A/N A one-shot for you, this is a pairing I have had on my list since I started writing fanfiction. I have a longer story that I have had outlined for a while, but it never seems to sit right, so I wanted to have a go at writing a shorter tale. This one began life as an entry for The Mixtape and sort of took on a life of its own (which is why that fic never gets updated as the last three I have tried have ended up as their own stories).
Big love to Kreeblim Sabs who swept in and held my hand during this process. My work is infinitely better for your feedback.
It's like you're screaming, and no one can hear
You almost feel ashamed
That someone could be that important
That without them, you feel like nothing
No one will ever understand how much it hurts
You feel hopeless; like nothing can save you
And when it's over, and it's gone
You almost wish that you could have all that bad stuff back
So that you could have the good
Rihanna ft. Calvin Harris - We Found Love 
Hermione laid on her side, one shoulder pressed against the hard ground with her bruised knees drawn up against her chest. She kept as still as possible as she tried to fully regain consciousness. She attempted to stretch an arm out in front of her, testing her mobility, as she did so the sun moved above the vibrant leaf canopy of the forest, and the sudden harsh light attacked her already sensitive eyes. Hermione immediately averted her fuzzy gaze, focusing instead on the trampled earth.
With her ear almost fully pressed to the ground Hermione could hear everything for metres around her, she would be able to pick up sounds from a much broader radius when her breathing slowed, her laboured pants were currently dulling her perception.
Tiny footfalls stepped cautiously into a barren patch of soil a few feet away. Hermione almost felt her ears move towards the noise, as they would have done in her other form. The separation of her two halves was never complete just because the last bone had cracked back into place; her mind took longer to adjust.
Another persistent tap on the ground alerted Hermione to a procession of insects that were walking in an ordered formation slightly further away. She almost managed a smile. The wildlife was returning to the clearing now that her inner predator had fallen silent.
Hermione envied them their reprieve.
She looked down at her pale skin, more toned now than it has been before, a side effect of all of the running, a positive she supposed. Hermione risked stretching her arm again, flexing her worn muscles and watched as the shadows from the trees above danced shapes across her fingers. For once her flesh was largely unblemished. Or rather, there were no notable additions to her existing patchwork of imperfections.
She had been more sedate under the gaze of the moon of late.
There was something soothing about staring at her skin following a change; it allowed her a pause to catch her breath, it let her mind to catch up. Running her hands over the newly emerged flesh was a ritual of sorts, something she did remind herself that she was a woman again, at least in appearances. Hermione used to crave nothing other than to be human, wholly human. It would be the last prayer on her lips as she fell to her knees, as her bones began to twist and reform, the first beg ripped from her throat as she woke up, vulnerable and sore.
Now she craved the wolf.
She had become restless for the ascent of the moon, almost frantically tracking its progress in the sky, night after night. It's glow meant freedom and Hermione was desperate for the change it brought, the shift in focus, the alteration of mindset, the tunnel vision that her monthly form took.
The wolf lived solely in the present; there were no worries for the future, no concern for the past.
Her humanity, what was left of it, meant caring, it meant having to remember.
So many things had gone wrong the night that Hermione and her friends ended up in the Shrieking Shack. When she had eventually navigated the unforeseen complications that followed, Hermione began to look back to that evening often, blaming herself for how it had all started. She should have known better; she should have allowed herself a moment to think before she acted on impulse. 'Fools rush in,' she had repeated to herself in chastisement, but it didn't do her any good.
He had been the one to convince her that it hadn't been her fault, he was the only one who had noticed that she still carried the burden. His words were not comforting, they never were, he was too matter of fact for such niceties, but the rationale for his conclusion was absolving, and with it came peace. Hermione finally accepted that it was inevitable, fated, beyond her control.
"You were a child," he said, as he moved her hair from around her face to lick along the line of her jaw. When she dropped her head back, he grunted, pressing his teeth against her neck. He didn't use enough pressure to break the skin, just enough to reinforce the finality of his argument.
"But if you had never-"
"I would have found you," he interrupted, "I will always find you."
Hermione remembered dragging Harry behind a tree as Remus' wolf chased Sirius around the Forbidden Forest. She had held her hand over her face and willed her breathing to calm, anxious that her rapid gasping would give away their location. When she risked a glance in the direction of the Whomping Willow, she saw the wolf again, and it was getting far too close to the other Harry. Entirely forgetting their intention to hide, Hermione stepped forward, away from the shelter of the tree, her mind racing. In a moment of pure daring, a moment that she didn't think through, a moment that would begin a chain of events that would alter her life forever, Hermione called a desperate howl into the night, the closest emulation her human vocal chords could make.
She backed up in shock afterwards, stunned by her actions. Though she didn't have time to ruminate on what might be to come, seconds after she heard the unmistakable sound of frantic feet, or paws in this case. An animal moved into the clearing, just beyond the tree they were using as a temporary refuge, and Hermione came face to face with a wolf.
Only, it wasn't Remus.
When Remus had transformed, Hermione had noted how the canine that had emerged looked surprisingly like the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor. The wolf's fur had been the same sandy brown as his hair, and its coat was shabby in places. His eyes, though now a startling amber, seemed tired, even sad.
This wolf, the one in front of her, was completely different. It looked healthier, at least to her estimations, her knowledge of such things was limited and largely hashed together from what little she had gained from Professor Snape's pointed lectures, and an extrapolation of what she knew about dogs, which wasn't much. This wolf's fur was longer, and darker, slate grey with what looked like lighter patches running along the length of its spine. Its eyes were bright and alert though they betrayed no emotion. This wolf was beautiful. Undoubtedly savage and unquestionably wild, but captivating in a way that Hermione didn't quite understand.
Harry ran, his feet responding to the danger in an instant, and he screamed at her to follow, but Hermione was rooted still. The wolf moved forward once her friend had gone, and she watched it's prowling form, transfixed by the rhythmic rotation of its shoulders despite her growing sense of unease.
When it was only a few paces away, it suddenly stopped. It's angular face snapping up and tilting to the side as a gust of wind blew through the clearing, whipping Hermione's hair around her face.
A new stillness crept over them, girl and beast, Hermione had the sense that something was going to happen, something she hadn't prepared for, but whatever it was, it wasn't to be. At that moment Remus caught up to where they were hiding, and his ungainly wolf came bounding into the opening, almost falling over his own legs in his haste to get to her. The other, unknown wolf, lunged in Remus' direction and Hermione ran like hell, suddenly free from whatever madness had been holding her in place.
When she reached Harry the-boy-who-had-so-far-lived was beside himself, having been frantically running around the woods in search of her. Once Hermione had managed to convince him she was alright they stormed off into the night, jittery that they still had so much to achieve, and Hermione forgot about the wolf. For a while at least.
Hermione's stomach rumbled deeply, and she pulled her legs up harder against her chest as if that would help. She didn't want to get up yet. She had a full month of reality to wade through, and that would start as soon as she was upright. She was wallowing, and she knew it, she simply couldn't help herself.
Hermione untangled her other arm from under her head and glanced down at her wrist, her eyes sweeping over the long healed silver markings that wrapped around it. If you looked closely, in the right light, you could still make out the individual teeth marks. In a strange way, it resembled a charm bracelet, the separate puncture wounds, long ago inflicted, had healed to form uneven little scars, all looped together on a thin silver line, left behind by the ancient magic of the venom.
It was a reminder and an eternal one at that.
The unknown wolf had not forgotten about her.
Sleep was hard to come by for Hermione that summer, following their third year. Young as she and her friends were, they had faced so much before and yet, somehow, the end of that term had felt different. Harry's relief in finding Sirius had been snatched away when reality set in; his Godfather had to go back into hiding. The mutual heartbreak of the reconnected family had been weighing on Hermione heavily. There were many nights when she went without the comfort of her bed altogether, instead choosing to wrap herself in a blanket and sit by her bedroom window, overlooking the neat and orderly back garden.
There was something else that disturbed her during those weeks, an agitation, a sense that something in the back of her mind was gnawing at her. Hermione didn't know what it was, so she put it down to the emotional unrest she was feeling on behalf of her friend.
"Was it a warning?" she asked, as she cuddled against his side, tracing her hands across his hard features illuminated by the light of the stars. He growled lowly at her, a soft sound, she knew by now he was far from angry, it was an enquiring noise. "Before you came, what I could sense… the unsettled feeling," she expanded.
He rolled onto his back, dragging her with him and snaking his arms around her tighter. "No," he said as he pulled her up his body till her head rested under his chin. "I was calling you."
"Tit for tat you could say," he replied cryptically, and she meant to press him but he growled again, and this time the sound was different, this time she suspected that he'd had enough of talking.
One night, when Hermione was once again trapped somewhere between awake and asleep, she was sure she could hear a faint mewling. The sound had leaked into her dream, moving amongst the senseless undulating shapes and half memories until she woke with a start, instantly climbing out from under her covers to trudge the familiar path to her window. She scanned what she could make out in the relative darkness, the hour was late, and there were no street lights at all around the back of her parent's property. Hermione had almost given up, ready to write it off as a hyper-realistic part of her dream, and then she spotted it.
There, in the middle of the lawn, was a tiny, scrawny, presumably stray kitten. It must have been in some distress for it to have made that noise but it didn't move, nor did it call out again.
After a moment's indecision Hermione turned away from her window and then, careful not to wake her parents, she put on her fluffy pink slippers and crept out of the back door of her home, walking to the middle of the neatly manicured grass, only to find that it was empty.
As a sense of confusion drifted over her so did a shadow, though Hermione didn't notice the presence until she was stood directly in front of it.
She looked up, and up, and up.
There was a man before her, an unknown man. The stranger was tall and broad, almost the largest person she had ever seen, apart from Hagrid. He had long, dark hair that fell in messy, tangled waves past his shoulders. Hermione regarded him quietly, unsure of her next move. Despite there being nothing notably outlandish about his appearance she felt confident he was magical, and in her experience of meeting people from that world, encounters could go, at best, either way.
"Who are-" Hermione tried, but she never got through the sentence.
"You called to me," the man said, his words sounding as if they had been torn from his throat, the timbre of his speech was so low Hermione almost missed what he had said, entirely caught off guard by the heavy vibration. The man's nostrils flared, and from somewhere some semblance of understanding seemed to ripple through her. Hermione took a step back, aware of the moon's glow illuminating the garden for the first time.
The stranger looked up into the sky, the change of angle highlighting his feral appearance. The man didn't fit into the quiet mundaneness of the environment they were standing in, amongst the neatly trimmed hedges and potted geraniums. He didn't belong. He glanced back at Hermione his mouth set into a grim line; there was a savage glint in his eyes that made dread pool in her stomach.
"Don't run," he commanded gruffly and once again, just like she had experienced while in the forest, Hermione's feet rooted to the spot. She suspected a spell at first but quickly realised he had done nothing of the sort. Whatever sense was responsible for the whispers in the back of her mind she didn't know, but it was telling her to hold her position.
The man shifted then, seemingly at will, the moon may have been full in the sky, but it had been so for hours, and he had definitely been a man when he arrived. The stranger placed himself on the ground, on all fours, and shook himself until his human form seemed to melt away. Hermione's panicked mind briefly pondered how many people would have seen a transformation before, of two different wolves no less. She wondered if any of those witnesses were still living, whether she would be, after tonight, and yet she remained motionless.
It was nothing like what had happened when she had seen Remus change; there were no screams, no pleading, just several grunts and the tearing up of her mother's ornate grass border. The distinct lack of noise meant there was nothing to mask the nauseatingly unpleasant sound of his ripping skin. There was an echoing of crunched bone, and then suddenly the slate grey wolf was there looking at her.
They stared across the gap they had between themselves for a moment, wolf and girl, predator and prey, and Hermione reminded herself over and over not to run. If she ran he might carry on when he was done with her; he might move into the house, to her parents. When the wolf leant forward, apparently preparing for a charge, Hermione clenched her fists, running her mantra of stillness on repeat in her mind. The wolf made his move so suddenly she didn't have time to brace, and she was swiftly knocked back onto her bum as it's large body collided with her chest.
After all the tension Hermione almost laughed, the action was more playful than dangerous, looking back that was why the bite came as such a shock. As she got her breath back on the ground the wolf's head turned and its jaw secured around her wrist, clamping its sharp teeth down hard into her flesh.
Hermione gasped as she felt the intense burning pain of the wound course up her arm, but she couldn't focus on the blood that fell, not for long. Sudden nausea overtook her, and she slumped back into the damp grass, gurgling liquid foaming at her lips. She learnt later that the venom the wolf released had entered her bloodstream almost instantly, prizing her away from any conscious perception of the world around her. Her memory of the entire night was hazy, even to this day, she could remember the dew of the morning seeping into her nightdress, and she could recall a heavy weight over her torso. She assumed the wolf must have stayed as she never felt the chill of the night.
As dawn began to break through the clouds, Hermione only remembered one thing, four words that seemed to float back to her on the morning breeze.
"You'll be stronger now."
Then she was alone.
Hermione didn't know how she had gotten up off the ground, but she had, not only that but she somehow summed up enough energy and determination to write a letter to Professor Lupin. The scrawl-covered, barely legible parchment she sent off was smeared in the dried blood and dirt that coated her hands. Under normal circumstances, Hermione would have been horrified to send such a missive, but etiquette had seemed rather redundant at that point. She collapsed from the overwhelming exhaustion soon after.
Thankfully her former professor apparated to where she was directly, reviving her and helping her clean herself up before she was discovered by her parents.
Her teacher had left Hogwarts at the end of the last term, under a cloud of sadness. Hermione was more than certain that he would not have wanted to be disturbed from his wallowing by her problems, but she didn't have a choice, who else could she have turned to after such an event?
She explained everything when he arrived, slowly, and out of order, entirely as the memories came back to her. The horror of the bite, the feelings she had ignored all summer, and the lure that had been set, leaving the description of the stranger till last.
"Fenrir Greyback," Professor Lupin had concluded, with a bitterness that Hermione could feel the beginnings of deep within her chest. He followed up his conclusion with a tale of his own and Hermione sat in rapt silence, keeping her hands pressed against the mug of chocolate he had made for her, with her lips firmly closed. She had never heard him speak about his life before, only snippets, and he gave her chapter and verse then, she wondered when he had last confided the extent of the hardship he had suffered to anyone.
When he finished, Remus, as he insisted she call him, tenderly bandaged her wrist, mopping away the rest of the gore before obscuring the wound from sight behind a fresh white gauze.
"It will never heal," she said aloud, as she rested her cup on the table in front of her. It wasn't a question, and Remus didn't make to answer as if it were. Instead, he released the top three buttons of his shirt, moving the worn collar aside to reveal a bite mark that had been implanted deep within his shoulder. The scaring was extensive, the skin lumpy around the area where jaws had taken hold. Hermione's almost looked tidy in comparison.
"Snap," Remus said forlornly as he nodded his head in the direction of her arm and weirdly, despite it being such a sad thing, it made Hermione feel almost hopeful. With that tiny gesture of inclusion he had somehow pushed back the dark clouds that were circling over her head, if only for a moment.
When Remus made to leave he promised he would be back to guide her through the first change though he seemed as nervous as she was, maybe even more so. When Hermione followed him to the back door, he brushed the backs of his fingers across her cheek and tucked a bit of her wild hair behind her ear.
"I'll look after you Hermione," he had promised.
She never told him how she had rushed to be sick in the kitchen basin after he had gone, how she had gripped the side of the counter helplessly as her body shuddered all over.
It was the first of many things she came to hide from him.
As the sun moved ever higher in the traitorously bright sky the leaves above Hermione's prone form began to provide a less and less adequate shelter. She knew she needed to go soon; it wouldn't do to be found here, naked as the day she was born. Being hauled before the authorities, Muggle or magical, to explain herself was hardly high on her list of things to do.
There was once a time when she would have been ashamed to be seen undressed, or afraid of how vulnerable it made her, neither of those things mattered to her now.
The wolf had made her harden, the monthly transformations fortified her bleeding heart, or at least, she no longer went into battle for those that didn't deserve it. From the moment that the venom had entered her bloodstream, Hermione became less and less convinced of the reality of her previous perceptions. She left her sphere of black and white; the bite had set her on a path, a murky winding dirt road that ended in a world of grey.
On reflection, it was like she matured to become more ready for him, less innocent, more jaded, less willing to accept the failings of those around her. Hermione had wondered for a time if it was just the wolf, the new, wild, untamed part of her soul making her withdraw a little from humans so that their censure would eventually hurt less. People looked at her differently now, even those she was close too.
As time went on Hermione stopped thinking that the bite had corroded her, she stopped believing that it had somehow reached into her mind and twisted her personality. She hadn't changed, not in essentials. It had unlocked a part of her, who she was under all of her human doubts and insecurities.
"You'll be stronger now."
In the beginning, Hermione thought it was the hate that she had for him that kept her going, the emotion was so intense, so consuming, at times it felt like she had to get up earlier in the day, just to burn it off by sunset. The unending want for vengeance kept her breathing, she worked harder than she ever had before, but not just for exams, she trained for war.
When the fighting broke out Hermione threw herself into the conflict with gusto, the rage within her stoked the flames that her wolf ignited. Every duel was a duel closer to fighting with him. Every time she would narrowly cheat death she would think of it as the universe's way of paying her back, making sure she lived so she could kill him.
Especially when the moon was close.
When the pale orb hung in the night sky, Hermione could feel him there, in her very blood, as if her veins were filled with traitorous plasma, a betraying liquid that desired nothing more than to call to his. It itched along her skin; it felt as if it was pulling to the surface of her flesh as if it could physically haul her towards him.
Hermione was open about the hate, she told her friends daily, though with softer language than the words that ran freely in her mind. She would talk about him, her plans, her desires, and they would all nod along happily, or in Ginny's case, offer to go along to help her. They told her how she was right to feel that way, after all, he had robbed Hermione of her way of existence, had crushed her hopes for the future.
Hermione wasn't honest about the bitterness she felt towards the rest of the world and how they looked at her now that she was twice cursed, first as a Muggleborn and now as a wolf. She wondered if Malfoy would be able to come up with something apt to call her now that Mudblood only went half way to describing her taint.
Hermione wasn't honest about the tears, or the inexplicably blinding sense of betrayal that had sunk into her heart far, far deeper than any of her righteous anger had burrowed. She swallowed up the hurt that seemed almost physically incapacitating.
Hurt that he had turned her and then never come.
Hermione's eyes fell back to the twisted leaves, lying haphazardly on the forest floor, she apathetically wondered if it had been her that had dislodged them while running about as her freer self. It had been silly to come here, back to the Forest of Dean, but as she had neared the time the day before the idea had taken root in the back of her mind, and bubbled away like an unwatched cauldron until she felt she had no choice but to go.
She slowly moved one of her feet, angling it this way and that, checking for breakages. It seemed today she had been lucky, almost a first for this patch of woodland.
There were so many memories here, as many bad as good, but Hermione had gotten to a point in her life where she no longer made the distinction between those vague, catch-all definitions, as clearly as she once would have. She found that sometimes it was good to remember, however hard the memory itself was, in fact, sometimes those were the best things to think about, the images associated with pain and loss came back clearer than any of the happy ones.
It was good to feel. Even tears could be cathartic.
In times of separation from him Hermione had the marks on her body, connections he had imprinted on her, abrasions that she could stare at and know that it had all been real. Sometimes all she would feel was hate, but it was still something.
From Remus she had nothing. On a body like hers, lined by scars that all told a story, he wasn't represented. It felt wrong. He had never wounded her, not seriously, not once.
Hermione wished he had; she couldn't help but believe that a scar would be a damn sight more comforting than lying in the empty forest.
It took a year of closeted, painful transformations under soul-crushingly sedate moons before Remus finally gave in to Hermione's begging to have the change outside. The older wolf was reluctant, a fact he reminded her of often, and yet he went along with it because she believed it would make her happy.
Remus erected a large warded area in a forest that Hermione had visited as a child, and though the sight of the containment field made her heart sink, she knew it was better than nothing. It was better than being anaesthetized and locked underground; it was better than thrashing against a cage built by your friends and waking up to treat the wounds that you had inflicted on yourself. She had no idea how Remus had managed it that long.
"Where are we going to change?" she asked as they moved through the dense wood, she had been following him for what felt like hours, and it wouldn't be long before the moon was full. She was starting to get nervous.
"Here," he said dismissively, not bothering to turn around to face her. Her feet stopped working, panic gripping her chest. After a few more strides he must have realised she was no longer keeping up and he spun on his heel, no doubt ready to chastise her about her slow pace. But, when he took in her laboured pants the familiar expression of fury fell from his face, and he stepped towards her. His big rough hands coming to rest on either side of her face.
"Where did they put you?" he asked, his eyes flashing amber, a darker hue than she could ever remember having seen before. He looked so frightening at that moment that she had to whisper to herself that he wasn't angry with her.
"In a cage," she murmured, and his hands reflectively gripped her tighter, his rigid fingers pressing against the bone of her jaw until she whimpered. He released her instantly, standing back for a moment and running his hands through his hair as if he would tear clumps out.
When he looked back up again, his eyes were still amber, though now they were full of determination as he gathered her up in his arms and carried her the rest of the way.
Remus had been her partner during the moon's, and Hermione was endlessly grateful for the support and friendship he had provided. He had held her during that first transition when she had screamed in agony and cried her anguish into the night. He had propped her up whenever she had needed it, running his hands through her hair when the mornings had poked through, telling her that she was still beautiful, still worthy, still loved.
Remus had kept true to his word, and done everything within his power to ease her into her new reality. He had taught her, protected her and cherished to the best of his ability, even though Hermione could see how hard it was for him to see the good in her when he could not recognise it in himself.
But it wasn't enough.
There was something missing, some void that would not be filled, no matter how much reassurance he gave. Hermione would ask him about it and Remus would merely shrug, offering some excuse about not being au fait with the details of pack life, he would make a joke about being a lone wolf, and they would both laugh, but it wouldn't be enough to cut through the tension that was there whenever she probed along those lines.
There were times when she would look up to find Remus watching her, something incredibly close to pity in his eyes before he would quickly turn away.
He knew something, and it unnerved her.
His little looks and evaded questions would come back to Hermione when she tried restlessly to fall to sleep at night. With everything she had already been through, would have to continue to endure, what could he be afraid to tell her?
Hermione attempted to tune out the sounds of the forest around her, focusing in on the faint pulse of her heartbeat. It was a trick that he had taught her, the oversensitive hearing, a side effect of her bite, could be overwhelming at times. When the other noises fell away, Hermione breathed out a sigh of relief before she began to contemplate how much more isolated she felt without the gentle rustles caused by the creatures around her, and yet, she was no more alone than she had been for most of her life.
Hermione had been surrounded by people for most of her school years, those that she was bonded with through their common cause. She was relied upon, she was their friend, their associate, but she never really felt like their equal.
She had been a child among adults, an awkward girl among confident teens.
A wolf among humans.
It was years before Hermione saw him again. Painful years in which her little gang of friends were shunted from standing on the precipice of open war to existing wholly within its jaws. The support network she had built was spread around the country, she was separated from Remus by necessity, the trio had a monumental task and they had been entrusted it with microscopic instruction. All she had left was faith, in the others, sometimes in herself. Dark and lonely years.
"Why did you not come before?" She asked one night after spending what felt like hours building up the courage. She scowled at him as he smirked, his self-satisfied expression confirming to her that he had picked up on her distress.
He paid her dark look no heed as his hand ran up and down her sides. "You needed protecting from me far more than anyone else back then," he replied, as he softly nipped at the bruised skin on her hip bone.
"And I don't need protecting from you now?"
He didn't answer.
Hermione had been running, hard, her blood was pumping so fast in her veins she was sure the creatures in the woods around her could hear it. The wolf made her faster, helped her legs carry with fluidity, even when she was in human form, but it wasn't going to be enough.
She dimly registered one Snatcher's particularly coarse calls of excitement when he had spotted her. Some time later, when her brain began to process more than just frantic calls for her to accelerate, she was alert enough to realise that she had unknowingly let herself become separated from Ron and Harry during the chase. She had allowed herself to become more vulnerable than ever.
Still, she pushed on, ignoring the rawness of her throat and the aching souls of her feet, if she could just get outside of the anti-apparation wards, maybe it would be enough to…
There was a thump, a dull noise that rang out from the tree lined path behind her. Hermione stopped, the pause so abrupt she nearly toppled over. She strode back hesitantly, stepping through the undergrowth where trails of ivy reigned freely, winding around the other plants and obscuring the forest floor. After a few steps she could make out two dark forms, one doubled over the body of the other. The bent over figure wavered as she got close, his hands flexing in the yielding flesh of the Snatcher on the ground as he took a deep inhale of breath rising to his feet.
Not a stranger, and at the same time, entirely nothing but one.
Hermione had heard all of the stories by then, Remus' own had been followed by scores of others. The almost fabled Alpha was said to sweep into houses at night to kill children to send a message to their parent's, because he was driven to, because he wanted to, for fun.
As he stepped forward, leaving Scabior bleeding out on the ground without a backwards glance, he looked every inch the sanguinary wraith the Daily Prophet painted him to be. Blood and gore lined his cruel mouth, dropping down onto his stubble lined chin, his eyes were a bright and fierce amber, and they pierced into Hermione as if they could break through her flesh and fall inside, just as his claw-like hands had done to the Snatcher.
As he stalked towards her Hermione's eyes instantly averted, guided by a force she didn't understand. Her submissive gesture was met by a grunt that she seemed to think sounded pleased before his heavy boots were visible in her line of sight.
His hand came up to reach her face, and he pulled her head up hard, forcing an intense moment of eye contact before he rubbed a blood smeared thumb over her cheek.
Hermione felt every scream of protest she had echoing in her mind die on her lips.
She wasn't sure when he had produced the knife, she only registered it at all when it twisted in his free hand and the blade caught the failing light. He acted quickly, using his grip on her chin to tilt her head to the side before gathering up a thick handful of hair from just behind her ear. He glanced at it for a moment, running his fingers along the limp strands before he looked at her again, his eyes betraying nothing as he suddenly jerked the knife upwards and sliced the clump within his grasp straight out of her head.
"Soon," he said, the single word bringing both unparalleled terror and relief that fell on Hermione like a shower of rain, quenching a thirst she hadn't been aware she had.
Hermione felt a spasm in her spine and she absently wondered if she had any pain potions back at her cottage. She had been getting through her organised phials at an alarming rate, and she could never brew them herself so close to the moon, her senses were just too sharp.
After the war her transformations had gotten worse, the change seemed to take longer, take more out of her. So much so that it could be weeks after and Hermione would still feel the ache deep within her bones. She had believed it was her wolf, reacting to the anguish she felt for the fallen, or, sometimes she allowed herself to believe there may have been another, darker reason, something linked to him.
Hermione closed her eyes as the images came back, the flashes of competing spellfire that signalled the end of the war, the beginning of this new distorted path. Memories that were so real they attacked her senses, the smoke laden madness of the Great Hall, how she had dragged herself over to Remus' side, managing to slump over his prone form as he laid out next to Tonks.
Her wolf had howled as she quietly sobbed.
Both sides of her soul were mourning the loss of her pack.
This time there had been no fallen animal on the ground, no trap set to lure her out from her home, her new home. It wouldn't have worked, this time she knew he was there, she could feel him.
"How do I know when you are there?" She asked from her place in the window seat. She had sacrificed the comfort of the bed long before to look out at the stars.
"You always have so many questions," he sighed, rolling himself over on the soft mattress and dropping an arm over his face as if to block her out.
"You were never here to answer any of them," she countered with a clear rebuke in her tone and he stilled. She expected fury, yells of protest, she had born witness to them before, they didn't scare her, instead, he looked mildly chastised. She thought he was going to answer her question but when he opened his mouth, he caught her by surprise. Like always.
"Did you hate me?" He asked, she didn't know what his eyes betrayed, if anything, she had gone back to gazing out of the window.
"Yes," she replied honestly.
"Do you still?" he pressed, with not a trace of emotion in his voice.
She looked back at him then, tracing the curve of his strong arm that was still obscuring his features. How was it possible that they were only feet apart? The distance in her heart felt like oceans.
Hermione had walked out into her overgrown garden, not bothering to put shoes on her feet. She had long since outgrown wearing anything like the pink fluffy slippers she once had by her bed, the one girly thing that her mum had brought her that she liked. Another token of her childhood and heritage that had been destroyed by blood.
The moment her bare soles connected with the soft lawn he came out from the shadows, moving as slowly as she had. He was just as imposing as ever she noted, in no way diminished from his time on the run. Everyone had said he had died during the final battle but Hermione knew better, she wasn't that lucky.
Energy thrummed between them as she came to a stop in front of him, it was so like that first time, even though she was an adult now. Not that she felt like it, especially at that moment. Even as a grown witch, with experience of battle she was vulnerable before him in so many ways. Her wand was still on the kitchen table, her flimsy summer dress no match for the evening chill let alone his dominant form.
Slowly she raised her face until she met his eyes, and they regarded each other, utterly motionless for a second until his head fell softly to the side. The single movement, the replication of the action she had seen from him while he was in lupine form, was so powerful that her wolf thrashed against her ribs as if dying to get out.
He made a slow process of looking at her, he stared with such an intensity Hermione could have almost sworn she could feel his gaze, but she never moved, she couldn't move.
The pain, the agonising, crippling affliction that had hovered over her for months had gone.
Hermione wanted to turn away from him, to show her back as he had done to her, she wanted to give him a taste of his own bitter medicine.
Instead, she stepped forward, guided by a will she didn't understand and placed a hand on the skin of his chest, a broad expanse of flesh that was exposed by his open shirt buttons. His skin was warm, almost scorching to the touch, and as soon as the pads of her fingers connected he growled faintly at her, the sound vibrating against her palm.
Hermione had dreamt of this moment for years; she had obsessed about what she would do to him, how she would pay him back. A pastiche of her darkest fantasies rushed to the front of her mind, herself locked in a violent fury, biting and scratching her way to making him understand what he had done to her.
Tears rolled out of her eyes and her throat closed.
Now she was close enough all of the unexplained slotted into her mind as if she had always known.
Maybe she had.
Hermione hummed to herself, her first line of defence in blocking out the memories that came filtering back as she woke. That one word taunted her so much more than all of the rest, it lingered in the back of her mind, ever present, like the mark that he had bitten into her neck. The mark that made her his.
The pain was back now; she could feel it waking up inside her. If she had thought it had been bad after the battle that had been nothing in comparison to what separation felt like after he had claimed her.
The first time had been a few weeks after he had first appeared in the garden at her cottage. He hadn't done anything that first night, other than look at her, and allow her faint enquiring touches before disappearing after the sun had started to rise.
But he kept coming back.
"You have no idea what it felt like to leave you then," he grunted at her, irritation leaking into his tone.
She set her jaw and looked back into his angry face without the merest hint of a flinch, the argument was familiar and she was done letting him have his way. "So you say, but you never do anything you don't want to if you had wanted to stay you would have found away."
He bared his teeth at her, leaping forward as she made to leave the room, blocking her path before he pinned her against the back of the door.
"Do not test me, I am not just your mate I am your Alpha," he growled, dropping his face, so their eyes were level.
"Forgive me," she bit out acidly, "for so long you were neither."
Eventually, words were exchanged, silence had been defining characteristics of their relationship and Hermione was sick of it. She had been overcome by the sight of him on the first night, almost thinking when she walked back into her house the morning after that it had all been a dream. But that feeling didn't stay around for long. Hermione had questions, endless ones, accusations and grievances too.
So they talked, her words were ones of mistrust, of drawing lines in the sand, of independence. His were all of the unrepentant and absolute conviction in his beliefs, in his actions, in his way of life. Hermione didn't understand him, his worldview was so different to hers, but she realised after they spent the night sat on a bench arguing, he made her feel safe, and it felt wonderful to be safe.
He joined her for the next transformation and Hermione wasn't alone under the glare of the moon for the first time since Remus had gone. They had taken down a deer, working as one unit as the emerging bond between them allowed them to do, so much more successfully than she had ever experienced.
High on a sense of completion and inclusion, Hermione had lost track of time, when they transformed back, they were out in the middle of the forest, naked, grisly, and feral. Blood was covering both of them, dripping down from what would have been their muzzles, and splattered all over their bare chests. They stopped to look at each other crouched like runners, braced for a starting pistol to fire. Fenrir couldn't hide his arousal, though Hermione doubted he would have tried, even if circumstances were different.
After a couple of moments, a few beats of her heart against her ribcage he approached her slowly, pulling himself up to full height and stretching out his shoulders. It wasn't to intimidate.
Fenrir turned Hermione around as he reached her, his hands coming up to clamp down hard against her hips before he pressed her lower back pushing her until she collapsed onto all fours. She shut her eyes as he ran his bloody hands up her white thighs, first up the backs and then along the insides, leaving a path of sticky crimson as she quivered. He grunted with every whimper she made, snarled when he dragged his hand along her stomach and between the apex of her thighs, splaying her wetness messily as he brushed against her clit and her whole world became centred around the harsh need she suddenly felt.
It was nothing like Hermione had imagined when she had been little more than a girl, there were no candles or dim lighting, no softly spoken words of love. They were illuminated by harsh sunshine, with the rough forest undergrowth in place of fine bedding beneath their knees, as he, a man a million miles away from the fantasies of her youth, growled behind her.
Hermione heard Fenrir's teeth clench as he sheathed himself inside her and despite the ripping pain that threatened to make her cry out in protest, she felt a momentary victory that she had affected him. The discomfort was nothing compared to the transformations and yet in a way it was just the same. Her body was altering again, after all, just like her life would after this.
Fenrir wrapped a hard hand around Hermione's throat and used the grip to pull her torso up so she would rest upon her knees, pinning her shoulders to his broad chest. It should have felt constricting, but it didn't, the firm hold was somehow soothing. So much of her life had felt like she was in a freefall, in that moment his harsh embrace was a comforting reminder that he was there. Hermione felt the opposite of panic, she felt grounded, cared for and calm.
When he moved his arm to brush away her curls, Hermione knew his intent. Fenrir snarled in frustration as her hair failed to cooperate with his movements and she stifled a giggle, reaching up to move it herself, inadvertently stretching against him. A much more happy sound left his throat as he palmed a breast that had been arched further into his view and she angled her head under him. Hermione could feel the heat from his breath warm a patch of skin under her ear before his teeth sliced through her flesh.
Then she was lost.
Hermione moved a little but quickly gave up; there didn't seem to be any need to hurry. There was no one waiting for her; she had made no concrete plans with anyone for months. Even she had grown bored of hearing her endless excuses, but it didn't change the necessity of remaining alone. Hermione was too frightened to spend any real amount of time with her friends; Harry would suss that something was up in an instant. She could barely find the energy to get up in the morning, let alone answer their questions.
She stretched slightly, rubbing her hands over her face.
What would happen if she just stayed there? How long would it take for her to wither away?
Hermione shook herself; it wouldn't do to be so maudlin. I can't help it, her mind protested but she ignored the response. It was far more than the bite affecting her now and she knew it.
She had felt blinded at first, to the man he was, to the monster lurking beneath the surface. People said that it was the wolf in him that made him like he was, that Fenrir Greyback was little more than a rabid creature because he had given himself over to the animal within. It was the consensus, and not just from those that had no understanding of what it meant to be a wolf; it was what Remus had been most afraid of after all.
Hermione knew better now.
Her wolf was an extension of herself, an aspect that was less weighed down with human sentiment, but still, in essence at least, the same being.
Fenrir, the man, was just as dissolute as the animal that he allowed wholly off the leash, and yet Hermione had pushed that knowledge to the back of her mind. She had kept their interactions hidden, allowing herself to become his lover under the cover of stars, but soon it hadn't been enough for him.
Eventually, the real world crept in, like it so often does, and with it, the metaphorical shroud she had been using to cover her eyes fell away. Hermione didn't try to reclaim it, it was much, much too late for that.
"You knew who I was," he said, no hint of apology, "I never lied, there was no pretence, I gave myself to you utterly as I was."
"You've never given yourself to anyone, least of all me," she protested, backing herself against a wall, desperate for distance.
"I've bled for you, chained myself to prevent the inevitable, sacrificed the safety of others so I could keep close to where you were, but I will not change what I am for you, Hermione."
"I've never asked," she replied defiantly.
"Not with words," he spat back and the unsaid hung in the air between them.
She hadn't come.
Fenrir's pack had been attacked. Hermione had never met them, though he had expressed his desire for her to go with him often enough. He never pressed too hard, though she got the sense that sooner or later he would simply remove her choice. As much as his pigheadedness infuriated her, she could understand it in a way, with the help of her wolf nudging her to see what was happening, to look at his behaviour and not his words. The little cues made her understand why he stared at her for minutes at a time when he first arrived, and why he stalked out into the garden to check the perimeters each time he left.
Hermione read the paper after she had retreated into the kitchen to make herself a cup of hot chocolate. She had no intention of drinking it, her stomach was in knots, but the action soothed her.
There were four entire pages dedicated to details of the harsh of battle that had ensued. The maulings and the devastation he, and those like him, had inflicted on those that had dared to encroach on his territory.
From the moment that Hermione folded up the parchment she had remained sat up at the table, unmoving, it must have been for hours, waiting for him to come. She didn't know how long he would be; she assumed he would have to secure his people in a new location before he could do anything else, though she never doubted for a moment he would arrive. Hermione didn't know much about the workings of the pack, Fenrir had refused to answer her questions about them, toothily telling her whenever she asked that she could come and find out when she visited. It was evident he assumed her curiosity would eventually win out, Hermione hadn't been so sure.
"Do they not ask where you are during the moon's?" She asked, tugging on his hair as his warm breath ghosted across the flesh of her stomach.
"They know," he replied, nuzzling into her touch.
"They can smell you on me," he said with a leer in his voice that Hermione knew meant he was grinning, but she didn't bother to look down. She carried on studying the stars as he eventually got bored of their innocent touches and moved to lay himself over her, rubbing every inch of his rough skin against hers, as if demonstrating his point.
Hermione was no longer fully aware of the time when he eventually let himself in, she wondered if he had waited until he thought she would have gone to bed, no doubt that would have made it easier for him, but she wasn't stupid. She remained staring straight ahead as Fenrir drew her up from the chair and onto her feet so he could check her over. His breathing was ragged as he ran his nose along her collarbone, as he bit into her neck. He calmed when he realised she wasn't in danger and Hermione slumped back into the chair, thankfully that it had not moved too far back.
Fenrir leant against the cupboards on the far side of the kitchen his hands falling loosely to his sides, but Hermione wasn't fooled. She could feel the tension radiating from him. He had come ready for a fight.
"We need to go," he said both suddenly and firmly and Hermione sat herself up straighter as she shook her head.
"No, I'm not going with you," she replied quietly though her voice was full of determination. "You did this," she accused, pointing at the pictures in front of her, the twisting tableaus of horror that had burnt themselves into her mind over the course of the afternoon. She hadn't moved them away from her line of vision; she needed to see, she needed to keep resolved.
"I did," he replied stoically, eying her assessingly. "I did what I had to do, to protect those under my care, and I would do it again, only bloodier. You know what I am Hermione, I know who you are too, our insides are matched after all."
Hermione started at the casual reference to their bond, they typically barely spoke of it.
"Is it the bond that compels you to come?" She asked as he approached her quietly from behind. She had been planting rose bushes, a ridiculous attempt at gardening and yet another domestic task she discovered she was terrible at. It was something her father had loved and she had somehow convinced herself that it would make her feel closer to him.
"In part," he replied as she moved into the kitchen without looking back, anxious to remove the muddy evidence of another failure from her fingertips.
"Do you resent it?"
"No," he answered simply without any form of elaboration and Hermione rolled her eyes. Typical, curt bastard.
"I would have thought you would be incredibly bitter about anything or anyone that held any semblance of control over you."
"It does not control me, neither my mind or my actions," he replied, moving closer to her until she was pinned against the sink. "It pointed you out, that was all. It put a marker above your pretty head and then I knew. The bond draws me to you, tells me where you are, and how you are, but it's not the magic that makes me sure I would walk through fire, would eat glass, would destroy anything in my path to get to you."
Fenrir held her as she thrashed against him and he held her as she screamed
But when she said she wouldn't go with him again he let her go, so unexpectedly that she wobbled. His eyes blazed like the centre of a flame, and it seemed to take all of his energy not to fly back across the room at her.
"You will obey me," he commanded, his voice rough with barely suppressed rage.
Hermione cowered at the tone in his voice, her wolf threw its ears back and dropped to the floor, she was powerless to keep upright, but her resolve was unhindered. She didn't doubt for a moment that he would drag her away if he had to, any mention of warning had only been a courtesy and one that he had no doubt been angered to extend. But Hermione had planned for this.
Seeing her crouched down Fenrir smiled before reaching out for her, Hermione took one look at his arms coming towards her and stretched her fingers to grip the wand she had holstered on her wrist, not sparing another moment before she apparated. The last thing she saw was the cold dark fury painted on his face before the expression, and the inside of her kitchen had entirely gone.
That had been six months ago.
Hermione rolled her shoulders and bit her lip, resolving to finally get going when a sudden sound stilled her body entirely. She pressed her ear to the ground desperate to confirm what she thought, though whether in anticipation or dread she couldn't tell.
There it was again, the sound of heavy booted feet slamming against the dry earth in unhurried steps, somewhere from within the depths of the forest. Suddenly her unwillingness to leave made sense, he had been near the whole time. She wasn't sure how she had missed it before now. Somehow under the weight of the pain, the separation from the wolf had brought, along with the misery that covered her from the loss of the man, all of her senses had become dulled.
Hermione didn't move as Fenrir emerged into the clearing, it was no act of submission or bravery, she barely had the energy to lift her head let alone run. Her heart whispered that she didn't want to flee anymore but Hermione didn't voice its murmurings.
She expected a smirk, or a taunt, or possibly even a lecture on what her reluctance and defiance had caused. Hermione wouldn't have been surprised if he had chosen to unleash his wrath, to make her submit to him to ensure she knew who the Alpha between them was.
None of that followed. Instead, Fenrir cocked his head to the side in the slightest of motions, and his eyes locked onto her face, despite her state of undress. This time the constriction in her chest was all for the human part of her, though it was the wolf within that made the verbalisation of that tidal wave of piercing heartbreak a strangled whimper.
Hermione knew then; she had probably always known that she was in love with him. Their wolves had been fated; he had known that even before he pressed his teeth against her wrist, had confirmed it with the tear in her neck. But the man, the one that he tried to pretend didn't exist anymore, Hermione had fallen in love with him.
Fenrir shrugged off his outer coat and leant over her, Hermione couldn't help the slight sob that left her body as the scent his clothing was carrying enveloped her as the soft fabric brushed against her bare skin. Her resolve was crumbling now he was so close, and more fell away as he dropped to his knees to nuzzle against her jaw.
Fenrir took a deep breath, dragging it in through his nose in massive heaves as he laid down next to her on the ground. "Your wolf is beautiful, have I ever told you that?"
Hermione looked up into his eyes, blue and vivid, the last semblance of the man he was now the moon was at its weakest.
"You left your pack," she murmured. She had assumed that was why he hadn't come sooner, Fenrir had obligations that he had to fulfil, ones that he would ensure were executed before he sought her out. Hermione had known she would not have been able to run forever. He could always find her; it was the first lesson he had shared. Back then he had given her that information under the guise of education, though both student and teacher had known it to be a threat. Hermione didn't know when it had become a promise.
"I did. I couldn't come before, it wasn't safe for me to leave them," he explained, confirming her suspicions.
"Why come now?" she asked, though she was aware she didn't care.
Fenrir shuffled forward, wrapping an arm around her middle and pulling her toward him until he dropped his forehead against hers. "The biggest threat to them at the moment is me, until you pledge to come, to stay."
Hermione had no more fight left in her body, and yet she couldn't find it in herself to say the words of agreement. Fenrir, it seemed, didn't need them. Standing up suddenly he secured her bare legs around his waist, readjusting the cloak on her back until it covered her fully. He paused for a moment to lave his tongue against the bite at her neck and then at her wrist.
"You will come with me now mate."
Hermione laid on her side, one shoulder pressed against the hard ground with her bruised knees drawn up against her chest. She kept as still as possible as she tried to fully regain consciousness. It didn't take long. As her eyes slowly opened, she felt a hard hand press against her hip and her nostrils were assaulted with the calming scent of home, Fenrir.
He ran a rough hand under the curve of her arse before he pulled her legs apart from behind and Hermione arched back as he slid inside her. Their movements were lazy, a sign that the previous moon had been an exerting one. Hermione moaned as the tempo increased and Fenrir instinctively rose her leg higher on his own.
Hermione wasn't at all surprised by the sudden devouring; it was often how they woke up after the moon, something about the unleashing of their inner selves brought all of that primal instinct to the surface. At least she was sure that was what Fenrir would have said. She thought there was human emotion underlying his wakening response than initially met the eye. They had spent a year's worth of days together, and yet each time they would wake redressed in human skin the large man would look at her, face etched with momentary disbelief as if he was shocked to find she was still there.
Fenrir wasn't one to talk about how he felt; there were no flowery words to express his emotions. He was in every way a physical being.
Once, in a time not so long ago Hermione would have felt self-conscious about such a public act, though she knew enough about the pack now to be certain that no one without a death wish would disturb the Alpha while he was with his mate.
Hermione was barely aware of the tiny abrasions forming on her skin as she rocked against the hardened forest floor, she felt herself tightening around him and Fenrir growled in response.
They had somehow found a way to work together, though, it wasn't easy, Fenrir was much older than her, and much more set in his ways. He was adept at getting what he wanted, usually by intimidation or brute force, though he was coming to learn that neither was particularly effective with Hermione. His dominant side flared her stubbornness and she would dig her heels in all the more. She was learning that there was more beneath his gruff than he would have her believe, he always had a reason for his actions, however harshly those actions were delivered.
Hermione had spent months holding on to the lingering resentment which had driven Fenrir mad. Her mate was an Alpha to the core of his very being, and he was not one accustomed to giving explanations or apologies. She came to accept that after a fashion. It had all been so long ago in any case. He made it up to her though, all the years that she had spent on her own, without guidance. She was given to understand, in no uncertain terms, that Remus' direction did not count, it was an argument that she didn't bother to have with him, though she would never agree. Fenrir taught her, impatiently, but he still did it.
Hermione shouted her release so loudly that the birds in the nearby tree squawked off in protest and she felt Fenrir's rhythm falter as he tried to stifle a prideful laugh before it turned into a howl as he followed her over the precipice. They remained like that, entwined together until their heart rates slowed for the second time that morning.
Hermione wondered about her old life sometimes, the letter she had left on the kitchen table at her little cottage was hardly enough. She sometimes felt like she had thrown away everything she could have been and then the wolf next to her would do something to pull her from her reflections.
Hermione woke up suddenly as she felt a dip in the other side of the bed. It was far from unusual, Fenrir rarely lingered under the covers. Though when she opened her eyes, he was staring back at her, resolve plastered all over his face.
"Fenrir wha-" she didn't get the chance to question what was going on as he picked her up without warning and ran out of their hut at speed. He moved in the direction of the nearby waterfall, ignoring her near-deafening screams of protest until he had chased them over the bank, submerging them waist heigh in the water as she thrashed against him, punching her arms against his chest.
He laughed at her futile efforts before dunking them both under the surface, pulling her back up quickly and pinning her close to his chest in his strong arms, pushing her wet hair off her face.
He seemed to like that. Fenrir loved her hair; he had told her that more than once, though he always seemed particularly captivated when it was wet. He had said it was because he could see her better though Hermione thought the 'her' in that instance largely related to the mark on the side of her neck.
As soon as Fenrir's breathing had slowed to a steady pant behind her, he rose up to gather the blanket he had brought with them, wrapping her in it before cradling her in his arms, Hermione reluctantly allowed him to do it. The sight of her jelly legs as she had gotten to her feet had clearly filled him with male pride and she fought the urge to roll her eyes. Her being pressed against his front also masked a degree of his nakedness, which could only be a good thing, they had to walk past at least twenty huts before they reached theirs.
Fenrir pressed his mouth to hers as they moved out of the treeline and Hermione sagged further into his hold, the turmoil that had ruled her body and her mind. The constant pain that had felt like screaming that no one else could hear.
It was gone now.
Because he was there.