DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter and all other characters and locations belong to J. K. Rowling.
Chapter Eleven - Guilt, Shame, and Survival
It was quiet in the forest bordering the Glen. Peaceful, almost. Birds called cheerfully overhead, flitting from branch to branch in a flurry of pale brown feathers. The odd squirrel chittered angrily in the distance, the sound as clear as a bell on a winter's morning to Harry. Breathing in deeply, the dark-haired wizard closed his eyes and tipped his chin toward the naked canopy, reveling in the silence and the sun on his face. He dropped his chin and exhaled slowly, the warm air rising in a puff of steam that vanished before his eyes.
The wolf stirred within him, ascending ever closer to the surface. Its murmurs were loud in his mind, a sure sign that the full moon was nearing. Soon, the beast purred, eagerness colouring the word.
Goosebumps rose along his arms in a rush, the reminder one he didn't need. Somewhere in the surrounding brush a fox yipped, the sharp call stilling the snowy hare that had been nervously rooting about beneath the nearby pine boughs. Harry turned his head in the direction of the bark, angling his chin just the slightest to inhale the winter air. Although the low wind yielded nothing, he crossed to where he'd flung his heavy cloak minutes ago, digging through the pockets to find the wand he'd obtained earlier.
The ten and half inches of mahogany was one of many he'd tried over the past week. It, and several others, rolled about a drawer in the kitchen, appearing to all the world like normal household gadgets. Harry had asked only once about where they had come from and been baldly informed that they been unwillingly donated or unknowingly taken - much like the majority of things within the farmhouse. From the eggs they ate at breakfast to the soap they used to wash with, nearly everything that found its way into the Glen was commandeered.
Werewolves didn't work, Andrej had explained one evening, sounding extremely amused at the idea. They were too unpredictable. Volatile. As likely to rip someone's throat out as they were to smile politely at them. So they scammed and stole without guilt or shame. Because there was no shame in survival, even if that meant taking your neighbours's eggs from beneath their chickens. Or their chickens. Or their lambs. Or pretty much anything else they could lay their hands on for that matter.
Locating the wand, he tucked it carefully into the back of his trousers and once again took up the axe, resuming the methodical and mind numbing task of cutting wood for the farmhouse. It would seem that no matter how much wood he brought home, by dawn of the next day it was gone, fed slavishly to the old kitchen stove with the hope it would keep them all from freezing. That was fine with Harry, though. With nothing better to do, and with firm orders not to leave the safety of the Glen, chopping wood helped to fill a small part of his otherwise empty day. Once his task was complete, he'd assume the job of keeping Jaime entertained, freeing Andrej or Draco to do something else.
Although recognizable, Draco had been deemed safe to leave the farmhouse. It was unlikely, or so the reasoning was, that anyone would be looking for him. And there was no known connection between Harry and Draco, no reason for ones disappearance to have anything to do with the others. However, the dark-haired wizard wasn't so certain of that. Something was still bothering him; a niggling sense that there was something he had forgotten.
He paused with the axe on his shoulder, eyes lifting to the quartet of crows that had been observing him since his arrival. The birds were fidgeting in their lofty perch, their flapping and hopping causing the branches to scrape angrily together. Lowering the axe, he straightened, swinging back to face the direction he'd come from, his orbs narrowed against the glare of the sun on the snow. He could hear them before he could smell them, taste them in the light breeze before he could see them. Wiping sweat off his forehead with his sleeve, he watched the duo approach, smiling faintly at the look of disgusted annoyance on Draco's face. Jaime ambled along in the blond's wake, pausing to examine a print in the snow and exclaiming loudly over his findings.
Reaching the dark-haired wizard's side, Draco leveled a finger at him and snarled, "I don't like you enough to act as a babysitter for the whelp of Fenrir Greyback." He glared over his shoulder and narrowed steely spheres' on Jaime, watching with obvious displeasure as the boy threw a large stick into a pine tree and sent the snow piled upon its branches cascading to the ground. "I'm attempting to brew a most complex potion and I can't do it with his endless babbling. And he won't stop touching my stuff! I almost added liquified Dragon's Fire before liquified Unicorn Hair because he rearranged the bottles. Do you know what happens when you add those two ingredients in the reversed order? The exact opposite of what I need this potion to do!" Draco paused and inhaled deeply, his face a brilliant shade of scarlet.
"He's only a child, Draco," Harry chided, the whispered words a plea for understanding. He pretended not to see the blond's rolling eyes or hear the disgusted snort that was clearly audible, shifting his attention to Jaime with a welcoming smile. "You were keeping Draco on his toes, were you?" He asked.
"Yes, but he wouldn't let me help him and he wouldn't tell me any more stories about Hogwarts," the boy informed Harry, tipping his nose up haughtily. He trotted up to the dark-haired male and wrapped his hands around the shaft of the axe, lifting it off the ground as if it weighed no more than a spoon.
It took a moment of studying the familiar expression before he could place it, and another to compare it with the one on Draco's face to confirm his observation; Jaime was spending far too much time with the blond. Harry snatched the axe from Jaime's grasp, fighting down the smile that threatened to curve his lips and offering the little boy a consoling smile and a pat on the head as he shoved the tool in Draco's direction. "I was just about to load the sleigh," he explained to the boy, desperately hoping to quell the tantrum he could see brewing in the child's eyes and quivering bottom lip. "Would you like to help me pull it back home?" He nearly thanked Merlin aloud when Jaime nodded his head eagerly, his expression brightening
A dark frown firmly in place, Draco hefted the axe up to rest on his shoulder. "Do you know how far behind schedule I am now?" The blond shot a glare in Jaime's direction, watching with a curled lip as the little boy happily piled wood onto the sleigh Harry had brought with him. "That potion takes at least two hours to brew, not to mention the time it takes to properly prepare all the ingredients."
"Well," Harry said, crossing to the branch where he'd draped his cloak, "you should have waited for me to come back." He slid the heavy length over his shoulders and fastened the metal clasp with quick fingers, sweeping the snow with one final glance to make sure he wasn't forgetting anything. He flipped the black material forward and walked toward Draco, reaching out to take the axe from his hands. "I thought Andrej was supposed to be watching him this morning." The murmur was barely more than a whisper, meant to go unheard by the child attempting to drag the well-loaded sleigh toward them.
Jaime dropped the rope handle and turned to face the pair, his little brow crinkling with concern. "We were playing in the front garden but then he sent me inside and told me to stay with Draco." He dropped his gaze to his hands and nervously began to tug on the thread hanging from one of the green gloves he wore, darting a quick look up at Harry from beneath his shaggy forelock.
Unease slid up Harry's spine at the innocent statement. He swivelled his head and caught Draco's gaze, seeing the same worry he felt shimmering in the grey spheres. "We better get back to the Glen," he said softly, trying to ignore the anxiety beginning to tighten the muscles of his shoulders. He ran his tongue nervously across his bottom lip and swept the surrounding brush with wary eyes, tamping down the urge to grab Jaime and run home.
Protect the pup, the wolf agreed, slinking ever closer to the surface.
Harry trudged through the snow and scooped Jaime up easily, depositing him carefully atop the wood piled on the sleigh. "You can ride up here," he said, forcing a smile to his face. He lifted the hood on the little boy's cloak and pulled the fabric forward, nearly covering the hazel eyes with its ragged edge. As he fussed over Jaime, he scanned the forest, searching for danger between the oaks and elms. Ensuring the child's perch was safe, he straightened and caught up the sleigh's handle, gesturing Draco to precede him.
Frowning, Harry fell into step behind Draco, dragging the sleigh as if it held nothing more than Jaime. His eyes shifted constantly and his ears were carefully attuned to the forest, searching for any disturbance among the birds or animals of the Glen. As if aware of his thoughts, the quartet of crows took flight, cackling shrilly in warning as they circled overhead.
On the path before him Draco came to a sudden standstill, his pale head angled and his posture stiff. The blond glanced over his shoulder and lifted a hand in warning, the wand he was using clutched within his fist. Silently, the trio stood and waited, listening, though they knew not what for. Anxious to return to the safety of the farmhouse, Harry took three steps forward and froze, his head whipping around as a broken wail rose in the distance. The pained bay had the hair on the back of his neck rising and a startled snarl escaping from his mouth.
Jaime whimpered Harry's name as the sound faded, sliding from his perch and launching himself at the dark-haired male. He clung to the long cloak Harry wore, his pupils dilated with fear. "I want to go home," he cried, ignoring the hissed growl Draco aimed at him.
Harry needed no further urging. He swept Jaime into his arms and loped to Draco's side, abandoning the sleigh without a second thought. Dragging air in through his nose, he tested the wind for danger, knowing Malfoy would be doing the same at his side. If there were any threats lurking about in the vicinity, they remained to well hidden for the duo to detect. "We need to get back to the Glen," he breathed, the words nothing more than an exhalation.
Draco gave a brief dip of his chin in agreement, steely orbs meticulous in their search for danger. He lifted the wand he held loosely within his grasp, giving it a powerful flick that sent snow billowing up around them. The swirling flakes settled upon the sleigh and buried their footprints, erasing their very presence within the woods. "I'll follow you," he said, the words a gravelly rasp.
Protect the pup, the wolf reaffirmed in Harry's head, not knowing where the threat was but certain it existed. The beast paced within its confines, testing its limitations.
Taking the wolf's command to heart, Harry lengthened his stride until he was practically running through the forest. He was unnaturally conscious of Draco following at his heels, the blond's continuous casting concealing the weaving pattern they took through the trees. Heart pounding within his chest, he gasped for air and slipped between reaching branches, avoiding dangerous pitfalls and hidden logs under the snow. He gave a grateful gasp when he spilled into the clearing where the old farmhouse sat, clutching Jaime protectively against his chest.
"Wait," Draco huffed, grasping Harry's shoulder and dragging him to a halt. He tugged the dark-haired wizard back several steps, eyes locked suspiciously on the portal of the farmhouse. The back door stood ajar, the path into the heart of the house unguarded. Shifting warily, he sniffed the air, stiffening at the sweet tang of copper on the wind.
Harry felt the wolf clamor for release, its movements sending a shiver up his spine. The scent of blood upon the breeze was accompanied by groans of pain and angry snarls, the voices familiar. "Something's happened," he said unnecessarily, pulling free of Draco's grasp and hurrying across the clearing. He was aware of the blond shadowing him, felt oddly safe and almost comforted by his presence.
As they neared the door, crimson droplets became visible atop the snow, the ruby splotches creating a path right to the gaping doorway. Unerringly, Harry followed the bloody trail, his pace slowing when he reached the shallow steps leading up to the portal. The sweet smell of copper was almost overpowering, the tang sending the wolf into a frenzy within his skull. Clamping his teeth together, the dark-haired male lurched up the stairs and into the kitchen, freezing at the sight that met his eyes.
Andrej was sprawled across the kitchen table on his back, writhing against the tight hold Steve had on his shoulders. Blood pooled on the floor and arced up the walls, tiny scarlet spots dotted the faces of both males. The chairs lay in a broken heap against the cupboards, doubtless pushed aside in Steve's haste to get Andrej atop the table. As they stood there in stunned silence, Fenrir emerged from the hallway beyond the table, his eyes wild and his hands stained with blood.
In Harry's arms, Jaime began to whimper loudly, his small hands knotted in the dark cloth of the older male's cloak. Immediately, the raven-haired wizard turned the child's face away from the bloody scene, covering wide hazel eyes with one shaking hand. "What the hell happened?" He asked in a dry rasp. His eyes darted from Andrej and Steve to Fenrir, the rabid glint in the eerie golden orbs causing him to slide backwards cautiously.
Weak, the wolf observed, studying Andrej with the fascination of a hungry predator. Dying, the beast added as an afterthought. Cold-blooded and calculating, the animal watched the blond writhe on the table and considered tearing his throat out. For the good of the pack, the wolf reasoned calmly.
"Help us," Steve snapped, gritting his teeth as Andrej struggled against his grasp. He nodded his head toward the bloody cloth covering the writhing male's chest, pausing in his struggles to whisper softly to the blond. When he lifted his head away from Andrej's, the gleam in his eyes had grown desperate.
Fenrir stepped up to the table and lifted the cloth covering the wound aside, revealing a small wooden bolt that jutted from the flesh beneath Andrej's collar bone. Blood seeped from around the wood, joining the ever growing puddle on the table. "Take Jaime upstairs, Harry." Greyback ordered quietly, his gaze never leaving the two inches of wood piercing his pack mate's chest. "Fetch your fancy box, Draco. It's time to earn your keep." This time those wild orbs were raised, pinning the blond with a look of warning, daring him to refuse or comment.
"Fuck," Draco breathed loudly. The blond spun toward the dining room and vanished around the doorframe, the ringing of his boots echoing on the stairs as he assumably went to fetch his hawthorn case.
Swallowing, Harry turned and followed the path Draco had taken, keeping one hand pressed tightly over Jaime's eyes. He shushed the boy when he began to whine loudly and pinned him closer when he wiggled wildly, desperate to keep him from seeing the mess in the kitchen. They were halfway up the crooked stairs when Draco appeared at the top, his face a perfectly composed mask. Halting when they were face to face, Harry murmured, "Be wary." But the words weren't his, they were all wolf. He paled at the realization and stepped aside so the blond could pass, his knuckles whitening when the other male simply continued to stare at him silently.
"Draco!" Fenrir bellowed, the shout seeming to shake the farmhouse.
Flinching reflexively at the shout, Draco dipped his chin, the faintest smile curving his lips. "Of course," he breathed back, silver orbs shimmering with the wolf's cunning. He slipped past Harry and continued down the stairs, snarling in response to Greyback's repeated shout.
Still feeling discomfitted, Harry clutched Jaime to his side and marched up the remaining few stairs. Not knowing what to do with the boy, he carted him into the room he shared with Malfoy and deposited him carefully on Draco's bed. "Everything will be fine," he assured the child, settling himself on the blond's mattress and crossing his legs. However, the walls and floors were incredibly thin and every whimper and pained gasp could be heard as easily as if they were still downstairs. In a desperate attempt to distract Jaime, and himself as well, he pulled out the most recent broom catalogue he'd been able to get his hands on over Christmas break. His attempt at distraction failed miserably, as even the flashy pictures couldn't deflect from the noisy proceedings occurring downstairs.
Finally, in a last ditch effort to gain Jaime's undivided attention, he blurted out, "Did Draco ever tell you how we met?" He could have wept with gratitude when the little boy's face lit with interest. Not hesitating lest he lose Jaime's attention, he launched into the story of how he and Draco had first met, happily embellishing here and there, adding details he was surprised he even remembered. When he'd thoroughly exhausted that tale, he moved onto Hogwarts, internally praying that whatever was going on in the kitchen concluded before his fond reminiscing of the school did. He was in the middle of describing the Slytherin Common Room when he realized the house had gone quiet. Mouth closing around a word, he tipped his head and listened.
Stairs creaked and barely audible mumbles reached his ears, the faint sounds causing him to straighten and turn to face the cracked door. Whatever they had been doing downstairs, they were done. He was so caught up in trying to figure out what was happening that he failed to notice Jaime sliding off the mattress. Cursing softly, he made a wild grab for the boy but Jaime was already well beyond his reach. Stumbling to his feet, he chased after the five-year-old, halting in the hallway when he saw Draco leaning against the wall outside Andrej and Steve's room.
"Well? What happened?" He whispered, noting the blood staining the sleeves of the shirt the blond wore. His gaze slid past Draco, searching for Jaime but finding Greyback instead. The old werewolf stood at the top of the stairs, one hand curled around the wobbly newel post, the other holding Jaime tightly against his chest.
Golden orbs slid back and forth between the two wizards, the bold stare worryingly calculating. "I need the two of you in the kitchen, immediately." Fenrir rumbled, turning and descending the stairs in a silent glide. He paused when he reached the darkened corridor at the base of the staircase, changing his direction after a moment's hesitation and prowling into the dusty living room.
Harry exchanged a wary glance with Draco as they trailed Greyback into the front sitting room. The narrow chamber was heavily shadowed, only the weakest beam of sunlight managing to shine through the dirt streaked glass. Dust motes danced in the faint light, tickling his nose until he had to sniffle to restrain the sneeze that threatened to escape. Wiggling his nose, he halted before the only sofa in the room, watching Fenrir rub Jaime's back soothingly. Beside him, Draco shifted, his hand brushing Harry's lightly, obviously feeling as uneasy as he was.
Greyback lifted his chin and glanced at the duo, continuing to gently stroke Jaime's back and hum comfortingly under his breath. He chanced a look at his son, noting that his eyes were closed and his chest was rising and falling steadily. "We're being hunted." He said in a low murmur, his eyes taking on a feral gleam. "I want the pair of you to take care of it."
"Of course," Draco replied at once, nudging Harry with his elbow. When Greyback dipped his head in dismissal, the blond urged the dark-haired wizard in the direction of the kitchen, not giving him a chance to question Fenrir's command. Because there was no doubt in his mind as to what Greyback wanted. The old werewolf wouldn't take any threat to the pack's safety lightly, not with Jaime residing in the farmhouse.
Hunted. They were being hunted. The thought sent a shiver up Harry's spine, brought the wolf stalking his thoughts to a stop. He remembered the feeling of being hunted. Recalled the fear and heart pounding terror that had shadowed him as he ran for his life. But things had changed since then, they had the pack to think of.
Protect the pack, the wolf rumbled in agreement, flashing fangs.
Harry gave Draco a confused look as the other male practically shoved him into the kitchen, halting just over the threshold. The room was a mess; blood had thickened on the floor and left rust coloured stains on the faded wallpaper. Temporarily sidetracked, Harry began to pick up dirtied towels and mop up blood, slowing when his gaze landed on the old table.
The weapon that had almost killed Andrej lay forgotten atop the stained wood. Sinister in all its simplicity; the four inches of wood tipped with silver lay in a puddle of blood. It was a weapon that had obviously been designed to kill werewolves. Harry reached over and tentatively picked the bolt up, studying it with curious eyes. If the dart had struck Andrej a little lower, they'd be out back digging a hole in the frozen ground.
"What did Greyback mean when he said he wanted us to take care of it?" The raven-haired wizard asked in a hushed voice. He turned to face the blond, taking in the dark expression the other male wore. When silver orbs shifted in his direction, he nearly flinched, recognizing the glittering emotion they contained.
Draco smiled faintly, reaching out and taking the bloody bolt from Harry's fingers. "Exactly what you think he meant," he murmured, holding the dart up so the afternoon sunlight coming in the kitchen window glistened off the silver tip. His gaze slid from the weapon to meet Harry's wide eyes, the smile curling his lips growing decidedly vicious.
"How does he expect us to do that?" Harry queried, studying the dart doubtfully. Whoever had shot Andrej was probably well beyond their reach by now. Not necessarily, the wolf disagreed, circling through his thoughts. His face whitened at the beast's intentions, its maliciousness nearly turning his stomach. However, its instincts were his own, its mantra resonating through his mind: protect the pack. The words hummed in time with every thump of his heart, every inhalation of air.
Protect the pack, the wolf demanded, ears pressed tight to its skull and fangs gleaming.
The dart disappeared within Draco's fist, the blond turning away from the dark-haired male. "Go fetch a cloak," he murmured, heading for the back door. He slowed only to retrieve his own cloak from where he'd tossed it upon the counter earlier, though the dark material had developed several unbecoming creases in its harried placement.
Inhaling deeply, Harry swung about and went to find his cloak before joining Draco in the back garden. He found the blond studying the snow beyond the broken picket fence, the other male's entire attention seemingly focused on following the scarlet trail over the ground. His own eyes leapt from drop to drop as he followed in Draco's footprints, studying the crimson splashes and weaving boot prints heading toward the farmhouse. The trail vanished just inside the forest, leaving Harry slightly confused as to how they were expected to find Andrej's hunter, but the wolf already knew the answer.
Hunt, the beast whispered, anticipation colouring the single word.
"Here," Draco said, swinging about to face Harry. His forehead furrowed as he studied the dark-haired wizard, giving a slight shake of his head as he eyed the black cloak. Pawing through the pockets of his cloak, he withdrew the wand he was currently using and directed it at Harry. With a well-practiced flick of his wrist and a softly murmured word, he changed the black material to the colour of the snow they stood upon. Satisfied with the colouring, he turned the wand on himself. He returned the wand to his pocket and carefully dragged the silver-tipped bolt from its lining, offering it expectantly to Harry.
Harry reached out and took the dart from Draco's hand, staring at the blood stained wood in confusion. He lifted his eyes to meet the blond's patient gaze, his brows rising in question. "What am I supposed to do with this?" He asked, holding the dart up between two fingers.
"Smell it." Draco replied dryly, sweeping the area with cautious eyes. He tipped his head up and scanned the low hanging branches of the trees surrounding them, inhaling deeply as he did so. A frown twisted his features and he dropped his chin, meeting Harry's gaze. He sighed at the confusion in the glowing emeralds. "The hunter's scent is all over that, Harry, just give it a sniff so we can get this over with."
Slowly, Harry lifted the bolt to his nostrils and inhaled, his eyes closing as he filled his nose with the smell of Draco. It was the myriad smells beneath the blond's that interested the wolf. The smell of Andrej, each tiny particle of the other male's base scent. Blood, sweet as copper upon his tongue. There, beneath all that, lay what the wolf wanted. A stranger's scent. Tobacco, lemon, old smoke, firewhiskey, beef, and the overpowering reek of pine. The raven-haired male smiled a distinctly wolfish grin, and opened his eyes to meet Draco's feral gaze.
Draco dipped his head and turned away from the dark-haired male, lifting his face to the faint wind whining between the trees. "Let's begin," he murmured, beginning a silent glide further into the forest.
Harry followed the blond's lead, tipping his head up and inhaling deeply, dragging the smell of the Glen into his lungs. His brow furrowed as he sifted through the various scents, searching carefully for what he was looking for. Slowly, he and Draco separated, weaving back and forth, crossing over each other's paths in the hunt for the hunter. Every now and then one of them would pause, listening to some sound in the distance, gauging whether or not it was significant. Andrej had obviously apparated in an attempt to lose the individual hunting him, which meant the original confrontation could have occurred anywhere within the Glen.
"Here," Draco whispered suddenly. He stood frozen among a stand of maple trees, his entire body held perfectly still. His nose twitched, his body humming with eagerness. Somewhere upwind of them, someone was inching their way through the Glen. Harry appeared at his side, his eyes widening as the scent of the stranger filled his nose.
Blinking emeralds glazed with lupine hunger, Harry glanced at Draco and gave a faint nod of his head. "Yes," he breathed, allowing the wolf a little more leash. Without a word or further conversation, the pair began a cautious prowl through the naked trees. A squirrel loudly berated something in the distance, its angry chorus taken up by several birds. As the scent of the hunter grew stronger, Harry and Draco began to separate, silently putting space between themselves. In their snow white cloaks, with the hoods pulled over their heads, they simply disappeared among the elms.
In his head, the wolf urged him on, ramping up its excitement. Protect the pack, the beast bayed. Protect the pup. Protect the pack.
Harry needed no further urging. With the scent of his prey high in his nose, he slipped over a log and down a shallow ravine, unconsciously tracking Draco's stealthy stalk with half an ear. He heard it then, the telling crunch of snow beneath boots. The whisper quiet tread slowed his own forward stalk. Tongue flicking out to wet dry lips, he slid a hand into the back of his trousers and withdrew the wand he'd tucked there earlier, fingers smoothing over the wood.
Movement among a tall stand of pine trees caught his attention, drawing his gaze to the figure slipping silently through the shadows. It took the merest twitch of Harry's nose to bring the wolf howling to the fore. Tobacco, lemon, firewhiskey, and stale smoke. They'd located their prey, but he was armed. The man stepped out of the shadows and paused, his narrowed eyes scanning the brush cautiously. In his hands was a crossbow, a silver-tipped bolt sitting at the ready.
Harry's mouth went dry and he dropped to a crouch, the white cloak allowing him to vanish against the snow-covered ground of the forest floor. In his peripheral vision, he saw the faintest disturbance among the trees, the movement dragging his gaze to the thicker brush on the far side of the hunter. He didn't need to see Draco to know that he was there, situated directly across from Harry in the snow. Taking a slow even breath, Harry returned his attention to the hunter, watching the man carefully pick a winding path among the trees. He tightened his grip on the wand he held as the hunter drew closer to his position, his body tensing as even the wolf went silent.
Just when the hunter was nearing his position, he unexpectedly changed direction. Harry swallowed a gasp, muscles tensing as the hunter unknowingly walked straight toward Draco.
Now, the wolf demanded, snapping sharp fangs. It ran through the quickest ways to dispatch the hunter. Meticulously plotted every step, calculated the time and distance required to put them on top of the man. The only thing that made the beast nervous was Draco, the blond was a variable it couldn't account for.
Before he had chance to move, the hunter lifted the crossbow, leveling it in Draco's direction. The blond reacted before Harry could, lunging upward and slapping the weapon out of hunter's hands. Unfortunately, the crossbow wasn't the only weapon the man was wielding. Even as the bow was skittering across the snow, the hunter yanked a blade from his waist, swinging it wildly at Draco. The blond slid liquidly backward, snarling savagely in response to the threat.
"Another one?" The hunter spat, sneering at the blond. "Must be my lucky day."
Harry remained crouched in the snow, undecided as to how he should proceed. He followed the interplay between Draco and the hunter, his body tensing as the blond began to test the man's reactions, circling him slowly, forcing the man to turn with him. It was when the man's back was to him that Draco flicked silver eyes over his shoulder, the gleam in those orbs all the command he needed. Rising fluidly, he loped silently across the snow, closing the distance between himself and the hunter in seconds.
The man pulled his wand and angled it at Draco before Harry was on top of him. Unfortunately for the hunter, that merely made Harry's attack more vicious. His entire body slammed into the man's back, a wild growl spilling over his lips. The hunter was flung forward, his wand and knife flying from his hands and becoming lost in the snow. Without pause or thought, Harry snapped the man's neck.
Drawing in a deep breath, he sat crouched upon the hunter's body, looking at the hands he still had wrapped around the man's fragile neck. His eyes snapped closed and suddenly his mind was full of images he'd never seen before. A hallway full of screaming wizards; Ron's neck gripped tightly between his bloody fingers. With a shuddering gag, he wrenched his eyes open and scrambled off the man's body, taking several stumbling steps away from the dead hunter before vomiting.
He crouched in the snow and spat bile out of his mouth, his head hanging. He drew a shuddering breath and squeezed his eyes closed. Everything the wolf had been hiding from him came rushing to the fore. Every bloody swipe of his fingers and snap of overly sharp teeth. He heard Draco moving about beside him and then felt a touch on his shoulder, cool fingers slid across his forehead, brushing the hair away from his face.
"It was him or us, Harry." The blond muttered, absently dragging his hand over the other male's dark hair. When green eyes opened and lifted to meet his, he offered a consoling smile and hefted Harry to his feet, brushing clinging snow from his robes. The smile clung to his lips as emerald orbs flashed with lupine knowledge, the sphere's sliding away from his own.
Draco was right, and Harry knew it. Turning away from the blond, he gazed down at the corpse, feeling nothing but a sense of satisfaction in knowing that the threat to the pack had been eliminated. There was no surge of triumph, no overwhelming sense of victory, just the comforting sensation of contentment. This man, this predator, had come into their territory with the intention of hunting them down and killing them. But, unfortunately for him, there would be no bounty to collect. In this world, the world of the werewolves, it was kill or be killed. Eat, or be eaten. It was a lesson Harry was learning very quickly. He gestured at the hunter's body but took a quick step back when it burst into flames. "Dammit, Draco." He snapped, covering his nose with the edge of his cloak.
Shrugging his shoulders, the blond slid his wand away and smiled. He walked around the body to stand downwind of the smoke curling into the late afternoon sky, a small smile of accomplishment curving his lips. Slowly, deliberately, he tipped his chin up and released a clear haunting wail. With the sound of their survival ringing in the air, Harry tipped his own face toward the sky and echoed the call.
A/n: Thank you for reading, as always.