Oh my God, you guys, I am so sorry this update took so friggin' long. I only have an excuse for why I didn't update in November and December (I was doing the National Novel Writing Month contest in November, which I failed but I got a really cool story out of it and had a lot of fun, and writing more of it in December while dealing with crazy holiday times) but otherwise...it was just sad how long this took. I hope this update will make you all love me again! D:
Last time on Bestiae Mortis:
Talnus sighed and sat back into his chair, running his hand down his face. He had not known the young man for very long, but he had to admit he liked Harry quite a bit; it made lying - well, not lying, really, just smudging the truth - to the boy about how much he knew about him that much harder to accomplish.
He hoped it would be over soon.
If he had been paying more attention to his surroundings, he might have noticed the blue eyes watching the pair with anger. Adrian had never been a man to take competition well. He had had a leg up over Kieran when the human had thought he was ignoring her or didn't want her around, but the proud man had done the last thing he had expected: humbled himself - as much as he could manage - before a human. They were food; prey. It was the equivalent of a lion bowing before a gazelle. It was disgusting and disgraceful, but it certainly made things all the more interesting. It meant that Kieran had a weakness, something he could exploit should he see the need.
And if he was able to get to the human before Kieran did then, all the better.
"Honestly, I don't know." Suddenly, Remus's eyes took a determined glint as they roamed over the two young men, finally catching the amber gaze of the curled wolf, "But I plan to find out."
He rose and left, praying he wouldn't betray the hope shining in Tir's eyes.
Chapter 25: Cogitationes
Screams could be heard echoing throughout the room, the cathedral ceiling slinging the sounds back at each other and to each wall. The sounds of bones cracking, elongating, and readjusting grated against her ears. Narcissa gave a small sniff, flinching almost imperceptibly at the pained sounds coming from the writhing man before her. She could see the tufts of hair spreading along his back and the bulges of a spine too big for his human body pulling at the scarred skin as his inner wolf forced its way out. The wolf-man reared back and howled, the eerie sound making the hairs on the nape of her neck stand tall.
The wolf dropped back to the ground, now all animal, and started prowling around. He sniffed the air, amber eyes sliding to the stare at the humans watching it. Its path eventually brought it to the two pureblooded witches, Narcissa and Bellatrix, and stopped; its hackles expertly shifted as it dropped its body down a hair closer to the floor. She could feel the intent behind every muscle, every second his gaze lingered on her. Instinctively, the blonde noble backed up, her hand clasping the slim one of her sister. Bellatrix shot her an irritated look and stepped forward, wringing herself out of the grip, a sneer on her lovely face.
"What do you want, mutt?" She jeered, stepping closer to it and never looking away when their eyes met.
"Bella-" The blonde stepped forward as her sister neared the creature, moving to pull her away; before she could, the wolf snarled and leapt toward the two of them. Narcissa gave a tiny cry, her control slipping for a moment, and yanked her sister back to her with a jostling move. There was no need, however, for the wolf hit an invisible wall inches in front of them, the air in front of them shimmering a light blue, and was knocked back a foot.
Bella let out a high giggle, clapping her hands and jumping in excitement.
"It worked!" She turned to her sister with childish glee in her eyes, unusual in such a cold woman.
Her glee was cut short as a low, threatening rumble came from beside them. A being, more wolf than man, was the source, his startlingly intelligent eyes focused on the other wolf in the room. The wolf had righted itself and had turned its attention back to the women in a few moments, but now it was looking back to him with flattened ears and wide eyes. Eventually, it whined plaintively and backed down, pressing its belly low to the floor and tilting its neck back. The almost-man straightened and a wicked grin fell over his scraggly face, sharp teeth poking out beneath his bottom lip.
Fenrir Greyback is fearsome indeed, Narcissa mused inwardly with a terrified awe. He was a huge man, hairy and animalistic in a way that made her nervous. She knew the Dark Lord had purposely factored the alpha into his plans, and that had not been a problem in the beginning; the wolves had not come to many of the meetings and it had become easy to forget that they were even involved. However, with the new twist that her Lord's mind had conjured, they were around all the time; prowling, watching, waiting, predatorily eying the "humans" like they were an exhibit - or, to put it better, prey. More than once she had felt a calculatingly disdainful eye on her person and more than once she'd been affronted by the blatant disregard for social cues - namely, the fact that she was a lady and they were not worth her time.
Her sister had been oblivious to her sensibilities and had enjoyed the power simply because the Dark Lord did. Her devotion to their leader was admirable in its durability though worrying in its voracity. Bellatrix had a way of believing in something almost to the point of obsession and sometimes it scared it her, but she trusted her sister enough to know that she was infinitely protective of her family(however, the Dark Lord had admittedly never made her choose...).
The door suddenly opening shook the thought from her mind. She looked up to see the pale figure of her Lord gliding through the door like a ghost and bowed with everyone when he entered. Bella was the first to straighten, her fair face bright beneath her dark curls.
"My Lord, your plan has worked, as we all knew it would," She swept her gaze around the room to the others, clearly searching for any faces of disagreement. When she saw none, she looked back at him once more. Her face begged for his approval.
He smiled chillingly at her and then turned to the creature. He stepped close to the shield and the wolf seemed to get some spark back into it; it rose slowly, hackles high, and growled at him. He did not respond, simply eying the creature. There was an air of pride around him; he had defied the laws of nature, forced a change that otherwise would never have happened. It was just one step in his inevitable take over the world; one example of how he was destined to change it for good.
Surprisingly, Fenrir did nothing, smirking when he watched the new member of his pack challenge the man who had the gall to believe he actually had control over any of them. Behind all that power was still a man; a man that could be ripped apart should he overstepped his bounds, no matter how many times he parsed his soul. He would be more than willing to let his new pup do that for him and he was sure that if not for the shield, the Dark Lord would be fighting for his survival. A transformed, confused werewolf was a formidable enemy and he would love to see how a battle between the two would carry out.
Nevertheless, this man seemed pleased; clearly whatever results he had expected had either been met or exceeded by this new development.
Fenrir could understand the feeling. He loved that a way to make his pups wolves all the time had been found. He cared little for what humanity he had once had - humanity meant weakness and he despised that more than anything. To have that weakness stripped from him was his dream, and his pack would accept this without protest, as they had always accepted his rule. The wolf before them was an omega that had been volunteered for the experiment and now that he knew it worked, he would be bringing them all in so that they may all revel in the glory of power.
"Greyback, it seems your wolf has passed the test." The icy voiced snatched his attention to the human's alpha. He rumbled his acquiescence, at once an answer and a sound of approval to the omega. The only evidence that he was heard was a tweak of the wolf's ears, but it was clear that he knew that his alpha was pleased.
"Ladies and gentleman, you have now paid witness to our secret weapon," Lord Voldemort projected, swiping his arms wide. The Death Eaters all looked to him, pleased because their Lord was, "And soon we will have an army of these beasts at our disposal!" He ignored the indignant growl from the wolf-man beside him. Around the room, they all clapped in enthusiasm, some merely because they were expected to.
"Now, all of you, out of my sight." Without needing to be told, Narcissa and Bellatrix stayed; it had become obvious that, unless otherwise spoken, he always wanted the two women with him. Not, at least on Narcissa's part, in a lascivious way. She didn't believe he had much of that left in him, with all the rage and revenge filling his being.
Greyback stayed, as well, but mainly because he refused to follow the commands of anyone in true alpha character, even the man he had decided to throw his lot in with. It seemed to be what the Dark Lord wanted, anyway, so all was well.
Once the room cleared, the revived leader turned Greyback with a glee that matched his loyal witch's.
"You will subject your wolves to the treatment within three days." Greyback looked as if he wanted to protest someone telling him what to do with his wolves, but even he knew it was counter productive.
"I will gather them," he said; no more, no less.
"My Lord," Bellatrix cut in, never one to care about the sanctity of other's conversations, "Your genius never ceases to amaze. But, if I may, what are we to do about...the American?" She said it with a sneer, more pronounced than the one she had permanently plastered on her face.
Ryan Pembroke had been a mistake from the beginning, though not one that had been able to be avoided. When their lord had told Narcissa and Bellatrix of his plan of creating an army of wolves to work for them, it had seemed like it couldn't be done, but he had proven more than once that if anyone was going to do the impossible, it would be him. Finding the way to bring about the results they wanted had been harder.
He sent Narcissa and Bellatrix on the task of finding the correct method; he trusted their judgement and skill in both areas - the Lady Malfoy having been excellent at potions and her sister more than proficient in the use of spells. Being placed in the center of such a vital part of their lord's plans had quelled any protests the blonde might have had (as a noblewoman in the public eye and a wife to a suspicious husband, it was and had been hard for Narcissa to keep up appearances of normalcy; she was lucky that Lucius was so focused on his darling Severus that he didn't notice her sudden interest in potions).
However, finding the right method had proven more difficult than either of them had expected; it took days of scouring and more than one sleepless night until they happened upon the correct one. They had been forced to look outside the typical books, going so far as to check several languages before they found the one that would work. It was a revealing spell, an archaic one from the time before the founders. It meant 'reveal yourself' in Welsh and it would force a creature, such as a werewolf but it could be as simple as someone with a glamour spell or polyjuice potion, to revert to their true form and stay in it until a counter spell - something as simple as 'finite incantem' - was said by the caster to change them back.
In short, it was exactly what they needed.
They had gone to their lord when it was found despite the hour - half past one in the morning - and the delight on his face had warmed them both to the bone. It was unusual to get such immediate and plain gratification from him.
Immediately, they had set about finding test subjects and at that exact moment they got wind of a werewolf attack just outside of Knockturn Alley. There had been a murmur for a few days of a squib - an American squib - snooping in the area, a place a man like himself would never had ventured into if not armed with youthful arrogance and a tourist's ignorance. The squib had been asking too many questions and ruffling the shopkeeps' feathers during his stay; therefore, it had not taken long for the news to reach them. The people had wanted them gone and they needed a new test subject. The solution had been easy.
In the end, Dumbledore's iron grip on information had worked in their favor; no American who knew anything about the true nature of England would have allowed themselves to be such an easy target; it had been pathetic, really, how easy it had been to snatch him up off the street. The spell had been cast while he was unconscious within hours of his arrival, the bite - given by the wolf that had tried to attack the dark wizard mere moments ago - taking its toll on his body. They had only to wait for the effects to take place. He was a squib, so there was no excess magic to aid in the forcing of the transformation, or so they believed, so it was estimated that it would take longer to catch.
They shouldn't have waited, they came to realize; they had underestimated the squib's intelligence and capability in their disdain of his kind - the idea that a squib could have gotten out of a Death Eater cell unaided baffled them even now - and now he was gone, most likely escaped to his home. Their only saving grace was his lack of knowledge of who they were, so he would likely not be able to tell anyone of his story if the spell didn't work or be stuck in a wolf form with no way to speak, likely wreaking havoc. It was only the success of their newest trial that led them to believe that he had transformed at all.
"Do not worry, my dear; we will find him when the time comes," Voldemort deflected, smiling as if he believed she was ridiculous to worry. Perhaps he already had a plan in place, or perhaps the success overshadowed that one little mistake, but either way he seemed happy, as happy as he was capable of, in any case.
"Of course, my Lord." She bowed her head.
"Narcissa," the blonde witch jerked in surprise, looking up to him Her blue eyes caught his for a moment and then fell, unable to hold his gaze for long.
"Yes, my lord?"
"From now on, I want you to watch that husband of yours more closely. He and his crow are planning something and I want to know what." She swallowed; she had had no idea of any idiosyncrasies in her husband's actions lately and it worried her that she may not have been paying enough attention. At least the side project would give her a good reason for negligence.
"Yes, my lord." Voldemort nodded, whirling toward the door. He gave no word to the group as he left, leaving them to decipher what he wanted from them.
The two sisters shared a look of surprise before they silently decided to leave together; Narcissa would go home after seeing Bellatrix off, knowing their lord would want her to begin her task as soon as possible.
She dared not look at the alpha, whose piercing blue eyes she could feel on her back, refusing to show any manner of intimidation despite the fact that she unmistakably was. She ket her head high, sparing a side-glance at the wolf prowling inside the protective shield. He looked mournfully after her.
Two pairs of piercing eyes followed his path as Neville paced wearily, running a hand through already mussed locks. A soft trill caught his attention to the beautiful bird perched on the couch beside Luna; her icy eyes watched him with more worry than she showed. He had been worrying over the troubling letter they had received; it was clear that he was not certain if he should trust the words of a Malfoy, but what choice did he have? If they were telling the truth, then he would be a fool not to take action. Luna tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear with a inaudible sigh, the gum wrapper earring swinging with the motion.
"Nev, Luna," a familiar voice called, as the door suddenly opened, "We have arrived!" A smile broke out onto his face, one that was echoed in Luna's, and it widened when the lanky redheads appeared in the doorway. Fred and George were just as happy to see them, if the grins on their faces were anything to go by. They rushed in, engulfing Luna and then Neville in a large hug. Neville laughed, their enthusiasm already lifting his spirits.
"It's good to see the two of you," Neville murmured, "How did you get in?"
"We shall never tell." George answered, a mischievous smile on his face. Nev found he really didn't want to know.
"It's good to see you too, Nev, Luna," Fred intoned, George nodding vigorously as he pulled his arms from Luna's hold. They turned as one to gaze at Fawkes, their blue eyes lighting up excitedly. They reached out to pet him and the bird allowed it, wise golden eyes following each stroke intently. Neville could see the gears turning in their crafty little heads.
"Whatever you're thinking about that involves him, don't," He chastised playfully, though he was half-serious. He didn't know what would happen if they annoyed or angered the phoenix, but he wasn't thrilled to find out.
The twins rolled their eyes but stepped back nonetheless, preferring to sit on either side of the bird. Luna perched herself on the arm of the couch and waited for him to start.
"Thank you for coming here on such short notice." Fred waved him off.
"It's alright; we didn't really have anything to do at the shop in the first place."
"You got everything set up at the shop so no one knows anything?"
"Of course, what kind of men do you take us for?" Neville smiled and shook his head.
"So, Nev, let's see that letter Malfoy sent." He plucked the letter from his pocket and placed it in George's outstretched hand. The twin unfolded it for the both of them to read it. Neville knew every word by heart; he had read and reread that letter so many times that it was burned into his brain.
We need to talk. AD is up to something and we need your help. Send a letter back to our bat as soon as you can.
It was a short missive, cryptic in the annoying way that made you want to know more, but the fact that it had come from Draco Malfoy gave him pause. How was he supposed to know if was telling the truth? What 'bat' was he talking about?
"What reason would Malfoy have to seek us out?"
"No idea. It must be grave, if he would be willing to seek out Light wizards in times like these," Neville sighed.
"And you're sure it's Malfoy and not some hoax?"
"We thought of that, and that's why we are going to send a letter back to make sure when we figure out where he wants us to send it." He paused a moment, "And not with Fawkes; we have a better idea of what to do about him." The twins perked up at that, curious.
"Well go on, Nev, spit it out." The young wizard smiled at their impatience.
"We're sending him over to Harry; that way, if it's not Malfoy, Fawkes will be where he can't be used against us or be taken." He glanced at the bird. He knew Fawkes understood their words, but if he had any objections, he didn't seem to be making them known. The phoenix simply stared at them intently as if waiting for when he would be sent on his way. "Besides," He continued, "He came to Harry's rescue before, so maybe he won't mind being there."
"He's sad," Luna cut in suddenly, her bright blue eyes focused on Fawkes. "He's been cut off from his owner and he will need someone else to keep him well." The men blinked in surprise at her assertion. Neville hadn't noticed anything particularly wrong with the bird, but he supposed it made sense. The bird would have never come here if he were still so strongly connected to Dumbledore, and not so willingly. Clearly, they would need to send him somewhere he could be taken care of and maybe reform the connection. And what an asset it would be if he were to connect with Harry!
"And you'll send the house owl to Malfoy?" Neville nodded.
"Certainly not to Malfoy Manor, I hope." George took on a serious expression, for once, "It would be strange if an owl was seen heading toward the Malfoy Manor from here."
"We'll send him to whatever bat he's talking about, when we find out what he means." At that, George snorted.
"That one's easy, Nev, you've just got to think."
"Yeah," Fred added, shifting so he could give the smaller male a bemused look, "Who do you know that reminds you of a crow and is related in some way to Malfoy?"
The idea hit him so easily he blushed. Of course; Professor Snape should have been the first person he had thought of at the word 'bat.' It made complete sense; it would be more believable to think that he would be speaking to Snape than Malfoy, and the travel from their house to a man of lower stature would be less watched.
"And where does he live?"
"The last house on Spinner's End, of course. Honestly, Nev, didn't you learn anything about your teachers?" Neville glared lightly at George, who had spoken, only to receive a smirk in return. They all knew Snape was a teacher that even now struck fear in him, even though he was no longer a student. He was the last person Neville would want to learn anything about.
"Anyway," He said pointedly, "We send an owl to Spinner's End, and Fawkes to Harry, and finally sort out this mess."
The door suddenly flew open, revealing his Gran in one of her hideous tea hats. Her suspicious eyes slid over the gathered people, clearly wary of having them all in the room. She had been out at a gathering with their neighbors, women around her age. Augusta had been delighted about finding out that someone else was going to be with them (so that he wouldn't be left in the house alone with Luna, no doubt, though she still found it unseemly for a respectable young woman to be alone with three men). Neville had thought her outing would have lasted a little longer than it had. Likely, she hadn't wanted to leave him and Luna alone for too long.
"Uh, hey, Gran," He said awkwardly. Her eyes immediately alighted to the phoenix, who blinked at her slowly. Her mouth dropped open for a moment, before snapping back closed and pinching in distaste.
"Neville, why is that bird on my couch?"
When Blaise entered the library at Spinner's End, he was instantly worried. Snape and Lucius were conversing urgently but quietly off to the side, both men looking far older than they should and Draco was sitting, reading a book with clenched hands. The blonde kept scanning his eyes over the same page over and over again, his mouth pressed into a tight line.
Clearly, it was time to get him out of here.
He moved silently to his lover and tapped him on the shoulder. Icy eyes snapped to him for a moment, sharp words clearly on his lips, but it died when he realized who was tapping his shoulder. Those eyes softened minutely and he saw Draco's slim shoulders relax. He placed his book down on the table primly and turned to him.
"Do you need something, Blaise?"
"Come with me." He grabbed the blonde's hand and led him to the bedroom they were sharing. The blonde wizard rolled his eyes, but acquiesced with a tiny smile on his face. Blaise pushed Draco inside and shut the door behind him, leaning against it and simply staring at the blonde. Draco waited for something, but his lover's eyes simply stared at him. He started to get embarrased and snapped,
"What?" Blaise smirked and shook his head, coming up to the younger Malfoy.
"Nothing," He murmured quietly, sliding his arms around his slim waist and pulling them together. Draco scowled to hide his flush, but he didn't try to pull away from him. In fact, he rested his head against his shoulder, turning to press his nose against Blaise's neck. They stayed in silence, embracing one another while contemplating their own thoughts, before Draco finally asked,
"What are we going to do if they refuse?" Blaise sighed softly.
"I don't know; we'll figure it out when we get there." he could feel Draco smile against his skin.
"I don't like...not knowing. Slytherins always have a plan."
"Not this time, Drake. Not this time."
His only answer was Draco tightening his hold on him and exhaling against his neck.
A/N: I hope the random fluff is enough compensation for my slacking! Also, the title means 'plans,' which is kinda lame, but eh, well...I felt like it fit.
Read and Review please!