Disclaimer: I don't own any part of Harry Potter, even though I would like to. I don't make any money from Harry Potter and I don't really care, I do it because I like it.
Excerpt from 'Reconstruction of a Death Eater'
Terry Boot was down to one werewolf. Black Bess, as he had christened her, was limping as heavily as was he. They had fought trolls time and again, taken out untold numbers of enemy werewolves and even a couple of the less wary Death Eaters but now they were tired and at the end of their stamina. Which was why, he supposed, they made a mistake. The troll they had picked up a few hundred metres into the grounds seemed to be the Einstein of trolls, and as tenacious on their trail as a bloodhound.
Bess had nipped the troll's heels until they bled and been clipped by a foot in the process, hence the limp. Terry had cast Stupefy so many times his voice was getting hoarse but nothing affected the huge, shambling hulk. If they had not been so tired they could probably have outrun the creature but they had both had enough, too much, really. Terry stumbled again and Bess ran into his legs, lost her footing and landed a paw on a discarded blade, slicing the pad wide open. She yelped trying to limp on two legs, slowing them both just enough that the troll managed to take another swing at her. Terry threw his weight onto her back, slamming her into the dirt and covering her body with his as another troll approached from the opposite direction, both creatures raising their clubs to beat the pair to death. Incapacitated and incapable of doing anything to save themselves, wolf and man waited for death, that didn't come.
There was a surprised troll grunt then a double thump and Terry raised his head just enough to see hooves in front of his nose. Strong hands reached down and lifted him as easily as if he was a child, settling him on a broad, horse-smelling back covered in rich chestnut hair.
A second centaur lifted Black Bess and draped her across the withers in front of Terry and a deeply amused voice murmured that he should hold onto his puppy. Stunned and disbelieving, Terry did as he was told and the centaur he was riding turned carefully to slip between the trees of the Forbidden Forest and out of sight.
The trees were dim and cool, smelling of pine and leaf mould as the centaur moved carefully through the undergrowth bearing them deeper into the Forbidden Forest. A rustle was all the warning they had before a huge hand grabbed the centaur by the chest and lifted. Terry and Bess tumbled free as the giant proceeded to tear the poor centaur to pieces.
A huge, hairy foot snapped Terry's leg like a twig and he screamed, catapulted into darkness, the final straw in a day of trauma and tension. He did not see the centaur herd come sweeping down through the trees, did not hear the thrum of arrows or the bay of a wolf as Black Bess hamstrung the creature despite her injuries. Nor was he aware of the nightmare journey back to the centaur village where the oldest centaur supervised the binding of his shattered knee. Unfortunately, humans and werewolves were not equine and not something the centaur healer knew a lot about. After a short, but acrimonious, discussion with the herd elders, a decision was made.
A hand brushed his brow gently, a cool cloth as soothing to his flesh as the soft crooning song was to his soul. He could not move! It should have terrified him but the soft bedding under his back and the gentle hands soothing him was reassuring enough to let him drift off again.
Voices woke him, arguing over his head, loud and insistent. Three people seemed to be taking three completely different parts and he wished they would just go away and leave him to sleep in peace. Again, the soft hand brushed his hair away from his face but a soft, low, rumbling growl told a different story.
"Enough!" A voice he recognised finally quelled the incipient riot. "Healer Johanson, you say the leg should be removed, there is no way to heal it. Healer Boden, you say the leg is healable but the knee will always be weak although there will be no pain and the boy will limp. Miss Black - do stop growling – what do you think?"
The growling ceased and a contralto female voice spoke over his head. "Keep it, who knows what the future will bring, a new technique perhaps. If the leg is gone then so is all hope."
Terry felt like cheering but he couldn't muster the strength, instead, he slept.
Dappled sunlight played over his face, golden and warm. He smiled and tipped his head to catch the golden beams on his eyelids, enjoying the warmth. A bird sang close by, a sweet trill of sound that spoke of lazy summer mornings and long warm days. A shadow moved between him and the sun and he opened his eyes in protest for the loss, his jaw dropping. A white haired centaur stood over him, a bowl in his hands. With a creaky grace, the old creature bent and settled his horse body onto the ground beside the couch and slid a strong arm under Terry's head. The youth hadn't realised he was terribly thirsty until the cool, sweet water touched his lips then he gulped it down eagerly.
The old centaur smiled. "How do you feel?" he asked in a soft, accented tone that seemed to blend perfectly with the morning.
"Alive," Terry managed on his second try, his throat sore and rasping.
"That is as it should be. You were gravely injured and it took much strength to heal you. Your friend wept but never faltered, a true friend indeed." The centaur gestured with his chin and Terry turned his head to a bundle of blankets on the ground beside him. A sweep of curling black hair was all there was to be seen of the occupant under the woven fabric. "Her words saved your leg from the madman who would have crippled you for life."
Terry absorbed the words and glanced down at his own, fabric covered body, seeing the lumps of two feet. One set of toes wriggled, the other simply sent a lash of fire up his leg, telling him in no uncertain terms that movement would be punished. He gasped and the centaur smiled knowingly.
"Sleep, young human, while the potions work."
Elizabeth Black had never been a beautiful woman, tall, heavy boned and solid. Being bitten by a werewolf just before her sixteenth birthday had done nothing to help her portray any delicacy of form or figure. Now, at twenty-three, she was very glad of having arms like a weight lifter as she picked Terry up once again and steadied him against her chest until he caught his breath and managed to conquer the rolling waves of pain flowing through his damaged leg.
"You have to take it easy," she murmured softly in his ear, inhaling his scent and judging how the pain was going. "Rest, you're exhausted and will accomplish nothing until you relax once again."
Terry wanted to fight her words but he was just too tired. "I feel like such a baby," he protested querulously as she literally picked him up and carried him back to his bed.
"You aren't a baby, you are a convalescent. Soon, you will be well enough to leave the Forbidden Forest and go back to Hogwarts," Elizabeth told him evenly, although the words hurt her. She had to admit, if only to herself, that these few weeks in the forest with this man who had fought beside her had been special. He was now pack and it would kill her when they had to part ways, but she wouldn't hold him against his will, that would be very foolish.
A huge sigh drew her attention away from her melancholy thoughts. "I'm not looking forward to that, I can tell you. So many dead, so much destruction…. I don't… what if…" His voice trailed off into unhappy speculation and Elizabeth stroked his hair away from his forehead before dropping a kiss on his brow.
"It's full moon in two days. I have to go pick up my Wolfsbane Potion and a few things, so I will Apparate home this afternoon and grab some stuff, including the newspapers for you. Then, once full moon is over, I think we need to consider rejoining the world. The centaurs have done everything they could for us and now it is time to face the rest of the wizarding world."
Terry wrinkled his nose but nodded reluctantly. "It hardly seems any time since we arrived but a whole month?"
"Er, two months actually, you spent the first six weeks unconscious," she murmured, watching her hands wring themselves in her lap.
"Wow, who would have thought? Oh no, do my parents know I'm still alive?"
"Yes, I owled them as soon as it was clear that you would live. They did not owl you back," she added with a slight growl in her voice.
"No, they wouldn't. Dad didn't mind my fighting in the war but Mum was dead set against it, thought I should just ignore the whole thing and keep my nose out of other people's business." He smiled wryly when Elizabeth blinked in astonishment. "Mum is a Muggle and Dad is from a Muggleborn family. We keep ties in both worlds and Mum thought that, if we left the wizarding world, all would be well. Of course, it would not, but there you go; ostrich syndrome, I think. If you put your head in the sand far enough then no one can see you."
Elizabeth grinned, showing rather pointed teeth this close to full moon. "My Father was a Black, cadet branch; Mother was from a Muggleborn family too. Good to know we have that much in common, a foot in each culture. Thanks to Mother, I have enough property and money in the Muggle world that the prohibition on werewolves does not affect me at all. Father made sure I had enough Muggle wealth so that no one could deprive me of my liberty, even if they tried."
"Bet that irritated the hell out of the Ministry," Terry grinned.
"Bet your sweet buttons it did. I have a hundred acre property with a cottage and enough warding charms to contain me even without Wolfsbane. Enough money to purchase anything I want, either in Galleons or Pounds, and enough family prestige to keep the Ministry hounds at bay." She smirked most charmingly and Terry grinned back, giving her a one armed hug.
"I'm glad. I would hate to think you were cast out like Professor Lupin or most of the werewolves I've met. You know, that would be the one reason I ever joined the Ministry - which is what my father wants me to do - to help change the laws governing Magical creatures and get the werewolves taken out of that category. It's bloody ridiculous to try and dehumanise you, you are the kindest, most compassionate person I know, and so is Professor Lupin, or should that be 'was' I wonder," he added gloomily.
Elizabeth bent and licked the side of his neck unselfconsciously. "Get some sleep, I'll be back soon," she murmured and turned away, leaving Terry watching wistfully as she faded into the surrounding trees. He loved the way she moved, silent and powerful, unconscious of her grace in the natural environment they inhabited. Centaurs build very few structures, the canopy over his bed being one of the only ones in the clearing that was clearly a centaur village.
Young foals seemed to treat him as a rather scary stranger, some were belligerently brave, some were shy and skittish, but all came to listen when he told stories at evening. Even the mares had settled down, finally trusting that the Human would not eat or capture their children. Once in a while the adolescent young stallions would come stomping and tossing their manes, trying to intimidate or scare him but they never truly hurt him, as he lay injured and rather vulnerable, if they became vicious. The elder centaurs went about their business with no sign of recognition for the most part. The only time the village stallion had approached he had stared down for a few moments then shook his head and wandered off as if he could not fathom why his father, the healer, wanted such a strange pet as an injured wizard.
It was all very bucolic but Terry knew he would have to return to his own world soon, much as he was not looking forward to it.
It was worse than he thought! The centaurs carried him to the edge of the trees, to where the underbrush still hid them from the view of the half a dozen wizards who waited impatiently on the grassy bank that divided the tame from the wild. Their goodbyes had already been said that morning, words of wisdom and star predictions from the elders, wreaths of flowers from the foals, a hand carved stone knife from one of the adolescents.
When Terry's carrier Tantor stopped, Elizabeth stepped up and carefully helped Terry down then swung him up into her arms. He felt a bit of a fool being carried like a baby but even he had to admit that his fragile knee would not hold him up if he tried to walk over the uneven ground of the forest floor.
Terry recognised Madam Pomfrey and his parents but the others were strangers to him and obviously they were upsetting Elizabeth who was unconsciously growling deep in her throat. He stroked her neck, distracting her and making her smile faintly as the school mediwitch floated a stretcher forward and indicated he was to be deposited. Reluctantly, Elizabeth relinquished her burden and was quickly elbowed aside by Terry's parents and the mediwitch who tossed a blanket over him.
The other three strangers began to jostle for position, one pulling a camera out and pointing it at the crowd. When the stretcher was bumped Terry groaned and Elizabeth snarled viciously, one long fingered hand clamping on the nearest shoulder and bodily tossing the man aside without any effort at all. The photographer squarked as a second body landed on top of him.
Pandemonium ensued until Terry managed to bellow 'shut up' over the top of the ensuing panic. Elizabeth's head immediately swivelled towards him, her growling dropping back to a soft accompaniment. His parents looked shocked and the reporters stunned. Madam Pomfrey took immediate advantage of the ensuing stillness to whisk her patient off to the hospital wing in the almost restored Hogwarts before anyone else could interfere.
"… and I'm going to take up Professor Dumbledore's offer to finish my NEWTs over the summer holidays," Terry told his parents softly as they sat beside his bed.
His mother beamed delightedly, gripping his hand and squeezing in approval. His father also nodded but with a little more restraint. "And then what do you mean to do?" he asked gently.
"Join the Ministry; not much else for me to do with this bum knee, is there?" Terry smiled wryly, trying not to be bitter about it. "Look, I am a good student and I have a lot of knowledge that most NEWTs level students never get to study. Having Hermione Granger-Malfoy assign extra study and reading really expands your horizons," he teased when his parents' mouths tightened a little. "What? Malfoy? You have no idea of how important he was to our victory, none at all! His father might have been a Premier Death Eater but Draco was a General on our side and a bloody good one at that and don't you, or anyone else, forget it!"
"Don't swear, dear," his mother said almost automatically. "Perhaps what you say is true, but he is a Malfoy, after all."
Terry shook his head in disgust. "And I'm a Boot; but that doesn't mean anyone can immediately categorise me and assign attributes that are just not true, does it? Harry is a Potter but he is not a bullying pureblood with a superiority complex, is he? He's a complete goof at times, and a bad tempered prat, and a really good guy, too; but he is not to be categorised and pigeonholed because of who his family was."
There was a stunned silence then his father coughed discretely. "Well, regardless, I hope you do well in your NEWTs and get the position you want in the Ministry. What can we do to help?"
"See what is available when I need a job," Terry hazarded, accepting the olive branch his father offered with a sigh.
"Will you be coming home once you finish school?" Mrs Boot asked eagerly. "We have your old room ready, all decorated and nice for you."
A sigh gusted out. "I'm sorry Mum, but no. I have other things to do and coming home to live is not on the cards, but I will visit, I promise."
"You are going off with that… that werewolf, aren't you?"
"Mum!" Terry snapped then glared grimly. "And that is the attitude I have fought so hard to destroy; that stupid prejudice that causes more pain and suffering than any bloody dark lord wannabe ever could. Elizabeth is a loyal and dedicated soldier of the light, she is a talented artist and a great conversationalist, but all you can think of is 'werewolf'. Everything else about her is ignored except for one thing she cannot help or get rid of. Did you go insane because Grandma had cancer, an equally insidious and nasty disease that destroyed her life? Of course you didn't, you simply accepted and did what you could to treat her disease until it went into remission. Why should werewolves be treated any differently?"
"Because cancer doesn't turn people into wild animals who go around attacking and infecting other people!" Rebecca Boot snarled viciously and crossed her arms defensively.
"Neither do the majority of werewolves; but that is a fact you, and everyone else, will so conveniently ignore," Terry roared back equally angrily, shaking off his father's restraining hand with a rough shrug of his shoulders. "No, let's be very clear on this. Werewolves are people first and foremost and it is about time that the average wizard in the street got over their stupid fears and started using their brains for something other than keeping their heads from collapsing. Without werewolves, we would all have been under the heels of a worse monster than a bloody werewolf can ever be and if it takes a lifetime, I vow I am going to make sure people understand that fundamental fact completely."
The silence his declaration caused, seemed to ring with the strength of his convictions; the magic of Hogwarts wrapping around his words and setting them into the stone of the castle. Hogwarts would promote his cause and support his vow from that moment onward.