DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter and all other characters and locations belong to J. K. Rowling.
Chapter One - The Fateful Day
It all began one cold December day in Scotland. It was a Saturday, to be exact. And the beginning of a Hogsmeade weekend for the students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. For most, the two days would be completely uneventful. Nothing beyond the usual would occur. They would visit the same shops they always did, spend their allowances on the same inane things they normally did, and then they would return to the castle toting bags of goodies but otherwise penniless.
However, for Harry Potter, that Saturday would be a day he remembered for the rest of his life . . .
Snow swept across the hardened ground and hammered against the cloaked forms trekking toward Hogsmeade. The wind shrieked angrily between the naked trees, tugging at colourful scarves and tangling heavy robes about numb legs. Patches of ice hidden beneath the snow made the path treacherous, but still the students of Hogwarts continued on, undeterred by the elements that seemed wholly riveted on keeping them from their destination.
Fingers buried in the folds of his heaviest winter cloak, Harry Potter shivered and lengthened his stride. His change of pace immediately incited cries from the two people trailing him, making him smile and look over his shoulder. "We're almost there." He called with a laugh, burying his hands deeper into the voluminous cloth of the dark cloak.
Lifting her chin from the protective warmth of her red and gold scarf, Hermione Granger shot the raven-haired wizard a baleful glare. "I could be back at Hogwarts curled up with a book right now," she grumbled, hooking her arm through Ron's and pressing closer to him. "Next to the fireplace in the Common Room. In my warmest pajamas. With a mug of hot cocoa." Teeth nearly chattering, she focused her gaze on the village visible in the distance. Smoke curled from the chimneys in a tantalizing portrayal of the warmth waiting within the small shops, the sight making her shudder in relief.
Lightly laughing at the witch's response, Harry spun around and began to walk backwards. "Are you telling me you've already finished your shopping?" He asked, grinning as Ron rolled his eyes and shook his head. The wicked wind sent his cloak billowing out before him and flipped his hood over his head, the fabric momentarily blinding him.
"Of course," Hermione answered primly. She sniffed delicately at the scoffing noises the pair made, swatting Ron's arm gently even as a small smile curved her lips. "The two of you shouldn't leave everything to the last-"
"Harry!" Ron yelped suddenly, a finger jabbing at the ground directly behind the other wizard. He winced as the raven-haired male caught the heel of his boot on a chunk of ice pushing through the snow and stumbled, his arms swinging frantically in a vain attempt to recover his balance.
Unable to regain his equilibrium, Harry toppled backwards. The air left his lungs in a loud whoosh as he slammed into the ground, the back of his head connecting with the well-packed snow. Groaning, he lay sprawled on the ground staring up at the gray sky, blinking at the white and black stars dancing across the expanse. "Thanks, Ron," he finally managed to wheeze, his vision clearing enough for him to see Hermione and Ron peering down at him in apparent concern. Cringing at the pain that radiated from the bump growing on the back of his head, he accepted the redhead's hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.
"You should really be more careful," Hermione muttered, probing the back of his head roughly. With a small wag of her head, she turned the dark-haired wizard in the direction of Hogsmeade and gave him a light push. "You have a good sized bump," she added, shooing Ron ahead of her with her free hand.
Biting his lip, Harry lifted a hand to touch the growing welt, jumping slightly when Hermione slapped his searching fingers away. "Your concern for my well being brings tears to my eyes," he mumbled dryly, hobbling due to the ache spreading over his bruised rump. Gritting his teeth, he slipped his hands into his pockets and shouldered the bushy-haired witch's helpful hand away, fighting down the urge to rub his bum soothingly. Instead, he drew a deep breath and focused his orbs on the much-appreciated sight of Hogsmeade, a happy smile sliding across his face as he peered down the bustling street that curved through the small village.
He absolutely adored the Holidays. Not because of the gifts or the time off from classes, but because of the atmosphere the entire season imbued. Everyone was happy; for the entire month of December everybody seemed to forget their worries and cares and focus on their friends and families. Which was exactly what Harry planned on doing. He was going to spend every minute he could with Remus and the entire Weasley clan at Grimmauld Place; Hermione was scheduled to join them the day after Christmas, which meant he and Ron could put off doing their holiday schoolwork until she arrived.
"Let's go to the Three Broomsticks and get warm before we split up to do our shopping," Hermione suggested, giving Harry one last light push. She slipped her hands into her pockets as they joined the harried crowd rushing down the main path, nodding politely to several fifth year Gryffindors.
"I could use a Butterbeer," Ron mused, elbowing Harry to get his attention. He arched his eyebrows when the raven-haired wizard jumped and turned to look at them with wide eyes. "Three Broomsticks. Butterbeer. Unthaw," he said, shaking his head in bemusement when understanding flickered across Harry's face.
"Sure," Harry replied with an apologetic wag of his head. He gestured the pair ahead of him, scanning the busy street for familiar faces. A passing wizard bumped into him, elbowing him aside roughly and hurrying down the path. Teeth clenched at the wizard's rudeness, he turned his head and watched him through narrowed eyes, frowning as the tall male left a trail of disgruntled shoppers in his wake. His lack of focus caused him to walk into Ron and almost tip over backwards, only the redhead's quick hands keeping him from once again landing on his backside.
"You're really out of it today," Ron said, steadying the dark-haired wizard with a hand on his shoulder.
With a shrug, Harry said, "Christmas." He ignored the furrowing of the redhead's brow, stepping quickly past him into the Three Broomsticks and scanning the crowded tables. A wide grin crossed his face when he saw Dean, Neville, and Seamus at a nearby booth, the three Gryffindor sixth year's in deep discussion.
Laughing softly as Neville noticed him and gave an excited wave, he lifted a hand in greeting and directed Ron and Hermione toward the trio. They would most likely be here a while, he thought wryly, watching as the pair join the small group. With an inaudible sigh, he wove his way through the crowd and ordered three Butterbeers from the bartender, glancing around the busy room as he waited. The place was packed with students and villagers, some he recognized and others he didn't. As his gaze slid across the farthest shadowy corner he stiffened, his body tensing as he found himself being regarded by two tall wizards. His mouth went dry as he stared into a pair of crystalline eyes, the hair on the back of his neck rising. The tall stranger blinked and turned his pale orbs back to his companion, ending the unintentional staring match and leaving Harry suddenly afraid.
With a sharp shake of his head, Harry slapped several coins on the bar and gathered up the three Butterbeers, quickly heading toward the booth of Gryffindors. Placing the drinks carefully on the table, he shot one last unobtrusive glance at the two strange wizards, goosebumps racing up his arms as he once again found himself being watched by the taller of the pair. He jerked his head back around, meeting Hermione's worried orbs with arched brows and a small smile. Squeezing onto the bench next to Ron, he wrapped his fingers around his bottle and attempted to appear interested in the current debate over Ravenclaw's chances of beating Slytherin in the next Quidditch match.
Standing alone in front of Zonko's Wizarding Joke Shop clutching bags from various stores, Harry tried to ignore the eerie feeling that he was being watched. Still, without being too obvious about it, he scanned the crowd streaming past him, glad the harsh winds had died down and the sun had slid from behind the clouds. He relaxed when he found himself being ignored for the most part; only the odd passerby casting him a curious look as they went about their business. Shuffling his feet in the snow, he searched for Hermione and Ron, wondering how much longer they'd be then smiling at past memories of shopping with the pair.
A low cry of pain drew him from his thoughts, turning his blank gaze from the shop window to the steady flow of witches and wizards hustling down the street. Frowning, he tipped his head, looking for the individual who had cried out among the crowd. His hands tightened around the handles of the bags he carried as he drifted down the path, his head snapping around as a child's voice rose up in a pained plea for attention. Worrying his bottom lip, he halted at the base of a narrow alley that ran between two shops, his brow drawing down as he surveyed the heavy shadows.
"Hello?" He called softly, ignoring the raised eyebrows and appraising looks several passing witches cast at him. Shifting his bags around, he pulled his wand from his pocket and glanced over his shoulder before taking a cautious step into the alley. His second step was just as slow as the first, his feet feeling almost leaden as he moved deeper into the shadows. A pained whimper had him gliding forward, ignoring his body's silent warning to turn around and run. "Is anyone there?"
"Who are you?" A frightened voice demanded, drawing his gaze to where a small form huddled in the snow. Muscles tensing in preparation for an attack, Harry murmured lumos, and felt his eyes widen in shock at what the soft glow revealed.
"I want my mummy!" Sobbed the small boy, his arms wrapped tightly around his knees as he glared at Harry through shimmering hazel orbs. Sniffling loudly, he swiped at his nose with one gloved hand, watching the older wizard approach nervously. His bottom lip quivered noticeably and his cheeks were streaked with tears.
Smiling encouragingly, Harry slowly dropped to his knees next to the little boy. "I'm Harry Potter," he said softly, offering the child his hand in greeting. He watched quietly as his hand was stared at distrustfully, wiggling his toes in his boots as a chill began to seep through his heavy woolen socks.
Hazel eyes widening, the little boy blinked and offered the older wizard a tentative smile. "Harry Potter?" He repeated in amazement, reaching out and grasping the dark-haired male's proffered hand.
Harry laughed and gently shook the small gloved hand. "The one and only," he said in amusement, emerald orbs twinkling. Letting go of the boy's hand, he sat back on his heels and looked around for some clue as why the child was sitting alone in the dark alley. "Did you get separated from your parents?" He asked, rising to his feet and brushing the snow off the knees of his pants, sparing one second to wince as the bruise on his bottom twinged.
"Maybe," the boy mumbled, climbing to his feet and staring down at the toes of his boots. His bottom lip began to tremble again and he scuffed unhappily at the snow.
"Well," Harry said, grinning at the little wizard's reply, "Perhaps I can help you find them." Offering the child a look of understanding, he bent over slightly and swiped at the snow clinging to the back of the toddler's robes. "What's your mum's name?" He asked as he straightened.
Snuffling, the boy peered up at Harry through his dark lashes. "Mummy stayed home today," he said in a whisper.
Harry rolled his eyes and gathered his bags into his left hand. Sliding his wand away, he held his right hand out and wiggled his fingers as he waited for them to be taken. "Okay, what's your father's name?" He queried, attempting to slowly lead the boy back toward the main path.
"My dad's name is Fenrir," the little boy announced, reaching out and grasping Harry's fingers. A strange gleam appeared in his reddish-brown orbs and he swiped his tongue over his lips, smiling at Harry's soft gasp of disbelief.
Emerald orbs widening as he stared down at the little boy, Harry felt a shiver run up his spine that had nothing to do with the cold. Swallowing audibly, he glanced at the small hand that had locked around three of his fingers, feeling their grip tighten as he tried to pull gently away. "Pardon?" He whispered, creeping back a step and halting when he found the child's grip unbreakable.
No longer appearing the least bit afraid, the young boy smiled and repeated, "Fenrir."
Before Harry had a chance to realize what was happening, the boy struck. The movement was as quick as the strike of a snake, dainty fangs sinking into the fleshy part of his thumb while he watched on in stunned silence. At the burst of pain, he gasped and tore his hand away, cradling the bleeding appendage to his chest. He stared down in disbelief, eyes widening as small droplets of blood rose to pool in the little holes carved into the side of his thumb.
The small boy looked up at Harry and smiled sweetly, flashing sharp incisors that would have been more at home in the mouth of a fox. Hazel orbs sparkling, he began to back away from the gaping wizard. "Father sends his regards and says he'll be seeing you soon," he breathed ominously, his lips curling as he gave a childish giggle. With a wiggle of his fingers, he darted past Harry and vanished down the path, disappearing among the villagers and students.
Unable to exactly comprehend what had just occurred, Harry staggered after the boy, stumbling out of the alley and into the middle of the street. He searched almost frantically for some sight of the child, stiffening when he saw the pair of wizards from the Three Broomsticks heading down the road away from him. Walking between them, and chattering merrily as he clutched their hands, was the hazel-eyed terror. Mouth hanging open, Harry stiffened as the shorter of the two glanced back at him and smiled maliciously, dipping his chin briefly in recognition.
"Harry! Where have you been? Ron and I have been looking everywhere for you." Hermione hissed unhappily as she appeared at his elbow. She huffed as he turned wide eyes in her direction, giving a toss of her head to further indicate her current state of displeasure. "You said you'd meet us in front of Zonko's at one o'clock, remember?"
Blinking dazedly at the witch, Harry bobbed his head slowly; his gaze unconsciously drifting back down the path the strange trio had taken. "I got distracted," he mumbled in lieu of an apology. His eyes dropped absently to the hand he'd tucked protectively against his chest, his brow furrowing as he noted that the shallow puncture marks had stopped bleeding. Fingers curling, he lifted his chin and found himself peering into Hermione's narrowed eyes.
"Are you alright, Harry?" Hermione demanded, inching closer and grabbing his wrist gently. She frowned at his pained cringe, her gaze falling to the hand he had tucked tightly against his chest. With a light touch, she tugged his arm away from his body, her orbs widening at the blood staining his pale skin. "What happened?" She exclaimed, pressing her thumb firmly into the center of his palm so he couldn't close his hand.
Futilely attempting to pull away from the bushy-haired witch, Harry stiffened, his mind quickly assembling and discarding several credible lies. Finally, after several long seconds, he decided to go with the truth - albeit the very carefully edited version. "I got bit," he mumbled, allowing his face to redden in embarrassment. His orbs flicked up to the witch's face, triumph surging through him at the look of disbelief that crossed her features before vanishing behind a mask of surprised concern.
"You should know better than to pet strange dogs, Harry." Hermione chided, examining the neat teeth marks with a practiced eye. She released his hand after assuring herself that the injury was minor, giving a small shake of her head as she stared at raven-haired wizard's red face. "Make sure you show that to Madame Pomfrey when we get back to the castle. It could easily become infected." After issuing her opinion in the form of friendly advice, she grabbed hold of his sleeve and began to tow him in the general direction of Zonko's, scanning the crowd for Ron.
"I will," Harry said, glancing around before jamming his bloody hand into his pocket. It was a lie, of course. He had no intention of showing anyone that bite mark, especially not someone who might recognize it for what it was. Because what it was was a life sentence. There was no cure, either muggle or magical, for the disease he'd just been given. For what he was about to become. And what Harry now was . . . was fucked. Completely, and utterly, fucked.
"Fucked with a capital F," he mumbled beneath his breath, stumbling along behind Hermione. Giving a small shake of his head, he turned his attention to keeping up with the witch, knowing that there would be plenty of time to contemplate this latest little quandary in the days to come.
Unfortunately, reality came crashing home sooner than Harry had originally anticipated.
It was the night before the day they were to depart for the Christmas Holidays, and like the previous five nights, Harry woke in the early morning panting and scrabbling at his sheets. Mouth dry and heart pounding, he sat up in his four-poster clutching his blankets, a cold sweat clinging to his shaking body. His fingers tightened on the warm flannel as he gazed about the circular dorm room in growing dread. He could see. Perfectly. And in the dark to boot.
With a soft moan of despair, he flopped back down onto his mattress, releasing the sheets and tangling his fingers in his hair. He was doomed. Remus was going to kill him, slowly. Heaving a deep sigh, he rolled over onto his stomach and rested his chin on his forearm, his eyes immediately seeking out the marks on the side of his right hand. However, after a mere six days, the bite wound was gone. In fact, every minor injury he'd received during the last week had healed unnaturally fast.
At any other time, enhanced sight and super speedy healing would be viewed as a definite benefit. Unfortunately, this particular package included a three night all memories lost romp through the wilds of Scotland on four legs - for every full moon for the rest of his life. Because at this point in time, Harry figured it was safe to admit the worst.
He, Harry James Potter, was now, and forever, a Werewolf. And in this particular club, membership was permanent.
With a frustrated groan, he rolled over onto his back and glared at the canopy of his bed, lifting his hands to tug uselessly at his shaggy hair. Now that he was one hundred per cent positive he'd been given the W virus, or was at least ready to admit it, he had to decide whether or not he should tell Ron and Hermione. Generally, he wouldn't have given the matter a second thought; he would have gone ahead and told the pair right away. However, there was a part of him that wanted to keep this little secret to himself. He deserved to have at least one, after all.
Since he'd been introduced to the wizarding world, his life had become fodder for the masses. Every move he made was critiqued. Each achievement and failure broadcast to the public. Merlin, his life was about as private as a phone booth on the corner of a busy street.
Giving up on attempting to sleep, Harry slid from his bed and slipped silently across the room. He left the dorm and drifted down to the Common Room, his feet carrying him to the extra large sofa resting before the fireplace. Swatting an oversized pillow out of his way, he flopped down and stretched his arms across the top of the scarlet couch, absently crossing his ankles as he stared at the embers glowing in the hearth. His change of location did nothing to deter his brain from working the twisted puzzle. Almost immediately, his thoughts returned to the problem at hand: to tell Hermione and Ron or not to tell Hermione and Ron?
He could already imagine the reactions of the pair, and neither one would be good. Ron would react like he always did. He'd throw a tantrum and act as if Harry had deliberately gone and shoved his arm into the jaws of a werewolf. Typical redhead behaviour, Harry mused, sinking deeper into the cushions at the mere thought of having to deal with Ron's jealousy issues, again. Hermione, on the other hand, would be as cool headed as always. She'd make a list of pros and cons and then give him her opinion on the entire matter. She would also be extremely disappointed in his failure to inform Dumbledore directly after the incident had occurred. And three weeks later everything would be back to normal, mostly.
Yet there was one little flaw in his master plan that he wasn't ready to acknowledge. One tiny tiny problem. That problem was the fact that he'd be forced to change on the next full moon. How exactly did one explain the sudden acquirement of fur and fangs to their friends? Hell, he'd run out of bandages pretending that the bite mark on his hand still existed. Now, with his suddenly improved eyesight, keeping this little matter a secret seemed an impossibility.
Beneath all the worries of telling his friends he'd been bitten by a werewolf was another, much larger concern. And that was that werewolves weren't allowed at Hogwarts, reminding him that he had nowhere else to go. It was that thought that frightened him the most. Hogwarts was the only home he'd ever really known. Without it, he'd be lost.
Giving a shudder at the thought, he rose fluidly and slunk up the stairs. There was nothing he could do now. He would just have to sit back and hope for the best, but he would prepare for the worst. Because he was Harry Potter, and nothing was ever easy for him.
An excited yelp had Harry rising from a restless sleep, his eyes flying open as he sat up quickly and searched the chamber for the source of the disturbance. The sight of Seamus bouncing up and down on Dean's bed while merrily swatting the other wizard with a pillow had him groaning softly and flopping backwards amidst his blankets. He settled an arm across his eyes and clenched his teeth as Dean let out a war whoop, the sound nearly causing him to reach for his wand. The whistle of displaced air had him extending an arm, his fingers closing and locking in the fabric of Neville's pillowcase. With little effort, he tore the pillow away from the other wizard's lax grip, tossing it in the general direction of Seamus and Dean.
"Get up, Harry!" Seamus yelled playfully, leaping from Dean's bed to the dark-haired Gryffindor's. He only got in one quick bounce before his legs were swept out from beneath him, the sheer speed of the movement startling him into releasing a piercing shriek. His girlish cry was cut short when he dropped down next to Harry, the other wizard's hand slapping across his open mouth.
Slitting one eye, Harry glared at Dean in warning before carefully removing his hand. "I am up," he stated quietly. His seemingly bad mood brought an end to the fun and laughter, the rest of the group falling silent and shooting nervous glances at each other.
"Right," Seamus mumbled finally, rolling off Harry's bed and to his feet. He ruffled his hair as he backed away from the other wizard, avoiding the narrowed emeralds following his every move. "Well, ah, I'm going to get ready for breakfast." After announcing his intentions to the entire room, he shot off in the direction of the bathroom like a hex from a wand, slowing only to grab the clothes draped across his trunk. Dean and Neville were hot on his heels.
Sighing, Harry rolled over and buried his head under his pillow. He really hadn't meant to snap at Seamus. Then again, he'd only managed to get a couple hours of sleep and was fully entitled to being grumpy after receiving such a rude awakening. A light thump had him pulling his pillow aside and slitting one eye, glaring at the redhead standing showered and dressed beside his bed.
"Rough night?" Ron asked, amusement clear in his tone. The grin he wore grew as Harry snarled softly, the sound drawing a chuckle from him. With a shake of his head, he turned away from the dark-haired wizard and moved toward his packed trunk, placing his bathroom kit and pajamas atop the abused wood. "You'd better get up before Hermione comes up here and rolls your lazy arse out of bed. Merlin forbid we not be the first ones aboard the Hogwarts Express."
Groaning, Harry sat up and rubbed his face tiredly. "Time?" He croaked, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and tentatively searching the cold floor for his slippers. Barely restraining another groan, he rose unsteadily and snagged the clothes lying across the end of his bed, beginning a slow walk in the direction of the adjoining bathroom. A hiss escaped his clenched teeth when the bathroom door flew open before him, spilling steam, Seamus, Dean, and Neville into the circular dorm room.
"A little after eight. If you shower quickly you'll have time for breakfast," the redhead called across the chamber. He hunched his shoulders when the bathroom door slammed closed behind the other wizard, the loud thud actually rattling the thin glass within the windowpanes. "Definitely not a morning person," he grumbled, hefting his trunk and exiting the room in the wake of Seamus and Dean.
Anxiously pacing the Common Room, Hermione shot an annoyed look at the clock hanging above the hearth, her frown growing. Raucous laughter turned her head toward the stairwell, a sigh of relief slipping over her lips at the sight of Ron descending the stairs, packed trunk in arms. "I've been waiting for twenty minutes," she informed the redhead, glancing over his shoulder in search of Harry. When she realized the dark-haired wizard was nowhere to be seen, she huffed in exasperation and marched toward the stairs, fully set on retrieving him. Her forward advance was halted when Ron shifted to block her path, shaking his head in warning.
"He'll be down in just a minute," he said loudly. After a quick scan of the room, he leaned closer and whispered in her ear, "The last few nights have been kinda rough." The implication was clear enough to widen Hermione's eyes.
With the slightest dip of her chin, Hermione forced a smile to her lips. "I swear the pair of you would sleep all day if you could," she said loudly, rolling her eyes as she whirled around and stalked to the nearest couch. Perching herself gracefully on the edge of a scarlet cushion, she focused her eyes on the stairwell, her fingers beginning a rhythmic tap on the arm of the sofa.
Nearly fifteen minutes later, Harry appeared on the stairs. Hermione watched him descend slowly, his trunk rattling down the stairs behind him, each jarring thud echoed by the barely perceptible tightening of his lips Dark circles were visible beneath his weary eyes. Eyes that were unshielded by the glasses he should have been wearing. Fluidly rising, the witch stalked to the bottom of the stairwell and halted, her eyes locked on the raven-haired wizard. "Where are your glasses?" She asked, folding her arms at her waist.
Harry continued his descent, not deeming to answer the question. He circled around the witch when he reached the base of the stairs, making a beeline for the back of the Fat Lady's portrait. "Do we have time for breakfast?" As he'd known it would, the question distracted Hermione completely.
Brow drawing down, Hermione glanced at Ron and sighed at the eager smile he wore. "Yes, we have time for breakfast," she muttered, flicking her eyes toward the ceiling in annoyance. That small moment of hesitation gave the wizard enough time to escape the Common Room, forcing her and Ron to chase after him.
By the time the pair arrived in the Great Hall, Harry was already seated at the Gryffindor table with a plate of food before him and mouth full of food.
"You could have waited for us," scolded Hermione, flopping onto the bench across from the raven-haired male and frowning at his lack of manners.
Emerald orbs lifting, Harry arched a single brow and licked the tines of his fork clean. "I could have," he agreed quietly, reaching for his apple juice. He took a long swig, his eyes sweeping the Great Hall over the rim of the glass. He paused in mid sip when he found himself being watched closely by Draco Malfoy, the blond's gaze seeming almost predatory.
The Slytherin had had a growth spurt over the summer break, his current height placing him amongst the tallest in their year. Somehow, he had retained both his lithe frame and catlike grace, though Harry was certain he'd also packed on a fair amount of muscle. Fingers tightening on his cup, the dark-haired wizard leaned forward slightly, his body tensing in preparation. For what seemed like minutes, the pair remained focused completely on each other, their gazes locked and their bodies held as if ready to spring. It was Hermione's voice that broke the staring match, turning his head just in time to watch Ron's fork sink into the last sausage on his plate. Like lightning, his fork sank into the meat, pinning it to the plate as a warning growl trembled upon his lips.
"I asked twice," Ron mumbled sullenly, withdrawing the gold utensil.
Realizing what he'd just done, Harry released the fork and shoved the plate toward Ron. "You can have it," he said, rising jerkily to his feet. He grabbed his glass of juice and downed the remnants before reaching for his small carry on bag, his trunk having been deposited in the main foyer with the rest of the student's luggage. "I'm going to go and get us a good compartment on the Hogwart's Express." Not giving the pair a chance to answer, he fled the hall, daring only a quick glance over his left shoulder. That look was enough to confirm Malfoy was still watching him intently, those pale silver orbs narrowed in thought. Teeth grit, Harry stormed away from the Great Hall and joined a pack of Ravenclaws climbing into a waiting sleigh. Managing a polite nod, he curled up in a corner and prayed he'd be able to get a minute of peace when he boarded the train.
"My older brother's bringing one of his school chums home-"
"Anything from the trolley?"
"Did you see Malfoy's hair?"
"I got my sister the most ador-"
"Boot's a dickless bastard!"
"Can you believe how much homework-"
"Are you alright, Harry?"
Hermione. Inhaling deeply, Harry lowered his chin and opened his eyes, meeting the witch's curious gaze with glazed emeralds. "Just a headache," he answered quietly. He forced an apologetic smile to his dry lips, fighting down the nausea that threatened to spill his breakfast across the toes of their boots. His hands balled into fists, his nails biting into the skin of his palms. Why did everyone have to be so loud? Couldn't they all just sit quietly and enjoy the scenery flashing past the wide windows of the Hogwarts Express?
He let out a pained gasp as the third year witch in the compartment next to theirs shrieked gleefully, the sound bringing his hands to his ears. Gritting his teeth, he squeezed his eyes closed, waiting for the stabbing pain to fade before drawing a deep breath. Bile began to build threateningly at the back of his throat.
Quite against his will, he was privy to every whispered word, every hushed conversation. Each bout of explosive laughter made his eardrums ring and his eyes water. Compartment doors opened and closed throughout the car, each squeak and slam feeling like a direct kick to his balls. The constant clatter of metal against metal caused his head to twinge dangerously. And amongst all those piercing sounds was the everyday run of the mill chatter; the gossip and excited talk about Christmas presents and visiting family.
A particularly piercing screech had him clapping a hand over his mouth and rocketing to his feet: he was going to be sick. Ignoring Hermione's anxious demands, he fumbled at the compartment's door, his fingers scrabbling almost uselessly at the latch. Finally, after several precious seconds, the door slid open and he staggered into the narrow corridor. With a hand still clamped over his mouth and his gut churning, he staggered toward the closest loo, bursting through the door and slamming it closed recklessly behind him. He made it into the first of the two stalls just as he lost the battle to keep his breakfast.
Head hanging over the porcelain bowl, he threw up repeatedly until he had nothing left to lose. With his forearms resting on the rim, he hung his head and spat lingering bile into the murky water. Heaving a soft sigh, he rested his forehead against the cool porcelain, enjoying the peace that filled the small room. At last he was alone, and seemingly beyond the reach of the dozens of voices that constantly rose and fell throughout the car. His brow furrowed at a light scratching upon the door, his sensitive nose picking up the smell of Hermione's favoured perfume before she whispered his name loudly.
"Harry? Are you alright?" The witch hissed, pushing the door open slightly and attempting to peer into the small bathroom.
Harry sighed and shook his head, internally wondering when exactly he'd lost all rights to privacy. "I'm fine, Hermione," he called hoarsely, swiping the sleeve of his sweater across his mouth. He dropped his head back against the divider between the stalls and closed his eyes, listening to the witch fidget outside the door. Frankly, he was surprised she hadn't just burst into the room demanding to know what was going on. Clasping his hands around his bent knees, he bumped his head lightly against the barrier between the stalls, attempting to calm the rolling of his stomach. Another light knock preceded Hermione's worried voice, the sound causing him to grit his teeth in annoyance. "What?" He snapped, his fingers tightening around his knees until his knuckles whitened.
"Is there anything I can do?" Hermione called, sounding slightly offended as she shoved the door open a little further. She leaned into the loo and glanced around suspiciously before allowing her gaze to rest on Harry's form huddled behind the closed door of the first stall.
Rolling his eyes, Harry released his right knee and scrubbed his fingers across his forehead, his mind searching for some task that would take Hermione elsewhere and keep her occupied for a decent length of time. After a moment's hesitation, and the resumption of the pounding behind his temples, he came up with the perfect mission. "Can you see if someone has a pain potion for this headache? I think that would really help." He grinned at the witch's harried 'yes', once again closing his eyes as the door snicked shut and Hermione took off in search of the requested potion.
His much-enjoyed peace lasted no longer than five minutes. With a taunting squeak, the door swung open, the sound drawing an inaudible groan from him. He should have known Hermione wouldn't take that long. Opening his eyes, he dropped his hands to the floor and began to lever himself upward, stiffening when the lock on the main door snicked into place. "Hermione?" He called, his ears picking up the stealthy tread of boots gliding across the floor. His muscles tensed as the sink spluttered on, the sound of splashing water concealing the movements of the individual moving about outside the stall door. Trepidation growing, he slowly slid the lock of the stall door aside and raised his eyes to the narrow mirror hanging over the sink as he pulled the door open.
"Traveling first class, Potty?" Draco Malfoy purred, meeting Harry's wide emeralds in the mirror. He couldn't help but chuckle evilly as the raven-haired wizard gaped at him in surprise. Still holding the Gryffindor's gaze, he negligently turned the running water off and grabbed one of the towels folded neatly beside the sink, shifting so he faced Potter as he began to carefully dry his damp hands.
Mouth snapping closed, Harry glared at the Slytherin. He stepped out of the stall slowly and cast a quick glance around the small room, finding himself uncharacteristically worried over the possibility of being cornered. "Shouldn't you be in the luggage car with the rest of the baggage, Malfoy?" He responded snidely, his emerald orbs returning to the other wizard in time to see anger flood across the blond's aristocratic features.
"Feeling a tad bit cranky, are we?" Draco snapped cooly, tossing the balled up towel in the general direction of the waste basket. He straightened in a hiss of expensive black silk, staring down at the dark-haired wizard from his superior height. "Does the Weasel know he's being cuckolded?"
Harry was almost thrown by the seemingly innocent insult, but the gleam in the blond's pale eyes gave him away. "Hermione's my friend," he snarled, frightened by the intense urge he had to start growling like a rabid dog. Swallowing heavily, he took a shuffling step toward the door, deciding that in his current condition fighting either magically or physically with Malfoy should be avoided at all costs. His cautious retreat was halted by the Slytherin's next drawled comment.
"Yes, I believe that's referred to as a 'friend-with-benefits'," Draco murmured softly, "Still, I suppose the Weasel must be quite proud to have the honour of sharing his girlfriend with the Saviour of the Wizarding World. Why, he must be incredibly proud to be able to enjoy the pleasure of your leftovers-"
Harry had no memory of how Malfoy's lapels ended up bunched within his hands, only that when he snapped out of his blinding rage he was growling unsteadily and had the blond pinned up against the sink. Inhaling sharply, he moved to release the blond, only then realizing that the other wizard was making no effort to free himself. In fact, not only was Malfoy not reaching for his wand or trying to shove his fist into Harry's bared teeth, but he wore a look of amused delight upon his face. "Shut it, Malfoy," the dark-haired wizard said hoarsely, unnerved by the Slytherin's strange behaviour. Giving the blond one last push, he released him and whirled around, taking two quick steps to the door of the loo and wrenching the lock open. He fought down the urge to glance over his shoulder and instead yanked the door closed behind him, wheeling in the direction of the compartment he shared with Hermione and Ron.
His hands were balled into fists and he had to concentrate on unclenching them, drawing deep breaths as he attempted to slow the pounding of his heart. Mindlessly, he navigated the narrow corridor, nodding to several witches and wizards as he passed the open doors of their compartments. It was only when he was dropping back onto the bench across from Ron's slumbering form that he realized his headache was gone and his stomach had stopped roiling. He actually felt rather good, like he was coming down from some drug induced high.
"It's just adrenaline," he attempted to reassure himself. However, the look Malfoy had worn was terribly unsettling. Other than that look, though, the blond had been his usual charming self - all silver-tongued insults wrapped within the visage of some elven prince. By the time Hermione came rushing into the compartment wearing a look of concern and clutching a potion vial, he had himself completely convinced that the small grin Malfoy had worn had been a trick of the light. In fact, Malfoy had been so frightened for his life that he'd been rendered both speechless and motionless. Yep, Harry thought, reaching for the vial Hermione offered him, he was definitely the man. Or would that be Wolfman? With a mischievous grin, he tossed back the contents of the vial and swung his legs up onto the bench, deciding to ponder the question while he took a quick nap.