Chapter: 24 of 35 - Lycanthrope
Pairings: Asher/Anita/Jean-Claude, Anita/Nathaniel, Harry/Nathaniel/Draco, Harry/Draco, Anita/Micah
Rating: R/15 or NC17/18
Summary: Harry Potter could find trouble in paradise and when Draco sends him to St Louis for a holiday it's not paradise and there's lots of trouble. With dark magic, vampires, lycanthropes and more, who else could sort it out but Anita Blake?
Chapter listing: click here for other parts, publishing schedule and A/N
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling and Laurell K. Hamilton, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, Raincoast Books, Orbit books, Time Warner Book group, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings: This story is set post Harry Potter and the OotP and post Incubus Dreams and therefore has SPOILERS for all previous books. If you don’t want to know anything that went on in or before HP book five or AB book twelve do not read this story.
Chapter 24 Lycanthrope
Harry checked on Remus on the way from the bedroom to the living room where he knew the rest of their house guests were. Draco had put spells on Remus' room so the werewolf would not be able to get out without being let out, but after their tryst in the shower he had also explained that he hadn't let anyone else into the room either. Draco did not like Richard one bit, that much was obvious, but then the Slytherin didn't like a lot of people so Harry chose to reserve judgement.
The moment he walked into the front room a tall man he had never seen before met his eyes in what could have been taken as a challenge. Something flared between them and Harry went weak at the knees. If Draco had not been there he would have fallen over.
"Harry, what happened?" his lover asked urgently.
"Haven't a clue," Harry replied quietly as he dragged back his scattered thoughts.
"He tried to summon me," the unidentified man had to be Richard and he sounded annoyed. "I am Ulfric, no one summons me."
"Didn't do it on purpose," Harry promised as Nathaniel scooted from the sofa to take him by the arm Draco did not have. "Haven't got the hang of this yet."
Master vampires had decades over which to learn their power, Harry was faced with everything in days and it was all a little confusing, especially when he was hungry. Draco and Nathaniel helped him over to the sofa and he sat down gratefully, although his legs no longer felt as if they were going to give out.
"Get that rod out of your ass, Richard," Anita said pointedly, and when Harry finally looked up she was looking at the werewolf in a somewhat unimpressed manner. "I explained about Harry so don't get on his case because you're pissed that Draco won't let you in to see the werewolf."
Richard looked even less impressed with that, but the big man did not comment. Harry studiously avoided the Ulfric's eyes in hope that nothing untoward would happen.
"How are you feeling, Harry?" Anita asked in an entirely different tone.
"I was feeling fine, a little hungry, but it can wait," he replied and shook his head in an attempt to rid it of the last fuzz.
"Since you tried to summon Richard I assume your animal to call is the wolf," Anita said moving closer. "What happened earlier? It's not everyday a polite werewolf from England shifts in the middle of the living room and goes crazy."
Harry couldn't blame her for the sarcasm since it had been rather an exciting visit.
"I knew Remus wasn't like any of the werewolves I've met here," Harry decided he had to start from the beginning, "but I thought he must be a different type or something."
"How do you mean different?" Richard sounded suddenly very interested.
"Remus does not have a pack, he could not shift at will, and he locked himself away every full moon or he'd kill anything human," Harry said bluntly. "He had no control over his beast at all."
"Had, being the operative word I assume?" Richard appeared taken aback by the facts and for the first time the man looked as if he was listening properly.
"I found out the truth when I touched him," he did his best to explain while pushing away the emotion that came with the memory; "his wolf was in agony. There was so much magic binding it that it's no wonder our werewolves go crazy at the full moon. It must tear them apart to break through it when they can't do anything else."
The horror made him shudder even as he tried to distance himself some more.
"I just reacted," he admitted after a moment, looking at Anita guiltily. "I should have waited and thought about it logically, but his beast was in so much pain. I shattered the bindings, let his wolf free."
It had really been an incredibly stupid thing to do, but Harry could not regret that it was done. The torture Remus had been put through since a child was just so wrong.
"And Remus' wolf was itching for a fight," Draco concluded and when Harry looked at him his lover seemed to understand.
"It was insane with rage," he replied honestly. "It's been in agony for thirty years; I'd be insane with rage too."
Why he was defending what could have been the death of them all he had no idea, but it seemed the right thing to do.
"So you decided to put yourself between us and it," Anita sounded as exasperated as Draco looked; they seemed to have found common ground when it came to their opinion of his stupidity.
"I couldn't let you kill him," Harry wasn't about to deny he had been an idiot, but he was going to justify his actions. "It was my fault so I had to fix it. I'm a cat, he's a canine so the only hope I had was Philip's power to call wolves. I didn't know if I could do it but I had to try, and I found it, and I used it to calm him down."
"Are you saying without you Lupin becomes a raving psychopath?" Richard did not appear happy about the situation at all.
"No," Harry replied and made the mistake of looking up at Richard again.
Their power clashed, but this time he was ready for it and the backlash was simply uncomfortable.
"Sorry," he said, but even to himself he didn't sound particularly apologetic. "What I'm saying is that I used it to calm him down. I gave him a chance to be sane and he took it. The thing is I threw the on switch, but I don't seem to have turned it off properly."
"Jean-Claude will be here in half an hour, I'm sure he'll be able to help you," Anita offered and her tone sounded awkward somehow.
Harry did not bother to wonder why; he was too busy with his own problem.
"Who bound his wolf?" Richard sounded very unhappy, but the man had moved closer and Harry did not want to risk looking up at the Ulfric again to see how angry Richard was.
"Well it had to be a wizard, and I can tell you that no one would do that to themselves," he replied while trying to reason out the situation.
"I'm willing to bet it was the people Remus' parent took him to when he was attacked," Draco said, and he was clearly as angry with the situation as everyone else seemed to be. "I'm also willing to bet they do it to every new werewolf that comes to them."
"That's barbaric," was Nathaniel's succinct opinion.
Coming from Nathaniel, that was something indeed.
"Tell me about it," Harry said vehemently and found that he was in fact even more angry about it than he had thought, "and when I get home you can be damn sure I'm going to find out what the hell's going on and do something about it. If I find out who's responsible I will have them hanging from the nearest tree by their bollocks."
"The sentiment is noble," Richard sounded somewhere between pleased and reticent, "but exposing yourself to your government given your condition is likely to work against you."
"They won't know," Draco said with a certainty Harry could not argue with.
If he'd had a chance he would have worried about Richard's statement, but as it was he looked up at his lover and believed the Slytherin without question.
"It's the law," Richard said and Harry could hear the bitterness in the man's voice, "our bureaucrats have a full disclosure agreement with your bureaucrats."
The smile Draco graced the room with was rather scary.
"The advantage of having a family that has been dealing in illegal activities for generations is a network of paid lackeys who can surmount most problems set to them," the Slytherin said as if he was teaching a class. "The moment I realised what was going on I contacted certain people and Harry's condition will remain very secret. The Harry Potter involved in a ritualistic murder case in St Louis will never be connected to the real Harry."
Anita looked as if she didn't quite believe Draco, but Harry did. When Slytherins set about doing something, they always followed through, and the Malfoy family had very long arms when it came to making deals.
"Not even if he makes himself a nuisance?" Anita asked sceptically.
"That's just his role in life," Draco said with a much friendlier smile.
Harry didn't even bother to argue.
"I still don't see how one kid, no offence," Richard was obviously genuinely puzzled, "can hope to take on what has to be a conspiracy of some kind."
"If I wasn't me, I'd agree," Harry replied, trying to remember not to look up, "especially with the Ministry, but I think I just figured out why being famous can be a good thing."
"Fudge will still try and stop you at every turn," Draco pointed out.
The Malfoy family influence was still good in shadier circles, but with Lucius' betrayal of the light their political clout had been clipped. Harry, however, had a plan forming in his mind even as they spoke.
"Not if I tell him that if he helps we'll be seen as a united front, and if he doesn't I might just take an interest in politics," it was his turn to give rather an evil smile.
Draco looked at him for a minute and then laughed.
"If he calls your bluff you'll hate being Minister," was the Slytherin's succinct opinion.
"Probably," Harry agreed, still liking his embryonic plan, "but I could just leave you and Hermione to run the country and enjoy the perks."
"I suppose it would cut out the middle man," Draco replied with a grin.
When Harry looked up at Anita again it was clear she was not sure what to make of the conversation at all. Had he been anyone else, Harry had to admit that it would have been a ridiculous plan.
They had talked for some time about various details, and it had become clear that the American contingent were never going to believe quite how incompetent the UK Ministry was. A phone call had informed them that Jean-Claude had been unavoidably delayed, but by then Harry had found he could just about look at Richard without anything happening, so he was happier than he had been. He still needed Jean-Claude's advice, but it could wait. Anita's input on the subject had been not particularly helpful since she seemed to do everything by instinct and her instinct was working fine, where Harry's was not.
There had been some discussion about Harry feeding and Jean-Claude sending someone round, but Nathaniel had had a quiet word with Anita and then volunteered his services to make things easier. Having had practice at the whole thing now, Harry was better at controlling it and Nathaniel seemed to have enjoyed the whole experience, but had not ended up unconscious like Harry's first two meals.
It had been about three quarters of an hour after Harry had been woken by Remus stirring that he felt it again, and this time it stayed.
"I'll go in first," Harry said resolutely when they all arrived outside Remus' door.
"Why you?" Richard really could be a pain in the arse and Harry had had enough.
"Because he's mine," he hissed and gave the werewolf a good look at vampire fangs.
He didn't really think of Remus as his, at least he didn't think he did, but he was beginning to understand that there were certain ways things worked in St Louis and the pack was an alien place.
"And I'll take great pleasure in hexing you into next week if you make trouble," Draco added his voice to the persuasion. "Remus is the closest thing Harry has left to family and if you mess that up you answer to me."
Surprisingly when Harry looked at the Ulfic to see if there was going to be a row, Richard actually appeared to understand. Something of what Draco had said obviously touched the right nerve and the werewolf did not argue. Turning his mind back to the situation behind the door, Harry took hold of the handle and opened the barrier just a crack to make sure everything was okay inside.
What he saw was Remus sitting up in bed looking at the far wall with a rather astounded expression on his face. Slipping through the gap, Harry closed the door again, but Remus did not seem to notice him until he was almost to the bed. Once he was into the room he could see what Remus was looking at and he realised the werewolf was staring at his own reflection. Only when Remus finally turned towards him properly did Harry understand why.
"I've lost ten years," the werewolf all but whispered, and it was true.
Remus' hair had always been peppered with grey, but it seemed to have actually changed colour, back to its natural brown, and the wear lines Harry had been used to seeing on his friend were greatly reduced or gone completely.
"I don't ache," Remus continued in what sounded distinctly like awe. "Harry, what did you do to me?"
"Took away what they did to you as a child," Harry said evenly, refusing to give in to any of the confusing emotions that were moving through him. "Your wolf was hobbled. I let him out."
Remus looked horrified.
"But it kills," the werewolf whispered.
"No," Harry said urgently and took another step towards the bed, "no he doesn't. They taught you to be afraid of part of yourself, and they bound him with magic so he was always in pain, but it can be wonderful, Remus. The moon doesn't chain us, it sets us free."
It was obvious that Remus did not remember his arrival particularly clearly, and the man looked confused.
"I changed without the moon," the werewolf said, completely at a loss to explain it.
"We can shift when we want," Harry told his friend, trying to express the joy he found in his animal form. "They made it so only the moon could free your wolf, but it doesn't have to be like that."
Now Remus frowned and he must have remembered something about the attack because he looked aghast.
"Did I," Remus asked in a terrified tone, "did I bite you?"
"Yes," Harry replied honestly, "but it doesn't matter. Don't you remember what I looked like when you bit me? I was a lycanthrope already."
"Werewolf?" Remus seemed very confused.
Harry decided that half of what he was saying was not getting through to his friend and a demonstration was in order. Pulling his t-shirt over his head he then pushed his jeans down and forced his body into shift before he was even completely naked. It hurt, it always hurt, but there was an incredible feeling of power that came with the change in bone and muscle that Harry would never be able to explain to anyone who had not been through it. When he was the glossy black panther he jumped onto the bed and nuzzled at the completely stunned werewolf's neck.
Almost as if it was more an automatic reaction more than anything else, Remus rubbed Harry's head while looking into his eyes with a bemused expression. The low rumbling started in his throat without his conscious consent and he flopped down into a sprawl.
"Harry?" Remus did not quite seem to believe his eyes, and Harry knew that his friend would have felt the lycanthrope power, that had been denied him so long, in the room.
In reply he bumped his head against the werewolf's chest. He knew Remus was afraid of his wolf and that was something he wanted to end as soon as possible. They were not safe in animal form and they could not be complacent, but being afraid was not a good place to be. He knew that in all likelihood if Remus shifted now he would sleep again for a least a couple of hours, which would piss off Richard, but Harry knew his friend had never shifted consciously before and would be afraid until he did. Pushing out a little of his buried vampire power he did not exactly push Remus into shifting, but rather, he invited the wolf out to play.
For a moment Remus seemed as if he might control himself and refuse, but when Harry stood up, the werewolf's eyes changed to deep amber and Remus came to all fours. Remus was still naked under the sheets from his last transformation and a moan of surprised pleasure left the werewolf's mouth as he began to shift. After so many agonising transformations where the wolf had had to fight past the magic holding it a natural shift seemed to delight Remus.
Being a wolf Remus did not bring out exactly the same instincts in Harry as the pard did, but he still rumbled a greeting and then rubbed himself along the complete length of the surprised looking werewolf. There was human intelligence in Remus' wolf eyes and a wonder at the first true joining of wolf and man. Harry could not help his growl of approval when Remus stuck his head back and howled.
The door opened shortly after that and Harry bounded off the bed to greet first Draco, then Anita and finally Nathaniel in a very friendly manner, and bob his head at Richard since he did not want trouble with the Ulfric, but he was not quite sure how he felt about the werewolf yet. He sat down next to Draco and waited for Remus to make a move.
The wolf stood slowly and jumped off the bed, never taking his eyes from Richard. It was obvious that Remus was aware of what Richard was, but there was no suggestion of submission in the werewolf's stance as yet. Even though Harry had seen Remus in wolf form before it had never been like this. With the magical bonds released there was something very powerful about the wolf his friend had become and it was starkly obvious in the way he moved that Remus was an alpha. Not an alpha experienced in his power like Richard since Remus had never been free before, but the underlying wolf showed none-the-less.
Whether Remus would have been an alpha had he not had to fight his condition all these years was something that occurred to the human part of Harry's mind, but the animal part was far more interested in what was going on in front of him. Remus trotted up to Richard with an easy stride and sniffed at the Ulfric curiously. For his part Richard stood there and allowed himself to be examined, radiating power and authority like the wolf king he was.
Eventually Remus looked up and wagged his tail, turning his head slightly in the manner of submission; it appeared wolf and man parts of the werewolf had both decided to recognise Richard's authority. It was not a move of submissive wolf to alpha, but Remus seemed to understand instinctively what was required of him. Richard reached out at that and rubbed the offered neck in acceptance of the move.
Remus sat down and let himself be scratched behind the ear, tail still wagging. It was that which distracted Harry as his sharp eyes watched the movement. He couldn't help it really, he was a cat, and cat's liked moving objects no matter how big there were. For about five seconds he managed to hold himself back and then he pounced. Remus yelped in surprise and whipped round as his tail was swatted by a very large black paw.
Harry could hear Nathaniel laughing as Remus stared at him with a vaguely hurt expression in his wolf eyes. Harry tried his best innocent look, but he wasn't sure it would work in cat form and he butted his head lightly into Remus' chin to show he was sorry, before rubbing along his friend again. At that Remus wagged his tail again, which was what had caused the whole problem to begin with. The werewolf need to lighten up, Harry was convinced of it, and he really couldn't stop himself. With a bat at the moving tail he turned his head and twitched his tail in a manner to say catch me if you can before shooting out the door. He heard Remus moving after him in only moments and he dashed for one of the other bedroom.
"Yes, okay," he heard Anita say as the chase began in earnest, and when he shot through one of the en suite bathrooms back into the hall Nathaniel was waiting for him in mid change.
He paused for a moment until he heard Remus closing in and then he haired off towards the stairs.
"Claw marks in the furniture will be taken out of your fur," Draco's parting warning barely made it to his ears.
He was having far too much fun to take much notice.
End of Chapter 24
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