A/N - This is part one of two by Grande.Vanilla.Skim.Latte.
What Happens in the Cage
"This is all your fault," Hermione hissed out of the corner of her mouth as she pressed her back to the thick iron bars, her eyes never leaving the other side of the cage.
"Why is it mine?" Sirius hissed back, knowing exactly who Hermione was addressing without looking at her, he too had his eyes glued to the same spot hers were.
"Because it is your responsibility to look for all of your friends, not just one of them," Sirius tore his eyes away to glance at the witch beside him, surprised to see the slight glimmer of tears clinging to her lashes.
"Ah shit Hermione, I didn't think," he whispered, resuming his careful watch of the opposite side of their iron prison. His hand however snaked along the bars until his fingers found hers and he gave her hand a gentle squeeze, a low growl broke them apart almost instantly.
"As touched as I am by all of this, I really don't think it is the time … or the place," Bill's sarcastic whisper broke the silence a few minutes later. Hermione didn't dare glance at the handsome Weasley to her left; she felt him tremble though, or was that her arm that shook like a leaf?
"Then what is?" Sirius breathed back, his eyes darting angrily toward the man he blamed for their current predicament.
"Oh I don't know, staying alive maybe?" Charlie interrupted just a little too loudly. All four of them snapped still as the low growl turned into a fierce rumble.
"Bugger," Hermione whimpered, pressing herself into the bars, willing flesh and bone to give way and let her through. Sirius and Bill moved ever so slightly in front of her in a fierce show of bravery, Charlie pressed himself to her side and she was effectively surrounded by a wall of brute muscle and pulsing testosterone.
If Hermione were being honest with herself it was really her fault that they were trapped in the cage – not Sirius's at all. If only she hadn't let her curiosity get the better of her none of them would be stuck in the one place that was designed to keep them out and one very unhappy werewolf in. She felt horrible for trying to lock her lover up in the first place now that she was experiencing just what it felt like to be trapped in a situation she had no control over.
She tried not to look at the naked man standing with teeth bared a short distance from them, she knew better than to make direct eye contact at least, but the pure animalistic nature that had taken over him proved to be too much of a lure and despite her guilt she couldn't help but look at him with pure lust. As she ogled the man who had become more of a beast in the last few hours she reflected on the course of events that had put them all in danger.
It had started as an idea; lycanthropy was a magical ailment therefore a magical barrier had the potential to be the cure. The cage had been Charlie's idea, and strangely enough he happened to be carrying one in his luggage from Romania; miniaturised yes, but strong enough to hold a dragon when expanded to its true size.
Sirius had been the next person to jump on the 'Save Remus' bandwagon, providing the Black Family Library and all its dark secrets finding a book on how to prevent a witch or wizard to use magic. Finally they had had to call in Bill to break the curse on said book before being able to use it; several scorched eyebrows and a nasty rash later they had their cage, now all they needed was one unsuspecting werewolf and a full moon, one of them just happened to stalk in the door later that night as the swollen moon followed in his wake.
Together the three men had restrained the snarling Remus who had immediately gone for Hermione. Experience told them that during the three day period the moon was at its fullest Remus went into an uncontrolled mating mode and Hermione (being the only female he had eyes for) either had to leave for fear of her own safety or ride it out, which usually ended in her having to leave for a week afterward to recover and get away from the apologising man – no matter how many times she told him it wasn't his fault he still managed to make himself sick with guilt.
In all the confusion and shouting when the men had attempted to restrain her lover, Hermione had been backed further and further toward the cage until she had found herself pressed against the bars. Sirius, Charlie and Bill had been too late to get her out and in the end all 5 of them had been locked in when the cage's spells had recognised magical beings inside and had locked its doors. They were trapped until morning.
Sirius had snapped at Bill that it was his fault, Bill in turn had blamed Charlie and only Charlie had turned and placed the blame on her shoulders; that was until Remus's warning snarls had turned them all silent. Somehow in all their squabbling the agitated werewolf, unable to transform, had succumbed to the call of the moon. Out of habit he had shed his clothes in anticipation but as the night wore on his body did not morph, only his mind.
His attention did not waver from Hermione, as hers did not from him. The candles that had lit the dank basement began to wear down and long shadows were cast across their prison, the tension in her shoulders began to slump until she found herself drifting to sleep, completely unaware that her body slid down the bars until she thumped unceremoniously on the floor.
She blinked up at the four sets of eyes that had been drawn to her, she shifted to stand but Sirius motioned for her to sit still. Her eyes were once again drawn to Remus who had crouched down barely a foot from her, his nostrils flared as he sniffed the air.
Her heart leapt in her throat as the man who was no longer a man slowly inched toward her, head cocked further as he continued to breathe in the musty air. Without thinking Sirius shifted in fear of his friend, and Bill reacted in kind, leaving Hermione abandoned on the floor mere inches from a potentially dangerous beast. She tried not to hyperventilate as Remus closed the gap, his hands reaching out lightning fast to grab one of hers.
The tension in the cage reached breaking point, none of the occupants knew if she was about to loose a hand or if he had just become curious. It seemed curiosity won out as the lycanthrope turned her palm face up then down several times before gently bringing her digits closer to his face. He took one long sniff of hand when he let out a whimper and scampered back to the other side of the cage.
Hermione's brow furrowed at the bizarre reaction and she looked down at her hand to see just what had caused it. It was a clean as ever, her blunt nails shone merrily in the candlelight and the white line of a puckered scar from a long ago potions mishap stood out in sharp contrast to her tanned skin.
She bought her hand up close to her face and sniffed cautiously, the faint smell of soap clung to her hand on top of an even fainter hint of mint that she had used when making the evening meal. It all seemed so long ago now but neither of these had upset Remus before.
"I think I know what's wrong," Sirius breathed above her.
"What?" she whispered back, lowering her hand and continuing her careful watch of her restless lover who was now pacing the cage in front of them.
"He once mentioned that you have a … scent, something only his canine senses can pick up, I've smelt it too, all people have it; but yours appeals to him more than any other. Something must have come into contact with your hand to make the scent different," He breathed, almost excitedly.
"But what? I haven't touched anything out of the ordinary," Hermione whispered, more to herself than the others.
"Yes you did. Sirius' hand," Bill exclaimed as loudly as he dared and it was as if a light bulb had switched on.
"But I've touched Sirius before," she reasoned, not quite willing to believe that Remus was that attuned to her.
"Yes you have, however never during the full moon. That's why we started sending you away – his brain is chanting at him to find his mate. Well here you are, but you smell like another man so he is confused,"
"You didn't send me away, I chose to leave," she muttered angrily, clutching her hand to her chest as if it were going to drop off at any moment.
"That's not the point," Sirius hissed back, quite willing to resume their previous arguing. He let out a long breath, willing himself to calm down enough not to start shouting.
"Then what is?" Charlie finally piped up when Sirius took to long to finish. Hermione noticed his hands were clenched into fists at his side and his gaze had not wavered from Remus since they had entered the cage. The dragon tamer was the picture of a storm waiting to happen.
"Our priority right now is Hermione's safety. If we allow Remus to get hold of her then neither of them will be able to forgive themselves and quite frankly there is only so much moping I can handle a month," Sirius explained slowly, his voice dropping so they all had to strain to catch his words.
"So that means …" Hermione began, slowly piecing what this all meant together.
"That Remus is less likely to attack you if your scent becomes clouded," Charlie finished for her.
"What are you suggesting Sirius?" Bill asked, looking from the witch to the wolf-man.
Sirius let out a deep breath and looked at all the cages prisoners one by one, his gaze finally rested on Hermione as his face turned bright red. She frowned as he gave her an apologetic look before looking down at his waist, she followed the movement and saw to her growing horror that something else was growing.
Her eyes flew back his in understanding, "No!" she yelled, not bothering to keep her voice down. She scrambled to her feet and she didn't even register the low growl that rumbled from the other side of the cage.
"Sirius no," she repeated, still having to look up at him.
"It's the only way," he argued back, gaining a little more bravado.
"No!" she said again, backing away from him. Sirius took to follow but stopped himself short, giving her an imploring look.
"No, no, no. Absolutely not!" her voice had reached an all new octave as she kept backing up.
"Hermione," Charlie hissed, but she ignored the dragon tamer and kept her eyes focused on the Animagus.
"I don't want to hear it. I said no," she repeated. It was Bill's turn to reach for her as she continued to back up, only one thing stopped her – the warm breath and snarling sound of a very agitated werewolf just behind her.
"Oh shit," she whimpered.