Finding Hope in Darkness

Chapter 12


It was Monday morning again, and Hadrian realized with a start that three weeks had passed already. Where had the time gone? He shook his head and settled down, leaning on his desk to wait for the N.E.W.T class to arrive. He had a special surprise for them today. Hadrian himself was itching with growing anticipation; he hadn't had a friendly duel in quite some time. Come to think of it... Hadrian hadn't been in a fight of any sort in months. It must be some kind of personal record for him. He smirked wryly to himself.

"Morning, professor." The first student greeted him mutedly as she sat down at a desk in the front row.

"Good morning, Miss Lawrence." Hadrian answered lightly. The rest of class trickled in after that, murmuring quietly amongst themselves. Once Hadrian had counted everyone present, he stood away from the desk and the conversations faded away into silence in a matter of seconds.

"Good morning, everyone." He greeted them with an eager smile. "You can all tuck away you books and follow me, if you please." An excited hush travelled through the class at his words, everyone scrambling to do as told as quickly as possible. "You can leave your bags here, if you want; we'll be returning here again before class is over."

Most opted to do just that, it seemed, as Hadrian walked over to the door. He was well aware of the students following him, as he led them down the corridor towards the classroom he and Flitwick had prepared. The seventh years all looked around with varying degrees of confusion as they took in the room. "Please sit down by the wall over there." He mentioned towards the furthest wall with a wave of his hand, where a row of chairs stood waiting. The students glanced at each other, before slowly doing as he had asked.

Hadrian however, unaware of his' class' hesitancy, was slowly stretching out his stiff muscles. Hm... he ought to get into the habit of taking care of his physique again. Coming back to the past had somewhat thrown a wrench in his training regime. When the door opened, Hadrian turned around with a wide, anticipating grin.

"Professor Flitwick. You managed to hand your class over to McGonagall, I see."

"Yes, yes. The poor children didn't seem to know what to think." Flitwick returned amicably. "Ah, good morning." He greeted when he spotted the class, all staring at him with dumbfounded expressions. Even the few Slytherins looked utterly baffled by the day's events so far.

"Uh, excuse me, professor Flitwick. What is this all about?" One girl asked, eyes darting back and forth between their strange defense professor and the small charms master.

"Hadrian!" Flitwick tut tut-ed disapprovingly. "You didn't tell them?" He turned to frown at the young man, who simply grinned unrelentingly.

"I figured it'd be more fun this way. And I hardly think any of them would want to miss out, even if I told them beforehand." And he then proceeded to shrug out of his robes, revealing a pair of soft, grey slacks and a simple, rather snug, black t-shirt underneath. Hadrian had chosen them today for easier mobility.

Flitwick sighed and turned back to the class. "Professor Orsus approached me some time ago, to ask for a dueling demonstration for your class." He explained, taking off his own robes. Flitwick had decided to wear more traditional clothing, which consisted of somewhat modified dueling garb. He smiled at the suddenly eager looks they recieved.

"Exactly." Hadrian spoke up, wand in hand with a quick, well-practiced motion. "You seemed to have a somewhat unrealistic picture of what dueling truly entails, so I sought out Flitwick to ask for his assistance." He smiled. "It is rather difficult to duel on your own."

"Why Flitwick, though?" One boy asked, as if mystified by his choice.

"You don't know?" Hadrian laughed. "Filius Flitwick." He introduced formally. "Charms professor at Hogwarts... and former dueling master." He gave the vertically challenged man a quick bow.

"Is that really true, professor Flitwick? I thought it was just a rumor." One girl asked unabashedly.

"It was a long time ago now." Filius admitted. "But true."

"That's brilliant, professor!" Mr Taylor exclaimed, eyes lit with admiration.

Filius had always encouraged learning in all forms, but wondered what the students would think before the end of class. He eyed the young man who was still stretching on the cleared space in the middle of the room, and his gaze lingered on his bared arms. So many scars for someone so young. His gaze seemed to draw the students' attention, and several of them nudged their friends, nodding towards Hadrian's arms as well.

"Shall we get started then, Hadrian? I don't know how long Minerva will remain patient." Filius smiled.

"I'm ready whenever you are." Hadrian said, walking over to the side, his back to the windows and facing Filius expectantly. Hushed, anticipating silence settled over the room as Filius walked to take his position. Filius and Hadrian both raised their wands in front of their faces, as if they were swords, and then bowed. Hadrian fired the first spell, the gold flash telling Filius that it was most likely an Expelliarmus. A good choice, he had to admit. He didn't have time to think much else, as the duel began for real.

The students stared breathlessly as the two professors fired spell after spell, dodging and shielding, all at the same time. It was... intense. With wide eyes, they took it all in, barely realizing that neither professor had uttered a single word since the beginning. Not only were they firing spells faster than they had thought possible, they were doing so silently. Sweat was beginning to coat professor Flitwick's brow, as the fight progressed. Hadrian truly was a formidable opponent, and Filius was the first to admit he wasn't as young as he had been.

Hadrian, in turn, seemed to notice when Filius was tiring, and fired off two spells almost simultaneously. Filius dodged the stunner easily, but wasn't quite able to come clear of the disarming spell. He watched his wand sail through the air in a graceful arch before Hadrian snatched it up effortlessly. It truly was remarkable, considering that Hadrian was blind.

"That was brilliant!" Several students were already on their feet, surging forward. Hadrian twitched as half the class circled him, and all his instincts screamed at him to defend himself. The duel had simply heightened said instincts and reflexes.

"Settle down!" Flitwick raised his squeaky voice, calling for the teenagers' attention. He could clearly see Hadrian's discomfort. "You never enter a dueling area without clearance." He admonished sternly. "Behavior like that could get you hurt." He informed briskly as the students returned to their seats.

"Why? The duel was over, wasn't it?"

"Yes." Hadrian began, voice strained. "But when everything boils down to it, this is a form of battle. And those who have done quite a bit of it develop certain reflexes." He turned towards them, mulling over the problem of how he was supposed to explain this in a way they could understand.

"Would any of you try to surprise, say, a retired Auror?" Filius asked kindly.

Most of the teenagers blanched and shook their heads.

"When you surged in as you did just now, our bodies might have perceived you as threats before our minds had gotten a chance to catch up, defending ourselves as if under attack." The old wizard explained. Most of the students turned to stare at Hadrian's arms. They all contemplated that a moment. Meanwhile, Hadrian walked over to his robes and quickly pulled them on. Flitwick followed suit and gratefully accepted his wand when Hadrian returned it to him.

"Thank you very much for your assistance, professor." Hadrian smiled when Filius turned towards the door.

"It was my pleasure. I haven't gotten such a challenge in quite a while. But I think Minerva is looking forward to return to her own classroom now." He nodded and then bid the students farewell before he left.

Hadrian turned back to his class. "Back to the Defense classroom." He stated briskly, leaving no room for argument. The students obediently filed out, staring at him all the while. Hadrian couldn't say he didn't notice the looks, but couldn't read their meaning. If he had, he would have known a new light of awe and anticipation was lit in most of their eyes.

He suppressed a sigh. He just knew he would be forced to fend a new stream of endless questions as soon as they were back in the classroom.


"What are you doing here again, Orsus?" Snape bit out curtly.

"Hm? I just thought I'd visit." Hadrian answered lightly, as if he couldn't hear the not-so-subtle animosity in the man's voice. "You know, to make sure you're not lonely down here." He sat down on one of the desks, facing the irate potions professor.

Snape let out a longsuffering sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Me accepting your apology does not mean I sanctify you barging into my office every other day." He ground out tersely. Hadrian said nothing. "Don't you have anything better to do with your time?" Snape finally sneered. "Like your job?"

"I'm done marking essays for the day." Hadrian shrugged. And then he smiled. "I didn't know you worried about my position, Severus."

"When have I ever implied that we're friendly enough for first names, Orsus." Snape fixed the infuriating man with his fiercest glare. If only the man had been able to see it.

He blinked. "I figured you were just shy."

Hadrian had the pleasure of hearing Snape -Snape, of all people- splutter indignantly. "I assure you, shyness is not something I suffer from!" He spat out vehemently. "And some of us have more duties than just a lowly professor, as yourself. OUT!" He had had enough.

Hadrian shrugged. "Alright. I'll be back another day, then, since this is obviously not a good time." He chimed happily, not concerned in the least. He could practically feel Snape's building frustration. "Just don't overwork yourself, Severus." And he was gone before Snape had a chance to retaliate.

Snape gritted his teeth, glaring at the closed door. And he had thought Dumbledore had been headache inducing. He took a deep breath, focused his mind and centered himself. He hadn't thought he'd need to use Occlumency so frequently now that he no longer had to worry about the Madman. Obviously, he had been wrong. The world was apparently abundant with mentally challenged people, and two of them just had to be here at Hogwarts. Just his luck.


"Come in, Hadrian." Albus called out, moving one of his knights down the chessboard. He studied the game he was in the middle of as Hadrian sat down opposite of him.

"You sent for me." Hadrian stated curiously. He hadn't interacted privately with Albus since before the start of term.

"How are you adapting to your new position?" Albus asked as he countered his own move.

"Are you playing against yourself?" Hadrian asked, a puzzled expression on his face, no doubt trying to figure out what he was doing.

"Yes. I find it is quite challenging." He answered absently.

"It's going rather well. But I keep having to fend off questions." Hadrian answered the previous question. "Constantly." He sighed, growing weary at the mere thought.

"Children are remarkably curious. It has always fascinated me how they can thirst so for knowledge and complain over homework, all at the same time." Albus spoke lightly, eyes twinkling.

Hadrian pulled a face. "If only you'd show your face around the castle more, I bet I would have an easier time of it." He muttered, not really putting forth any effort in his argument. "You're more mysterious than me."

"Have you been bothering Severus lately, Hadrian?" Albus abruptly changed the subject, the amusement clear in his voice.

Hadrian grinned. "I'm trying to make friends." He chuckled. "He's putting up quite a challenge, as you so eloquently put it."

"Ah. Yes, he's growing frustrated enough to seek me out willingly." Albus moved another piece, taking one of the white pawns. "I should have known you to be stubborn, having watched James and Lily argue for seven years before finally coming together." He chuckled, a note of grief sneaking into the otherwise cheerful expression.

"I have heard stories." Hadrian inclined his head, deciding not to acknowledge the other part.

"So what incited you to take on this monumental task?"

"...I realized that the man I knew didn't have single friend apart from you." Hadrian began slowly, suddenly somber. "He spent close to twenty years in relative solitude, surrounded by nothing but fearful children who clearly disliked him." He shrugged.

Albus, who had been in the middle of moving his white queen, lowered his hand again. His blue eyes fixed on the man before him.

"Snape could never wash his hands of his past, and maybe he wanted it that way. I think he blamed himself more than anyone for Lily's death." Hadrian continued mutedly. "And then he died at the hands of the one really at blame. After having been forced to kill his only friend and mentor, scorned and despised by everyone he had ever known."

Albus blinked. Well... this had been an unexpected turn of events. "You wish to change it." It wasn't a question.

Hadrian scowled. "Of course I do. I decided already from the beginning that I would change as much as I could for the better." He stated impatiently. Hadn't they been over this already?

"You truly are a unique wizard, Hadrian." Albus gave a faint smile.

Hadrian snorted. "You realize the irony of that statement, don't you? There is, in fact, an exact carbon copy of me running around." He pointed out with a bland smile.

"I do." Albus chuckled. They sat in silence for some time, while Albus resumed his one-sided game, gathering his thoughts. "So how is it going? Making friends." He specified at Hadrian's obvious confusion.

"Oh." Hadrian thought back to their last meeting. "I honestly don't know." He shrugged. "Snape's always been able to hide his true feelings, and I've never tried to befriend someone who clearly doesn't want any friends, before."

"You haven't considered that you might be coming on too strongly? Trying too hard?" Despite his amusement, he was a little worried about what would happen if Hadrian pushed Severus too far. The man was stressed enough already, with his new duties. Not only as a professor, but Snape also helped Aurora with the head of House Slytherin duties.

Hadrian produced a noncommittal sound in the back of his throat. "If I didn't, he'd simply ignore me." Hadrian said knowingly. "He thinks he don't need friends." Or thought he didn't deserve them; Hadrian wasn't sure which was more true.

Albus couldn't refute that. "It's a precarious balance." He said instead. "Push too little and be ignored. Push too hard, and be pushed away."

"I know." Hadrian breathed. He leaned his head back and was suddenly attacked by a feathery projectile. "Hello, Fawkes." He chuckled, running his fingers through the phoenix's silky feathers. "I don't think I've ever seen you this impatient."

"He had a burning day not long ago." Albus informed cheerfully. "I believe he's suffering from a burst of hormones."

Hadrian snorted. "Are you trying to tell me Fawkes is going through puberty?" He demanded incredulously.

"It's just a few days after every burning." Albus couldn't keep back the fond smile as he watched the preening bird.

"You are." Hadrian laughed. "Fawkes; the teenage phoenix!" He chuckled, scratching said magical bird under the chin, much to Fawkes' delight.

"Enjoy it while it lasts." Albus moved a black pawn towards one of the white towers, planning to try and overtake it in a few rounds. "He'll soon be his mature, boring self again." He assured. Albus ignored the withering glare Fawkes sent his way as the bird settled more comfortably in Hadrian's lap.

Hadrian, perfectly relaxed, leaned back in his seat. He ran his fingers through Fawkes' feathers as he hummed absently to himself. Albus didn't mind the company at all, and the only sound apart from Hadrian's humming was the occasional click of wood against wood as he moved his chess pieces. As well as the occasional war cry as they took each other down, but Albus' chess set was rather old, and didn't bother with such unsightly behavior more than necessary.

After some time, they were interrupted by Minerva.

"Albus! Haven't you started on your paperwork yet? I'm waiting for that report concerning the monthly food bill." She snapped, clearly irritated. Albus sighed and reluctantly put his chess game away, giving Hadrian a sad look.

"I'll leave you to your work then. Oh, and I'll take this chance to remind you, Albus. I'm heading home this weekend." Hadrian grinned, and then left the headmaster to Minerva's stern lecture on the importance of finishing his paperwork on time.


Hadrian was excited. No, that was actually an understatement. He hadn't been able to leave Hogwarts last month, because the full moon had taken place on a Thursday. The full moon before that had been a rather subdued one, considering the fact that Moony had used the night to get used to Hadrian's scent and form. This night, however, would be their first real outing!

So as soon as he wrapped up his last class of the day, Hadrian headed home. He walked over the grounds and as soon as he crossed the wards, turned on the spot and Disapparated.

"Welcome home, Hadrian!" An unexpected, but familiar voice greeted him when he walked through the front door.

"Alice." Hadrian smiled, pleasantly surprised. "What are you doing here?"

"Oh, Sirius had to head in to work for a few hours." Alice told him cheerfully. "Remus is in bed." She continued, before Hadrian could ask. Sirius most usually tried to make sure he was free the day before during and after the full moon. It wasn't always possible, of course, but he tried.

"Ok." He sat down at the kitchen table next to her. "So how are you?" He asked.

"Overall, I'd say I'm fine." She began. "But I'm beginning to feel like a walrus." She admitted with a good-natured grimace, rubbing her swelling tummy.

"Is everything well with the child?" He asked curiously.

"It's so refreshing to talk to you, Hadrian." Alice sighed wistfully. "You're the first person I've met in months who haven't started off on about how I look, or exclaiming over how large I'm getting." She explained at Hadrian's obvious confusion. "It's as if pregnancy gives people a free-pass to say whatever they want." Alice rolled her eyes.

Hadrian chuckled. "I wouldn't know about that. You seem healthy, at least." He could make out that from the feel of her magical core, even if he couldn't tell much when it came to difference in shape.

"Thank you." Alice grinned. Their companionable silence was interrupted by the arrival of two tiny elephants.

"Arian!" Harry exclaimed before flinging himself at him. Hadrian huffed and gave him a quick hug.

"Hi, Harry. Hi, Neville." He grinned down at them. "Are you having fun?"

"Yeah!" Harry took hold of his hand, Neville taking the other, and pulled him along to the stairs. "We're building a 'ideout!" And Hadrian was effectively dragged into Harry's room.

"Impressive." He commented as he took in what seemed to be a large pile of pillows, blankets and toys. He could easily make out Footy, as well as Brave, Harry and Neville's plush toys he had given them for their birthdays. "It seems as if Footy is getting crushed, cub." Hadrian pointed out. "Why don't you rescue him while I go and say hi to Remus?"

"Ok!" Harry answered unconcernedly, practically diving into the soft pile. Neville wasn't far behind and Hadrian couldn't smother a snicker as he heard a roar before he closed the door behind him. So Neville had figured it out, after all. He could recognize the slight difference from Footy's roar.

He knocked gently on the door to Remus' room. "Remus? You awake?"

"Come in , Hadrian." Came the muted response.

"How're you feeling?" Hadrian asked, taking a seat on the bed beside Remus.

The werewolf let out heavy sigh. "Like I always do on the day of the full moon." He muttered tiredly, rubbing his hands over his face. "How about you?"

"I can't deny that I'm excited." He confessed with a lopsided grin.

Remus chuckled. "It'll be fun." He agreed. "How's your week been?"

"Busy... And I think Snape is warming up to me."

"Really? I have trouble imagining that." Remus snorted.

Hadrian grinned. "Well... when I say 'warmed up to me' I mean that he no longer sounds like he wants to curse me when I go to see him." Hadrian had told Remus of his attempt to befriend the dour potions master, making him swear not to tell Sirius; he just couldn't see that going over smoothly.

"Ah, now I see it." Remus murmured, leaning his head back against the pillows supporting him.

Hadrian reached over and picked up the book lying in Remus lap. "What're you reading?"

"It's a muggle novel." He shrugged. "Something to pass the time with." Remus paused. "It's not like I have energy to do much else."

Hadrian said nothing to that, tracing his fingers over the cover. "So Sirius got Alice to babysit you?" He grinned, changing the subject.

Remus spluttered indignantly. "Babysit me?!" He glared. "Please, it's not like I need someone to keep an eye on me."

"Not until tonight, at least." Hadrian teased lightly. Remus took a swipe at his head, which Hadrian easily avoided. "What about the little monsters, then? Have they tried to bother you?"

"Not really. Harry came in here earlier to show me his drawing, but other than that? No." Remus smiled. "Oh, and they tried to raid my bed of pillows."

"Hm. They've built a large pile of them in Harry's room, which Harry insisted to call a 'hideout'." Hadrian rolled his eyes.

"I think he takes after Sirius." Remus said sagely, managing to hold the poker-face a few seconds before snorting. "He's two, Hadrian. What did you expect?"

"I don't know." Hadrian shrugged. "I haven't exactly spent a lot of time around children." Sure, he had had Teddy. But between fighting for your life against Death Eaters and Voldemort, and everything else, he had only been able to visit sporadically, at best. "But I'll let you rest now, Remus. Try to sleep a bit." And he went back down to the kitchen, deciding he might just as well cook some dinner for the kids, Alice and him. If the man was lucky, there might even be some left for when Sirius got back.


When Sirius finally stumbled through the floo, they had finished eating and Harry and Neville where sprawled on the kitchen floor, using the finger paint Remus had gotten Harry. They were perfectly enthralled.

"I smell food." Sirius said hopefully the moment he entered the room.

Hadrian sniggered. "Here." And he placed a large plate on the table.

"You're a lifesaver!" Sirius fell on it like had never even seen food before.

"So what was the emergency?" Alice asked amusedly.

"No emergency." Sirius managed to say between mouthfuls. "Just some idiot who had managed to misplace an entire stack of paperwork! Everyone had to run around to try and find it before Mad-eye blew a fuse."

"And Moody really loves his paperwork." Hadrian chuckled.

"You know, when you talk about it like that, I don't really mind that I'm going on maternity leave soon." Alice stated cheerfully.

Sirius grimaced. "Lucky you."

"Childbirth, Padfoot." Hadrian reminded him helpfully.

"Then again." Sirius conceded, returning to shuffling food into his mouth.

When Harry saw he was done eating, he got up off the floor. "Padfoot! Look!" He exclaimed, running towards him.

"Whoa!" Sirius quickly caught the boy's arms, keeping his pain-covered hands away from his Auror robes. "What was it you wanted me to look at?" He asked.

"This!" Harry held up a piece of paper. "It's you!" He stated proudly.

Sirius took the drawing, narrowing his eyes as he scrutinized the dark blob. He turned it this way and that a few times before giving up. "What is it?"

"He said it's you, Padfoot." Hadrian reminded with a grin.

"I made you too, Arian!" Harry ran over to the spot on the floor and then returned clutching a second painting.

Hadrian took it carefully, hoping to avoid getting pain all over his hands. "It's very nice." He said after a brief pause.

"Look at it." Harry insisted, the beginnings of a pout in his voice.

Hadrian sighed. "It's me as a wolf, isn't it?" He smiled thinly.

Harry nodded, pleased by this revelation. "You're going Uwoouh, tonight." Harry stated confidently.

"We're doing what?" Sirius sounded puzzled, staring expectantly at the two year old.

Harry made the sound again, and Hadrian tilted his head slightly as he listened. "You mean howling?"

"Yeah!" Harry sounded as if it had been obvious. "Padfoot, Moony and Arian."

"I suppose that's true." Hadrian laughed. Alice chuckled.

"What's howing?" Neville asked timidly.

"Howling." Alice corrected gently. "It means they'll sing to the moon." She smiled.

"To the moon?" Neville looked confused. "Why?"

"You see, Remus becomes really strange when the moon is round." Sirius began in a loud stage-whisper. "So we go to keep an eye on him when he goes outside."

"What are you telling them, Sirius?" Remus muttered as he made his way into the kitchen. "Filling their heads with lies?"

"I would never do that!" Sirius exclaimed in mock indignations.

"Never." Remus rolled his eyes. "Hadrian, could you make me something light to eat?" He asked as he sank into a chair.

"Of course."

"It's good to see you're trying to eat something." Alice gave him a sympathetic look. "Ow!"

Hadrian found himself going for his wand at the sudden exclamation, already on his feet.

"What's wrong?" Sirius asked, a note of panic in his voice.

"Calm down." Alice laughed at their distressed expressions. "The little bugger just surprised me. It's been kicking more and more, lately." She explained, rubbing affectionately on her tummy.

"Mum!" Neville skipped up to her. "I wanna feel!" He placed his small hands on her stomach.

"Of course, Nev." Alice chuckled, moving his hands slightly. "Do you feel that? That's your little sister or brother."

"I do." Neville wore a surprisingly somber expression for a two year old.

"Me too." Harry joined his friend by Alice's side. "It feels funny." He giggled a moment later. Hadrian snorted and turned back towards the counter.

"What about you, Hadrian? Do you want to feel the baby kick?" Alice asked, eyeing him amusedly.


"Of course he does. The rest of us already has." Sirius nudged him in the right direction. "Go on." He grinned.

Hadrian let out a small sigh and then approached the woman. "So... guide me?" He held out a hand for her.

Alice laughed; a musical sound that seemed to brighten the atmosphere in the kitchen. "Here." She took his hand and placed it on her round stomach.

Hadrian could feel something move under the skin. A moment later, he felt something nudge his palm, making him flinch.

"The baby likes you." Alice confirmed warmly, patting his hand twice before letting him go. Hadrian just shook his head and then went over to the counter. Remus might be able to get down a little soup?


It was dusk, and Remus was beginning to feel restless. Alice had left with the children a few minutes ago, and it was time for the three of them to relocate. Harry that made a fuss, wanting to come with them.

"I'll bring Remus side-along." Sirius said, eyeing Hadrian seriously. "You remember where we're going?"

"Of course." Hadrian rolled his eyes. "How could I forget?"

"Right. Just checking."

"Can we get going?" Remus interjected tersely. He kept glancing worriedly at the window and the darkening sky. "I don't want to transform in the middle of the village."

"Don't worry, Moony." Sirius assured him easily. "We're going now. Come along, then."

Hadrian locked the door behind them and then walked across the garden. Once outside the wards, the three of them turned on the spot and were gone.


Hadrian took a deep breath. The forest was brimming with scents, telling a story all of its own. He was well aware of Padfoot a few steps away, next to Moony. Their scents were comforting, reassuring and soothing. They were pack. Moony sniffed expectantly, before setting off again. Hadrian and Padfoot were hot on his heels, pushing affectionately against him every now and then; their presences were soothing to the werewolf, quenching the worst of the blood-thirst. Hadrian raised his head and could actually see the light of the moon between the dark tree branches above and let out an exhilarated howl. Moony wasn't late to follow, adding his deeper, wilder voice, making a duet. Padfoot lolled his tongue at them before joining the chorus.

Hours blurred together into running, howling and friendly wrestling. Hadrian thoroughly enjoyed it. He hadn't felt this free in years. Of course, playing with a werewolf could get rather rough, and Hadrian had recieved several knocks that he suspected would leave a bruise. Padfoot was bouncing all over the place, circling them and tackling both Hadrian and Moony every other minute. The dog was ridiculously energetic. Hadrian, being a wolf, felt far more dignified.

Moony eyed the wolf intently, golden eyes glinting in the dark. It smelled familiar, but at the same time, not. It's fur was dark grey, and it was covered in scars. He let out a contemplative growl; those scars hadn't been made by him. The black dog bounced into view, rubbing its shoulder affectionately against his side. The dog had been with him for many years. But he had lost two members of his pack not long ago, and he growled thunderously at the thought. Suddenly frustrated by the slow pace and lack of prey, Moony let out a blood-curdling howl, drawing answering calls from his companions. Despite the smaller pack, it was a good night.


"Professor Orsus?" Bill asked curiously once class was over.

"Yes?" Hadrian turned around.

"What happened to your face?"

Hadrian raised a hand to touch the faint bruise on his jaw, smiling ruefully. "Well, it's rather rough to play tag with a werewolf." He answered with a grin.

"A werewolf?" Bill's friend Michael sounded faint.

"Yes. I'm friends with one, and it was a full moon Friday night." Hadrian shrugged, taking a seat at his desk.

"But weren't you bitten?" The boy sounded horrified at the mere thought.

"No. We're pack." Hadrian shrugged. "And I'm an animagus, so even if I were, I wouldn't be infected as long as I'm in animal form." He explained, automatically reverting into lecturing mode.

"You're a wolf!" Bill exclaimed excitedly. Hadrian tilted his head questioningly. "Mum and dad talked about it at the end of summer." He added sheepishly.

Hadrian laughed. "It's not as if it's a secret." He reassured the boy. "I'm registered and all." He added, grinning widely; thinking of Sirius.

"Oh..." Bill seemed to contemplate something a moment. "Can you show us?" He sounded both hesitant and hopeful.

Hadrian slowly nodded, getting to his feet. "Sure. But I don't want you spreading it around too much. I don't have time to show every student that comes my way." He smiled. He walked around his desk to stand on the floor in front of it.

"We won't, professor." Michael promised. The kid had warmed up to him slightly as time had passed. Hadrian nodded approvingly and focused on his inner wolf. The blink of an eye later, he stood on all fours. Hadrian shook himself slightly, to settle his fur more comfortably.

"That's brilliant!" Bill breathed, staring at him with wide eyes. Hadrian focused on the two boys, easily picking out the colour of Bill's red hair next to Michael's blond. He took a deep breath and processed their scents. Bill's scent reminded him of the Burrow, somehow. He couldn't explain how. Michael smelled faintly of cat and more prominently of dust, as if he had spent some time in the library recently. A loud crash made him jump and was back in his human form in a heartbeat.

"What was that?" Michael asked, looking around expectantly.

Hadrian didn't answer, but marched over to the door to his office, throwing it open. "Hello, Peeves." He said evenly. He still hadn't come across the poltergeist, but had heard him from afar once or twice. "What are you doing in my office?"

"Ooh, it's the scar head." Peeves jeered. Hadrian was reminded of the poltergeist's nickname for him in his youth.

"I asked you a question, Peeves." Hadrian continued calmly. Peeves was nothing if not irritating. The small, pearly, slightly transparent man cackled amusedly, pulling another drawer from his desk, throwing it across the room.

"Orsus horsus." Peeves said in a singsong manner. "Why the blank look?"

Hadrian tilted his head, giving Peeves a sharp smile. "You don't want to make an enemy out of me, Peeves." He told him mildly. He was distantly aware of the two first years behind him, staring up at the poltergeist. Peeves simply cackled, attempting to pick up something else to throw. Hadrian twirled his wand between his fingers, contemplating something. Once decided, he grinned at the poltergeist and cast his chosen spell.

And Peeves fled his office to the sound of ringing laughter.