The Hinkypunk's Lure
Wednesday, November 11, 1981. Beneath the full moon.
The Wolf does not know past or future, does not understand the nuances of betrayal or the depth of grief.
He knows only that he is in pain.
He knows the pain comes from his Other somehow, and it is not a pain that can be soothed in cool waters or drowned in the blood of prey. It eats at his very mind, like rat gnawing only to sharpen its teeth. The Wolf wants find it, kill it, but he cannot reach it, cannot push his claws through his skull to drag it out into the moonlight and rip it to bloody shreds.
Instead, he throws his head back and howls, trying to force the pain out of his mouth and into the sky. It doesn't go. He slashes savagely at a yew tree, dropping several bowtruckles from their high limbs. He smashes two of them against a rock, and the others jump back into the yew for protection.
The Wolf howls again, crying out for his strange pack, remembering but not understanding what his Other knew before coming to this place. All he knows is that the pack has abandoned him, left him alone in the dark, and he wants them back.
His throat is raw from howling, but still it is his mind that hurts most deeply--the ravening creature inside his head is gorging itself on his pain, and he will run rabid if it doesn't stop. Another howl, hoarse, is ripped from him, but it does no good.
Acting on instinct, for instinct is all he understands, the Wolf gashes at his head with one long claw, loosing a flow of blood from behind his ear. The pain does not come out with it.
Beside him are the wooden bodies of the bowtruckles, dashed upon a rock, their sap running freely. He sniffs them. They are dead, and he cannot eat them. But he can see that they have burst open.
The Wolf ponders this in his slow way, seeking the connection he is trying to make, but when he understands, there is nothing slow about taking action. The pain must be driven from his head.
He backs away for several meters, then runs forward at top speed, crashing into the rock with a horrible crunch, then the moon is gone from the sky, the stars fall behind a red veil, and he knows no more.
Thursday, August 12, 1981. Morning.
"This way, Remus..."
"No, follow me..."
"This is the way out..."
Remus opened his eyes, and the sunlight stabbed into his mind. He felt the pain in his head before the pain in his heart this morning--that was a relief he supposed he owed to the Wolf--but he knew it wouldn't be long before he had both to contend with.
"Remus, over here..."
He moved his head slowly, and a wave of nausea made the Forbidden Forest swim around him. Three lights were dancing only a few meters away, at the edge of the stony clearing. Their high, inviting voices called out to him.
Hinkypunks. Just ignore them. They only--
"Come with me, Lupin. I know the way out..."
"Leave," he tried to say, but his throat felt like someone had taken a bottle brush to it in the night.
He had known last night would be bad. Even as a human, he'd felt fragile and maddened for the past eleven days. He hadn't dared risk transforming in the hut where he'd spent the last three years. It didn't have enough security without James and Sirius and...
The sob came out in a caw that surprised him and echoed through the eaves of the Forest. No one would come. The creatures here knew and understood werewolves, and none would disturb a Wolf the morning after his transformation. The centaurs might even still be out there, patrolling the Forest with their silver arrows notched. They allowed the presence of werewolves, but would allow no more danger than any other wolf might entail. That was why Remus had chosen to come here last night.
And if he tried something and they shot him?
At least it would be over. James, dead. Peter, dead. And Sirius...
Sirius was worse than dead.
"Follow me, Lupin. I can show you the way."
"Go away," he whispered to the hinkypunk, but it did no good. Two of its fellows had given up, but this one was intent on its prey.
The problem was, the hinkypunk had a point. Remus had no memory of the Wolf's movements and only a confused impression of his feelings. He had no idea where in the Forbidden Forest he was or how he had gotten here.
"Follow... I can take you where you need to be."
The hinkypunk bobbed its head eagerly, its lantern bouncing up and down along with it. Dark creature, indeed. At its worst, a hinkypunk was an Annoying creature. James had said--
Remus shut his eyes like he was slamming down windows.
Maybe the hinkypunk was right. Maybe a bog, deep in the Forbidden Forest, was exactly where he needed to be. At least he wouldn't have to see the crowds dancing in celebration or toasting the heroism of James and Lily Potter's newly orphaned son, or hear the whispers from all those who had apparently known all along that Sirius Black was no better than the rest of his family.
Yes, a bog would do nicely. He could lose himself there, sink into the mists before the Wolf came again, let the mud and muck of the Forest smother the pain.
Follow, Remus. Stay with us.
Remus raised himself on one elbow, ignoring the surge of dizziness. For a long moment, he contemplated simply following.
Then he pulled himself shakily to his feet, and turned his back to the creature, forcing himself to ignore its high-pitched pleas as he made his way back into the daylight.