A/N: I really wanted to get this chapter out by Christmas but things got in the way. My company just announced they are closing my facility and laying off most of the staff, me included. So, instead of writing fiction, I've been writing resumes and cover letters. Which sometimes feels like writing fiction but not really the same thing!
A couple comments that seem to be a recurring theme so I want to address them here:
I've had several reviewers comment on the nature/nurture argument because of my inclusion in the story a bit about Harry's grandparents and how much Harry reminds people of them. That is not my intent. Old people tend to look at the younger generations and see their friends in them. I have a friend that has people tell him all the time his daughter has his eyes. He just smiles and accepts the comment without telling them she is his step-daughter. The comments from Sirius and others about Harry are their opinions not facts! I also disliked how James and Lily were central to the story but they were never fleshed out in canon as real people. I am creating my own backstory to provide a bit more depth for Harry.
Second, I am not British. (I did just send a resume to a London-based company.) However, I do try to prevent too much Americanism from creeping into my HP stories. It might be silly but this includes setting my Word dictionary to British spellings. For example in this chapter I talk about someone being in the "fetal" position but with the British spelling of "foetal". A common example is center/centre. So some of the spelling errors are not actually errors. (Some, but unfortunately, not all.)
6 July, 1995
"I feel like a bloody Malfoy!"
Sirius looked over at his godson with an amused expression. Harry was so much like James in looks and mannerisms that is was scary. He could almost hear Prongs saying those same words.
It was amazing how much Harry was an amalgamation of people he'd never met. In looks and manner he was James. His morals and drive was pure Lily though. Lily got her outlook from her mother, Rose, but Harry also had the iron will that reminded Sirius so much of Lily's father, Michael.
Sirius supressed an involuntary shiver at the memory of Mr Evans. The Marauders had played a prank on the Express returning to London after Fifth year. Several girls including Lily had been caught and suddenly added fifty pounds and a bad case of acne to their appearance. It was an illusion but most of the girls had been devastated. Lily had been beyond furious.
When the train arrived at the London station, the Marauders suddenly found they were boxed in a corner by an equally furious Michael Evans. But where Lily's fury burned hot, the Evans father burned cold. Even knowing the man was a Muggle the boys were terrified. In a low, dangerous voice, the man told them exactly what he thought of their behaviour. Then just when they thought it was over, Charlus Potter joined in. The two men took turns ripping into the boys. By the time they let the boys go, Sirius felt like a complete slime, Remus looked like a kicked dog, and Peter had pissed himself. James didn't lift his eyes for three days.
James made an embarrassed shuffle over to where the effected girls were standing watching the reaming the boys received. Lily was standing in front of all of them. James stopped just short of the girls and made an abject apology. He also told the girls the magic would have faded on its own in two hours but eating chocolate would cancel the effects immediately. James pulled a chocolate bar from a pocket of his robe and offered each girl a piece with an individual apology.
It was the last malicious prank the Marauders ever played.
Years later at James and Lily's wedding, Sirius learnt that Michael and Charlus became friends after that and would meet ever few weeks at the pub until the elder Potters were murdered by Death Eaters. The old Auror-turned-solicitor wizard and the shop foreman came from very different worlds but had common ground in their children and their outlooks on life. When Michael learnt of James and Lily dating he reckoned that no son of Charlus could be a complete prat and the boy had shown some sand with his apology.
Sirius never lost that fear and respect of the Evans male. To Sirius, Michael Evans was proof positive that his family's beliefs in the weakness of Muggles was so much bullshit.
And the grandmothers were not left out of the mix in Harry. Lily inherited her eyes, sense of justice and fair play from her mother, Rose. The Evans mother was the model for a proper English housewife of her generation that was both sweet and gentle while firm against any that she saw as acting against proper behaviour. In many ways, Petunia had turned into a grossly distorted image of that loving woman.
Dorea Potter nee Black on the other hand was Sirius' great-aunt; making James his first cousin once removed. Dorea Black had been the epitome of what daughters of the Black family were taught to aspire to: calculating, ambitious, beautiful, and Hell on the enemies of the family. The quintessential Slytherin student, Dorea was loved by and terrified her fellow students in equal measure. So it had been a complete shock when Dorea suddenly turned her back on the Black family's plan to marry her off to a political ally and instead wed Charlus Potter, the Gryffindor son of a potions master with a shop in Diagon Alley. Yes, the Potters were an old and respected family but not in nearly the same social class as the Blacks. Charlus had left Hogwarts the year before and had just finished his year of training as an Auror. After the marriage people were shocked at the happy, carefree witch that had suddenly appeared as Dorea Potter. Whispers started about love potions and the like. That was when Dorea Black reappeared and ruthlessly crushed anyone that spoke or acted against her new family. This included her own father. The Black family quickly backed off, accepted the marriage and never made any effort to disown their wayward daughter. Sirius asked once what she had on the family to make them back off. Aunt Dorea merely smiled and offered him a warm biscuit fresh from the oven. Harry may think his ruthlessness came from the Beast, but Sirius suspected it was just as likely to have come from one of the most loving people he'd ever known.
Sirius had once heard some Muggles in a pub arguing over what was more important nature or nurture. Harry never met any of his grandparents and barely had any time with his parents but it was so easy to see them living on in Harry, but their strengths and their weaknesses in to a package that was uniquely Harry. It didn't really matter to Sirius if Harry's traits came from some family disposition, his life experiences or some combination of both. But it was somehow comforting to see the spirits of Harry's parents and grandparents living on in the newest Marauder.
He had only been home from Hogwarts for four days and he'd already been to the Ministry three times. Once was to answer some questions for DMLE investigators on the events in the graveyard. The second time he'd accompanied Sirius to pick up some papers related to restoring the Black seat on the Wizengamot. Now here he was again only this time it was a hearing on the results of the investigation.
More out of ideal boredom than any true interest, Harry asked, "So why doesn't the Potter family have a Wizengamot seat if it's so old?"
Sirus snorted in amusement. "Because they were too honourable and too stubborn."
"Did you cover the formation of the modern British magical government in History of Magic?"
Now it was Harry's turn to snort, but this time in derision. "Were there goblin rebellions in it? Because otherwise, no."
"Binns was always a bit limited," Sirius allowed. "To make it short, the Ministry was formed after William of Normandy invaded and defeated King Harold II. Magical England stayed out of the fight but William brought several of his own magical followers, such as the Malfoys, here and made alliance with several of the prominent native families, including the Blacks. William granted lands, title, and trading concessions to many of his key magical supporters. William's magical council became the Wizengamot.
"Now the Potters were an old and respected family based near the border of England and Wales. Very independent minded – not that that has changed much. They objected to many of the new King's policies towards the separation of the magical world and the suppression of remnants of the old Druidic religion. So they were pushed out.
"About three hundred years later there was an effort to incorporate some of the leading native families that had been frozen out, like the Potters and the Longbottoms. The Longbottoms accepted, but Arthur Potter, the head of the Potter family at the time, called them a pack of self-serving idiots more interested in lining their families' pockets than doing any good for the people of the British Isles - but in much less polite terms. James showed me the quote once. He was very proud of that. Well, he seriously offended the older Wizengamot families and the ones that had just accepted the elevation. But they became really popular with the common magical folk and creatures. It was another 300 years before a Potter would work for the Ministry and none have ever worked outside the DMLE."
Harry chuckled at the story. He had to admit his ancestor was on target with his characterization of the Wizengamot. Even the families of his friends like Padma, Susan, and Neville seemed to spend much of their time defending their privileges and interests. A hereditary legislature was even worse than the House of Commons or the US Congress!
Harry wanted to ask how the Patel's had come to hold a seat but further discussion was interrupted when an uniformed Auror stepped out through a pair of heavy wooden doors.
"Mister Black? Mister Potter? The Wizengamot is ready for you now," he said in a polite tone.
Sirius acknowledged the man and the two wizards stood and followed the Auror back the way he'd come.
"Relax, Harry," Sirius said softly. "We'll be fine." Harry smiled wanly at his godfather. He appreciated the support and could only hope he was right.
Harry's first impression of the Wizengamot hearing chamber felt like a large medieval coliseum with the Wizengamot member sitting in four tiered levels in ornate chairs much like Dumbledore's in the Great Hall. Above them were some additional tiers for visitors but they had simple wooden benches. The seats curved for 270 degrees and created the feeling of being completely surrounded. The remaining 90 degrees of the room consisted of the primary seating for visitors. But today those seats were almost empty.
Candles floated at regular intervals to augment the light provided by a trio of gas-light chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The flickering light cast odd shadows on the seated Wizengamot members while the centre area where Harry and Sirius now stood was as bright as noon. A pair of simple chairs occupied the middle of that patch of light.
Overall, the room was designed to unnerve anyone called forth to testify. It was not a place for a friendly conversation. Harry wondered where the doors were to let in the lions.
In the front row of the Wizengamot sat Dumbledore and Fudge. Madam Bones was moving to her seat next to Dumbledore as Harry and Sirius entered the room. Harry didn't really recognize many of the others sitting on the Wizengamot tiers but did note Madam Longbottom and Mr Patil. Lucius Malfoy was noteworthy in his absence.
"Thank you for coming today, Mr Potter," Minister Fudge said from his position in the first row directly in front of the two Marauders' seats. "Mr Black is here in his role as your guardian. The DMLE Department Head, Madam Bones, has completed her presentation of the investigation into the events of the night of 21st day of June 1995. However, some of the Wizengamot members would like to ask some additional questions to clarify a few … er, inconsistencies that seem to have occurred.
"Madam Umbridge, our Senior Undersecretary shall be taking the lead in these questions after consulting with the concerned members. Madam Umbridge, the floor is yours."
The ugly, toad-like witch emerged from the shadows to Harry's left. Her formal black robes were trimmed in pink and she wore a scarf that looked as though one had poured a bottle of Pepto-Bismol all over it.
"Thank you, Minister Fudge," the woman replied in a fawning voice and Harry would have sworn she fluttered her eyelashes at the pudgy man. Unbidden an image of their possible young came to mind and Harry suddenly felt queasy.
"Now, Mr Potter," Umbridge started, her voice turning harder and shrewish. Her tone and mannerisms reminded him of his aunt. Now Harry had an image of Umbridge and his Aunt Petunia in his head. 'Oh, my god it gets worse! The toad and the giraffe!'
"Yes, Madam Umbridge?" Harry answered politely.
"The Wizengamot has heard about the alleged events on the night in question. However we have some questions on just what happened that allowed you to make your successful escape.
"Now, we have received some information on the dark creature that attacked your alleged captors. It was described as a 'monstrous werewolf-like creature' that used teeth and claws to wreck horrible damage on those men. We would like some clarification on just what it was that attacked those men." There was a pause while Madam Umbridge looked at Harry with an expectant expression. Her frustration built over several seconds of silence until …
"Well, Mr Potter, what do you have to say about the creature?"
Harry blinked innocently. "I'm sorry. Was there a question?" Now Umbridge looked a bit like Uncle Vernon. 'Oh my god! The threesome from Hell'
"Please describe the creature that attacked your accused kidnappers."
"It sounds like you already have a description, Madam Umbridge," Harry commented. "But since the only people in the graveyard were me, Voldemort, and the Death Eaters, I have to wonder who you've been talking to."
That set up an uncomfortable murmuring in the Wizengamot. Umbridge and Fudge looked annoyed at Harry's observation.
Umbridge turned to address the Wizengamot members.
"Members of the Wizengamot, this morning Oliver Gamot surrendered himself to the Ministry. He asserts that he and some unnamed accomplices captured Mr Potter because he is in fact a werewolf and they were concerned for the safety of the children of Hogwarts. Under the Werewolf Protection Act of 1990, parents and guardians of children have the right to act to prevent imminent danger to said children. The Act also exempts unregistered werewolves from protection under the law and are subject to immediate termination. So in fact, no crime against Mr Potter may have been committed here if their allegations are correct." This caused some more murmuring by the Wizengamot members. Harry was a bit surprised how many of the murmurs were supportive of the pink toad.
"And why was my office not immediately informed of this 'surrender'?" Madam Bones demanded.
"That is my fault I am afraid," Fudge admitted with an exaggerated look of innocence. "I felt it was best to have an independent review of Mr Gamot's allegations. Madam Umbridge and I questioned him extensively under my Executive Privilege just prior to this meeting. While the DMLE may be correct in the nature of the Dark Arts that appear to have occurred that night, the matter of Mr Potter's status is completely different."
Umbridge turned back to Harry with a triumphant air. "So, Mr Potter, are you a werewolf?"
"No," Harry simply answered.
Umbridge looked a bit shocked at Harry's simple response. "Mr Potter, we have Mr Gamot's memories that we can display for the Wizengamot. These memories clearly show you changing shape and attacking them in werewolf form. Now again, are you a werewolf?"
Harry and Sirius exchanged a brief glance and Sirius gave a little shrug looking bored. Harry smiled and then turned back to Umbridge while reaching for a small packet of papers inside his robe.
"I don't know these laws like you would, madam, but if you would bear with me?" Without waiting for a response Harry opened the packet and started to read.
"Under Section 2, Paragraph 1 of the Werewolf Protection Act of 1990, 'a witch or wizard is classified as a werewolf when they have a positive reaction to the Werewolf Identification Charm. A positive reaction is indicated by a red aura around the subject.'"
Harry paused and looked up and asked, "Did I get that all right? That is the way you wrote it, right? As the author of the law you should recognize your own work after all." Umbridge nodded in the affirmative seemingly against her will.
"Then we don't have an issue, since I don't have a red aura under that charm." Umbridge gave Harry a disbelieving look.
"I think we shall have to prove that ourselves!" Before anyone could object, the witch had drawn her wand and cast. "Lychanus!" Harry didn't dodge the spell. He just let it hit. A moment later he was surrounded by a soft blue glow.
"Yep. Still not a werewolf," Sirius confirmed. His whole tone and body language fairly screamed boredom and, 'Can we leave yet?'
Harry's blue aura caused an unsettled rumble throughout the room. Dozens of whispered conversations were breaking out. Only Dumbledore managed to simply sit still with a small smile and a twinkle.
"How..what…Mr Potter, explain this at once!" Umbridge sputtered out. "A blue aura is not a normal reaction to a real human being hit by that spell!"
"Well, I think it was because of a bit of accidental magic and my efforts to become an animagus," Harry answered with surprising candour. "As some of you may know both of my parents achieved the skill before leaving Hogwarts. I decided to honour them by following in their footsteps. I think my form was meant to be a wolf. In the graveyard I knew I needed some way to escape and survive. Next thing I knew I was furry.
"I don't think I was prepared for a full transformation that night," Harry added thoughtfully. "But now I seem to be stuck with it."
"And what do you mean by that?" Madam Bones asked while Umbridge simply glared at Harry.
He shrugged. "I seem to be stuck half way through the transition. Half-man, half-wolf. I understand that there is sometimes some 'bleed through' between a wizard's human and animal form. In this case it seems to be more than a bit. I am sure Madam Umbridge understands this issue very well."
The Senior Undersecretary of Magic recovered enough from the unexpected direction of the questioning had gone in to snap back at Harry. "And how would you suppose I would understand this?" she demanded.
"I'm sorry," Harry said in a slightly shocked tone. "I'd assumed you were an animagus yourself – a powerful witch and such. It is well-known that over time an animagus assumes some of the physical and mental characteristics of their other form. I just assumed based on your appearance you were a toad animagus." Many of the Wizengamot and the assembled onlookers broke out into amused or shocked laughter at the comparison many had made in private. However, no one else ever had the courage … or insanity to say it publicly.
"MR POTTER!" Umbridge shrieked. Her face turned a moulted red colour in her furry.
"What? I apologized for my incorrect assumption,"" Harry protested. Sirius nodded solemnly next to his godson. Years of telling straight-faced bullshit stories to McGonagall and his mother stood him in good stead now after what his young Marauder partner had pulled off. Mentally he was laughing his arse off.
"We seem to have gotten ourselves off the topic for which we have been gathered here," Dumbledore commented in a gently chiding tone. It was his first words since Harry entered the chamber.
Surprisingly, it was Madam Bones that spoke up next. "Unfortunately, Chief Wizard we do need to first answer the allegations made against Mr Potter. Under the current precedence of criminal charges, the crime of being an unregistered werewolf places higher than kidnapping of a minor – and as Madam Umbridge stated under the law no kidnapping was committed if in fact Mr Potter is a werewolf." Harry noted Susan's aunt seemed apologetic for disagreeing with Dumbledore but was forced to due to her role.
"We just saw the fact the Werewolf Reveling Charm did not result in the result as required by the law, madam," Dumbledore submitted gently. "Should that not be deemed sufficient?"
"Make him change!" Umbridge jumped in with a near shriek. "If he is a animagus he should be able to do it right now on demand!" The murmuring amongst the Wizengamot seemed to agree with the toad-like witch.
For his part, Harry merely shrugged and stood up.
"If that is all it takes, that's fine. Can I just say I find it disgusting that we were called here to discuss a group of people kidnapping me, sacrificing an entire family – a so-called Noble family at that – and using a dark rite to resurrect a Dark Lord but the possibility that I might be a werewolf is the most important question for you! Until you get your priorities straight you deserve to have to deal with Tommy-boy!"
Angry shouts broke out not only by the Wizengamot members but also with the witches and wizards sitting in the observers' area.
Harry had spent his last few years learning to supress the intensity of his gaze and the aura that went with it - first through the use of polarized glasses and then through mental training suggested by Padma. Now for the first time he released that control in a public setting. The din of the room suddenly dropped as they felt in the most primitive, instinctive portion of their brains the presence of an apex predator.
"You want to see me change? Then here you go!"
Screams of panic erupted when the Beast appeared. The new runes added to Harry's clothes by Padma and Hermione worked perfectly to banish the robes just like with a normal animagus. Harry stood with his head back and let out a tremendous howl. It was the sound of a predator ready for the hunt. Then he merely sat back down on his haunches and watched.
The observers bolted for the doors screaming their panic. The Aurors assigned as guards tried to fight their fear to draw their wands and respond to subdue the creature that had suddenly appeared but then they realized it was merely sitting there watching them. It seemed to be … amused.
When the Wizengamot members were coaxed out from under their desks, they found a smirking and perfectly dressed Harry Potter sitting comfortably with his godfather. Only Dumbledore had remained seated calmly with the Beast's appearance. A fact that didn't go unnoticed by many of the members.
As for Umbridge, the witch was huddled in a corner as far from Harry as she could possible get and curled up in the foetal position. She was almost catatonic but gibbering and pushing her fist into her mouth. A pair of Aurors quickly and discreetly floated the shocked witch out of the room.
It took five minutes for the Wizengamot and the remaining observers to return to their seats. Harry spoke before Dumbledore could call them back to order.
"So, you saw me change, stay completely in control and then change back. No full moon or potions involved," Harry said in a cold voice. He was still allowing his aura full play and many of the listeners felt a shiver at the contempt in his voice.
"You are correct, Mr Potter," Madam Bones in a still shaken voice.
"Then I suggest you people focus on the important points here: Voldemort is back and he's got his followers with him already. He doesn't care about your blood status; just his own power. I can guarantee you Theodore Nott didn't know he was sacrificing his life when he walked in to that ritual. And Voldemort might be the last scion of the Slytherin line but he's also a half-blood named Thomas Riddle. His dad was a Muggle and Tom was raised in a Muggle orphanage. So tell me how much cares about traditions he wasn't raised in.
"I hate to admit it but Tom and I have a lot in common. Both orphans of old magical lines raised in the non-magical world. Both of us have had blood-status thrown in our faces since the day we returned to the magical world. In his anger, Tom decided to destroy your little world and take power for himself. Well, you reap what you sow. Just don't go looking for the Boy-Who-Lived to save you when you can't even clean up your own bloody mess."
Harry stood up. "Let's go, Sirius. This was a waste of time. And we have other places to be." Sirius snorted his amusement as he rose from his seat. The two Marauders ignored the calls that followed them out of the hearing chamber.
Oddly enough, none of the Aurors seemed too interested in impeding their departure.
Albus Dumbledore couldn't supress a small smile as he watched Harry and Sirius depart the chamber. Harry had handled the Wizengamot as well as could be expected. Even he had not foreseen the "surrender" of one of the Death Eaters to serve as a witness to charges of Harry being a werewolf. But the lad had handled things better than many seasoned members of the magical political body.
Harry's final words about the Wizengamot members was unfortunate but somewhat amusing also. The boy was definitely a Potter. Those genes ran strong and deep in that family. Charlus Potter had been a few years behind Albus at Hogwarts but he'd known him well. The older Potter would have been cheering his grandson. It felt oddly soothing to see his old friend still alive in his grandson.
Then Albus pushed those thoughts aside. Young Harry had created chaos with his testimony and his parting shots. Now it was Albus's job to take advantage of that chaos. In chaos, there was opportunity.
At almost exactly 21.00, a pair of men parked their hired Range Rover in a small clearing just off a country lane somewhere in the north of the village of Greenhow Hill. The sun sat low on the horizon where it blazed in an orange-red glory with some low clouds framing it. In twenty minutes it would set and this remote area would soon be left in total darkness. The clearing they'd parked in hosted more than twenty other vehicles including several cars, motorcycles and a few Lorries. The Range Rover the older man had hired for the drive from London was definitely on the higher end of the spectrum.
"Well, let's be off," the older man said. "The Gathering will be just over that rise. We need to make sure we are seen as being there before the sun sets completely." The two men started to walk.
"Now remember, tonight starts with something of a reunion banquet. It's the only time that all of the Packs meet in one place so it's a chance for most of the werewolves to catch up. At midnight the meeting starts between the Alphas but everyone stays to watch. I want to have you meet at least a few of the 'friendlier' Alphas before the meeting starts. Last night was the First Quarter of the moon's cycle. The full moon is on the 12th. That night the Packs hunt as one. Between then and now, we have to get the Alphas to either accept you as a Pack member with full Pack rights or say you are an Animagus outside the Pack. Fenis and his allies will try to cast you as an abomination or flawed wolf. We really won't know the Alphas' decision until we arrive for the hunt. Plus, this month is a 'Super Moon'; that means the moon is both at its closest point to the Earth and a full moon at the same time. It's a double-whammy for werewolves and will make them even more vicious than normal. As a Pack member you'll be safe and an animagus would probably be safe. Anything else and we have a fight on our hands."
Harry merely nodded and made the appropriate noises to indicate his understanding of Remus's explanation. This was the fourth time the older Marauder made the same speech. Harry reckoned it was simply nerves and resisted the impulse to roll his eyes and make a snarky comment.
Ahead of them Harry could hear a number of people talking and laughing. An enhanced sense of smell was not required to smell the wood smoke coming from the large bonfire that was burning. Unlike the Wizengamot earlier that day, here Harry had no real plan. The Wizengamot had rules, procedures, and tradition could be predicted and manipulated. Dumbledore wove a magic there almost equal to what he could do with a wand. True, Harry had lost some in the forced revelations on his animagus status but they had managed to mitigate that damage and keep the focus on Tom's return. With the werewolves that had no firm plan or allies to support a plan if it did exist.
By now Harry was sure the Packs had heard about the Wizengamot meeting and Harry's revelation. Remus had no idea how the Packs would react to that information. They had to play it by ear and hope for the best.
Remus and Harry entered the large clearing just at sunset with the sun setting to their backs. Harry appreciated that as it gave him time to look over the gathering while preventing anyone looking at him from seeing any details.
The clearing was dominated by a huge bonfire filling the centre. It was at least three metres high and the fire blazed brightly. Harry wondered if it was a magical fire or petrol-fuelled it burned so bright and hot. The perimeter of the clearing was lit by torches on long poles. Clustered near some of the torches were heavily-laden tables filled with food; mostly meats of various types. Harry could easily detect the scents of beef, venison, and pork. Smaller campfires with logs for benches were located not too far from these tables.
But the most remarkable thing was the people to be found within that clearing. Harry reckoned there were close to 200 people standing, dancing, and talking around the fires and tables. Harry was slightly surprised to see that roughly half of them were women. Most of the crowd wore the rougher clothing of outdoorsmen but Harry spotted a few in more traditional kilts and others dressed in Muggle biker jeans and leathers. Not a sign of fine clothing or court shoes in sight.
The pair walked down and into the crowd of people. Most stood in small clusters talking and laughing. It felt like a reunion of sorts to Harry. As Remus and Harry passed several of the groups, Harry noted that while several people gave Remus simple nods of greeting, their gazes at him were speculative and almost openly hostile.
Harry was still taking in the sights and trying to get his bearings when he noticed a solitary man approaching. He was not the largest of the men about but he had an air about him. Something about the dark-haired man seemed familiar too. The man came to a stop a safe distance from Harry and Remus. Near enough to talk but not close enough for a surprise physical attack.
"So you're the one that gave my nephew such a hard time," the man said with a light Irish accent. The werewolf looked like a construction worker wearing a flannel shirt and well-worn jeans. His hands were rough from work and strong. While the man seemed friendly, something about him made the Beast wary and cautious. Then Harry had a moment of epiphany.
This man was an Alpha.
From his position next to and just behind Harry, Remus said, "Harry, may I introduce you to Ian, Alpha of Mic tíre na hÉireann. Ian, I introduce you to Harry Potter." Harry remembered from Remus's briefings that this was literally the 'Wolves of Ireland'.
The man nodded at Remus's introduction. "Well met, young Harry. I've heard much about you."
"It is my pleasure, sir," Harry commented with a returned nod of his own. Shaking hands was too dangerous between werewolves so a respectful nod was the polite replacement. "May I ask who your nephew is?"
The Irish werewolf smiled broadly. "You may indeed. Roger Davies is the son of my older brother. Good lad. I saw the pictures you took after the Yule Ball."
In spite of the seriousness of the situation, Harry snickered. Poor Roger had been so overwhelmed by Fleur's aura at the Yule Ball that by the end he looked like a St Bernard with all the drool running down his cheeks. Certain pictures of the Seventh year complete with a dog collar, traditional flask, and floppy dog ears were taken. Harry particularly loved the ones where it appeared Roger was on all fours following Fleur around on a leash. (Fleur hadn't actually loosened up at that point so it was the magical equivalent of Photoshopped.)
"That was a good night," Harry admitted. "Roger was a good bloke about it. Do you see Roger often – with you being in Ireland I mean?"
The Alpha wolf smiled. "I know what you meant. No, not as often as I'd like. Me getting bit was quickly public knowledge so my Da saw that he had no choice but to publicly kick me out of the Family. But the family (small F) never turned their back on me. Da set me up with a business in Dublin so I had no complaints. We still meet up when they're on holiday out of Britain.
"Oh, and here is Roger's cousin now. Colleen, come here now lass and meet your cousin's friend!"
From out of the crowd emerged a young woman. Harry guessed she was about fourteen with a long, lean build and was only a couple inches shorter than he was. She had a dark red head of hair and her eyes seemed to reflect the fury of the bonfire. Her entire body language spoke of a hair trigger temper. All together it reminded him of the looks of s young Maureen O'Hara with the personality of many of her film characters.
Harry wasn't sure if he should be impressed or run for the hills.
"Father," the girl acknowledged Ian. "You called me." There was a savage undertone to her sweet Irish lilt that promised violence on anyone that disturbed her for less than serious reasons.
The man ignored his daughter's tone saying, "I wanted you to meet Harry Potter and Remus Lupin. Harry is a friend of your cousin's."
"You called me over here for a pair of omegas?" the teen growled. Omegas were the lowest of the pack hierarchy. Abused, attacked, and provided the least in the pack. Few survived for long unless they managed to raise their status somehow. Even rogues were seen as at least having the courage to break from the pack.
It reminded Harry far too much of his early years at the Dursleys. The Beast's instincts screamed for a response.
One of Harry's hands suddenly shot out and wrapped around the girl's throat. With little effort he lifted her and threw her several feet away into the dust.
"Try that again, little girl," he growled back letting some of the Beast out. Harry could feel the crowd watching them intently while seemingly minding their own business.
Colleen moved quickly back to her feet and looked ready to rip out Harry's throat. But a barked order from Ian brought her to his side. Then he turned to Harry.
"My apologies for my daughter. She is a bit of a bitch some times." Ian grinned at his own double entendre.
"I apologize for allowing my anger to get the best of me," Harry replied in a calm voice. Inside he was anything but calm. If Ian had taken his action as an insult to his Pack it could have been disastrous. Remus had mentioned Ian as one of the two Alphas most likely to support Harry even before the link to Roger was revealed.
"Nonsense," Ian waved Harry's apology off with a laugh. "I spoil the girl way too much and it is good for her to see that what I allow her would not be tolerated by another Alpha." Harry's breath caught when he realized the man had referred to Harry as an Alpha. Something told Harry that the other werewolves surrounding him and listening in had caught it too. Harry glanced past Ian where Colleen stood glaring daggers at him.
'Have to watch my throat around that one,' Harry thought whimsically as the realization that the Packs weren't going to instantly try to kill him and Remus. 'The Packs might not want to kill me right now but she still does.' It was oddly reassuring.
"I warned you about that when she was just a cub, Ian," a new voice commented.
A new man appeared near both Harry and Ian but equidistant from both forming a triangle. The newcomer was a taller, older man with dusty skin and snow white hair. He wore short sleeves with thick muscular arms covered in a dense layer of equally white hair. The man was trailed by two women. One was a woman of about the same age but a jovial smile that reminded Harry of Professor Sprout. The other was Charisa, the werewolf from Diagon Alley.
'He's almost as hairy as the Beast,' Harry observed of the man.
"Dyfed," Ian said in welcome. "Be known to Harry Potter. Harry, meet Dyfed of the Glyndwr Pack.
"Well met, Harry," Dyfed said with a polite nod that Harry returned. "The Potters have always been … cordial neighbours to my Pack." That surprised Harry.
"I am sorry. We are neighbours?" Harry asked. Dyfed shot Remus a glance before answering Harry.
"The Potters own a fair bit of land astride the English-Welsh border. More of it on the Welsh side fortunately. Under Muggle names my Pack owns much of the land nearby. We've been buying it up for close to 100 years. Your grand-da and his da helped my predecessors and failed to mention it to the bloody Ministry and their ilk." Harry was a bit confused by that comment.
"But my family lived in Godric's Hollow…"
"Aye, they did. But that didn't keep them from owning the land still," Dyfed replied. "Your great grand-da was friends with the Alpha of the Pack. He allowed the Pack to run on Potter land at will. Its why we let young Remus there to visit us without forcing him to join a Pack."
Remus looked as stunned as Harry at the news. Harry was proud of his Potter ancestors and offered them a silent prayer of thanksgiving for their generosity. He suspected their friendship with the Pack was going to pay him off with interest today if his assessment of the Glyndwr Alpha was even near close.
"I didn't know that," Harry said in honest surprise. "Did you know my grandfather?" The older werewolf nodded with a wide grin.
"Good man for a wizard. Horrible cheat at poker. Man could bluff the devil; never play cards with a solicitor, boy." Harry grinned in response to the obvious humour and respect in the man's voice.
Dyfed now gestured to the older woman with him. "Harry Potter, allow me to introduce my wife and the Alpha Bitch of Glyndwr, Marisol. And you've meet her number two, Charisa."
"Madam Marisol, it is my pleasure to meet you," Harry started courteously. He was interrupted by her delighted laughter.
"No, no, no, Harry. It's just Marisol here with the Packs. There's not that many of us that we really need to use last names and we have our own form of courtesy. Being addressed like we were normal is actually something of an insult." In spite of Marisol's friendly words and demeanour, Harry could see a spine of steel in the woman. He suspected that if crossed, Marisol would make McGonagall look a milksop. Harry also caught the flash of anger when she said 'normal'.
'Looks like Colleen and Charisa aren't the only angry she-wolves,' Harry thought. Remus seemed resigned to how the Magical world treated him and the two Alphas seemed not to care. But based on those Harry had met, it seemed female werewolves were furious!
"Sorry Marisol," Harry said with a smile. "Remus has been bringing me up on Pack etiquette. I must have missed that." Marisol laughed.
"Oh, tosh! No male every cared a whit about manners without a female there giving him a reason to!" The females surrounding the small group now laughed in agreement. Dyfed gave his wife a glance before turning back to Harry.
"Here's a lesson for you, young Harry. Let your female take the lead in the unimportant stuff. Then they leave the things that truly matter in our hands." This was a gruff laugh of agreement from the male werewolves while Ian grinned at his daughter. Dyfed and Marisol were now glaring at each other with their teeth in a snarl.
"Not sure if they're going to ripe each other's throats out or their clothes off," Harry heard someone say. That sounded like something that Sirius would've said. Then Harry realized everyone was staring at him. 'Oh shit, did I say that?'
Harry was rapidly thinking of some way to apologize while cursing his dog-father when Dyfed and Ian burst out laughing. Quickly the surrounding crowd, both male and female, joined in.
"Sometimes we're not sure either!" Dyfed admitted still laughing.
Now the crowd broke back into groups socializing and eating. The two Alphas wandered off together leaving Harry talking to various werewolves that Remus introduced. Harry did his best to talk to as many as possible but he never did get a chance to talk to the other Alphas. He did get to talk to werewolves from every Pack save the Greyback Pack. Harry also noticed that Marisol said somewhere nearby and seemed to be observing him while talking with an ever changing circle of women.
This continued until a horn sounded. It was an old-fashioned horn made from what was literally a ram's horn. The crowd immediately moved towards the bonfire.
"Well done, Harry," Remus murmured with a small smile as they moved with the crowd. "I wouldn't have suggested acting like Sirius to break the ice but it seems to have worked. I think you impressed them."
"I know," Harry answered back with a whisper. "Just don't tell Padfoot or he'll never let us live this down." Remus responded with a chuckle and clapped Harry gently on the shoulder.
"COME!" a voice boomed out. "COME NOW TO DEAL WITH THE FALSE WOLF! THEN WE CAN SEE TO THE PROPER BUSINESS OF SUPPORTING THE ONLY WIZARD THAT CAN GIVE US OUR TRUE POWER!"
Through the crowd Harry could see a huge, grizzled looking man in rough, dirty clothing. Even from a distance Harry could see the sickly yellow eyes and he could sense the madness inside of them.
Fenir Greyback had arrived at the Gathering.