Chapter 5 – Sue Clearwater
"Again and again, the impossible decision is solved when we see that the problem is only a tough decision waiting to be made."
Harry had to avert his eyes to keep from caving in. His heart shattered into a million tiny pieces as he heard Teddy's quiet sniffling. Merlin knew he didn't want to hurt Teddy, but sometimes a little heartache was unavoidable. Without saying a word, he pulled his silently crying godson into his lap. Before long, Teddy's small body shook and tiny gasping sobs escaped his mouth. Harry wanted to tell Teddy to forget everything he'd just said, but he couldn't and wouldn't do that.
"I don't want to miss school or stay inside all week!" Teddy cried. "Please don't make me, Uncle Harry!"
Harry sighed and brushed away a few loose tears. "Teddy, you know I want nothing more than for you to be happy. However, your safety must come first. We don't know if phasing into your wolf form is emotion-based or if you'll have trouble tapping into that power again. Staying home from school this week will hopefully give us some answers. Unfortunately, we live in a Muggle area and any kind of slip-up can have severe consequences."
Teddy seemed to withdraw into himself. "I don't want to stay inside. It'll be just like before I went to school. I'll never get to go outside or play with friends or do anything!"
Harry remembered being Teddy's age and locked inside his cupboard again. Dudley had gleefully teased him through the air vent about how much fun he was going to have at the park with his best friend, Piers Polkiss. He remembered crying bitterly, tired of constantly being locked inside until the Dursleys saw fit to let him out. He remembered being so relieved to be allowed to go outside, even if it was only to do so many strenuous chores until he nearly collapsed. Anything to just feel the breeze across his face, or smell the grass after it rained, or to know that his world wouldn't always be made up of cramped spaces, spiders, and the ever-consuming darkness.
Harry shook his head to clear his thoughts. It was completely different situations. If Teddy didn't control this new ability and had an accident in front of Muggles, things could get really ugly really quickly. A shiver ran down his back at the thought of Muggles starting the next witch hunt.
"I'm sorry, Teddy," he said softly.
Teddy sniffled, his head bowed low and his shoulders sunk. Harry hugged his godson, hurt when Teddy made no move to reciprocate it. He was about to pull back when Teddy sighed and slowly wrapped his arms around Harry.
"When do we start training?"
Harry didn't like the dull tone Teddy used. "Tomorrow. We'll see if it's something that needs to be controlled right away. If it's dormant to a certain degree, you can go back to school earlier."
Teddy brightened. "Really?" he asked hesitantly.
Harry poked him on the forehead. "Have I ever lied to you?" he asked softly. "I don't want you hurt, Teddy. It sucks that you had to train so hard to keep your Metamorphmagus abilities in check, and now with this animagus thing, but you were born with gifts. These were traits inherited from your parents, and you need to be able to control them—especially in something as ignorant as this Muggle environment. How do you think they'd feel if something happened to you because your power slipped? How do you think I'd feel?"
Teddy seemed to think over Harry's words before nodding his head in agreement. "I'm sorry," he apologized. "I just really like going outside and playing. I don't want to go back to the old way."
Harry nodded his head in understanding and ran his fingers through Teddy's hair. "There's a few kinks that need to be worked out, but I'm sure we can compromise in the future should any issues come up. Okay?"
Teddy's nose wrinkled. "What's compromise?"
Harry laughed. "Compromise basically means to come to an agreement. We'll meet each other half-way when we need to make decisions. I'll respect the freedom that you want to have since you are a big boy and deserve to go outside and have fun when you do so well. However, you have to respect that it's my job to keep you safe, and I will not fail at that. Agree?"
Teddy grinned broadly. "Agree!" he exclaimed, holding out his pinky.
Harry smiled and linked their pinkies together. "Now, it's getting fairly late and you'll need your strength for when we start to test your animagus abilities tomorrow. Get some rest."
Teddy pouted but nodded his head. "How will I do my homework?"
"I'll call the school and ask for your assignments so you don't fall behind. Rest; I'll take care of it."
Trying, and failing, to hide his exhausted yawn, Teddy crawled under the covers of his bed and was asleep within minutes. Harry watched as Teddy's chest moved with ever inhale and exhale. He knew Teddy's tantrum had little to do with missing school and more to do with being so confined again.
A heavy sigh escaped him. He completely understood how Teddy felt. How could he not when he grew up with the Dursleys of all people? His own world had been so small before he knew of his celebrity status. The Dursleys, however, hadn't severely limited his freedom to keep him safe. They'd done it for their own gain; to keep his spirit crushed in hopes that when the time came he would reject the Wizarding world, and to keep their personal house elf in line. After he found out that he was so much more than an unwanted stain on his relatives list of responsibilities, he'd felt so free. It was better than the time he slipped a few bugs in Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's bed, better than flying on a broom for the first time, better than riding Buckbeak, and even better than making his first friend. The burden of living with his disgusting relatives had been lifted and made him experience pure euphoria.
To be continuously thrust back into an environment that never gave a damn about him, or even want him for that matter, had been infuriating. Soon every year ended the same way. He'd spend the year living in bliss—despite the numerous attempts on his life—only to be brought down to reality and, Merlin, he absolutely loathed Dumbledore for doing that to him.
The person that cared for him subjected him to unwanted solitude in the name of safety. Yeah, he knew exactly how Teddy felt.
Harry sighed again before standing up. He kissed Teddy's forehead gently before shutting off the light and leaving. The house wasn't too much of a wreck, thank goodness, so Harry was able to clean quickly and relax on the couch. His mind wandered to the wolves he'd encountered in the forest.
Harry frowned. He'd never seen the wolves there before, and he'd been running through that forest for about eight years. Granted, he never consecutively ran through the foliage, but still. He'd been in the forest enough to know if some mutated wolves had gotten loose. And then, if that weren't bad enough, one of the wolves had turned human. Human! If one could turn human, the odds of all of them also having the ability to turn human ran rather high. It worried him. The man hadn't known what he was talking about; hadn't known a thing about magic. If Muggles had been experimented on and gained the ability to turn into wolves, then they could put him and Teddy at danger. They could unknowingly expose magic and endanger the two wizards just by being close.
Harry rubbed his temples in an attempt to get rid of his headache. He'd done what was necessary to keep his young charge safe, but when he thought about Obliviating the wolf-turned-hot-man, he felt somewhat guilty. It was bizarre, really. He'd Obliviated people before to keep his godson safe, and though he always felt a little regretful that it all had come down to that, he had never truly felt guilty for it. He'd erased the memories of Teddy accidentally changing his hair color in front of Muggles without a second thought. Harry would do anything to keep Teddy from harm's way, and surviving the worst war Magical Europe ever had only hardened his resolve.
Then he remembered the man's—Embry's—warm brown eyes and something tugged at his soul. The guilt increased, and Harry shook his head firmly. He did what he had to. He didn't know if those werewolf wannabes were like Fenrir Greyback, craving the bloody flesh of small children. The image of Teddy, face pale and lips blue, at the mercy of bloodthirsty werewolves popped in his head unbidden. A shiver ran down his spine at that thought, and his resolve hardened even further.
Teddy would never become some supernatural freak's snack—not if Harry could help it.
He paused in his thoughts ever-so-slightly. Despite his head running through the various horrible situations he could find Teddy in because of the wolf rejects, Harry's gut told him that he was all wrong; that Embry wasn't anything like Fenrir Greyback. It confused him greatly since his intuition had never been wrong, yet he clearly remembered three hostile wolves growling at him fiercely.
Granted, that could be because he was an unknown wolf in the area and they were obviously a close-knit pact. Regardless, Harry was almost completely certain that he had been there first. If that was the case, then the wolves should have smelt that they were in another's territory.
Before he could further ponder on the oddity that the wolves had presented, his doorbell rang. Harry immediately stiffened and cursed himself for not paying attention. He was only slightly assured that the wards had not screeched its warnings nor did it stun whoever was at the door. Still, it was better to be safe than sorry. Harry gripped his wand holster tightly and palmed the jeweled dagger at his waist (a 21st birthday gift from Charlie Weasley).
He walked to the door and glanced in the peephole. He sighed in relief when he noticed it was only Sue Clearwater, an older woman he'd made acquaintances with a few years ago. In all honesty, she was probably the only person in the area that he could call friend. They'd met accidentally in the store when she had all but rammed her cart into his. After a few apologies and running into each other a few times, they'd randomly decided to have a bi-monthly brunch.
He learned that she was married (and her husband just so happened to have the same first name; such a small world, he'd thought) with two children, and she always smelled like a wolf. He wasn't too surprised at that, considering Quileute legend stated that Q'wati was a wolf before transforming into a human. It was rather fascinating to him, actually, and Sue had been more than happy to share her culture and beliefs with the foreigner.
She learned that he was an orphan, from Britain, and trying to provide his godson with a better life than he had (or at least, that was the vibe she'd gotten from him). Despite the age difference, Harry had been really easy to talk to and offered her an interesting perspective to the random in-depth conversations they'd have. He was also surprisingly wise and seemed so much older than he looked.
Harry smiled as he opened the door. "Sue," he greeted. "This is a surprise."
Sue Clearwater smiled apologetically in return. "Hello Harry. I'm sorry to barge in on you like this, but I need to talk to you. It's urgent."
Harry frowned slightly in concern. "Is everything alright?" he asked with obvious worry.
Sue hesitated slightly. "I understand that you met a…wolf pack in the forest earlier," she said slowly, brown eyes gauging his reaction.
Sheer will alone prevented Harry from stiffening. Instead, he narrowed his eyes at her and inspected her face. She presented no negative feelings, only curiosity and…hope? Harry briefly contemplated his next course of action. Well, she was still within the wards so she obviously meant him no harm. "And how would you know about that?" he asked coolly.
Sue's shoulders seemed to sag ever-so-slightly with relief. "So it was you," she said with a small smile. "I wasn't exactly sure, but I'm happy they got the right person."
"They?" Harry questioned, feeling more confused than alarmed; a fact that seemed to be an oddity, considering how sharp his war-honed skills were.
"I suppose I haven't been completely honest with you," Sue began. "Um, could I perhaps come in? I'd like to explain everything to you. It's rather important."
Harry thought about it. On the one hand, he didn't want anything to do with something that could potentially jeopardize Teddy's safety. On the other hand, his gut was telling him to take a chance and find out everything he could about the potential threat before passing any judgment. And, well, if he doubted the truth about anything, it wouldn't be his intuition. Nibbling his lower lip, Harry nodded his head slowly. It would be better to find out as much as he could about the strange wolves before deciding on anything.
Sue's face brightened with a warm smile. "Thank you," she said sincerely as Harry stepped aside to let her in.
Harry surveyed the area around his home before closing the door and leading the older woman into his living room. Manners had him asking Sue to wait for him for a moment while he went into the kitchen to prepare tea and biscuits. A familiar scenario came to mind; he'd done the same thing when Andromeda came to deliver the guardianship papers to him. That night was forever burned in his mind.
It was quiet as he brought the tea and biscuits to the coffee table in his living room. The silence almost became awkward, but Harry smiled at Sue, hid his nervous feelings, and played the proper host. "Now, how do you know about the wolves I met?" he asked, blunt and straight to the point like the Gryffindor he was.
Sue seemed to think something over before nodding her head. "You remember the tales I told you? Of how Q'wati transformed from a wolf to a human and was the first of the Quileute tribe?"
Harry hummed in affirmation. "From your response, am I right in assuming that the legends are, in fact, real?"
Sue smiled kindly at him. "Yes. We call it the shape shifter gene, and it doesn't occur in every Quileute. Certain circumstances have to be met before they shift."
Harry thought it over. "What circumstances are those?"
A grimace appeared over Sue's warm features. "Quileutes shift in response to vampires in the area," she admitted. "It's to protect the surrounding humans."
The only evidence of Harry's reaction to the news was his grip tightening on the handle of his teacup. "There are vampires. Here. In Forks." His tone was flat, almost disbelieving and yet showed how much of a war-hardened warrior he was.
Sue's grimace turned into an outright flinch. "Yes," she said softly. "You're taking this rather well, though I guess you would be aware of vampires considering your own ability to shift."
"I'm a Wizard," Harry admitted, slightly surprised when Sue just nodded calmly.
"There was a witch in the family," she elaborated. "Though I'll admit I wasn't exactly privy to that information until," she paused and glanced at the clock, "an hour ago."
Harry hummed. "So the wolves are relatives of yours?"
"My nephew is the alpha to the wolf pack you came across," Sue explained. "The pack is small right now, but we're afraid it'll grow. There have been attacks within a hundred mile radius—vampire attacks."
Harry sighed and set his tea down, bringing his hand up to rub his temples. Eight years of bliss in a relatively unknown American town would soon come to an end; he should've known it was too good to be true. He briefly wondered whether or not he should just take Teddy and run to another town or country, but he knew he wouldn't. Not only would it mean uprooting Teddy from an area he'd known his whole life, his gut instincts were telling him to stay put. Last time Harry checked, vampires equaled becoming a happy meal, and he wasn't too keen on becoming fine cuisine.
Maybe he should have his intuition looked at. After eight years of no activity, it could be a little rusty.
Harry sat straight, startling Sue for a moment. "Is there anything else I should know?" he asked. He ran through various wards in his mind, trying to decide which extra protections to weave through the area surrounding his house.
Sue hesitated. "There is," she said slowly, "and I would need to bring the pack into your house to explain it further."
"No," Harry said immediately, shaking his head. "Teddy's here, and he's going through some…changes. Not here."
"My house in La Push then," she conceded, staring into his eyes and willing him to understand the importance of him meeting the pack.
He couldn't, of course, because it wasn't her place to tell him the role he would have in Embry's life; whether or not that role was wanted didn't matter. The fact remained that, ultimately, Harry would have Embry's life on his shoulders. Whatever he wanted, Embry would make sure it happened. The bond would allow no less. That would normally worry her. When her husband had approached her with news of Embry's imprinting over a stranger, she almost had a heart attack. The thought of a stranger having so much control over the life of someone she knew was terrifying.
But then she found out Embry's imprintee was Harry Potter, the kind, sweet, and responsible young man she normally met twice a month for talks. Her worries were instantly soothed and she knew if, in time, Harry wasn't interested in Embry romantically, he would at least be a friend. It was a lot better Embry imprinting on someone who would outright reject the young shifter without a second thought over the consequences. She shuddered to think what might happen if that were the case. Every time she thought of a shifter imprinting on someone in the history of her tribe, there had been happy endings—eventually.
After finding out that Sue personally knew Embry's imprintee, it hadn't been hard to convince the tribe to allow her to talk to Harry. She had the greatest chance of Harry actually listening to her and convincing him that it would be in his best interests to listen to Embry afterwards.
"I don't know," Harry said hesitantly. "Teddy's quite tired, and he needs to rest. I can't leave him alone."
"My daughter can watch him," Sue replied instantly, feeling like she was grasping at straws. "She acts tough, but she has a soft spot for children."
Harry paused. He didn't really like the idea of leaving Teddy with someone he didn't know, but Sue wasn't the type of woman to endanger children. He would have refused outright, but he saw the urgent look on her face along with a tinge of desperation in her eyes. "How long will this take?"
"An hour and a half, maybe two." Sue stared at him hopefully.
Harry hesitated once more before he sighed, resigned, and nodded his head. "Let's make this quick, okay? I don't feel completely comfortable with leaving him with someone else when he was feeling a little sick earlier."
Sue beamed. "Thank you," she said happily, standing up and drawing him into a hug. "You have no idea how much this means to the pack." Well, he soon would. Sue pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind and stood. "May I use your phone to let my daughter know?"
Harry nodded his head and waited with Sue for her daughter to arrive. He stared hard at Leah, searching for just the tiniest bit of malice and wandlessly scanning her for ill intent, regardless of the fact that the wards wouldn't have allowed her on the property otherwise. It wasn't until he showed her Teddy's room where the boy was sleeping and her eyes softened ever-so-slightly that he decided to actually let Leah sit in the house and wait until Harry returned.
He quickly penned a note for Teddy and left, offering the slumbering child a soft kiss on the temple.
The ride to Sue's house was kind of awkward, but that could have just been his nerves. He took several discreet deep breaths (or at least he hoped they were; if Sue noticed anything off, she never said a word) and followed her into her house.
As soon as he stepped through the door, he was attacked.
A/N: I deeply apologize for the wait. This month has been crazy as hell. Remember how my hard drive crashed? As soon as I got a new one and my dad re-installed Windows 7, my baby sister decided I was too happy and promptly spilled an entire bottle of water on it when I left the room. Luckily, my mom got to it and after waiting for it to dry a few days, it worked fine. Sadly, though, I was unable to write, and will probably not be able to devote much attention to any story for a while. My sister's friend committed suicide a week ago, and she's not taking it well (understandably). Obviously, writing isn't my first priority anymore.
Anyways, I'm not going to unload on all of you. I hope this chapter doesn't disappoint, and the next one is already in the works. I'm hoping to have it out before two weeks, but I'm not going to stress over it. Criticism and feedback would be very much appreciated. =)