Warning: Rated M for explicit language, violence, mentions of non-con elements, and sexual content. This story is Canon Divergent and contains both het and slash pairings. For further disclaimers and warnings, make sure to read my profile. To read the unedited, rated MA/E version, please check out this story on Archive of Our Own under the same name: ShayaLonnie. [Updated Jan 2017]
Beta Love: Beta Love: LadyParongsny, bookworm4life0812, Worthfull1, GaeilgeRua, BirdieMing, sirxusly
A Bit of Sky
July 18th, 1981
Forest of Dean
"Could have been worse, I s'pose."
Remus exhaled shakily as he watched the woman—still aching from the previous night's full moon—run her fingers through the child's hair as he whimpered. "You made it through. You both did. Just don't leave his side, Katya. The first moon is the worst, especially for children."
The sun was bright above them, painful for those who would much rather be hidden away in the dark until the worst of the pain subsided, but Greyback refused to live anywhere other than out in the open. Sometimes the pack would luck into a mountain or cliffside, complete with proper caves, but all too often they slept under the stars in forests or country fields.
"Throat hurts," the boy said, whimpering.
Remus understood. The boy had screamed his throat raw during the transformation. "I'll get you some water."
His own lingering pain distracted Remus as he stood to make his way to the river that cut through the forest, but he knew he had to remain alert. The distraction and lack of focus was the price he paid when it came to fighting his "true nature" as Greyback called it. Remus could not doubt the possibility considering the look of the other werewolves around him. Those who embraced the curse as a gift recovered easier, back on their feet and ready to hunt again. Others, like Remus, fought to stand still as they repressed the lingering bloodlust that overcame them the night before.
Packs. They made everything stronger.
Being around his "own kind" made him feel more animal than wizard—more monster than man. It was only the thought of his friends and family back home that kept him from giving into his primal urges. Greyback had offered him anything he wanted: food, money, women, and above all else, a high-ranking place in the pack. Unlike others who had been turned by rogue werewolves, or men lower down the ranks, Remus was special because he belonged to Greyback, and the wolves that Greyback had turned personally were considered better than the others.
Had he not felt sickened by his own curse, Remus might have thought it funny considering that the majority of wizards thought he was beneath them for being a half-blood, and that was even before they knew that he was a monster. No, Remus's Muggle mother made him unfit to share in the same world as many of the purebloods that he had gone to school with. Even though only his friends and Snape knew about his condition, he was taunted with "blood traitor" and "half-blood filth" as he roamed the halls. Most of his friends told him to brush off the insults, but Lily understood. She, of course, dealt with worse.
The thought of Lily, James, and little Harry made him smile. He had not seen them in so long and likely would not for some time. He felt guilty that he knew he was going to miss Harry's first birthday in just a couple of weeks. But Greyback had plans on sacking a small village, and since the majority of the pack did not have wands—and most would not know how to use them if they had one—Apparation was out of the question as far as travelling, and they would have to make the trek by foot.
"Looking forward to the trip, Rollo?" Remus asked one of the others as he kneeled down to fill a small pitcher with water from the river. "Didn't you say that Susi has family near Woolhope?"
The man nodded his head once as he stood, running wet hands through his hair. "Yes. Hoping to get a chance to have a visit. Greyback agreed that we could make a stop so long as Susi's parents provided the pack with supplies. Her dad's a farmer."
Rollo snorted. "Sheep."
They both shared a quiet laugh, hiding the chuckle beneath clearing of their throats. It was hard to have a good laugh unless you had a dark sense of humour and found the torture of innocents amusing. Unfortunately, Greyback and many of the others did.
"You want to come along? Susi's mum makes a grand kidney pie."
Remus's stomach growled in response. Unlike many of the others, he had not eaten the night before, choosing instead to lock himself up behind wards anchored to several trees. Those who did have wands often offered to set up something similar for others who did not want to chance hurting or infecting another person. Most of the adults that made such a choice were respected to a certain extent, but Greyback refused any of the children to be "leashed." Few survived to adulthood, often getting in the way of older wolves and their prey and injured to a point that they could not recover from in the morning. Not even lycanthropy could heal some wounds, especially if inflicted by another wolf.
Perhaps that was why Greyback still favoured him so. Remus had been bitten when he was only four. He had survived almost twenty years with the curse and, somehow, had not infected a single person. There had only ever been one close call, and that had not been his fault. Thinking about that night put Sirius at the forefront of his mind, and Remus sighed, his mind heavy with concerns for the friend he had not spoken to in such a long time. Too long, considering they were at war.
"While I'd love some home cooked food," Remus said with a stiff smile, "I have to decline. Greyback wants me at the front."
Rollo sighed and gently patted Remus on the shoulder, following him to Katya and her adopted cub. "Don't know why he bothers. We all know that you'll never be the heir he wants to train you into. He'd be better off pushing his efforts on Seff. Bloody menace wants it bad enough. Heard him bragging about killing four last night. One must've been a Muggle. He took a bullet in the shoulder. Tasha was fixing him up at dawn, trying to claw the damned thing out of his skin since he'd already healed over."
"Is that what the fuss was about? I heard yelling."
"Nah," Rollo said, shaking his head. "Susi said that Kurt was killed during the hunt. Apparently, the fucking idiot got a bite in before someone lobbed his head off. Kurt's mate wanted the bitten to be killed for what she'd done, but you know Greyback."
Remus's brow furrowed. "She? A woman killed Kurt? Did they say if it was a witch or a Muggle?" he asked, ever thinking and worried that members of the Order had been sent to look in on him only to run across another werewolf instead.
"Witch," Rollo said.
"Is that where Greyback is?" Remus asked, wincing when a sudden scream rent the air.
"What's that?" The boy jolted up, crying out when one of his newly healed cuts split open again. Katya soothed the boy, dabbing the wound with a cloth. "Who's screaming?"
Remus and Rollo shared a look before the latter sighed and kneeled down in front of the boy. Katya's eyes widened when she realised what Rollo was about to say. "He's just a child," she said, hugging the boy closer.
"He's had his first moon," Rollo gently argued, turning his attention to the lad. "Silas, right?" The boy nodded. "Do you remember much of what happened last night? Do you remember being the wolf?" When the boy very slowly nodded his head, Rollo smiled sadly at him. "Well, you stayed in the campsite with a lot of the younger wolves, but some like to go hunting."
"Like for deer? My dad said he would take me hunting when I got older."
Remus frowned and looked away. Silas was newly bitten, taken from a village that the pack had passed through two weeks earlier. The boy had been the only survivor.
"Yeah, deer and . . . other things," Rollo said. "People. Humans that aren't like us. Greyback, the man that you're not to look in the eyes or speak to without being spoken to first, likes to have . . . entertainment the morning following the full moon. If humans that are hunted during the night survive until morning without being bitten, they're—" He stopped, hesitating when another scream echoed in the clearing from across the campsite.
"They die?" Silas asked.
Rollo nodded. "You don't have to go. Greyback likes the children to watch, but it's not law. You can stay with your . . ." He looked up and smiled at Katya. "You can stay right where you are. I'll have my mate bring 'round some of that famous tea of hers. Helps to soothe the throat." He gently squeezed the boy's arm before standing up.
Remus handed over the pitcher of water to Katya's outstretched hand, giving Silas one last reassuring smile before retreating with Rollo. "Were there any new children?" he asked quietly, sighing in relief when Rollo shook his head.
The morning after a full moon was often a busy one. Those who had managed to kill something were given a werewolf-style triumph the likes of which reminded him of books he had once read about celebrated war heroes in ancient Rome. If a werewolf managed to infect someone, the newly bitten were taken and tended by Tasha and then put on a parade in front of everyone else. Children were automatically given out to females of the pack to raise. Men were given a mentor of sorts, and women were offered up to either their maker or another high ranking wolf as a mate. Remus had been offered six females this year alone, declining all of them because the thought of taking a woman against her will was base even for monsters like him.
Sometimes, humans were captured without being infected, usually by wolves who embraced the curse and therefore had a better control of it day to day. They would bring their catch back to the pack and the humans were slaughtered in front of the others. Though it was not compulsory to attend for the children, Greyback encouraged it—considered it educational. It was his job to desensitise the young ones to bloodshed early on. He said that had been his failure with Remus. He had been left to be raised by his parents—raised human.
The adults, however, would be noticed if missing, which was why Remus had left Katya to finish tending to Silas, joining Rollo as they made their way to the clearing where the other wolves had gathered around in a circle to slaughter the previous night's catch.
A man in the centre of the circle let out a blood-curdling scream as Seff bit into the back of his neck, knocking him to the ground. Still sensitive from the full moon, everyone heard the echoing snap of a spine as Seff bit down harder. The man, a Muggle from the smell of him, widened his eyes in horror as his limbs gave out on him, his body colliding harshly with the ground. Seff stood up, wiping the blood from his mouth with a laugh. Some cheered. Others stared on in horror, unable to do a thing as they heard the Muggle struggling to breathe, left for dead.
One of the children nearby began to cry. Before Seff could take action, Remus clamped a hand over the girl's mouth and knelt down behind her. "Don't cry, Willa. I know it's hard. I won't tell you it gets better, because it doesn't. But maybe, if you're strong and you live long, you'll grow into someone who can help these people one day."
Rollo sighed. "Don't give the girl false hope. We know what werewolves are good for."
Remus sent his friend a glare. He had said the words more to himself than to the little girl, and he would not have his hopes dashed. His whole reason for being with the pack was for the hope that one day the killing could end. Spying for the Order had never been his choice, of course, but Remus knew that Dumbledore would not have asked him to go if he could not be useful in the war against Voldemort. Death Eaters were murdering Muggles and wizard alike, and there was no way of tracking them thus far.
Werewolves, however, could be followed. Unfortunately, the pack was impossible to infiltrate unless you were a werewolf yourself. Dumbledore had heard rumours that Voldemort was looking to extend a hand of friendship to Greyback, which was exactly why Remus had been forced to endure living with the pack for as long as he had. It was why he could do nothing to stop the bloodshed at the hands of his fellow wolves. Lose the battle, win the war. It made him sick, but he had yet to get close enough to his maker without being forced to commit heinous acts himself. It was one line Remus refused to cross. He would not kill an innocent person in the name of the Greater Good.
Greyback, on the other hand . . . Remus imagined his death many times.
Another scream split the quiet tension in the circle. This time, instead of a Muggle being slaughtered, Remus looked up to see a witch being dragged into the centre of the circle by a chain in Greyback's hand. Fenrir looked amused for all of two seconds before she swung at him, scratching his face and drawing blood. Greyback growled, baring sharpened teeth at the young woman.
She did not even flinch.
When Greyback bore down upon her in an attempt to intimidate, he got too close and she lashed out again, sinking her teeth into the side of his neck and biting down hard. He roared, pulling away from her. Many in the circle took a step back in shock until the man started laughing.
Striking her across the face, the woman fell to the ground while Greyback touched a hand to the side of his neck, amused at the sight of blood. "Aren't you a spiteful little thing? Would you like to apologise?"
She turned and glared up at him, spitting blood on the ground. "I'm going to kill you."
Greyback and his favoured lackeys all laughed.
Even from where he stood, Remus could see the tiniest hint of gold already in the brown of the woman's eyes—a telltale sign of her recent infection. Wild, honey brown curls were suddenly fisted in Greyback's hand as he tilted her head back to expose her throat. She was young, close to his own age, if Remus were to guess. Most of the pack averted their gazes, but others gazed lecherously at her naked form. Remus, on the other, hand could not help but watch in awe of the wave of raw magic that vibrated on her bare skin. He shivered at the sight.
"We've got a wild one, boys!" Greyback pulled the woman to her feet. "Thought it mighty funny to separate Kurt's head from his shoulders last night. Mmm." He ran his nose against her cheek, ignoring when she yanked her head away in disgust. "I love a passionate wolf unafraid of slaughter. Unfortunately for you, girly, my current mate doesn't take too kindly to sharing me. That, and I've a bit more sense than to put my cock anywhere near your teeth."
Fenrir moved around the circle, dragging her with him by her hair in one hand, and the chain around her neck in the other. Most of the women turned the children around as the woman was brought nearby, shielding their eyes. Remus thought it was a bit ridiculous that they would allow the young ones to watch a slaughter, but the naked form of a newly bitten human was too much.
"Fighter," Rollo commented. "You think she's involved in that human war? The one with that bloke that Greyback's been going on about?"
Remus narrowed his eyes, looking over the woman's body. Unlike some of the other men who were leering at her exposed breasts and other areas, Remus took notice of the purple scar across her rib cage, and another on her forearm—a word that he could not make out. "She's been cursed," he muttered quietly.
"Come on up, boys!" Greyback ordered.
Remus looked down, tired and sickened.
Rollow patted him on the back. "Go on, mate."
Joining Greyback's other progeny, Remus stood in line with two other men between him and Seff with five more on either side. He kept his gaze forward, mechanically, not wanting to deal with this monstrous display of tradition. He did, however, pay attention, making mental notes of who said and did what. He would not be allowed to act against his own kind now, not with a war hanging in the balance, but whenever he managed to send word back to Dumbledore, Remus included every crime he had witnessed, hoping that one day werewolves like Greyback and Seff would pay for the things they had done.
"I ain't afraid of a little fire in my women," Seff said, licking blood from off his bottom lip from his earlier kill. "If she likes to bite so much, maybe I'll just knock all her teeth out, aye?"
Greyback laughed. "You've already got a woman, haven't you?"
Seff scoffed. "She won't survive another two moons," he said, disgusted. "Weak, she is. I'd rather have one that can handle pain."
"You know the rules, lad," Greyback said with a smirk as he pulled the woman along with him, walking back and forth in from of the men. "Any other takers? Dane? Anthony?"
"I prefer blondes, myself," Dane replied. "What's yer name, pretty one?"
When she did not reply, Greyback yanked on the chain, causing her to yelp in pain. "Her-Hermione!"
"Pretty name fer a pretty—Ah!" Dane screamed when the girl broke free of Greyback's grip, sending the heel of her foot into his groin and forcing the man to his knees. The others laughed at his expense, and Dane cursed in between dry heaving.
While the others were busy laughing at Dane and salivating at the sight of the woman, Remus did his duty and simply looked up, pretending to at least show a slight interest to avoid Greyback forcing the issue. When he did, his mouth fell open. Her gaze was right on him. Gone was the hatred, the fire, the utter contempt. Her lips parted, eyes wide in obvious recognition, and he swore that he saw her mouth his name.
Shocked, as he was certain that he did not know her, Remus's heart began to beat in earnest. Was she someone from the Order? Had she been sent there to pull him out on Dumbledore's orders? Was there news from James and Lily? From Peter? From Sirius? Had this poor witch—no . . . this fighter—been on her way to help him only to get caught up in werewolf politics?
"Well, well, well," Greyback muttered in amusement. "Have we finally found a girl to get your attention, Lupin? Take a look at this. Boy, I'd been worried that you didn't even want to mate. It's your right, you know." Still holding onto the end of her chain, Greyback released the woman's hair, throwing her forward and into Remus's arms.
She stumbled, catching herself with her palms against his bare chest. Remus braced her, hands on her arms. She flinched in pain and he pulled back, realising that he had touched the bite wound left behind by Kurt. He looked down, eyes finally connecting with the scar on her forearm. Mudblood. Shaking at the thought of Lily back home, alive or dead, he did not know, Remus returned his gaze to the woman's face. "Are you all right?"
She let out a small, sad laugh, tears welling in her eyes. "We have to get out of here," she whispered.
"I think she likes you," Greyback teased and the wolves around him burst into laughter, all but Anthony, who was growling enviously. "Yes or no, Lupin. Will you finally take a mate?"
"I . . . No . . . I . . ."
The woman's fingernails lightly dug into his chest as though she were trying to find purchase there to prevent from being pulled away from him. "Do it," she said quietly. "Take me. Take me, and we'll leave."
Remus shook his head. "You don't understand. You're injured, and you—"
"I know more than you think . . . Moony."