Winter Run

.

"What?" Elysia couldn't help but blink in surprise. "What are you talking about?" Fenrir must be wrong. Harry? A wizard? That was impossible... wasn't it? But holding off that thought for a moment, she turned to her pack mates, who were trying to listen in. "Lucas, Logan, Tyler, go rest up," she ordered the young men. "I'll handle this."

"You don't know?" Fenrir gave a loud, barking laugh that made Harry jump in her arms as the other werewolves took off to go rest. "Oh, that's rich." He pointed a clawed hand at the boy in her arms, who shrunk a little. "That's Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Freakin'-Lived. He's kind of a hero among the wizarding world. What'd you do, kidnap him?"

Paling, Elysia looked down to Harry, who looked up at her with a very confused look. He was a wizard? That didn't seem possible... but how did Fenrir know his name then? "How do you know its him?" she asked slowly.

"That scar," said Fenrir with a smirk as he nodded to the lightening bolt scar. "It was left by the wizard that tried to kill him. Kind of a recognizable thing since everyone knows about it."

"Someone tried to kill me?" asked Harry with a small sniff, not sounding as scared as he should have. Probably because someone trying to kill him wasn't all that new thanks to his uncle's attempt. "But why?"

"Hell, beats me," said Fenrir with a shrug. "I didn't care enough to find out. I just cared that the man - if you can call him that - is dead."

"Ah, welcome, Fenrir." asked her father as he emerged from the nearby hut. "Elysia, what's going on? You were suppose to bring our visitor straight to us."

"We got a little side-tracked," said Fenrir in her defense before he jabbed a thumb at Harry. "You know you've got a wizard kid here?"

Narrowing his eyes, Jason glanced around to make sure no one had heard that before motioning them forward. "Please, come in, Fenrir. Elysia, you and Harry might as well come in too."

"Yes, Father," said Elysia, letting Fenrir enter first before following. She held Harry tightly, but a thought kept racing through her mind. Harry was a wizard? It just didn't seem possible... Wizards were not as hated by werewolves as humans, but still just as feared, thanks to the fact that they hated them for being 'half-breeds' and wanted them dead - and they knew how to do it, with magic and their sticks of death. And of course, their allergic reactions to silver.

Did that mean that Elysia was afraid of Harry? No. But she was worried, worried about this other business Fenrir mention. Her cub being some kind of hero in his world... a wizard trying to kill him... what had happened to Harry before she found him in the woods?

Then Elysia turned his gaze towards Fenrir, her light brown eyes narrowing. She didn't know much about this new werewolf - other than he was clearly known by her father, and knew her when she was a cub. Was he the leader of a clan to speak to her on clan matters? He wasn't the leader of any clan she knew, if he was. So what was he doing here?

Waiting until everyone had sat down and was comfortable, Jason sighed. "To answer your question, Fenrir - yes, we knew that the boy was a wizard. We were told by our healer and elder, Arianna, who has the ability to sense magic, and sensed it with him when he first arrived."

"Father, you knew that long and didn't tell me?" said Elysia, slightly hurt, though she managed to keep that off her face. "I'm Harry's protector - I should have been told."

"We were planning on telling you once Harry made it thru the winter," said Agatha with her own small sigh. "It wouldn't have done any good if we told you before that."

"So I really can use magic?" spoke up Harry softly. When both the Alphas nodded, he smiled before whispering, "Cool."

"But he's shown no sign of it during his stay here," said Elysia. And she would know, she'd been by his side almost the entire time.

"I bet he didn't have a reason to," said Fenrir, gaining everyone's attention. "Most kids really don't use magic till their eleven and at school, unless its an accidental magic, and that's done subconsciously." He shrugged. "Though I'm surprised that his relatives, or whoever took him in after his parents died, didn't tell him about it."

"My uncle and aunt thought I was a freak," Harry whispered softly to Elysia, which unfortunately, wasn't soft enough when in a room full of werewolves with heighten hearing. "Do you think that's why, Elysia?"

"Oh, Harry," said Elysia gently, holding him closer. "They're liars. You're not a freak." She wanted to strangle Harry's relatives for hurting her cub, and held back the urge to growl at the mere thought of them. "His relatives were monsters that should rot in the worst part of hell," she explained when Fenrir raised a eyebrow in confusion.

And if she had her way, they would.

"How did you know about Harry being a wizard?" asked Agatha, her own eyebrow raised. "I'm sure that you can't sense magic - there are very few of our kind that can."

"His scar," said Fenrir, pointing to Harry for the second time that day. "That story's real popular round the wizarding world - he's the Boy-Who-Lived, a hero, was almost killed by the Dark Lord and killed him instead. Glad you got rid of him, wiz-kid, however you did it."

"Are you talking about the same one that you used to work for?" asked Jason with narrowed eyes.

"The one and the same," said Fenrir, his mouth working into a sneer and his eyes darkening. "Damn bastard threatened my old clan, said if we didn't fight for him he'd kill all of the children we had saved from the wizarding world. My Alpha at the time stupidly agreed to it instead of fighting back."

"What does he mean?" Harry asked Elysia in a whisper. But again, he wasn't quiet enough, so Fenrir spoke up.

"There's a lot of werewolves out there, wiz-kid," Fenrir said. "And not all of them are good. Some just bite kids for the hell of it, others bite them caused their payed to do it - they don't care if it's a good reason or not. I, on the other hand, have had some parents pay me to bite their kids to save them from life-threatening illnesses, since werewolves are immune to every disease but a damn cold. But it's real hard to raise a werewolf kid in a normal environment. So my old clan usually takes in any bitten kids and raise them in this clan my Alpha started up with a few others. There's was a lot of them last time I was there - about twenty, all of them various ages."

"And that's a noble cause," interrupted Jason, "but we're not talking about that right now. Are you saying that the whole wizarding world knows about him?"

"Yep. But it looks like they don't even notice he's missing," said Fenrir dismissively. "I haven't heard a word, and believe me, that kind of news would get everywhere."

"But they'll find out eventually," growled Agatha. "Mother Moon, I knew we shouldn't have taken him in!"

"Agatha, that's enough," snapped Jason. "What would we have done - taken him back to his abusive relatives? If the wizarding world hasn't realized by now that the boy is missing, then maybe they don't deserve to get him back. And after all, we've made a promise - we can't take it back."

At that, Elysia couldn't help but breathe a little sigh of relief. Harry wasn't going to go back to his world, at least for now.

"Now what's this about surviving the winter?" asked Fenrir with slight tilt of his head. "Why does the wiz-kid need to worry about that?"

"Elysia found Harry wandering the forest, dumped here by his uncle," Jason explained. "We were not eager to take him in, but we made a deal that if he could survive a winter here, he would be allowed to stay. That includes participating in the mid-winter run."

Wincing, Elysia bit her lip to stop herself from protesting. She'd almost forgotten about that, even though it was in two months. It was a tradition, much like the human's New Year, when they shot those balls of light into the sky. They would run through the forest from sunset to sunrise, in either human or wolf form, and it was a good time to hunt, and even court. There was no exceptions if you were over the age of five, save if you were too old or sick to run. It was no problem for a werewolf - even for the children, since they were unnaturally warm in either form. But Harry was still human, and would likely freeze to death. She was planning on dressing him up in as much fur as possible and stay at his side the entire time.

"Are you planning on killing him?" asked Fenrir with a small growl. "You both know as well as I do he can't survive that - not like he is now," he said with a wave towards Harry.

"It's tradition," said Jason, "And we won't let it get that bad. If it gets too dangerous, we will have Elysia bring him back to the camp. But if that happens, it simply means he won't be able to stay, and will have to be taken back to his family in the wizarding world."

At that, Fenrir snort. "I'm sorry, Jason, but that's insane and you know it. And I don't mean him being out all night long. Sending him back to the wizarding world, to the ones that ignored him and from the sounds of it, relatives that did much worse? You know as well as I do that's just as good as killin' him."

"Then what do you propose we do?" asked Jason with a snap, close to growling. "We have already announced to the clan that if Harry does not survive the winter he will return, and that including the run. We can not help it if he is weak."

"I'm not weak!" said Harry suddenly, and a jar laying nearby was lifted into the air and slammed into the wall. Elysia's head snapped down to the boy in her arms, and she inhaled sharply when she saw that his green eyes were ablaze with anger as she realized he had just used magic for the first time since his arrival. "I'm not!"

A few moments went by in silence, and then Fenrir laughed, which was closer to a bark then anything else. "I like this kid."

"It's alright, Harry," Elysia whispered to her cub, holding him close. She wasn't afraid of him, but she was afraid that he'd hurt someone if he wasn't careful. "No one thinks your weak." She almost sighed in relief when Harry buried his face into her shoulder and nodded, though he still shook with anger.

"Alpha, are you alright?" asked Gavin as he poked his head in. "I heard something break."

"Everything's fine, Gavin," said Agatha, waving him off. "I will call you if I need you."

"You wanna hear my idea?" said Fenrir once the Beta was gone. "Fine. Besides the idea of just changing him and getting it over with - I think if the kid got magic, then he should use it. Have someone teach him how to use it; keeping himself warm, keeping himself safe, and whatever."

"Him using magic?" said Agatha, seemingly revolted at the very thought. "No. Not in this clan! He'll use it to harm us - just like the rest of his kind!"

"No I won't," said Harry with a shake of his head, ignoring Elysia as she tried to shush him. "I'd never hurt you, or anyone else."

"Let's say that Harry does learn how to care himself with magic," said Jason, ignoring his mate's glare, "who do you suppose would teach him? We will not go near any wizards or witches. It's too dangerous."

"... What I say does not leave this hut," said Fenrir suddenly, giving them all a steely glare. "Is that understood?"

"We would never break the code of secrecy," said Jason with narrowed eyes. "What is discussed here will stay with only us, you know that."

Glancing around at the others, his gaze staying with Harry the longest, Fenrir sighed. "This is something that so far, only those of my old clan know. Before I was changed, back when I was still a teen, I used to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."

"You're a wizard?" growled Jason, and at his side, Agatha snarled.

"Was," clarified the werewolf. "Even before I was bitten by my own Alpha, I knew that the human world was going to hell. But I was still forced to attend school by my family, to control my magic. I almost finished, and would have if I hadn't been bitten. I don't use magic that often, but at least I can teach. If you'll let me, I'll train the kid, or at least try."

"And why would you do that?" spoke up Elysia. "You barely know Harry - and you owe us nothing."

"Yeah, but I owe him," said Fenrir, nodding to Harry, who blinked his bright green eyes in surprise. "He saved my clan from the Dark Lord. That's a debt we haven't been able to pay, and I never thought we would be able to. So if he wants me to train him how to use his magic, I will."

"You would really do that?" asked Jason with a raised eyebrow.

"Sure, why not?" said Fenrir. "Like I said - only if the kid wants me to."

"Yes!" said Harry almost immediately. "I do!"

"What about your own clan?" Jason went on. "Won't they worry about you?"

"Don't worry about that," said Fenrir simply. "They know I won't be back for awhile. I usually take a break this time of year to go looking for bitten kids that have been abandoned. You wouldn't believe how many I find."

"What do you think, father?" Elysia asked Jason carefully. "Could it work?"

Pondering for a long minute, Jason finally let out a breathe. "No wand," he said firmly. "I will not have one of those death sticks near my camp."

"So he'll have to learn wandless magic," said Fenrir with a shrug. "Fine with me - I can do it better without a wand anyway. Felt like those things were holding back my magic. So is it a deal then?"

"Jason," hissed Agatha, "you can't be serious? We can not have magic near this camp!"

"And are we going to let Harry fail the winter-run just because we didn't give him a fair chance?" asked Jason as his gaze went to his mate. "We have the gift of change, my dear, to change into the form Mother Moon gave us at birth. And it seems she also had given Harry a gift as well - the gift of magic. It would be unfair not to let him use it."

"... Fine," said Agatha with a growl. "We'll give him the chance to learn how to use... magic. But he will have to go off into the woods to learn it. I will not have it in the camp."

"I don't care," said Fenrir with a shrug.

"Now wait a minute," spoke up Elysia with a snarl. "I'm not about to let you take Harry out into the woods without me." No way, no how. She just heard he had a history with a dangerous wizard. She'd let him teach Harry, but not without a watching eye!

"What, don't trust me, girly?" said Fenrir with a flash of sharp teeth.

"You took the words out of my mouth," said Elysia with a snap, and both werewolves started to growl at each other, a low rumbling noise that made Harry scramble off his guardian's lap and hide behind her.

"Enough," said Jason with a bark, before his daughter and the Fenrir started fighting. "I'm sorry, Elysia, but no one will be watching over them."

"But father -" started Elysia.

"No," said Jason firmly. "Besides the fact that no one else can know about this, you have duties to attend to, which I won't allow you to slack off on them." The look her father gave her was one that clearly meant that she had no choice in the matter. "Is that understood?"

"...Yes, father," Elysia finally said, her fingers curling into fists when she saw the smug look on Fenrir's face.

"Excellent. How soon would you like to start, Fenrir?" Jason asked the newest guest of the Estriatus Clan.

"Maybe after I can get some grub," said Fenrir with a grin.

"Of course. Elysia, take Fenrir over to the kitchens, if you would."

Eye slightly twitching, Elysia looked over to the large werewolf, who gave her a smirk that made her want to growl at him. She really didn't like him. "Of course, father," she said with a nod to him, standing and picking up Harry, who was noticeably excited. "Come with me... sir," she ground out.

Fenrir stood, his head almost touching the top of the hut. "Right behind ya, girly."

~o0o~

Harry watched as the new werewolf - who he thought called himself Fenrir - dug into the large plate of food that was resting in his lap, not using any utensils. In the small boys eyes, most of the men he was around now were huge. But Fenrir surpassed them all by at least a few inches. He was still bulky, even though he didn't look like he'd eaten well in awhile. Or seen a good bath or a hairbrush in awhile.

And it was obvious that Elysia hated him.

Glancing up at his female guardian, Harry could see Elysia glaring at their guest, who ignored the furious gaze. He wasn't sure why she didn't like Fenrir - maybe because he kept pushing her, calling her girly while he called Harry 'wiz-kid.' Or maybe it was because Fenrir worked for the man that tried to kill him...

Swallowing a large lump in his throat, Harry rested his head against Elysia's shoulder. He wasn't sure how he felt at the moment. Not only his uncle, but another man, had both tried to kill him. And he'd just learned that he could use magic. While it was exciting to learn he could actually do something, it also made him think. Magic. Was that how he got all his hair to grow back after one night? Or how his wounds healed so fast. How sometimes things just came to him when he really needed them.

Was that the reason his aunt and uncle called him a freak?

Blinking back tears, Harry rubbed his suddenly runny nose on his sleeve. No, Elysia said he wasn't a freak, and she wouldn't lie to her.

"Why you aren't with... the humans, anymore?" Elysia finally asked. "What made you want to leave them?"

Pausing in his eating, Fenrir took a movement to swallow his food loudly before answering, "I don't think that's any of your business, girly."

"I have a name, you know," snapped Elysia. "Its -"

"Yah, yah, Elysia, I remember," said Fenrir with a dismissive wave of his hand. "I'm not old enough to start forgetting things all the sudden. Doesn't mean I'm gonna stop calling you 'girly.'"

Huffing angrily, Elysia spoke out again. "If you're going to train Harry, you should at least tell me what you were doing in our forest, Fenrir."

"I was looking for some food," said Fenrir with a shrug. "Didn't do too well on my own though this time around. Satisfied?"

"Not at all," said Elysia dryly. "And I still don't trust you."

Chuckling, Fenrir nodded towards Harry. "Real protective of the wiz-kid, huh?" He didn't wait for an answer before going on. "What do you think's going to happen when the wizarding world finds him? They're not gonna let you keep him, even if he is part of your clan. They'll probably send him back to his real family."

Flinching, Harry pressed himself closer to Elysia, who scoffed. "Real family, my arse. And besides, I won't let that happen. Harry deserves happiness, and he's not going to get it with those humans."

"Mm." And that seemed to be the only thing Fenrir had to say about it. At least for the time being.

~o0o~

The next two months seemed to go past at lighting speed. Lessons with Fenrir were every day, during every spare hour he had. Elysia was busy with keeping up border patrol and her father training her to become the next Alpha. Harry only saw her at meals and an hour or so before he fell asleep, exhausted from his lessons. But he was just happy he was making progress.

And soon enough, it was the last day of the year. And the winter run was about to start.

Exhaling so heavily his breathe turned into a large white cloud, Harry rubbed his arms and stared up at the sky, which he could clearly see now in the open field. The moon was completely full, shining much brighter then it ever did in the city, and all the werewolves of the Estriatus clan seemed to bask it, holding back their transformations until Jason gave the signal.

"Are you sure I'm ready, Fenrir?" Harry asked his teacher in a low whisper for what must have been the hundredth time.

"Ready as you'll ever be," answered Fenrir with a toothy grin, taking a hand and ruffling Harry's already wild hair. "You've been doing great for just a beginner, wiz-kid. But," he said with a shrug, "if you don't wanna do anything - don't. Its not like they're expecting anything."

Nodding even as he tried to flatten down his hair, Harry looked up at Elysia, who glared at Fenrir momentarily before smiling weakly down at him. "You'll be fine, cub," she reassured him, rubbing his back encouragingly even though she still looked worried. "Just... just do your best, alright?"

"My friends," called out Jason suddenly, gaining the attention of every werewolf in his clan. "Its time. Let us change into the forms our mother gave us."

Harry covered his eyes as everyone suddenly started to strip off their clothes without care, something he didn't think he'd ever get use to. And moments later, the air was filled with yips and barks, and when he finally dropped his hands, he was still a little scared to see himself surrounded by large wolves that were more than twice his size, even after four months.

Elysia, now as a brown wolf, nuzzled his cheek with a whine. It was clear she was worried about him, and seemed to show it more in this form then the other.

With a thump, a still very large Fenrir sat down next to him, lifting his leg and scratching his ear. His eyes, like everyone else, had turned a golden brown that reminded Harry of dark honey. Shaking his furry head when he was done, Fenrir gave Harry a look that very clearly said, 'Well?'

Shaking his head, Harry just ran a hand through Elysia's soft fur. He wasn't ready, not yet. It was probably just a fluke he could do it at all, anyway.

Nudging his shoulder with her large nose, Elysia jerked her head towards her back before lowering herself to the ground. She had mentioned before that during the run, Harry would ride on her back. So hesitantly, he climbed onto her back, clinging to her fur and gripping her sides with his knee's when she rose. "Are you sure this is... safe, Elysia?"

He was answered with a yip before a howl filled with air, soon followed by every wolf in the area joining him for one long song before they all surged forwards as one, moving towards the forest so suddenly that Harry had to bury his hands tightly in Elysia's fur to stop from falling off.

As they entered the forest, the wolves suddenly branched off on their own, and furs of every shade of brown, black, and even some blondes and reds, flew pasted Harry and Elysia, eager to run as fast as they could in the moonlight. Harry watched as suddenly a clan full of werewolves soon dissolved into just Elysia and Fenrir, running almost side by side.

Finally taking a moment to watch everything rush pass them, Harry couldn't help but be a little awed. It felt like they were almost flying over the ground as Elysia's paws barely touched the snow covered ground. It was something he had only dreamed about. Lifting his head up and tilting it back, Harry ignored the cold wind and laughed just as the two werewolves howled again, joined by the others ahead of them. He couldn't remember the last time he had this much fun. Certainly not with the Dursleys.

He didn't ever want it to end.

It happened suddenly. Everything seemed to be going well after a few hours, with Harry something warming himself with the spell Fenrir teaching, and with few werewolves passing him. They even stopped for awhile so Harry could watch the fireworks from the nearby human towns, bright and loud enough for them to see even so far away. But one moment, Elysia was leaping over a fallen tree, and the next, something slammed into her side.

With a yelp, she fell back to the ground, her body hitting the ground with a muted thud, and Harry went flying off with a cry, unable to hold on. Even after he landed, he couldn't stop, rolling down a small hill as if he were a barrel. He squeezed his eyes shut as he scrambled to grab onto something to slow him down while trying to protect his head at the same time.

"Harry!" yelled Elysia, obviously back in her human form.

Branches tried to claw at him, to attack him or slowing him down, Harry wasn't sure. But dressed so heavy in fur, all they did was pull out tufts. Of course, the fur didn't protect him from everything, and when he finally reached the bottom of the hill, hitting it so hard that the snow that cushion his fall went flying. He felt like he'd hit every little rock on the way down.

"Wiz-kid," called Fenrir, suddenly very close. Cracking his eyes open, Harry saw a dark blur running down to him, dark against the snow. "You alright?"

Nodding, Harry sat up slowly, Fenrir not hesitating to help him. Besides the feeling that he had one giant bruise, he hadn't hit his head at least, and his once blurry vision was clearing. "What happened?"

Fenrir glanced back up to the top of the hill. "Some werewolf attacked us - I'm guess their trying to bring down Elysia for her rank."

"What?" squeaked Harry, as the sounds of a fight finally reached his ears, growling and snapping teeth and yelps of pain.

"Don't worry about it, cub," said Fenrir as he picked Harry up and started sniffing him for any bleeding wounds. "I gonna have to get you back home and have that old lady take a look at you. You probably hit your head on the way down."

"What? No!" said Harry, trying to scramble out of his teacher's grasp. "I can't go back!" He'd be forced to leave!

"Hey, calm down - damn it, stop!" growled Fenrir when Harry got very close to punching him in the jaw. "Girly wouldn't like it if I risked your health anymore for this stupid thing."

"No! Fenrir, please," pleaded Harry, "lemme just see if Elysia's alright? Please?" And then he turned on the puppy look that he saved for this kind of event. "Please?"

"... Aw, fu - I mean, fudge," muttered Fenrir after a long moment, running a hand through his long hair. "Fine. But you better protect me from the wrath of the girly." Not waiting to see the look of triumph on Harry's face, he set the boy down before transforming back into his wolf form, motioning for Harry to jump on with a jerk of his head.

Less then a minute later, Fenrir had reached the top of the hill. Harry held back every wince of pain as he realized how lucky he'd been. There had been quite a few logs, trees, and large rocks that he missed on his way down.

But those thoughts were banished from his mind when he saw the sight in front of him.

Snarling, Elysia, back in her wolf form, watched as a large werewolf with dark brown fur circled her, snapping its teeth threateningly. She wasn't putting any pressuring on one of her front paws, blood dripping down from it and staining the white snow.

"Who's that?" Harry asked in a mutter, not immediately recognizing the wolf.

Sniffing the air, Fenrir growled lowly, close to snarling, and that was all the answer Harry needed, since Fenrir only acted that way around one werewolf in particular. Logan.

"Can't you do anything to help Elysia?"

Fenrir shook his large and furry head in answer, reminding Harry what Jason told him days after he arrived - he wasn't allowed to interfere with fights between clan members. Hating that he couldn't understand his teacher this way, Harry slid down from his back, quietly watching the wolves as they got ready to attack one another again. Elysia was loosing more blood, and for a panicked moment wondered if his guardian would lose the fight, or worse, was killed. He didn't doubt that Logan would go that far.

Transforming at his side, Fenrir placed a hand on Harry's shoulder, getting his attention before he motioned to the fight with a nod of his head. "I can't do anything to Logan, wiz-kid, even if this is an illegal fight, until he's away from Elysia. But you can. " At the look of confusion on Harry's face, Fenrir went on. "Jason made you a temporary member of the clan, remember? Do what I taught you."

"But I can't," said Harry pitifully and with a shake of his head. "I'm not strong enough."

"You don't need to be," said Fenrir with a roll of his eyes. "We just need a distraction, so Elysia can get a foot - I mean, paw up. So... distract him."

Nodding slowly, Harry closed his eyes and took a deep breathe. He could, right? He did it before, he could do it again. Especially now that Elysia needed his help.

Not even a few moments later, Harry snapped open his eyes forward and raced forward, what used to be hands and feet pounding at the snow, and slammed into Logan's side with his shoulder, grateful that is was more out of surprise than his weight, strength, or side that made the large wolf stumble off to the side, falling into the snow with a stunned look on his face.

With a growl, Elysia didn't miss a chance when she saw one, surging forward and tackling Logan, while Harry leaped back, not wanting to get caught in the middle. For a few minutes, they wrestled for control, snapping at each others heels and necks, with one of them crying out again as blood stained the ground. In the end, Elysia was on top, her teeth hovering over the other neck, showing that if she just leaned forward, she could end Logan's life if she wanted to. She growled something to him, and then stepped off, giving the male werewolf the chance to scramble up and limp off, one of his hind legs bleeding rather badly, showing that he was in worse shape than she was.

Sniffing the air, Elysia stiffened before swiveled her head towards Harry, her golden eyes going a little wider when she saw him. "Harry?" she spoke as she stepped towards him, her voice slightly deeper then when she in her human form. "Is that you?"