Chapter 9. The Potions Master and the Wolf
It was agreed by the Pack that Lucius and Ruairidh would go and meet with Severus, as Lucius knew the man well, while Ruairidh was attending as the twin's father. It was also decided that Jack and Sarah would be on standby in animal form just in case things didn't got according to plan. Both Pack members were happy to stand in the darkness as they could see just was well as in the day being big cats and all. It was Ruairidh who heard the almost silent footsteps, as he was closer to the entrance than Lucius who was leaning casually against an oak tree. Those simmering silver eyes were much warmer than when the Malfoy had arrived with Draco, his powers had grown and matured, as his body had grown younger. Now he looked the same as the rest as the Pack even though he was a Wizard on paper.
The Malfoy straightened when he too heard the footsteps coming in their direction. A long fingered hand swept through his loose blonde hair as it caught the moonlight seeping through the canopy of trees above them. Severus Snape watched from where he stood at the gap in the trees, he had never seen his old friend look better than he did now. Not even when they had been at school had Lucius looked this good, which meant that something had happened since they had last seen each other. The new DADA teacher suddenly appeared beside Severus, the pair of them towered over the dark haired potions Master who some how managed to remain as proud as ever. He crossed his arms and glared at Lucius, as he was the one to call this strange meeting in all his changed glory.
"Well Malfoy, do you want to explain what in the name of Merlin is going on and why you have called me here in the middle of the night?"
Lucius ran a critical eye over his friend. Severus was too thin; too pale and tired, the blonde could clearly see all of the signs again. It was almost a repeat of when the Dark Lord was at full power.
"Severus my friend, what has happened to you?"
The Potions Master was taken aback by the honest and open concern Lucius was showing in his face when he looked at him. Not only was it not like him but also the concern wasn't something Severus came across often these days.
"The Headmaster, that's what happened to me Lucius. Since I have answered how about you explain what happened to you and why I am here with the new DADA professor?" The sneer in Severus's voice was telling of his view of Ruairidh.
Lucius smiled at the smaller man, it was good to know some things just never changed even after all the crap that had happened to his friend.
"Ruairidh is here because he was the one chosen to come with me as it was my idea to approach you on a delicate subject. Now if you agree to an oath with me then we can do that here and then move our discussion somewhere you will find a lot more comfortable."
The response came straight away, after all Lucius was still his best friend and he was named Draco's godfather for a reason.
"I accept. Do the oath."
This was where Ruairidh came in. The reason someone had to come with Lucius was so if Severus agreed there had to be someone else to complete the binding spell. The Tiger moved forward and pulled out his wand, although it was only for show, as Severus hadn't been clued in yet. He spoke in his low, deep rumble that had hairs standing up on Severus's neck but he couldn't place why as it wasn't fear or desire.
"Please join your hands and close your eyes."
The Lion was quick to kneel before Ruairidh and offer his hand up towards Severus, who was still stood there in shock at Lucius Malfoy dropping to the ground so quickly and without being forced under torture. Still an agreement was an agreement so Severus too dropped to his knees and clasped hands with Lucius. The DADA teacher moved around them and raised his wand to begin.
"Do you Severus Snape, swear to keep everything the Pack is about to tell you a secret from anyone deemed unworthy?"
A tongue of green fire snaked out of Ruairidh's wand and wrapped around the two men's hands beneath him.
"Do you promise to keep our secrets on the results of your magic?"
A second jet snaked around and joined the first; the two strands swirled around each other till Ruairidh flicked his wand and the two jets blended into one thick rope that bound the two hands together.
"Then on your magic be your judge, for if you break this trust then your soul will decide the punishment."
The rope glowed brightly for a few seconds and then vanished with a final movement from Ruairidh. The Tiger quickly caught Lucius's eye and nodded with a grin. When the spell had completed, Ruairidh had felt the pure, untapped power inside Severus. His soul was pure; his animal was a surprising one but truly loyal.
"Severus you can now follow us, at least we can have a drink as I believe this discussion is going to call for it before the night is over."
"Why do I get the feeling I am not going to like what I hear?"
"Because you are far too suspicious Severus."
At that Ruairidh burst out laughing, the sound was low but loud in the darkness and it made Severus jump then scowl at his reaction to the younger man. There was something about them both that set Severus's nerves on end, it wasn't in a bad way as such, it was more something warning him of a danger that his senses couldn't explain. Lucius looked to one side as Ruairidh groaned and rolled his eyes at the blonde.
"They really didn't trust us to get the job done did they?"
"It appears not my friend."
Severus chose that moment to see if they would tell him anything. After all that was what this was supposed to be about, them telling him something that he wasn't allowed to tell anyone else. Not that he ever would, he had far too much loyalty for that and didn't that just sound so Gryffindorish even in his head.
"Who doesn't trust you?"
A low growl was his answer as two shadows slipped out form the forest in front of the three of them. The one on the right was small and slender while the other was a huge, hulking creature that was eye level with the DADA teacher just while stood on four legs. Severus balked as his instincts screamed werewolf or something similar as this was the forbidden forest for a very good reason. Yet Lucius and Ruairidh just rolled their eyes and carried on walking past the two things. Lucius smiled and called out behind them.
"Hey Sarah, want a race?"
There was a yip in response as a dark red fox scampered out of the shadows to Lucius's side in hopes of a game. The blonde grinned and took of at a run without warning, he might be one of the Pack now but that still didn't mean he wasn't a Malfoy and he still hadn't learned to play fair all the time. The second shadow appeared in between Severus and Ruairidh and boy did the Potions Master jump when he saw just what it was towering over him. A large dark furred wolf was stood over them both; its dark chocolate eyes were glowing in the half-light as it watched the black haired man. Severus had to control himself not to run in opposite direction; instead he pulled out his wand and glared at the animal. Which to his shock, glared right back at him, its head dropped to eye level with him and those beautiful eyes narrowed as they meet his own onyx ones.
"Is it me or is that wolf glaring at me?"
Ruairidh threw back his head and laughed. It was funny to watch the alpha wolf react this way to a human. It was almost sickly sweet as he watched and the human was standing up to a giant wolf, which was funny in itself as the Potions Master was small for a male human.
"No its not you, Jack is glaring at you."
"You are nothing like a teacher should be Donaldson."
Severus glared at him as the others response was to laugh and shrug with an innocent look on his face.
"Neither are you Snape, but you don't see me bitching."
"You act more like a teenager than some I teach."
The comment was snarled at Ruairidh's back and even the wolf that was still stood beside Severus gave a bark like laugh at his friend's expense. Ruairidh pouted and muttered under his breath but Severus still heard him.
"Yeah and it's a shame Craig agrees, maybe if he didn't he might think about adding a little to our boys."
Jack lowered his head and nudged his friend in understanding, as he too was feeling the lack of a mate and pups. Still Craig was being slightly unfair towards his husband but no doubt their resident vixen could sort him out sooner or later. Severus raised one eyebrow at the strange goings on around him, after all it wasn't every day he ended up walking through the forbidden forest in the dead of night with a huge wolf and the new DADA teacher who acted and looked like a teenager. Suddenly the wolf stopped and growled low in his throat. Ruairidh glanced and smiled, they had reached the fence that surrounded their temporary home and by the looks of it Sarah had dropped the barrier as they had walked straight through it without having to key the Potions Master into the wards. A composed Lucius was stood at the door waiting with Sarah sat at his side; her thick tail was swishing in excitement as the three approached, it was Lucius that spoke first.
"Well Severus now we have all arrived I will explain the first thing you need to know about this lot. We are a Pack of Guardians, now before you object and say they don't exist, we do and Jack here will prove it to you."
With a nod to the wolf that was still stood beside Severus, a glow surrounded the animal till a beautiful man stood where the wolf had been seconds ago. The Potions Master recoiled with a growl as his eyes widened and his magic reacted to the other man. Lucius raised an eyebrow at the violent reaction the two had given the other when faced in human forms. Ruairidh cast Jack a concerned look as he could feel the powerful magick pushing at Jack's tightened control.
"Hey Jack, you alright?"
The wolf moved a few steps back and growled at his friend. He didn't understand this. It shouldn't have happened after all this time. Still he could feel the pull already trying to force him closer to the small human male in front of him. It was the small hand that settled on his shoulder that calmed his crazed thoughts. Jack looked down to find Sarah watching him carefully as she cocked her head to one side in curious interest.
"He is the one?"
Jack could only nod in answer as his voice had failed him for a while. Sarah sighed but took over the situation as she strode over to Severus and held out a hand.
"Hi, I am Sarah Blackthorn although you know me as Sarah Thorn. These too are Jack Southern and Ruairidh Donaldson. If you follow me I am sure we can all explain and clear this up as I am not sure Lucius is going about it the right way."
Severus took her hand and shook it; to be honest it was nice to find someone this direct and mature in this mess of confusing men. Not that Severus would ever admit that to anyone of course. He followed the young woman through the house, his keen eyes taking in all around him. He was led to a large living room where a group of children sat on the floor and he came face to face with the biggest man he had ever seen bar Hagrid. Severus only reached half way up his chest as his eyes travelled the rest of the way up too see dark emerald eyes that were very familiar as well as long raven hair that cascaded down. Sarah moved forward and pushed the male backwards into the room with nothing more than a frown on her face.
"Behave Gabriel, he isn't here to take Harry away. Now sit down and shut up."
The Potions Master gained a new respect for this tiny woman as the male did as he was told with nothing but a scowl on his face. It was her he looked to for what was meant to happen now he was in here. Sarah glanced at him with a soft smile, she gestured to the line up of men that had followed the two of them into the room.
"Well Severus I suggest you sit down over here while the rest pile in and I with the help of the others will explain why Lucius called you here and what will happen depending on your answer."
Severus's answer was to sit down and watch the rest pile in. As people entered, he evaluated them with a critical eye. Every one of them had that feeling of dangerous energy that he couldn't place. When the brown haired man Southern came into the room, Severus had to look away from those intense brown eyes that were boring into his onyx ones. But despite the fear he felt, he couldn't tear his eyes away from watching Southern as he crossed the room and spread himself out on a chair. Those eyes held a heat that Severus had never had directed at him before and meeting that heat meant something Severus didn't understand so kept his eyes down but that meant he had to look at the rest of the man. Which was just as distracting as looking at those eyes, a smirk flittered across that full-lipped mouth as Jack crossed his ankles and exposed his muscular thighs to Severus's gaze. Said Potions Master quickly looked away fighting down a blush that he hadn't felt in years. Lucius who had been watching his friend all this time had to hide a laugh behind his hands as he saw the slight flush of red that was creeping up Severus's neck.
"Well from the incident outside I am going go from there and hope I can explain everything. As you know we Guardians, and I know Wizards believe that we no longer walk among you but we do. Guardians are spilt into groups depending on the Master that is in charge during their training days. For example, we used to under Jack's command as he is our Alpha wolf but after we left the council we gained three other masters so we no longer have an official leader. My mate is the man who was blocking the doorway, Gabriel Blackthorn and yes we are Harry's parents although not by birth. Harry come here little one."
The young boy broke away from where he had been lying with Draco and the two other boys who looked like twins. He jumped up and settled in the woman's lap as she continued to talk.
"You may know my son as Harry Potter. That was whom he started life out as until his 5th birthday when we received a call from Harry's magick. It was then we broke away from the council and Jack formed our Pack. For months we lay out of sight and just protected Harry from his relatives until they went too far. It was decided that give little Harry the choice, he could remain and we would do our best while hidden or he could leave with us and be healed. As you can see, he chose to come with us and soon after, my husband and me blood adopted him as our son. It was during Harry's training that we were asked to give sanctuary to Lucius and young Draco. Which after hearing their story we granted them. Our Pack soon learned of the Malfoy's daemon blood, which enabled them to learn and train with us. Let me give you a break and show you what it means to be a Guardian."
The man called Gabriel stood and gave Severus a calculating look as he moved to the right hand side of the room where a door was. With a push it was opened to show a large open room that had no roof. Gabriel stepped through and Sarah motioned for Severus to follow as the others lined up behind her.
"Let us show you why we are feared by humans and Wizards alike. It might help all this seem more real to you."
Gabriel then spoke for the first time since Severus had come into the house.
"I like you. You have a good soul and a good head on your shoulders. Your magick is strong but tainted like Lucius's was when he first came to us. That can be fixed."
Severus gave Gabriel a wide-eyed look in response. Sarah sighed and glared at her husband.
"You were not supposed to scare him off before you transform you idiot."
Gabe rolled his eyes but didn't answer, instead he just transformed. At once Severus saw why they needed such an open space. What stood in front of him now was a massive horse with dark eyes and blood red markings on his body. His mane and tale were thick and full, his coat was a beautiful shimmering black. Once Severus had got a good look he blinked and was looking at a man again. Without words Sarah and Harry moved into the space and both changed. Now looking at him were two Foxes, one a deep red while the other black with red paws. Next came Ruairidh and a smaller man with as strange coloured hair as the DADA teacher, it was soon clear why their hair was that colour as Severus looked on in awe at the massive big cats that were stood together in the room. One crimson coloured tiger and one snow leopard were joined by two smaller ones which played around their feet as the rest watched. Then came Jack, Lucius and Draco. Severus couldn't help but be impressed by Jack as the gorgeous wolf stalked out of the way of Lucius and Draco so he ended up right next to Severus again. The Wizard watched as Lucius turned into a majestic white Lion and padded over to him and Jack. Severus looked around strangely as he realised that everyone weather human or animal had cleared a space in the centre of the room. It didn't take long to find out why although at first it was a surprise as Draco turned into a dragon just a bit larger than the two foxes, that was until the dragon looked to Gabriel and received a nod of consent. What now stood in the room filled all the space and beyond where the ceiling should have been, the dragon had grown in size to what looked like an adult yet Severus knew was only an 11 year old.
"Ok I think I believe you now that I have just seen my godson turn into a real dragon."
At this Draco changed back and scampered over to Severus with a grin on his face. He looked so proud of himself and so happy that his godfather almost didn't recognise the Malfoy heir from the one he saw during classes.
"Hey uncle Sev, does this mean you are going to join us?"
Of course Draco had innocently asked the main question all the adults were thinking as they couldn't really ask about the twins until they knew what side Severus was on. At least he had believed what he had been shown and accepted it enough to not start a fight that admittedly he wouldn't win but he could still cause a lot of problems for them if he went to the headmaster with what he had learned no matter the oath he had took. Severus looked at them all, then looked to Lucius who stared back at him with those familiar eyes. He could clearly read the hope in his friends face as it was; he knew Lucius would never have asked him here if he though Severus would turn this offer down but there was more that needed to be spoke about. It was clear they weren't telling him everything and yet he still knew what his answer was going to be despite of that fact.
"Yes Draco, I will join you."
The blonde boy jumped up and hugged his godfather around the neck before bouncing over to Harry and petting the little fox's ears with deft fingers.
"Yes Draco, what is it?"
"Can we go and play for a while why you and everyone talk things out?"
"Yes son, come back in an hour and we will walk you and Harry back to the school for the night."
Before Lucius had finished all four children had disappeared in a flurry of feet and excited voices. Sarah rolled her eyes but moved back to the plush room they had started in. It was Gabriel and Jack that remained standing this time as it appeared it would be these two doing to talking for now.
"So you want to join us?"
Severus cocked an eyebrow at the challenge in Gabriel's tone but answered evenly.
"Yes, but there are things that need to be explained from me yet."
Jack motioned with a hand for Severus to continue, it appeared they were all prepared to listen before judging, which again was not something Severus was used to finding directed at him.
"I am a death eater although right now it is believed the Dark Lord is dead, anyone with a dark mark knows this is not true as the mark is still there. However that is not the only problem. The Headmaster is using me as a spy for so called light side which is no more light than the Dark Lord's side, it is just buried under the 'greater good', which the Wizarding population eat up like sheep."
Gabriel looked thoughtful as he processed the information they had just been given to work with. He could now clearly see why the human in front of him looked so worn and drained for his young age. As Wizards lived much longer than humans he should only look a bit older than them and yet he looked at least double their age.
"Well your magick and body can be easily healed when we unlock the gates put on your power. As to those two, they will be dealt with as soon as it is needed and you will be free of them and your worlds laws if you agree and join our Pack."
Gabriel never was one to sugar coat something like this, after all there really was no point especially when dealing with someone like Severus who was used to being used and lied to.
"You make it sound so simple."
At that Lucius stepped forward and kneeled in front of his old friend so he could look into Severus's face.
"Yes Severus, that's because it is easy for us. We are not Wizards. We are not really humans. To a Master like me, Gabriel, Jack or Ruairidh the Headmaster is a child and the Dark Lord nothing more than a teenager throwing a temper tantrum."
The Potions Master looked at them all. Scanning their faces for anything that might show him this was all a joke or a cruel prank but there was nothing other than honesty and hope.
"OK then. What do I need to do?"
Sarah jumped up and grinned happily, there was something about Severus that she liked and she could see the bond that was slowly forming between the small male and Jack. She took him by the arm and led him outside where she and him kneeled in a circle made up of the others. She pulled a dagger out of her thigh holster and turned to Severus.
"We need to unlock the gates on your magick, that is all it will take. While I am doing this would you like me to find out who placed them on you in the first place? There will be a signature which I will be able to read as I take the gates down."
Severus nodded on agreement and turned his hand so she could make the cut on his left hand. With quick movements Sarah sliced into his hand and then her own, as she did the others began chanting in the same language they had used for the pervious ceremonies. She stood quickly as Severus dropped to the floor, her eyes were narrowed in anger, as it was clear she had found out who and why the block had been placed but now they had to wait to see how much power had been blocked. Severus lay on the ground as his magick went wild, it was contained in the circle of Pack members but they could feel the familiar level of power that was equal to that of Sarah and Craig. As his magick settled, they could see the effect it had had just by looking at the man on the floor. Severus looked 20 years younger; his body was healed, as was the black stain that had been on his magick before the blocks had been removed. Jack moved forward when Severus began to sit up. The Wolf gently took the bleeding hand and cast a light-healing Glade over it to fix the broken skin. Severus watched, as Jack looked him over with those heated eyes.
"It worked then?"
"Oh yes Severus Snape, it worked alright."
Lucius couldn't hold his laugh when the now creamy pale Severus blushed bright red at the attention he was getting from the handsome Wolf. Ruairidh too joined in, as it was fun to watch his best friend go through what he himself had gone through with his husband. Craig shared a glance with Sarah as they both rolled their eyes at the Dominants childishness.
"Well Severus would you like to know your soul animal or who put the block on you first?"
Severus looked at Sarah, he badly wanted to know who had done this too him but first he was ever so slightly curious weather his animal was compatible with the handsome Wolf leaning on the ground next to him.
"Close your eyes and reach down into your magick, your animal will do the rest."
Jack settled himself next to Severus as the man closed his eyes and sunk into his magickal core. Sarah had been right, it didn't take him long to find the animal that lived in his soul, it prowled forward into his vision as he examined this creature he was happy to see it was a type of canine at least. Although he would never tell a certain wolf that he was happy his own soul was compatible with him. Severus reached out a hand and welcomed this new part of himself into his mind. The creature came forward happily and the Potions Master felt the first ever transformation wash through his body and magick. When he opened his eyes he saw Jack staring at him in wonder and the other all grinning at him. He opened his mouth to ask if it had worked but all that came out was a string of barks and yips. Gabriel stepped forward and flicked his wrist in a Glade that produced a huge mirror right in front Severus, what the Wizard saw made him sit down in shock. Where he had been stood was a leggy wolf like creature that was beautiful. He had a dark orange coat with an impressive black mane that was sleek and fluffy, his legs were the same deep colour while his chest and tip of his tale a crisp white in contrast. He turned to look at Jack who was still staring at him in what looked like shock. He took a tentative step forward and nudged Jack with his nose; he was rewarded with a large hand coming up and slowing sinking into his mane. He didn't know that only soul mates could touch each other in animal form but he did know that Jack's hands felt wonderful in his fur. Without meaning to Severus wagged his thick tail and whimpered with pleasure as Jack continued to pet over his new body.
Gabriel wrapped an arm around his wife's waist as the children appeared from inside the house behind them. Sarah was busy watching the scene in front of her with a happy smile on her face. Although Severus didn't know what he had done everyone else did as Jack petted the Maned Wolf with the greatest care. Harry and Draco came forward as they saw what was happening in their front garden. Draco piped up as he always seemed to do.
"Hey look Uncle Sev found his mate in Uncle Jack, guess that means there is only father left to find a mate."
Jack looked up at them as he grinned at Draco; he gave Severus one last pat before standing and giving Severus an expectant look. It appeared he had to work out how to change back on his own. It was easy to do now that he could feel the Maned Wolf that lived in his head, it was a quick transformation for a first time but Severus guessed he would be put in training like Lucius he had been to work on that and others things. Lucius walked up and laid a hand on Severus's arm and held out his left forearm for his friend to see, the creamy skin was now healthy and completely free of any dark mark or scars. He truly was free.
The walk back to the castle didn't take long as Harry and Draco were running back and forth in front of the four adults who had walked with them. Severus was walking close to Jack's side, although they had yet to talk about the thing between them, he could feel that what he had done when he had transformed had been of great importance. Still there would be plenty of time to talk about that later when he had settled to idea that he was free of the Dark Lord and the Headmaster. Sarah had told him as they walked about the block that had been put on his magick.
"It was the Headmaster, it was also done just after you were born, and so that is why it was so strong. No matter the strength of the caster, a spell like this would have broken when you reached 17 but because he placed it juts hours after you were born, that is why you never knew."
Severus knew he had to put up with the glamour that had been placed on him, but he was happy that he could return to the Pack each night and become who he should have been. He had also pledged to himself that he would get to know them all, he would let them in as they had done with him. Even the four young ones, what had shocked him was Harry Blackthorn being Harry Potter but he couldn't see any of that line in him anymore. That little boy was the one Severus felt a kinship with as he too had been abused, he was just glad that Harry had found a way out earlier than he had. He promised himself to watch over them as he walked back through the castle with them trailing his footsteps. At the portrait hole he turned and spoke to them.
"I will meet you here in the morning, sleep well boys and come find me for anything if you need it."
Little Harry grinned and hugged him before dragging Draco away into the common room. Severus was left with a slight smile on his face at the open actions of the child. He could see how easy it was going to be, this Pack wanted him to join their family and it was about time Severus Snape found something worth living for.