Chapter Five

Thorfinn squeezed his eyes shut, his midsection clenching in what was almost a dry heave. He thought he'd never get the sound of this out of his head, now. Or, that he'd at least have grown accustomed to it. As it turned out, however, there was no growing accustomed to the sound of claws repeatedly tearing through flesh.

Well, maybe there was, but it certainly didn't happen in a matter of hours. All that wretched noise was doing at this point was nauseating him.

"Stop, stop," he finally shouted, unable to take the sound anymore.

Roman chuckled, though the noise he uttered was—at bloody friggin' last—edged with exhaustion, as he turned to face Thorfinn. "Sorry, problem, grand-pup? Is that what I should call you?" He rolled his eyes in thought before nodded in agreement with his own thoughts. "Yes, pup of my pup, after all, and I believe I quite like the ring to that. Grand-pup? As you were saying?"

Thorfinn glowered, the only one in this damned cave who wasn't, yet, a fully-fledged werewolf, he was perfectly aware he the most powerless. But he was just so blinking tired right now. He wanted this all to end, already—he couldn't even feel his arms, anymore.

"I was saying . . . ." He paused, dragging in a long, reluctant yawn. Merlin, just how long had it been since he'd actually slept? "I was saying stop, he clearly doesn't have a clue where they might be."

"Stay out of this," Fenrir managed in a low, growling tumble of words.

"Oh, you shut it! You're the entire reason I'm stuck here. He's clearly going to murder us, both. Right now, he's just keeping us around to torture us. Maybe he gets his jollies from it, I don't know and I don't fucking care, Greyback!"

Roman tsk'ed. "That is a rather unfair judgement."

Sputtering an exasperated laugh, Thorfinn shrugged, only to immediately wince. The movement reminded him of the strain in his shoulders from his arms being pinned over his head for so long. "I don't care 'bout anything you've got to say, or your reasons. Do you hear me? I do not care. Do you want to know why I don't care?"

Those unnerving, crimson-tinged eyes sparkled in amusement at the young man's bravado. "You know what?" He turned his back on Fenrir and strolled closer to Thorfinn. Halting just beyond arms length, Roman tapped a thoughtful, clawed finger against his jaw. "I do want to know."

"You've already told us you're going to kill us. And it's pretty bloody evident he doesn't know where these she-wolves you're talking about might be. Even if he did, we're dead, anyway. So, no. I do not care that you are some scary ancient thing that never tires of disembowelment." Thorfinn winced again, bracing himself for the rippling soreness as he shrugged, once more. "You will kill us, no matter what. I know it, you know it, Greyback knows it. So, I can only think you're dragging it out like this because you're enjoying it, not because you think he's actually got an answer."

Roman nodded, a thoughtful frown tugging the corners of his mouth downward as he nodded. "You know what, Grand-pup? You may just have a point." With a second nod, he looked from Thorfinn to Fenrir, and back. "Then again, perhaps I am not using the proper motivation. He never bonded as a pack with me, this much is true. However, maybe my pup will feel more strongly compelled to find an answer if it is his pup in danger, rather than himself, hmm?"

Fenrir's bleary and dazed amber eyes shot wide at his maker's words. "No!"

Oh, fucking hell, Thorfinn thought—prepared to die was one thing, prepared to feel his guts torn out was quite another—turning his face away and tensing against whatever might come.

The strike for which he'd braced himself never came. But Thorfinn knew precisely what had halted Roman in mid-swing. Those muttered words that had just tumbled from Fenrir's lips.

Opening his eyes, he looked up. A cruel grin curved Roman's mouth as he met his grand-pup's gaze before pivoting on his heel, his clawed hand still in the air.

"What was that?"

Thorfinn growled under his breath, aware Roman was toying with Fenrir. He'd heard the word clearly, himself, and it was something that sent a sickening twinge curling through the pit of his stomach.

"Mudblood . . . ." Fenrir shook his head, hating himself. He didn't know their location, so there was the hope Roman couldn't glean any further information from what he did know.

Thorfinn's features twisted in a snarl. There was only ever one Mudblood Fenrir Greyback had fancied enough to consider biting, he'd made no secret about that.

Unable to control his anger, Thorfinn found himself trying to pull away from the wall, tugging at his chains with renewed vigor. "You bit Hermione, you son of a bitch?!"

He was too distracted by his own rage to find Roman's warped chuckling unsettling, anymore.

Exhaling through his nostrils, Fenrir shook his head. His attention locked on the ground before him, he could distinctly hear Roman's footfalls as his maker stalked closer to him. "That'd be her. I don't know the other one's name. That was an attack of opportunity, I never imagined she'd survive. And I really don't know where they are. Haven't the foggiest idea, since I've not seen hide nor hair of either of those girls since the day I bit them."

Roman nodded, drawing to a halt just before him. "Is that all?"

Fenrir shook his head once more, shrugging against his bonds. He knew Thorfinn would never forgive him for this—for biting her, or for giving Roman information—but perhaps it would buy them some time to figure a way out of this. If Thorfinn would stop growling and snarling long enough to think clearly.

He was perfectly aware Thorfinn didn't know about the ace up his sleeve. The one Roman hadn't mentioned, but then Orias Mulciber had been the one Fenrir had bitten last that day. Perhaps Roman had already turned away before then, convinced there was no more to see.

If Orias was ambling about anywhere near those girls, he would've fallen prey to his own instincts and gone to find them. And it was how close to the wolf that one seemed as a mere human wizard that had fueled Fenrir's choice to bite him in the first place.

"I promise you, I've got no idea where they are. But, I know HER. Fierce little protector-type, that one. If my quick-kill truly survived, my Mudblood is probably watching over her. So, wherever they are, they're together."

A few words spilled out of Thorfinn, then, barely intelligible among the furious animal sounds he was emitting. "Your Mudblood?"

Roman only chuckled, once more. Stroking his bearded chin thoughtfully, he said, "So they are just out there? Stumbling about somewhere in the ether?"

"Would seem so." Fenrir braced for a renewed flurry of gut-ripping swipes.

He didn't know if it was better or worse when Roman instead uttered the sentence, "Appears I am going to need some bait, then, does it not?"

"Would this be a—a proper time to say I don't like this?"

Hermione's shoulders slumped as she and Orias—moving at the same time—both stopped in their tracks and turned to face the blonde witch-wolf. She merely stared back at them, blinking adorably.

"Are you saying that because you've foreseen this going badly?"

Lavender shook her head at her girlfriend's question. "Oh, no. I just don't like all this—all this skulking about in the dark of night business."

The wizard chuckled, shaking his head. "We're werewolves now, Seer. I imagine we'll be getting up to 'skulking about in the dark of night' much more often in the future."

Waving dismissively in Mulciber's direction, Hermione then placed gentle hands on the other witch's shoulders. "I know it's not a pleasant idea, but Mr. Olivander hasn't returned to work, yet, and you need a wand. I'm sure if he knew our circumstances, he might be sympathetic to us and want to help—he remembers helping us select our first wands when we were just little girls. Whatever we find is probably not going to be a perfect fit, but if any of the wands start wreaking havoc, we'll need to run, fast, with whatever we've got."

Truth be told, Hermione didn't much like the idea of sneaking into Mr. Olivander's shop, either. She also didn't believe he'd be quick to help a bunch of werewolves—especially not with a Death Eater in their midst—but she did believe that if it were only her and Lavender, and the elder wizard understood they were trying to protect people they might actually need to help them survive their circumstances, then he would be sympathetic enough to help the girls he remembered as eleven year olds. One of them being a War Hero and all that would probably tip the scales in their favor, as well.

War Hero . . . skulking about the backway of Diagon Alley with a Death Eater and a girl everyone thought had died in said war. Oh, how had her life even taken this turn?

Lavender wasn't quite buying it, but she understood Hermione's reasons, and knew her alpha was correct—she did need a wand. She did not at all fancy the notion of having to hide, or standing about like a useless little lump as Hermione and Orias did all the fighting if things got sticky.

Nodding, she patted Hermione's hands. "You're right, let's just—just get this over with."

With a nod of his own, Orias turned right back around and started for the rear entrance of the wand shop. "Now, I've been keeping account of the um, currently unmanned establishments in Knockturn and Diagon—"

"Gee, can't imagine why," Hermione said with a shake of her head. She might've nearly shagged the man within mere moments of meeting him—and be of a mind to do it again as soon as the opportunity presented itself—but it was never far from her thoughts that he was, in fact, a literal criminal.

Well, by pure technicality, she was, too, but there was a difference!

He frowned at her over his shoulder, but kept walking. "Be fair, Little Witch. A man in my situation needs to be aware of what can and can't work to his advantage if he's to survive long."

"He's not wrong," Lavender said in a small voice as she slipped her hand into Hermione's, keeping pace at her side.

Hermione only sighed. Of course he wasn't wrong; she was no stranger to the lengths one would go to for survival.

"As I was saying before you interrupted me, you infuriating little sexpot, is that I know which shops are warded, and which are not. As it turns out, the wand shop—surprisingly enough—is not." He shrugged as he came to a halt before the establishment's backdoor. "Mostly due to the way he made his exit that last time. He didn't exactly have time to put wards in place on his way out."

Wincing, Hermione asked, "You're not one of the ones who dragged poor Mr. Olivander out of here, are you?"

He chuckled at that. "Me? No, no. Dark Lord usually reserved me for things that require actual muscle."

At the reminder, both witches gave him a once-over and nodded. They mumbled agreements about understanding Voldemort's thinking on that count, which only caused Orias to laugh harder.

"But the incident isn't unknown to me. Everyone assumes a wand shop will be guarded, so no one bothered to really check, but also . . . ." He gripped one hand around the knob of the backdoor and pointed his wand at it with the other. "No one else bothered to try breaking in. Alohomora."

The girls cringed, waiting for something to happen. When no sound met their ears aside from that of the door creaking open, they both looked up, wide-eyed.

Smirking, he opened the door all the way. "Ladies first." He swept an arm toward the darkened interior.

Hermione squared her shoulders, illuminating her own wand as she tugged Lavender with her to head inside. She wasn't at all surprised to feel Orias' hand swat her on the bum as she moved passed him.