doctor said, placing a hand on Fenrir's shoulder.
Mary-Anne nodded once, feeling tears slip down her cheeks. Going back through the gates, she turned her back on the white building, pretending the windows looked as shiny as they did on the brochure, rather than barred with steel rods.
It was for the best; her son would get the treatment he needed, and before she knew it, she would have the boy she remembered back in her arms for good. She walked back down the road, heels clicking on the pavement. She'd best get home and prepare lunch.
Mary-Anne turned back, her heart shattering. Her little boy was staring at her with wide eyes, struggling to reach the gate. The doctor was holding him around the waist, another man jogging to help him.
"Mother! Mother!" Fenrir kicked and screamed.
She wanted to run back to him, to push them off her boy, but suppressed the urge. No, they were doctors; her son would be in safe hands. She wasn't helping him by staying there.
"Mother! No! Come back! Mother!"
Sobs choked her throat and her legs began to tremble as she walked. No, this was for the best.
Her resolve faltered when Fenrir's howl split the air. She knew that it was his last, desperate attempt to catch her attention.
Placing a smile on her face, the tears still falling, she quickened her pace. She would see Fenrir in a few short weeks, and he would no longer be howling. Better yet, she was finally going to be able to help her son, and life would be much better for everyone.
So... I thought I should add in a bit more of an explanation to this story.
Firstly, a lot of research went into the early 1950s Britain for when this fic is based, including culture, medicine, etc. Although psychiatrists started to move on from methods like electroshock therapy (where people's brains were literally electrocuted, many developing permanent brain damage) and lobotomies, they weren't completely eliminated. Given that the town the Sleys live in is fairly old and poor, it's logical (at least in my mind) the more 'traditional' methods would've still been used.
Secondly, the names of Amos Sley is derived from the main antagonist of the Disney film. Obviously, Fenrir Sley becomes Fenrir Greyback but, in my head, his last name Greyback is more from when he becomes a werewolf. Lyall Sley is not Lyall Lupin (Remus' father); it was used more for irony.
Thirdly, The Sleys are Muggles. Edit: oops, Fenrir did have a wand (thanks Guest for the lovely review :)), so I'll paint him here as being Muggleborn. Being only eight, Fenrir hasn't quite made his full transformation either, only getting some of the symptoms like growing fur, howling, penchant for red meat, etc. and is in the middle of his transformative years :)
Lastly, the story will continue after judging has finished. A huge thank you to everyone who reads this story... as always if anyone happens to spot a mistake, whether it is commas out of place, SPaG, flow, plot holes, or even poor characterisation, please do not hesitate to point them out. I will hopefully be able to fix them up before Friday (August 5) when this is due :)