Moon and Stone
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. No undue claim nor any material profit is expected or intended.
Moon and Stone
by Andrea13 and Persephone
Chapter 2: First Moon
Salazar peered into a scrubbed cauldron, shining light into it from his wand and inspecting it for any flecks of material he might have missed. Nothing. ...Good. He straightened, reaching up uncomfortably to rub the back of his neck. He had an excuse this time. It did have a crick in it, from hunching over the cauldron when he was tense. Most of the time lately, though, he felt as if some sense were warning him of danger... only there was never anything there.
Except the waxing moon.
More than three weeks he'd been here, and after the first few days of recovery -- now there was luxury in itself, and beside that the comfort here, and best by far the people who didn't....
Who he didn't think feared him. Who said they didn't. Who had asked him to stay and willingly, eagerly helped to set up a place for him to do his brewing and experimentation and helped to stock it. It was still not very well established, but it was certainly getting there. Despite the work they'd done there since he'd been back on his feet, though, he couldn't help... wondering. They might come to their senses, they might change their minds, he might be out in the forest again when the change came after all....
He could handle that. He had, for so long.
So long. But he didn't want to do it again. If he could be safe... but could he? Were they sure? Better to be cast out again than break free and bite one of his hosts... friends? No one had said anything. He was divided in mind: on the one hand he dreaded it, dreaded speaking of it, what they might say; on the other... what did not mentioning it mean? Had they forgotten? Surely not. Was there something they didn't want to tell him? What?
It was a good thing he'd already straightened, or he would've hit his head on the side of the cauldron. "Godric. Hello," he replied mildly, while trying to restart his heart. "What bringss you here?"
"I was looking for you. Obviously, I suppose." Godric smiled briefly. "I didn't mean to startle you; Rowena keeps saying I should walk louder."
"That might help. I've known cats who walk louder than you do." Salazar rubbed the back of his neck again, trying to look rueful instead of anxious. "I think I'm jusst a little...edgy."
"Mm. Because of the moon?"
Salazar felt a little 'pop' like a dislocated joint had just been pushed back into place. Someone was actually talking about it! But the sensation was immediately followed by the same surge of pain after the relief. Was this it? Had Godric been elected to tell him to leave before he could cause any more harm?
"...Yesss. Mosstly. I...have been winding up my experimentss." ~In case I have to go. Please don't make me. I won't beg, but please...~
"Ah. Yes, I suppose you wouldn't be able to check on them properly for a few days. I'd have offered, but I'm not sure whether you'd trust me with them." That sounded like it was supposed to be a joke, but Godric's tone was serious again as he added, "If you have the time, I've been working on your... chamber for the night of the full moon, and would appreciate it if you'd take a look and offer any advice you might have."
They weren't kicking him out. They weren't making him leave. He could stay. He could stay he could stay he could stay he could -- "I have the time, ccertainly," he managed to say quite calmly.
"Thank you, then. Would now be acceptable?"
"Of coursse." Salazar set the cauldron aside, his mind still chanting, ~I can stay I can stay I can stay,~ over and over. "I'm really not ssure what ssuggesstionss I can offer. I've never been indoorss during a full moon before."
"Well, it seems you should at least have the chance to look it over first." Godric failed to make any more noise with his feet as they started down the hallway.
Salazar walked beside him, hands clutched behind his back despite trying to seem completely casual about this whole process. Who cared that he was going to spend the night of the full moon under the same roof as the only people who'd been nice to him since this curse began? He'd break out and bite them and -- He cut off that line of thought abruptly. NO. He wouldn't. He wouldn't.
...Although if he did, it would be easier to deal with death than his guilt.
"You're ccertain there'ss no chancce I could be putting you three in danger? Sspellss can fail...."
"Well... that's true. But I don't think even a werewolf can claw through stone."
"I don't think sso. But I don't want to rissk you. Any of you."
"We'll take care of ourselves." Godric reached across and squeezed his shoulder. "We have managed it once before, after all. And I'd feel it, if the stone went."
Salazar summoned a weak smile, feeling what was probably an inordinate amount of reassurance from a simple hand on the shoulder. But... if Godric would touch him, then Godric couldn't be too worried about everything.... "Forcce of habit, ssorry."
"...An admirable habit, I suppose, but not necessary at this point. Here --" They'd gone into an unfamiliar part of the building, one where the stone walls were still oddly seamless but tended to take strange shapes, some echoing natural caves, some subtly or wildly improbable, as if Godric had been playing with his skills at manipulating the rock.
There was one opening in the wall that apparently went nowhere; that was the one Godric had pointed to. It was deeper than it looked at first glance, actually, and Salazar peered in to find that it was shaped strangely like a very large egg.
He stepped inside gingerly, reminding himself that this would be his home one night a month for...however long they'd put up with him. He laid his hand flat against the wall, the stone cool beneath his palm, and slowly traced his hand around, feeling for any weaknesses or instabilities, cracks, holes, or... well, anything.
Godric was surprisingly patient, just standing there as Salazar even got down on his knees to test the floor in the same manner. Then the whole chamber glowed green for a moment when Salazar hissed a spell under his breath. The green glow shimmered and danced like flames for a handful of heartbeats, then disappeared into the stone.
Salazar stood back up and turned to face Godric again. "It'ss very ssturdy."
"It's meant to be. May I ask what that spell was?"
"...I usse it on my cauldronss, to tesst for any flawss I can't ssee. I don't mean to inssult your work."
Godric laughed. "I wasn't offended. I asked you to look it over, didn't I?" He stepped into the room himself and looked around at the curved walls. "Any suggestions?"
"I can't think of any. It'ss bigger than I wass expecting..."
"Is that a problem?"
Salazar laughed a little. "No. I'm ussed to much bigger sspacess, after all. Jusst when Helga firsst mentioned the posssibility of doing thiss, I wass picturing...sssomething like a sstone coffin, I ssupposse."
Godric winced slightly. "I thought you should at least have some room to move. I don't know whether it's possible to make it exactly comfortable -- I'm not sure how, say, furniture would work, though if you want any--"
"I'd jusst rip it to piecess by the end of the night," Salazar said uncomfortably. "Or break my teeth on it, if it'ss more sstone." The joke felt flat. "It'ss probably besst if there'ss nothing in here at all. Nothing to hurt. Maybe it'll be eassier with nothing here," he added hopefully.
"Blankets?" Godric offered. "I know, those tear easily, but there are some it wouldn't matter...."
"I don't think sso. I won't be doing any ssleeping to worry about how hard the floor iss, and I have fur to keep me warm." This last was said with a very sour expression. Salazar didn't like thinking of his wolf form, of the one night a month he wasn't human anymore. Sometimes, when he thought he could feel the wolf snarling and pacing inside, he wondered if he was even really human the rest of the month anymore.
"Well," Godric said quietly, "I was thinking of before and after the actual transformation."
"Before I'll be paccing," Salazar said shortly. "After...I wouldn't noticce anyway."
"Even so... well, as you wish."
"I wouldn't do anything but tear them up." Salazar snorted and rested his hand against the wall again, trying to fight down the tangle of unease and anxiety dancing a merry jig in his stomach. "Perhapss you sshould jusst throw in a nice bone or sssomething."
Godric turned suddenly and gently set his hands on both Salazar's shoulders. "Salazar. We will do...anything we can, to make this easier. I don't like the idea of shutting a friend up like this, but I can't see any better way at this point..."
"Nothing can make this easssier!" Salazar exclaimed. "In a few dayss I'll turn into ssome mindlesss monsster who would as ssoon kill you as look at you! Do you know why I like potionss, Godric? Everything iss nicce and neat and under perfect control. It all makess sssenssse." Salazar leaned against the wall and shut his eyes. "And in a few days, I will be completely without ssensse or control, and if ssomething goess wrong, I could hurt the firsst people who've been nicce to me ssincce I was bitten. Nothing can make thiss eassier."
"Nothing will go wrong," Godric promised quietly and, Salazar thought, rather rashly. But it was nice of him anyway. "We will be careful, and we will pay attention, and we can take care of ourselves. You're not going to hurt any of us."
"It doessn't take as much to catch a wizard off-guard as we like to think. I could kill one of you. Worssse, I could bite you." And if they didn't kill him during the attack, Salazar vowed to himself, he would as soon as he'd regained his mind.
"Then you'd have company the next month." Salazar opened his mouth in horror; Godric cut him off. "But we aren't going to be off guard. And I told you, I can feel the stone."
"Have you ever ussed it to imprisson a werewolf before?"
"No. But I could feel you running, a few weeks ago."
"Ssstill. Until you have..." Salazar broke off and sighed. "Oh what am I ssaying? I'll sstill be as worried if we've done thiss a hundred timess."
"I'd rather hope that after eight years or so you'd have some confidence in me," Godric said lightly. "We'll take care. And as soon as it's safe to, we'll open up the room again and take care of you."
Eight years. Eight years. Were they truly thinking of his staying that long? Salazar couldn't even speak for a moment. "Thank you," he eventually managed in a hoarse voice that didn't sound like him at all.
"You're welcome. We'll manage. You'll see."
"I sstill don't know why you three are sso willing to go to all thiss trouble..."
"It's not that difficult. As I'm sure you've noticed, I practice this sort of thing a fair amount -- this is just an application that's of some use to somebody." Of course, to be fair, so were the walls.
"Sstill. The preparation, the healing later.... It would be eassier to jusst ssend me into the foresst."
Godric shook his head. "It wouldn't be right. And it's worth it to have you around."
Worth it. No one else had ever thought so. Salazar wasn't sure if he should be warmed or terrified. "...Thank you."
"You're welcome. Again." Godric gestured at the opening in the wall. "If you haven't got any suggestions, might as well come out of here. The stone is done except for sealing the door." He looked at the slightly thickened edges of the opening. "Or making the door, arguably."
Salazar stepped out of the egg and brushed off his robes. "I sstart to wish I'd been born with your sskill insstead of mine. Being able to sseal mysself in ssounds far more useful than talking to ssnakes right now."
"You might have found some trouble getting out afterwards, though, unless you'd had quite a bit of practice first."
Salazar shrugged and started off down the warped stone hallway. "It would be worth it. If I'd had a way to not be a danger, I might not've had to leave home." He paused, thinking of the way everyone treated him even during the month, then shrugged again. "Or maybe not."
Godric was silently pensive for a moment. "...I am sorry that you did. But pleased to have met you nonetheless."
"I'm pleassed to have met you. All three of you. You've already become the besst friendss I've ever had, but...I could wissh I'd come as a mere traveler, not..."
He didn't need to finish the sentence. Godric smiled a bit sadly. "So could we all -- but with things otherwise, we'll simply have to make the best of them as we can." He hesitated. "I'll wait with you, as long as it won't be a problem, if I may...."
Salazar couldn't help a slightly startled look, even though he knew his new friends were, for some odd reason, not as worried about his condition as his old friends had been. But he smiled a bit and replied, "I...would like that. For a while. Not long enough to rissk, or even cut closse. Jusst promisse me that."
"I promise." His mouth quirked a little. "I wouldn't do that to either of us. Nor the ladies." Godric had seen the surprise, and it pained him. He had no greater desire to become a werewolf than Salazar had to make him one, though he refused to let dread of the idea influence him beyond what was practical, so it was an easy promise to make in one way -- but it was not going to be easy to close the stone.
He would do it anyway, of course. Rationally, he knew it was necessary. For that matter, he knew he had less reason than most to feel horror at the idea of stone sealed around the living -- he knew he could get Salazar back out.
He didn't want to leave him in there longer than necessary, though.
Salazar's mouth curved a little more in response. "You ssay that as if you've never done a ssingle foolissh thing in your life, my friend. I haven't known you long, but even I know you better than that."
"The line between daring and foolhardy is a very thin one," Godric said wisely.
"And you dancce acrosss it gleefully every chancce you get."
"Well," and Godric appeared to consider this, "not every time."
"I beg your pardon," Salazar apologized with a little bow. "Ssometimess you do ssomerssaultss acrosss it."
Godric snorted, furrowed his brow consideringly, and pulled out his wand.
When they met up with the ladies later, Helga and Rowena were tactful enough not to ask Salazar why he was cartwheeling through the hallways.
The remaining few days passed far too quickly for Salazar's peace of mind, though part of him wanted it OVER with just so he'd know how bad it was going to be. The possibility that this wouldn't work and they'd be forced to make him leave after all haunted him like a spectre. Every moment with his newfound friends was doubly precious and triply painful for the knowledge that it could all be over soon. He took to visiting the chamber several times a day, going over the walls obsessively for the most minute flaw.
The one time Godric came down when Salazar was performing an inspection, he just hovered outside for a few heartbeats, then smiled sadly and left without saying a word.
The day of the full moon dawned indecently bright and cheerful, but Salazar couldn't enjoy it. The ordinary restlessness was on him full force, combining with new nervousness to insure he couldn't eat a bite of any of the meals Helga tried to force on him. He spent the day with one eye on the sun, and was at the chamber a full two hours before sunset.
"Salazar, isn't this a little early?" Rowena asked reasonably enough. They'd followed him down, or joined him there; Godric had called Rowena out of her study. "If I understand correctly, it isn't possible for you to transform until the sun is down and the moon is up, and it's not going to take Godric two hours to build a wall!"
"Then he can come back in two hourss." Salazar leaned against the wall, his arms crossed, and tried to calm his rapidly beating heart. "You all don't have to be down here."
"Well, at this point, neither do you."
"I think I'll stay," Godric said casually. "Unless you were trying to get some time to yourself, of course, but I'm sure you could find somewhere more comfortable for that."
Helga stepped carefully into the room, her foot nearly sliding on the smooth curve of the floor, and came over to take Salazar by one wrist. When he kept his arms folded, she sighed and just reached up to hug him. "If you feel better -- or safer -- for being here already, we'll be glad to keep you company."
"I'll feel better and ssafer when the three of you are on the other sside of ssolid sstone." Salazar hunched his shoulders in a little when Helga released him from the hug he was determined not to find as comfortable as he did. "And I sstill wish you'd agree to have weaponss with you, jusst in casse."
"We have our wands," Rowena pointed out logically. "And there are three of us. We've been able to restrain you before. Stop worrying."
He smiled faintly and admitted, "I'm jusst ussed to sspending thiss time getting as far as posssible from any people. It feelss sstrange to have anyone elsse around."
"Get used to it," Helga suggested with a quirked smile and a warm tone. "I suppose if you'd really prefer it, Godric could close you in early -- but as there's no danger yet we'd really rather...."
Salazar summoned a return smile and freed one hand to touch her shoulder lightly. "I don't believe I ever ssaid I'd prefer it. I'm jusst....antssy." He brought his hand back to cross in front of him again, fighting the urge to tap his fingers or pace. "Like my sskin iss about to turn insside out. Oh, wait," he corrected himself with a weak smile. "It iss."
She squeezed his shoulder and then leaned on the wall beside him. "I'd tell you to rest," she said softly, "but I suppose perhaps you can't. Try to a little, though, and I could cast caduceus for you, if you think it would help."
Godric and Rowena were in the room as well now; it was a little crowded, but it held them without real difficulty -- a far cry from the coffin Salazar had imagined at first. He felt the clawings of panic -- from having people so close, in danger, but something else as well, maybe deeper, maybe not -- he began to feel trapped. Cornered. But he'd asked for that, for later, and for now -- close they might be, but even with the irrational fear that was sweet beyond measure, painfully so....
He took a deep breath, trying to calm down. He reminded himself firmly that the three of them had managed to deal with him in his wolf form before and come out undamaged, and by the time the moon came up they'd be on the other side of thick stone anyway. Something inside him shuddered and howled for the open sky, but he was used to keeping that part firmly shackled, no matter how hard it was this time of the month.
"I don't think I could resst," he finally answered Helga, but added hopefully, "Caduceuss might help. It can't hurt at leassst..."
"Close your eyes, then -- it might be better if you don't pace; we can give you room if you like, but with the illusion it might be confusing."
He closed his eyes, though they flickered open with a start at Godric's hand on his shoulder -- but Godric, cat-quiet or not, was good with dogs and had somehow managed to hit on a subtle motion that almost -- almost -- soothed the wolf without seeming too terribly much like something one would use only on a beast.
"Hush," Godric said, and Rowena was murmuring charms in a thoughtful tone, ones that were meant to shield from harm and make one more resilient -- and calmer -- and Salazar appreciated the thought, even though he felt it all too likely that her spells would all shatter with the transformation and fall away.
Then Helga cast, and the staff and serpents shimmered in his mind's eye and whispered to him. Rest. Safety. The security of burrowing deep in a den, protected from everything by the reassuring earth all around him.
Salazar's breathing slowed as the hissed words wrapped around him and surrounded him and penetrated him, relaxing what he held tight and tense. When the wolf inside howled for the open sky, the serpent hissed back soothingly that it was nice to lie out and sun for a while, but coming back to the den was right and proper and so very comforting....
Godric looked up at Helga and raised an eyebrow as Salazar went nearly boneless beneath his hand. "I think I need to learn that spell."
"Don't let him fall," she whispered back with a faint smile. "And I can teach it to you, if you'll learn some more of the healing spells and swear to me not to misuse it -- not that I think you would." She looked at Salazar and reached up to push hair back from his forehead, feeling the skin and making a note to find out if that temperature was normal under the circumstances. "It's supposed to be soothing, but he does respond exceptionally well."
"The Parseltongue, perhaps?" Rowena suggested quietly, coming closer and helping Godric ease Salazar down to the floor. "He would find snakes more comforting than most, presumably, even if they're not speaking to him. And I'd like to learn as well." She looked down on Salazar's peaceful face. "To help Salazar, if nothing else."
Helga smiled. "Of course. I can teach you too..." She stroked his hair again. "And he says the spell does speak to him, though there's no doubt he's supplying that part of the illusion from himself."
"It's amazing what the mind supplies," Rowena murmured. "I wish I could come up with a way to make this easier..."
"We all do," Godric said quietly. "But...we're already making it considerably easier. There's no one for him to hurt, which is easier on his mind, and there isn't anything for him to hurt himself with, so that just leaves the transformation itself. And Helga's standing by at moonset for that. It's the best we can do."
"Not enough," Rowena replied in a low tone, "but I suppose it will have to be for now."
Helga leaned down to kiss Salazar's forehead, very lightly. "At least he knows he has a home here."
"There is that," Rowena agreed, giving his ankle a reassuring pat.
But Godric sat in pensive silence as the time inched slowly by. Finally he carefully propped Salazar against Helga and stood, stretching. "It's right at sunset. The moon should be up soon. I think you should wake him, Helga."
She hated to remove that comfort, but it was necessary, and she did it. Salazar stirred, then shuddered and sat up with panic in his eyes, looking down at himself as if expecting to see the change beginning. "It's only just sunset," Godric said quickly. "There's time yet."
"Sssunssset already?" Salazar asked in disbelief. "But...it only ssseemed a moment..." He shook himself slightly, braced one hand against the wall, and stood. "You three ssshould go. You've already ssstayed too long. It'ss almosssst time..."
His sibilants were drawing out longer and longer as the agitation of the nearly-full moon quickly dispelled the calm of the caduceus. But even as he urged them to leave, his free hand was still holding tightly to Helga's.
Helga squeezed back hard and then wrapped her arms around him.
"We haven't stayed too long at all," Godric replied calmly, "and Helga's spell seems to have soothed you right to sleep, which is probably all to the good. We woke you because it is almost time -- should we not have? We can let you sleep next time if you want -- but for now, I do need to close you in."
Salazar hugged Helga back tightly, pressing his cheek against her hair for just a moment. "No, it'sss better you woke me up." He hesitated, then hugged Helga again. "And thank you all for waiting with me."
"We did say we would," Rowena said simply. "And we will see you again, as soon as we may."
To have people waiting for him, happy to see him again when he was human... He pushed the thought aside. He couldn't dwell on it, for what if something went wrong? If he didn't think about it, it wouldn't be as depressing...maybe. Salazar took a deep breath and released Helga, then hugged Rowena as well. They smiled at him and stepped out of the chamber. Salazar braced himself in the very center and nodded to Godric. "I'm ready."
God help him.
Godric shook his head and reached out to clasp Salazar's hand firmly, then stepped back, drawing him almost to the door as he himself finally stepped through. The opening was smaller already, Salazar saw, but Godric kept hold of him and didn't look away as it began closing further.
Salazar told himself NOT to clutch, no matter what his instinct was. It would hardly do to have Godric's hand caught in the stone. Salazar would be gnawing on it all night, which would certainly defeat the purpose of the chamber. So he only held it loosely, ready when Godric released with a final squeeze when the opening was so small Salazar could see nothing of him except his hand. Then even that disappeared through the hole, which promptly shrank to nothing.
"We'll be waiting for you, my friend," Godric said quietly just as the hole closed completely.
Salazar let out a shuddering sigh and pressed his hand over the blank spot where the opening had been. Where his friends were waiting. He closed his eyes and took another ragged breath, then paced to await the moonrise.
It didn't keep him waiting long. He knew Rowena kept good time -- but the last thought in his mind, the only one he had time for, at the moment the moon rose and the transformation took and before pain and the wolf wrested all thought from him, was that they had cut it much closer than he would have liked!
And then there was only feeling and instinct, things he would remember but that he had no power of reason to stop, as the change wrenched his body into the wolf-shape and he lunged at the last place memory told him there had been an opening.
Claws scrabbled against cold, solid stone and he snarled as his suddenly-sensitive nose caught the so-recent scent of PREY! Every instinct in his body sang a bloody-minded chorus, intent only on getting through this obstacle and reaching the prey being denied to him. He clawed and scratched until even the smooth stone started tearing at the pads of his paws, leaving streaks of red that just drove his blood lust even higher.
Kill kill kill kill destroy hurt kill kill KILL!!!
Denied prey, denied escape, he howled out his agony and frustration as he started hurling his body up against the unforgiving stone. Again and again, heedless of cracking bones or shooting pain except that it drove the blood lust higher and higher. He had to HUNT! Kills were out there to be made, prey taunting him just outside this strange barrier, and he'd destroy them all if he could just get THROUGH!
Finally, having no other source for the blood he craved, he ripped apart his own flesh, all the time howling for prey and in pain. Biting, scratching, ripping to shreds -- all the things he'd do to his prey as soon as he caught it. Just as soon as he got OUT!
Thankfully, the moon couldn't stay full forever, nor could even a werewolf sustain an endless rage. Eventually it began to wane, and the wolf loosed its hold on Salazar's body and mind. The furred limbs lengthened and smoothed over, the bloody paws replaced with feet and hands. Senses lost their sensitivity as the mind regained its, and blood lust faded as if it had never been.
Finally all that was left of the carnage was a battered human body huddled in the middle of the chamber, unable to move, and so wracked with pain he couldn't even moan.
Thank you very much to our reviewers!
Rainydaie, we're intrigued with the Founders too, as, um, I guess you can tell. A lycanthropic Salazar just worked out in all sorts of interesting ways, and seemed unusual enough to be worth sharing. Here's chapter two, and we hope it didn't disappoint.
Kitzamaeve, that is indeed a thought, and we had thought of it. Irony, partly. Salazar has a highly developed sense of it. Other than that, you'll see.
Adi, we're rather hoping you'll want to wait and see, though we can give you some answers now. The Chamber of Secrets plays an important role in the story, and Salazar and Godric did have their first argument in this chapter. It even ended in drawn wands. Tch. They will get the idea for Hogwarts in chapter five, and see above about the silver.