Through Darkness and Light
Coming to Terms
The shadow hunted her, its finger-like tendrils probing for her scent. Tiny black dots raced across her vision. She blinked, but they only grew worse.
"Run, run, run," repeated in her mind.
Invisible hands pushed down on her shoulders, crushing her further to the spot. No, this couldn't be happening. How did he find her so quickly? It was too soon! She grabbed her legs and struggled to yank them from the floor.
A deep voice echoed in the black fog, "You cannot hide." The darkness expanded horizontally, stretching thin and surrounding her. It clung to her throat. The heaviness increased, its cold fingers wrapped around her, slowly squeezing.
Calrheane jerked awake and instinctively clutched her throat. Her chest throbbed, as if her lungs were about to collapse.
Light slashed across the ceiling, purple and blue intersecting a yellowish pink. Color?
Her eyes snapped shut. No, not the voice; he couldn't have found her. She threw her arms out, refusing to let the darkness take her. The weight increased, pushing her down as she struggled to breathe.
"Calm down it's me, Remus."
She froze and it felt like all her energy drained away. "Remus?" her voice hoarse and she swallowed to recover some moisture.
"Yes, it's me."
He leaned over her, lines caused from lack of sleep shadowed his eyes and his hands encircled her wrists. Stray pieces of brown hair fell across his forehead. His eyes flicked to her wrists and he jerked his hands back as if they had been burned.
Even though her mind resembled a bog, restricting her movements and thoughts, she still felt a sharp pain at his reaction to touching her. The safety she had found in his presence was gone, leaving behind an empty void. Why did she feel this way?
Several wisps of Calrheane's air stuck to her cheeks and her blouse was plastered to her chest. She touched her face and found there were wet smudges on her hand. How was this possible?
Light shown through her stained-glass balcony window, projecting color onto the ceiling. So that's where the color had come from.
"You had a nightmare," his voice was toneless and void of any emotion.
She let her eyes wander around the room, the familiar sights helping to sooth her mind. The unicorn lay on the floor, his head was propped up on a pillow. Sweat dotted across his white fur and his neck muscles twitched like he was shivering.
"How long has it been?"
He frowned. "Since when?"
"Since we found him."
"Two days, though I'm not sure how long you've been out."
The world dissolved before her, physical objects morphing into streams of color as she looked into the fëa current. Yes, it was still there; a gray strand circled Star's head. Who had attacked him and his mother? And why did the magic feel so familiar, almost a mirror image of her own but darker?
"What do you see?"
Hearing Remus's voice, she pulled away from the spirit world. "There is a shadow that clings to him still, a remnant power left over from whoever attacked, but he shall live."
Star's bandages had been cleaned recently from the looks of it and he hadn't changed positions from the last time she had seen him. When was that? An hour or two ago, maybe more?
"I fell asleep."
She said this more to herself than Remus and was surprised to see she had lasted as long as she did without collapsing. However, as she feared, Zirak had been waiting for her in the small space of time when the mind wandered the boundary between the physical and spiritual worlds.
She heard Remus talking, but his voice was only a dull hum.
Images came back from the hidden recesses of her subconscious, as if her mind had only made a feeble attempt at concealing the dream in the first place. The shadow had slithered up her legs, encasing her body in ice. She tried to scream, but the shadow slid into her mouth.
Remus gripped her arm tightly. "Listen, stay with me."
She heard the concern in his voice and grabbed onto that, an anchor to draw her back.
"I am only weary," she whispered.
Even now the shadow clawed for her, reaching beyond the dream. No, she needed to get a hold of herself.
"You know very well that I don't believe that."
"Yes, I am aware." Calrheane unconsciously reached up and gripped the hand on her shoulder. "Thank you."
Remus nodded. A few heartbeats passed with Remus leaning over her and Calrheane holding his hand. The moment was fleeting, an elusive melody being carried on the wind, and then Remus pulled back with his hand dropping to his side.
The soft expression on his face faded to a grimace, his lips tightening and his brows drawing close together. He straightened his robe and the brown suit underneath it, all his attention on rearranging his clothes.
"Nightmares can be fickle things," he said though he still did not look at her, "often our subconscious will mirror what we're feeling at the time. Stress, guilt, regret, perhaps even love can be manifested into fears. I find nightmares to be quite truthful."
His meaning was not lost on her. If she were gifted with the power over time she would have immediately erased the hurtful words she had spoken to him all those weeks ago. They had both said much, jabs meant to harm, to make the other feel a similar pain.
"Nothing to say?" he asked when she remained silent. "Well, I can't say I'm surprised. That's the human thing to do after all, deny our fears and what we can't control."
"Tell me what's going on."
An uncomfortable silence stretched between them, she could almost hear echoes of their last conversation if she concentrated hard enough.
Remus smoothed out his shirt with his hands, flattening out unseen wrinkles and nodded. "Very well. Apparently I don't know you at all."
"No, that's not true," her voice broke and she fought against the growing desperation, coiling in her stomach and waiting for the moment when she lost control. She couldn't let him leave.
"It is, and we both know it. Stop fooling yourself. I don't know who you are and no one ever will because you simply won't let anyone get close."
Calrheane closed her eyes and concentrated on breathing. No, he was wrong. It wasn't she who pushed people away; it was their fear of her that they kept their distance. She shook her head. It wasn't her fault.
"I knew someone once, a long time ago, who was very passionate in everything he did, including all the pranks he and his best friend would pull."
His voice broke through her thoughts and she wondered whom he was referring too.
Remus's body shook from whatever memory he was reliving and his fists clenched. "He probably would have told you, 'You can't keep running from me,' but I'm not him." Remus looked at her, "I won't say that. You can run as far as you want but I won't be waiting."
He made to turn and Calrheane shot up from her chair. "Why? Is it because I'm keeping secrets or is it because you believe I don't trust you?"
"They are the same thing."
"No, they are not."
Remus's shoulders sagged and he faced her. "So then tell me."
"I have shared more with you than any before," she paused and the image of blonde-haired elf with caring eyes flashed by, "including the one I left behind. It was never about trust why I said nothing."
"I," she stopped and looked away, "both around you and Harry, I have spoken of things that should never have been said."
"And that makes it okay? The fact that you let something slip but answered his question..." Remus's voice trailed off, but Calrheane knew what was not said. And not mine, his eyes seemed to say.
Her initial reasons for not telling him the truth were lost on her now; to explain that it had been for his own safety and protection would only be a slap in the face. And yet, what could she say? What was the reason she even now felt a pull in her heart, a tightening of her chest at the thought of telling him about Zirak?
She was afraid.
"You told Harry." Remus shook his head and paced about the room. "You took him to face an evil more dangerous than anything he could hope to stand up against without consent. He could have died."
Denial was a response that was closed off to her; she deserved all the anger Remus threw at her for it was her choices that brought them to this point.
Remus pulled at his robes in frustration. "How could you tell him?"
The fury bleached from his face as he said those words and she finally saw just how much hurt she'd caused him. There were others in this world that were alone, that did not have a companion like Shra to make them face fears or offer comfort when its needed most.
She was the one who'd turned her back on him. And for what? To keep some secret for her kin that would never accept her? Unlike Remus, who had?
"Look, just forget about it. I don't care," he said with a weary voice, the burdens he carried finally succeeding in weighing his spirit down. He headed towards the door.
Fear equivalent to the moment she'd saved Star Dancer and felt Zirak approaching, rushed through her. Remus was walking away, just as she had done.
"Remus! Please wait!" She rushed after him, knocking over a chair that her long skirt had caught.
He stopped and turned around. His eyebrows rose in surprise, but the weary expression on his face didn't change.
She reached out to grab his shoulder. Remus must have seen this for flinched back. Calrheane didn't care, for once giving into the urgings of her spirit. She would not let him walk away.
Her hand clenched around his arm. If she held on tight enough then he wouldn't disappear, wouldn't leave her. "Please, don't go."
Remus stared at her hand and she unconsciously tightened her grip, afraid that he might pull away from her. "Calrheane..."
"No, don't. This is my fault. I was a fool to choose my secrets over you; secrets that I don't even want."
"Because I was afraid. My whole life, living with my family and while in Valinor, both elves and man knew what I had to do. And for that, mortals feared me while elves saw me as a reminder of their weakness."
His dark brown eyes bore into hers, almost as if they willed her to continue, to tell him everything. And for some reason, that brought her comfort. He had yet to pull away, to sneer down at her or look upon her with pity as so many others had done.
"In this world, only Dumbledore knows why I have come back. The reason I said nothing to you was not because I feared for your safety," she looked down at her hand and closed her eyes, "but because I was unsure if you would turn from me as well."
Willing her hand to relax, she let go of his arm and stepped back. Coldness seemed to wrap about her, encasing her in a shield that even blocked out the warmth being emitted from the fireplace.
Before her hand lowered, Remus reached out and grabbed it with his own. Her head snapped up, confusion crossing her features as her mouth hung wide.
"I haven't left you, even while I was angry, and I won't ever." He spoke in a soft voice, the words deepening from the emotion behind them. "I know what it feels like to be alone and rejected, but I also know what it means to finally be accepted."
Calrheane glanced down at her hand, now held securely by his. "Thank you."
Remus nodded and for several moments they stood like that, letting time pass by without thought or care. And truly, she treasured it. For a few heartbeats there was no worries, no fear of the path that awaited her or questions that plagued her mind. It was just the two of them, finding solace in the other.
Finally, Calrheane stepped back, allowing her hand to slide free of his. Remus had waited enough for the truth. "I wish to tell you of Alcarinor, the elven prince who fell into shadow and became known as Zirak."
Relief washed over Remus's face, his cheek muscles relaxing as he took a deep breath. "Please," he whispered, "I need to know."
"First, you must know that Harry only knows of a name, Zirak, and that he is a shadow existing in the fëa world."
"So you didn't tell Harry what it really was? That Zirak was an elf?"
She shook her head. "I did not and the meaning would have been lost on him. Remus, you must understand it was not my intention to take Harry with me that night."
"But his parents compelled you too?"
"Harry told me."
Calrheane nodded. "I am glad that he sought comfort from you; the strength I had to give was not what he needed. You did for him what I could not."
She caught a fleeting smile pass across his face. It had been no secret of Remus's desire to help Harry, to be the adult Harry went to for support. However, Harry would never have needed that aid if it hadn't been for her lapse.
"There is much that is happening now that I do not understand, but I will tell you what I can," Calrheane continued. "This tale goes back to the 1st Age, at the time of Morgoth, the first Dark Lord."
"You have mentioned Morgoth in passing and if I remember correctly, another served him, I believe his name was Sauron."
"Yes, Sauron was the Dark Lord my father, Aragorn, fought during his time."
Father, she thought to herself, would you be ashamed of my failings if you were here now? Or is that why you and mother have never appeared during Yavieba?
She closed her eyes for a moment, recalling the last images she had seen of him, sitting atop the throne. Gray entwined with his once brown hair, but even with age his aura commanded power.
A light pressure on her arm brought her back to the present. Remus stared down at her, a look of concern in his eyes.
Calrheane nodded, letting him know that she was fine. And indeed, she was the best she could be. Her duty was approaching before she was ready, but for once the feeling of regret wasn't all consuming as she thought of her parents, just a slight twinge that carried to her heart. Perhaps she was finally healing.
"So how does Zirak fit into all this?" Remus asked.
"You must understand, Zirak is rarely spoken of by my kin, his very name forgotten by history but not by memory."
The black fog from her dream crept upon the corners of her conscious. The hairs on her arms rose and she felt the sensation of someone watching her. She gripped the Evenstar necklace. The darkness was searching for her.
"Forgotten?" Remus voice once again broke through her thoughts. "But if Zirak played such an important part, to the point where he's still alive, how could their 'history' forget him?"
"Because of their shame," she said, taking a deep breath. "The 1st Age was a dark time, many atrocities were committed by elves." She glanced at the unicorn, her eyes lingering for a moment before returning back to Remus. "In the name of revenge many were killed."
"Yes, many elves swore on their lives to destroy Morgoth for the ones he killed and his stealing of the Silmarills, magic jewels created from the light of the trees. For this cause the kinslaying occurred, where elf killed elf. The elves who went against the Vala were the Noldor elves and they are my kin. Alcarinor, however, was not a Noldor elf but one of the Vanyar."
"Vanyar? That sounds familiar."
"I have spoken to you of Ingwe who charged me with gifting to Sirius Black the Star-glass. Alcarinor was the youngest of Ingwe's sons."
Remus's eyes went wide and he shook his head. "I'm not sure I'm hearing you right. This darkness, the one that's been calling to the demons blood, was the son of an elven king?"
"Yes," she whispered. "Alcarinor saw the greatness of the Vala and held deep respect for them. However, Morgoth was able to taint that respect with his empty promises.
"Alcarinor came to believe that the Vala were jealous of elves and what they could potentially become. He understood that the gift of creation was a power meant for elves, but the Vala purposefully held them back out of fear."
"And because of this, Alcarinor went against his people?"
"There was nothing evil in this at first, just a desire to be like the Vala, admiration that transformed into jealousy and then hatred. Grief did not blind Alcarinor, but he went to Morgoth with open eyes. The shame elves hold is because of the realization that they are susceptible to the darkness in their hearts; the knowledge that any of them could be turned is why Alcarinor is never spoken of."
"So what did he do that made him," Remus scratched the back of his neck, clearly uncomfortable, "you know, evil?"
Calrheane tilted her head, curious why this bothered him, but let the matter drop. First she would tell him the truth and allow the heaviness in her heart to be lifted at finally being able to share her burden with another.
"He proved his loyalty to Morgoth."
Remus closed his eyes and she saw him shudder, as if he already knew what she spoke of.
"Remus?" she asked, reaching out to his arm.
His eyes snapped open and drew back at her touch. "I'm sorry, the cold got to me all of a sudden."
Calrheane had been fortunate enough never to be slapped during her life, but she'd seen many mortal women used this method. Hearing a hand smacking against cheek would cause her to wince on the inside; she could almost feel that sharp pain from the sound alone. Right now though, that was the only way she could describe what she was feeling. Was she not telling him what had driven them apart in the first place? But then why did he recoil from her?
"What did Morgoth promise Alcarinor?" Remus prompted, shifting closer to her as if he knew her feelings had been hurt.
She sighed at his dodge back to the conversation. Could it be that he felt Zirak as well that night? She shook her head. It would not do for her to force the subject on him if he wasn't ready to speak of it. And if he chose not to be in her company then she would respect that.
"Morgoth promised Alcarinor, who at this point was now called 'Zirak,' the power to become one of the Vala."
"How could he do that?"
"By stealing the spirit of others, specifically elves and unicorns."
Remus took a deep breath. "I'm not sure I want to know, but how was that possible? And what good would that do?"
Calrheane's mouth twisted downwards in disgust, remembering what Galadriel had told her from those times, of the elves that had been taken deep underground for years on end as the dark magic pulsed throughout their body. With great precision their spirit was bleed from them, an agonizing process that not even a mountain could stifle the screams.
"That allowed Zirak to increase his connection with the fëa world. The more powerful his spirit, the closer he draws to becoming a Vala."
"You mean like a god?"
She nodded, her attention falling to the unicorn lying on the floor. Sweat poured off his brow and he shivered. How would Star take to seeing her? An elf that was part of the race that had abandoned his people thousands of years ago? Would he also carry resentment and hatreds towards her for the mistakes of the past?
Remus regarded the unicorn before turning back to her. "So why didn't the elves deal with Zirak? If they had, he wouldn't be here now."
"They couldn't, he was just too powerful. The only reason Morgoth finally fell was because the Valar came to the aid of elves and mortals. However, the Valar wouldn't destroy Zirak, believing that elves should take care of their own. So they sealed him away."
Calrheane was silent, not wishing to confirm out loud to Remus what she had known for years. Speaking to Shra was one thing; however, with Remus it felt like something else entirely, like the truth was finally upon her. But was the point? Zirak was the reason she had returned in the first place, having felt the stirrings of his conscious and his malice all the way in Valinor.
"The bonds are weakening and soon he will be free." The room seemed to constrict and close in about her as spoke those words. He will be free, tumbled around in her mind. And she wouldn't be ready.
Panic rushed through her as she finally allowed herself to remember the other night, of the darkness that swarmed over her, Harry and Star. Even now she could hear Zirak's voice calling out to her, "I have waited so long."
She headed towards the balcony and pulled back the stained-glass doors. A blast of cold air assaulted her face and she gasped for air.
The woven rugs on her floor muffled Remus's frantic footsteps, though not enough where she couldn't hear him. He knelt down next to her and she felt his arm encircle her shoulders.
Calrheane clutched onto his arm and shut her eyes as she tried to force her body back under control. How much longer would it be before Zirak broke free? How would she stop him when the other night had taken so much from her?
Her fingers tightened around Remus's arm. He, Harry, Hermione, and all the others would be in danger. They would die if she failed.
"Calrheane, it's alright," Remus called out to her, his soothing voice breaking through her frantic mind. "You're safe."
Safe? She would have laughed if she had the breath. No, there was nothing in this world that could protect her, not even Valinor would have offered a haven for her.
She felt Remus's warm body against hers, slowly sending away the chill that threatened to consume her. Perhaps for this moment she was safe, at least enough to give into her fears for a split second.
And that's what she did. Images of her youngest sister dying by the Dannen's hand flashed through Calrheane's mind. She saw all those moments; her mother's death as she fought the Dannen, Zirak's dark essence invading the fëa world as it sought her. All the while Remus held her, a silent promise to not let her go.
Calrheane didn't know how long they stayed like that, but eventually she became aware of the world around her. Her fingers were numb and she shivered.
As if sensing the change in her, Remus stood up, helping her to her feet as well. "Are you okay?"
His eyes did not leave hers and she wondered if this was how the students felt whenever she looked at them, searching for some hidden answers within the soul.
She nodded, unwilling to trust her voice. Instead she watched in shock as Remus reached up and brushed a strand of hair off her cheek. Her breath caught in her throat and a chill settled on her shoulders, though she knew this had nothing to do with the cold.
"Why did it have to be you?"
Her eyes widened at his harsh tone, catching her off guard.
"Why do you have to face Zirak?" he clarified.
Calrheane sighed and stepped away from the comfort he offered. In this regard she would rely on her own strength to face what was to come.
Remus stared at her, a hurt expression on his face, but he said nothing.
She walked to the edge of the balcony and traced her hand alongside the railing. Her second sight showed the ripples caused by her hand in the fëacurrent, waves of blues and greens morphing into new colors.
"I have been asking myself that question for hundreds of years."
"Have you found an answer?" he asked from behind her.
"No," she whispered, "I don't know why I couldn't have been born human, like the rest of my family. I do not know why the Vala and Fate chose me for this task."
His arm brushed hers as he came to stand next to her. "And what task is that?"
A few traces of snow swirled on the breeze, but for the most part it was a relatively calm day. White blanketed the castle, stretching out across the grounds and into the Dark Forest.
"To destroy Zirak, and finally allow Alcarinor to rest." She took a deep breath. "At least that is what his father wishes of me."
"And you can beat him?"
"I do not know."
"Then why can't another elf destroy him? I still don't understand why this has to be done by you." He shook his head, frustration clear in his voice and actions.
"Many have tried but they were each defeated, not by Zirak's power but by their own hearts. They were individually awed by his power and over time came to him as willing servants. They are now known as the Dannen, those who have fallen to the darkness in their souls."
"So what makes you different?"
"That's the true question isn't it? Being a half-elf, I'm not as susceptible to Zirak's corruption. The human, mortal part of my soul protects me. However, because of that my spirit can not hold nearly the amount of power as a full-blooded elf."
"But then why couldn't your mother fight Zirak? She was also half-elven."
"What Zirak did was unnatural and not the way of this world, so one had to be born that was also an anomaly; someone whose soul was not bound to the laws of elves or mortals. The connection I have with the fëa world is similar to Zirak's but my soul cannot hold that power."
"Then how can you defeat him?" his voice was nothing more than a whisper and he did not look at her.
Calrheane sighed and shook her head. "I do not know. I left before I was ready; there was simply nothing else I could learn in Valinor. And so I came back."
They stood on her balcony, letting the light breeze pull their hair in odd directions and watching the white landscape. The silence of winter was comforting, just as being in his presence. There was a stillness about the world, a quiet kind of hush that settled about everything.
The cold seeped through her blouse and she wrapped her arms around her stomach. Remus turned towards her, a smile tugging at his lips.
"I think it's best if we go inside before we both freeze."
"You are most wise," she replied, unable to hold back a smile of her own.
Together they walked in and Calrheane was surprised to see that the oppressive feeling was gone from the room, as if it had been swept away. She headed towards her table and made two cups of tea, handing one to Remus.
"Thank you," he said as he took a sip. "That feels just right."
The teacup warmed her frozen fingers and she drank. "I agree."
Remus took a seat in the chair next to Star. "Calrheane, there's something else we need to talk about."
A feeling of foreboding rushed through her and she set the cup down on a nearby table. "Yes?"
"Zirak, he's the one that's been calling to the demons."
Calrheane nodded and sat down on the chair she'd fallen asleep in.
"Why?" he asked not looking at her.
"I cannot be sure for I did not hear the same call as they, but demons were once the servants of Morgoth. I suppose I should have expected that Zirak would seek to control them."
"And what about werewolves?"
Her breath caught in her throat. "Werewolves? Why did you ask?" her voice broke at the last word, but she did not remove her gaze from him.
It couldn't be; Zirak could not be calling to Remus.
He sighed and slumped back in his chair. For the first time since he'd come in, she saw how exhausted he really was. The dark circles that rimmed his eyes had not been caused from lack of sleep, but an affect from his weakened spirit. She had been so caught up with what was happening to her that she'd completely missed the signs right in front of her.
No, this couldn't be true. "Remus?"
That one word held within it several questions, ones that she did not have the heart to ask for fear gripped her still. After all they had been through would she lose him now?
Remus took a deep breath and nodded. "Yes, you've guessed right. I heard Zirak that night."
"Oh, Vala," she whispered.
In that moment she wanted nothing more than to scream out in frustration and anger, for being put in this situation but also at her own helplessness. This was something she could not protect Remus from.
"No," she shook her head, "this can't be happening."
"But why? Why would he want you?"
"I'm a werewolf, why don't you tell me? How are werewolves tied to him?"
She stood up from her chair and paced about the room. "Sauron," she said with certainty.
"Yes, he created the first werewolves. They were not as you are now, but were fell spirits imprisoned in the body of beasts. I do not know of the details, but before Sauron was destroyed he worked some magic on their dying kind so that if a human were bitten they would be cursed with lycanthropy."
"And now it seems Zirak's taking up were Sauron left off."
"Are you sure of this?" She stopped pacing. "Perhaps you simply felt the aftermath of my magic or even Zirak's..."
Remus stood up, silencing her with his hand, palm facing her. "Please, I know what I felt."
"What," she asked quietly, "happened?"
"I don't know how to describe it," he said finally shaking his head. "It was darkness and evil; I couldn't breath and couldn't fight back. I heard a voice calling to the werewolf, telling it to let go of my human soul and give in to the blood."
He looked at some spot on the floor. "Calrheane, I'm losing control."
She shut her eyes and her fists clenched. Anger coursed through her at the defeated tone in Remus's voice; the loss of hope that seemed to come off him in waves.
"No," Calrheane said in a forceful voice.
"I said no."
"I don't think you understand..."
"Yes, I do, believe me." She came up to him, kicking the hem of her skirt out of the way. "No one knows better than me."
Remus's eyes rose and he stepped back, but she only closed the distance further.
"If you give up now then just leave, because he's already won. If your fëa does not fight with all of your soul, then you belong to him. And I will not let him have you!"
The confused, quiet tone in his voice sent a shock wave through her, but she only ignored it. There were other pressing matters at hand, and if she'd learned anything about mortal emotions, they were still around to think on them later.
"You heard me," she said in a calmer voice, "you are my companion, the only one I have in this world. I will not let you fall to his darkness."
Outside in the western-most corridor of Hogwarts, Harry and Hermione waited. The students, for fear of the elf living there, never visited this area. However, this allowed the two of them to hang around without worry of being seen.
Hermione tapped her foot on the stone floor and glanced again at her watch, just as she had done two minutes ago. "This is stupid. Obviously she's not coming and I have a ton of work to do. Can we please just go?"
"No." Harry sighed and almost wished that he hadn't brought her along.
For the past half-hour he'd been listening to her whine about homework and assignments that weren't finished yet. But as far as he was concerned, she owed him.
"Come on, Harry, what do you expect to learn?"
"At the very least how the unicorn is doing."
"But can't you wait until tomorrow during class? And if Elessar's not teaching then Lupin would most likely know."
"Yes, but only if they're talking to each other again."
Hermione huffed out in frustration. "So you can find out that tomorrow."
"What's the big deal? If you didn't want to come in the first place then you should have said so."
"That's not what I mean." Her shoulders slumped. "This was the first time you've let me get close since, you know, that night."
"Then why are you worried about homework if you care so much?"
Saying that hurt, but he honestly needed to know. It was like the last time when he found out about Sirius Black being his parent's secret-keeper and the way she didn't tell him about Elessar's map.
"Because," she sighed, "that's the way I am. It's easier to think over questions from class then try and figure out what I need to do to get you to talk."
Harry turned away, suddenly uncomfortable. It wasn't what she said, it was the way she looked at him, that defeated expression that pleaded with him to help her understand.
Padded feet echoed in the hallway, a light thumping that they'd completely missed while they were talking.
"She's coming," Hermione said and pointed in the direction of Elessar's rooms.
Sure enough, Shra bounded towards them, her fluffy tail streaming out behind her. Her pink tongue hung out her mouth and her ears flicked back and forth as if trying to hear them.
Shra slowed down and trotted up to her. To Harry it looked as if she were smiling the way her lips were pulled back over her teeth, but not in a mincing way like when she growled at Malfoy last week.
"So? What happened?" Harry asked, unable to keep the excitement from his voice.
Shra sat back and waged her tail.
"Oh come on, don't make us wait!" Hermione exclaimed and she knelt down next to Shra. "What did they say?"
"Wouldn't the two of you like to know?"
Harry's mouth dropped open and he saw that Hermione mirrored his shocked expression.
"Why you!" Hermione shouted and jumped to her feet. "You learned sarcasm from Fred and George didn't you? That does it; I'm going to have a talk with them right now!"
She turned to leave and Harry grabbed her arm before she could get far. He couldn't contain the laughter as he caught sight of Shra.
"What do you think you're doing? I said I'd only wait until Shra got back and now she's back! I'm not waiting around all night playing her game. When I find those Weasley's..."
Harry managed to croak out a few words in between breaths, "Look...at...Shra."
"Huh?" Hermione turned and her eyebrows rose nearly to her forehead.
Shra lay on the ground, rubbing her back on the stone floor as if trying to get a hard to reach scratch, but it was the expression on her face that had Harry holding his stomach. Shra's mouth was opened wide and the corners of her mouth were pulled upwards.
Shra was laughing at them.
"Oh you!" Hermione said, trying her best to sound angry while not giggling.
"Alright, alright Shra. I think that's enough. Are you going to tell us what happened or not?"
Shra immediately jumped up, all hysterics gone. "All is well. Remus and Calrheane are speaking again. They are both better for it."
Harry smiled. He was happy for both of his teachers and that they were able to find comfort in each other. "But what about you know," Harry waved his hand in the air, "anything else?"
"Harry?" Hermione exclaimed. "What are you insinuating?"
"Nothing yet," he shrugged, "just a hunch."
He had neglected to tell Hermione about Elessar's reaction when he brought Lupin up in the conversation the other night. If Hermione wanted to know, well she'd just have to go consult that map of hers; he was keeping this to himself. For the time being at least.
"Well, that is something we shall both have to watch for," Shra said in a serious voice but Harry still saw the mischievous glint her eyes that usually meant trouble for Elessar.
"For now they are friends and will be each other's strength. That is all that matters."