Chapter 2

Beta Read by optimisticrealist72

"Happy birthday to me," Harry breathed out, looking up at the ceiling. Ron's snores echoed in the small space.

He turned on his side, watching his friend sleep in the bed across from him. He'd hardly had time to think since coming to the burrow. Molly had been determined to keep them all apart, so Harry had spent most of his time with Ginny, helping her get things ready for the wedding.

It was a welcome distraction, doing menial things once again, and Ginny was easy to talk to. Harry found himself exhausted when he went to bed each night, easily slipping into slumber.

Now in the early morning hours, Harry allowed his mind to drift back to that night. That had been his first sighting of Severus in months and, within that chaos, Harry had been certain that one of his friends would not be returning. George was lucky to have survived Severus's spell, and despite Ron knowing Severus's real alliances, Harry knew the man was going to receive a telling off when they met.

Those black eyes had glittered at him through the mask he was wearing. Harry could almost hear his mates pleading thoughts… mates? Is what that what they were? He remembered the shock he felt at still being able to pull on Severus's magic. Harry thought that everything had been severed when Dumbledore had died.

And he had cursed him.

Harry knew his mate was undercover for Voldemort and that the evil wizard believed that Severus wished him dead. If Harry had let Severus go unscathed then Voldemort might have suspected something. That Harry knew who was under the mask.

Had Severus known that was what it was? Did he think Harry hated him?

The full moon was tonight, the day he'd agreed to meet up with Remus, and the day Severus had promised to be back. He pulled the pillow close to his chest. It was selfish to want Severus with him today. He knew the man was doing important things for the Order to help him and his friends… but still, he'd never had a really good birthday before.

The door flew back, banging against the wall, and a mass of red leapt upon his bed. Harry's nose was assaulted by the scent of lilies; the perfume Ginny had begun wearing.

"Come on, Harry, get up! You can't sleep this late on your birthday!" Ginny pulled him from the bed, shocking Ron awake.

"Ginny? What you doing?" Ron mumbled, squinting at her.

"It's Harry's seventeenth, the day he becomes a man!" Ginny practically squealed, bouncing up and down on the bed. "Come on, Mum's made a special breakfast for you."

Harry smiled, feeling excitement begin to unfurl in his stomach. "She's already doing dinner for everyone tonight. She didn't need to do this as well." Molly had already asked him if they wanted to do something special to celebrate the day and Harry had been overwhelmed that they had thought of such a thing. Especially since it was Bill's wedding day tomorrow, the first of the Weasley children to get married.

"I'll be right behind you." Ron flopped back, head hitting his pillow.

Harry stumbled down the stairs behind Ginny, wondering why she still had his hand clasped in hers. The scent of warm pancakes and cinnamon wafted from the kitchen, making Harry's stomach rumble with anticipation.

"Before you get swallowed up in the festivity, here," She held up a wrapped parcel. "I wanted a little time with you before… well you know." She hid behind her fringe, her cheeks tinged with pink.

Unwrapping the present, Harry grinned at her. "A chocolate werewolf?"

"It was the closest thing I could get to an actual wolf. Look, I inscribed Apollo on a little collar," she leaned over to point it out.

"It's sweet, thank you," he pulled her into a hug.

Her hands rested between his shoulder blades, her scent tickling his nose. This felt different, doing the engulfing himself rather than feeling protected and warm in Severus's arms. It felt natural to be held within Severus's embrace, but this felt natural too.

"I wish I could give you Hedwig back," she sounded muffled against his chest. He held her closer, willing the emotion back.

"She was more than a bird. She was my first friend, my first experience with the magical world."

"We will make them pay, Harry." She looked up, her eyes burning with resolve. "You-Know-Who, the Death Eaters; we will beat them."

Silence stretched between them for a few moments.

"There was something else I wanted to get you, something that you might find useful when you leave… Oh, don't look surprised." Ginny pulled a face. "I know what you guys are planning, I know Mum's been keeping you separate, and I know you'll do whatever you think is best. I just wish there was something I could give you to help, or to remember me by or something."

Harry tried not to laugh at her frustration.

"The thought behind it means more to me, Ginny."

"Just… don't forget me."

There was an awkward pause between them, and Harry felt like he was expected do something. Ginny snorted and moved closer.

"Ginny, I can't." His hands grabbed her shoulders, stopping her from reaching his face.

"Is this because of Hermione?"

"Hermione?" Harry took a step back in bewilderment.

"I saw the way you looked at her at the ball. I know you guys are close, closer than you and my brother."

Harry folded his arms across his chest. "Ginny, I've just lost Hedwig, Moody is gone, Dumbledore is gone… I have a lot on my mind at the moment. There isn't any room for me to think about romance with anyone." As soon as Harry said it, he knew it to be true.

Ginny placed her hand on his face. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel uncomfortable, I forget sometimes that you're the great Harry Potter, destined to save us all."

"You're the only one who forgets." Harry leaned into the touch, grateful for the comfort. "Sometimes I wish I could be someone else, anyone else."

"But then you wouldn't be you."

Harry smiled at her words. Would he have still met great friends, experience life with a family as he did with the Weasleys, have a mate waiting for him?

"Come on, it's your birthday. Let's have a day all about you. It'll be nice not to hear about Bill's wedding for a change." She stuck out her tongue in disgust as she ushered Harry through the kitchen door.


Severus stood outside the Dark Lord's door. Well… Malfoy's door to their dining room. Voldemort had no issue using their home as his headquarters. Tonight was the full moon. Severus could feel Artemis prowling in his subconscious, eagerly awaiting release. Severus shared the beast's agitation; today was the day, the day he would leave this life.

Even if Harry wasn't going to be a part of it.

Severus had not fallen far that night. He had been able to right himself a few feet from the ground. His chest was still an angry purple, though the potions he created would prevent any scarring.

Harry hadn't forgiven him.

Voldemort had looked over his wounds with barely a flick of an eye. Probably seeing who is still useful, Severus had thought to himself as the Dark Lord made the rounds of his wounded. At least Harry had removed any doubt Voldemort might have had about Severus's loyalty.

The door creaked open ominously, admitting Severus. He strode in, robes billowing characteristically. His stride faltered when he saw only Greyback waiting beside Voldemort, still in conversation.

"I will be paying Ollivander a visit as Lucius's wand was destroyed…"

Severus' eyes were drawn to the red cloth, prominent around Greyback's bicep.

"Ah, Severus, you have recovered from your fall?"

"Yes, my Lord."

"You are to leave for Hogwarts at once. It is time you resumed your place as Headmaster."

"I am honoured, my Lord. But what of the staff there?"

Red eyes glittered dangerously.

"I murdered Dumbledore, they will not welcome me in their midst."

"They will welcome you as Headmaster if they want Hogwarts to remain standing." He turned to regard Greyback. "It is time my seeker pack was put to use. You will find Harry Potter and his accomplices and you will bring them to me. I understand the pack has grown considerably in size."

Severus was impressed to see the werewolf's eyes didn't stray to him. It was he, after all, who had helped round up potential candidates as they had previously agreed. Eventually it would be Greyback to tell Voldemort of his mating to Harry Potter, but he was remaining silent for now.

"Yes, my Lord, we are ready to begin our mission. We will find the undesirables."

"Start your search now. Use both your human and… beast forms to find them." Voldemort flicked his wrist impatiently toward the door.

Greyback didn't look back as he left.

"It seems a fitting gift for Potter."

"A gift, my Lord?"

"I always underestimate the hatred you have for the Potters, Severus; today is Harry Potter's birthday."

"Another year too many," Severus spat.

"Indeed. You will leave tonight for Hogwarts and then I will send the Carrows to assist you. They will be your deputies."

Severs waited, knowing there was more to the Carrows accompanying him than simple backup.

"When the Ministry has fallen, Professor Alecto Carrow will be your Muggle Studies teacher. She will inform the witches and wizards of Hogwarts how Muggles are to be treated."

"Like animals?" Severus struggled to keep the disbelief out of his voice, but his Lord appeared not to hear.

"Exactly, Severus, how alike we are. Amycus will be your new Dark Arts teacher. Come now, Severus, don't look disappointed. I know you've coveted that role for years. I do not expect you to teach as well run my school for me."

Severus bowed his head, waiting to be dismissed.

"Before I forget, Severus, I promised the Carrow's that they would be in charge of discipline at Hogwarts; a little incentive for them to leave my ranks and join you, you do understand?"

"Of course, my Lord."

"Good. Now remove yourself from my sight."


"There's someone here to see you, Harry." Molly's magically enhanced voice called to him. He was currently flying in the garden with the Weasley family. Even Fleur had been encouraged to mount a broom. Sides and cheeks aching from laughing so hard, Harry touched down gently and walked up the garden path.

As he was walking a small hope blossomed in his chest. Today was the day Severus had promised; had he come early to surprise him?

Scrimgeour was waiting.


"It is my birthday after all, Minister. Last time we spoke we didn't part on good terms. I believe you wanted me to be a mascot of some sort. And I believe I told you no. So unless you have a birthday present for me, I suggest you leave." Harry tried to push down his anger that the man dared to meet with him instead of Severus. It had been stupid of Harry to get his hopes up. As if Molly would casually call him to meet the murderer of Dumbledore.

"Very amusing, Mr Potter, I'm afraid I'm here on official business regarding Albus Dumbledore's will." Scrimgeour pointed toward one of the patched together sofas. "Actually, this concerns you and…" he looked at his documents, "a Mr Ronald Weasley and a Miss Hermione Granger. Would you be so kind?"

Harry held his sigh of impatience before getting up to call his friends. Hermione came in first, looking at the Minister with wide brown eyes. Harry indicated the sofa he was previously sitting on with his eyes. Ron was next, his face schooled in distrust as soon as he saw who was waiting.

"You were saying, Minister?" Harry asked, sitting between his friends.

"Dumbledore bequeathed you each something in his will."

"Dumbledore's will? That should have been read a few days after he died… why are you only bringing this to our attention now?" Hermione folded her arms over her chest, reminding Harry of the days when she would argue with a professor over a fact in a text book. "You wanted to examine what he left us!" she shrieked, pointing her finger squarely at the Minister.

She turned to face Harry. "They're hiding behind the Decree for Justifiable Confiscation… it means they've held on to and inspected whatever Dumbledore left us," Hermione added at their blank faces. "It stops dark wizards from passing on artefacts. You're meant to have evidence that deceased's possessions are illegal before seizing them! Do you really think Dumbledore was trying to pass us something cursed?"

"Out of all the people Albus Dumbledore could have bequeathed items to, he chose three students? I think my suspicions are founded… Miss Granger, was it? Everything Dumbledore possessed he left to Hogwarts, apart from these items."

Scrimgeour pulled out a piece of parchment, putting on glasses as he read from it.

"'To Ronald Bilius Weasley, I leave my Deluminator, in the hope that he will remember me when he uses it.' That is a valuable object. Why would he have left you an item so rare? To what use did he think you would have for the Deluminator, Mr. Weasley? What secrets is he trying to pass on to you through the grave?"

"Remember to always turn out the lights before dying?" Ron sneered.

"'To Miss Hermione Jean Granger, I leave my copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, in the hope that she will find it entertaining and instructive.' Why this particular book?"

"Everyone knows I love books. I'm sure it has a secret message somewhere that even the Ministry of Magic couldn't find," Hermione spat.

"'For Mr Potter, the Snitch he won at his first game at Hogwarts.' I notice your birthday cake is in the shape of a Snitch… why would that be?"

"There must be a secret message from Dumbledore baked inside it," Hermione whispered sarcastically.

Scrimgeour ignored her, "and Godric Gryffindor's sword."

Scrimgeour reached into a pouch around his neck and dropped a handful of thimble sized things at their feet. Tapping them with his wand made said items appear their normal size.

Hermione and Ron picked theirs up reverently, while Harry picked up the Snitch in confusion. Harry had just touched the hilt of the sword when Scrimgeour pulled it out of his reach.

"Unfortunately, it was not in the power of Dumbledore to give such a treasure away." He shrunk it and placed it back in his pouch.

"It was Harry that pulled it out of the hat in the Chamber of Secrets," Ron protested.

"According to reliable historical sources, the sword may present itself to any worthy Gryffindor. That does not make it the exclusive property of Mr. Potter, whatever Dumbledore may have decided."

"Dumbledore wanted Harry to have it," Hermione protested.

"And tell me, what did Dumbledore know that I do not? Did he wish to give you that sword, Potter, because he believed, as do many, that you are the one destined to destroy He Who Must Not Be Named?"

"Interesting theory. Has anyone ever tried sticking a sword in Voldemort?" Harry contemplated.

Ron barely held in a snicker at Scrimgeour's outraged look.

"He left it to Harry," Ron finally spoke.

"Be that as it may, Mr Weasley, the sword is part of our heritage, part of our great founder's history. It will be kept safe." Scrimgeour stood." I congratulate your brother on his upcoming marriage, Mr Weasley." He gave Harry one last stare. "I assume your answer still stands, Mr Potter? You will not help the Ministry in these dangerous times?"

Harry stood, feeling the anger seep out of him. "Maybe you guys should spend more time doing your jobs than searching useless artefacts for hidden messages. Did it ever occur to you that these items might hold some sentimental value for us? People are dying, Minister, Mad-Eye Moody is one of them… and you are doing nothing about it. You expect me to cooperate with you? Go to hell," Harry hissed out the last part, ignoring Hermione's tug on his hand.

"I know that Death Eaters have escaped Azkaban, you're no better than Fudge, pretending everything is alright when the world falls apart around you."

Harry laughed, full of malice as he watched Scrimgeour pull his wand out. The man was shaking with barely surprised anger.

"I'm the Boy-Who-Lived. You think you can beat me where Voldemort couldn't? Go ahead, try me."

"Everything alright in here?" Molly's voice was steel, her hands on her hips.

"Yes, Molly, I'm just leaving. Thank you for your time, Potter," he hissed before disappearing through the floo.

Molly waited for a few moments, looking at them all before wiping her hands on her apron and leaving.

"And I thought Fudge was bad," Ron muttered under his breath.

"What are we doing, Harry?" Hermione asked, letting the question linger in the air.

"Today we are celebrating my birthday. Later I'll meet Remus' pack. Then I'm not sure. Artemis is meant to be returning." Harry exhaled loudly, pushing all thoughts of Scrimgeour firmly from his mind.

"Artemis? You still trust him, even after what happened to George?" Ron span on the couch to face both of them.

"We've been over this, Ron… he had to make it look convincing to You-Know-Who. I doubt he meant to hit George," Hermione defended.

Harry tried not to feel smug about her words, but he felt a small flicker of doubt as he sat there.

"Harry, how are you going to feel about seeing Artemis tomorrow?"

"I saw him the other night, Hermione."

"That was in the heat of battle. You haven't seen him properly since Dumbledore died. It's normal to feel a bit apprehensive about seeing him again."

Harry felt his body still, his two best friends staring at him in concern. "If it's alright, guys, I'm going to go take a walk, have a think." He stood, shrugging of their cries of protest.

Outside the burrow he inhaled deeply, leaning against the closed door. In the distance he could hear the laughs of the Weasleys as they carried on flying. He knew it was unsafe to stray so far from the safety of the burrow, but he felt his back curving, his hands extending into claws.

He flew across the ground on padded paws, the wind ruffling through his fur. Apollo raced through the grass, loving the burn of adrenaline as it coursed through his veins. He sensed the end of the wards ahead and, as much as he would have loved to flee his problems, his common sense prevailed.

The wolf sat in the grass, feeling the wards of the burrow pulse with magic just beyond his feet. His pink tongue rolled out of his mouth, enjoying the coolness of the breeze on it. The physical exertion felt great, his mind free to wander.

How would he feel when Severus returned?

He'd been waiting for twelve weeks. Twelve weeks without any interaction with the person he loved. What if Hermione was right? There had been a little niggling doubt of how he should act when they were reunited. Harry knew that Severus had been… was a Death Eater, and that entailed some horrific acts. Severus had, after all, postponed the physical act of bonding as long as he could, citing his morals and the fact that he was a Death Eater.

Seeing it first hand and knowing about it were two different things.

Apollo whined and placed his head on the floor, pulling a grey forepaw over his muzzle.

If he closed his eyes, he could still see Dumbledore falling, he could imagine wrinkled hands grasping the air as he attempted to latch on to something to save him. He could feel the rage that had consumed him as he had chased after Severus.

A growl reverberated through his throat.

He had seen the memory, read the letter, but he hadn't been able to talk to the man about what happened. They would be alright once they had talked, wouldn't they? Severus was still coming… wasn't he?

Harry transformed back, falling backward on the grass. He breathed deeply for a few minutes, feeling the rise and fall of his chest with his hand.

"I shouldn't be waiting for Severus." The words pained him to say.

He had a job to do and that didn't involve waiting for his mate like a love sick pup.


Harry turned his head at the sound of Hermione's voice, watching as his friends jogged through the grass.

"Damn, you're fast as Apollo," Ron wheezed, collapsing next to him.

"I didn't mean to upset you, Harry," Hermione sat beside them.

"You didn't, Hermione. I hadn't thought about what it would be like 'actually' seeing him again. I just thought things might go back to the way they were before… I wish my life could go back to that. We had our arguments, but I was truly happy." Harry sat up.

"Yeah, we know, Harry." It was Ron who answered.

"I'm meeting with the pack tonight. I'm not sure what I'm meant to be doing. Severus told me to meet with them." Harry knew he could be honest with his friends and, as expected, they went quiet in thought.

"Does he want them on our side? Like an army?" Ron broke the silence first.

"No, I think it has something to do with Greyback. He knows about me and Artemis, he threatened to hunt me if Artemis didn't join him."

"Then it might be protection he wanted for you," Hermione gestured with her hands.

"Remus wants me to meet them so they can rally behind Apollo."

"In exchange for what?" Ron yelped as Hermione slapped his hand.

"I thought the same, Hermione. Remus said they didn't want anything, he just wants to help me." Harry pulled up a few blades of grass. "I think I would need to help them after the war."

Harry moved closer to Hermione, leaning against her. She rested her hand against his, and looked into the distance.

"This is the first time we've been together since we got here," Ron mumbled. "I'm sorry my mum's been, you know," Ron smiled sheepishly.

"She's worried about you," Hermione sighed, her eyes misting.

"Hermione?" Harry began.

"I cast Obliviate on them… my parents, I mean. I couldn't stand to have them worrying. They're not part of this world like your parents, Ron. They don't understand what it is we're fighting for, what we could lose." Hermione's face tinged pink. Harry met Ron's eyes over her bushy head, indicating Ron should move in.

Ron's eyes widened, his body language giving away his fear. Harry frowned at him, pulling Hermione gently toward him, guiding her head to the crook of his neck. They both heard the barely masked sound of crying. After a moment's hesitation Ron put his hand on the shuddering girl's back, rubbing gently.

"All this time I've been worried about myself," Harry began slowly, grasping Ron's wrist. Ron halted, looking up at Harry, understanding that he needed to feel connected to them both. "I couldn't sleep at Privet Drive. I had to keep myself busy otherwise I'd keep seeing it, Dumbledore falling."

He felt his own eyes begin to burn.

"I felt lonely, abandoned, and I could only speak to Hedwig. I can't explain what it feels like to be away from someone you're bonded to."

"Like you'd endure any other pain just to be with them," Hermione whispered against his neck. "I may not be bonded to you, Harry…"

"But we knew you were in pain over the summer," Ron finished, flexing his hand around so he could hold Harry's.

"I couldn't take you away from your families, not when I'm asking you to come with me." Harry squeezed Ron's hand. "I still feel betrayed by Artemis, even though I know the facts, and all I've been doing is moping about it."

He gritted his teeth, unwilling to let his anger rise.

"You've both having to leave behind things that are important to you, and I'm acting love sick and pathetic." His hand tightened, ignoring the yelp of pain from Ron. "We'll wait as long as possible, and then we'll leave, regardless of Artemis."


There is nothing wrong with doing it now, Severus thought to himself as he watched the grey wolf come to a halt at the edge of the wards. He stood, invisible by magic, but those amber eyes looked in his direction anyway, almost daring him to live up to his promise.

Had Harry forgiven him? Had he meant to attack him that night? His feet began walking on their own, bringing him closer to the burrow. This was the day he had promised, Harry would not shun him, he repeated to himself as he slowly approached.

Apollo was growling, the sound reaching Severus despite the distance. He halted, waiting to see what was wrong. Artemis looked through Severus's dark eyes, silently absorbing every detail he could about his mate. The strong muscled legs, the thick, glossy, almost silver coat. The patch of black above one eye.

The image disappeared leaving Harry looking anguished. Severus wanted to reach out, to cross the remaining distance and make himself known. He knew that expression. Harry felt lonely, forgotten. Severus had seen it before. Who was he missing? Severus? Albus?

His friends burst into view and Severus knew if he was going to do something he had to do it now. He moved through the foliage, intending to show himself, this was what he had promised himself after all. He was going to help Harry regardless of how the boy felt. A niggling doubt held him back.

Hogwarts. He had promised Albus that he would look after the students. Teeth bit the inside of his cheek. The tang of copper ran over his tongue. He couldn't leave Minerva to deal with the Carrows; he couldn't let the students deal with those monsters without some sort of preventative measure in place.

Harry was being embraced by his friends. He knew his former mate was in pain and despite every instinct telling him to go to him, Severus turned on his heel and apparated away.


Hermione showed him her work in the garden, the purple streamers gently floating in the breeze, the golden crabapple tree, all in preparation for his birthday celebration.

"Great work, Hermione," Ron shyly told the witch. "It looks amazing." Harry gave them some space, subtly watching as his two friends moved closer together. After a few moments they remembered that he was there, and they ushered him into the kitchen.

Harry looked around in wonder at the purple lanterns decorating the kitchen, bright blue seventeen's blazed across them.

"Happy birthday, Harry!" Everyone called after they gave him time to take everything in. The table was groaning under all the weight of Molly's food and at the end perched the fat Snitch cake.

"Don't just stand there, come in, sit." Molly pulled him by the hand to where a small mound of presents waited.

The faces of everyone he considered family beamed at him. Even Tonks had come, her hand resting protectively over her swollen stomach. Harry's eyes quickly darted to Remus, who smiled at him.

"Seventeen, eh! Six years ter the day since we met, Harry, d'yeh remember it?" Hagrid beamed at him.

"Thank you everyone… this means… well…"

"Come on, Potter, no time for theatrics, we all know you had crappy birthdays before this, so let's get to opening some of those presents, shall we?" George shouted from the end of the table. Harry smiled sadly; the twins were now easily distinguishable and Harry felt he shouldered some of the blame.

He reached for the present from Molly and Arthur first, surprised to see it was a watch.

"It was my brother's, Fabian. It is custom to give a wizard a watch when he comes of age… I know it's not a new one, but…"

Harry silenced his adopted mother with a hug, feeling her arms wrap around him. "It's wonderful, Mrs Weasley, thank you." He couldn't stop the cheeky smile from crossing his face at her blush.

"Open mine next!" Hagrid could barely contain himself, almost knocking his head on the ceiling as he moved forward to bring his gift closer.

Harry felt himself frown as a pouch emerged.

"Is that what I think it is?" Hermione breathed from beside him, touching it gently with her fingertips.

"Mokeskin. Hide anythin' in there an' no one but the owner can get it out. They're rare, them."

Harry picked up the pouch reverently. "Thank you, Hagrid, it's great." He slipped it over his neck, looking at it in wonderment.

Opening the rest of his presents passed too quickly for Harry's liking. He felt touched that people had bothered to go through such an effort, especially since everyone felt strained under the upcoming wedding. Everyone attacked the food with gusto; even Remus tore into the chicken with relish despite it being so close to the full moon.

Despite the feelings of family surrounding him, Harry couldn't help but chance glances at the door now and then.

"Who are you waiting for?" Ginny whispered as soon as it was safe to do so.

"Someone promised me they were going to be here." Harry pushed away his plate silently, trying desperately not to let this ruin his birthday.

"You care about them, huh?" Ginny asked, a knowing glint in her eye.

"Yes, a lot." Harry smiled as the cake was plonked down in front of him. Everyone sang and laughed as it took him ten attempts to blow out the magical candles.

"It's not fair if they laugh and relight themselves," Harry grumbled, accepting the generous portion of cake Molly gave him.

"Remus, are you alright?" Tonks asked, placing her hand on her former mate's arm.

Remus nodded, agitation evident.

"The sky is getting dark. The moon will be up soon. We'd better go, Remus." Harry pushed aside his cake and stood to go.

"Harry, you can't go out with Remus on a full moon," Charlie began.

"Harry is coming with me, it's something he promised Dumbledore," Remus answered, rising from the table.

"He can't go, Remus. You haven't had any wolfsbane potion, he'll be in danger." Arthur's commanding voice stopped them both.

"Harry, show them," Remus waved his hand carelessly.

He transformed on the kitchen floor, ignoring the shocked gasps from some members of the Weasley family.

"You owe me a Galleon, George," Fred nudged his brother. "I told you he wouldn't be a stag."

"You're a wolf animagus, Harry? But how? Your patronus is a stag, like your fathers." Molly crouched beside him, taking his muzzle in her hand.

"That doesn't matter now, Molly, we can explain later. His alias is Apollo and that's all you need to know for now. I need to leave." Remus bolted for the door. Harry could already hear the werewolf beginning to take over Remus's mind.

Apollo barked and bowed down playfully, rump in the air, tail wagging.

"Your scar would give you away…" Molly sighed, raking her fingers through the ebony patch. "I expect a full explanation tomorrow, Harry… Apollo," she amended at the growl.

Harry rolled on his back, whining a demand and Molly's face softened.

"Harry, you better go. Remus's pack doesn't like to be kept waiting." Tonks nudged him toward the door.

Harry leapt to his feet and swung his head to lock gazes with Hermione and then Ron. Nodding his head once to them, he bounded off into the night.