Shadow and Light
Shadow and Light
The wolf awoke to the overwhelming presence of human. Human flesh, human blood, human fear – the scent permeated the air. Human heartbeat – he could hear the low pounding even over their cries and gasps. Living, breathing humans – prey! He struggled against the manacle chaining him, ready to rip, tear, kill –
A heavy weight collided with him; teeth closed over his neck and dragged him away. He snarled and snapped at his attacker, biting and scratching wherever he could reach. He could taste the coppery tang of blood on his tongue, but the great black dog held its ground. Finally he detected an opening, but before he could get past his adversary, he felt teeth sinking into his side. He howled with pain and was answered with a warning growl. The message was clear: I will not let you get to them.
The humans were fast retreating. He made a last desperate attempt to reach them, but was again met by the dog. It was no use; he would only receive more wounds. He turned and fled.
The shadows of the forest closed around him. He found his way through thick undergrowth, between the large trunks of old, weathered trees. The soft ground was familiar under his paws, as was the fresh scent of the air in his nose. Yes, he knew this place. This was where he had run, many, many moons ago, with his pack. This was where he had played and wrestled with his canine companion, the great, shaggy black dog –
It was him who he had fought just now. The thought stopped him in his tracks. His long-lost mate had been there, but he had not followed.
He sat back on his hunches and, calling out to the dog, gave a long howl. None answered. The wood was silent around him. He was alone. Dejected, he slunk away into the woods.
Golden beams of sunlight filtered through the treetops, drawing patterns of light and shadow on the ground. In a small glade deep in the forest, a man called Remus Lupin stirred. His eyes opened, squinted against the sudden brightness and closed again. The sun’s rays danced on his naked back, their warmth seeping into his weary body. Gradually, he became aware of the ache in all his limbs. He turned over with a little groan of pain and felt the dried blood on his side. Good, the wound was not too bad.
His legs were shaking as got to his feet, but supporting himself on a tree, he managed to hold himself up until strength had returned to them. He pushed away from the trunk and began to make his way back to the castle.
What had happened last night? That was the question first and foremost on his mind as he forced his way through the branches. He remembered that the children had been near when he transformed. Had he bitten any of them? His growling stomach told him that he had not eaten anything. But had he hurt them?
“Professor Lupin! Where are you?” Hagrid’s voice came booming through the wood. He did not sound angry or frightened, nor overly worried; merely a bit concerned. Did that mean they were safe?
“Professor Lupin!” The voice was closer now. He really did not seem upset.
Then remembrance struck. Of course they were alright. Sirius would never allow him hurt them.
“Professor Lupin!” Hagrid’s massive body came into view. Lupin hurried toward him, for the first time in many, many years allowing a true smile to break across his face.