The Sugar Quill
Author: DarkWitch (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Unleashed  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Michelle -- celticshel@worldnet

The wolf crested the steep rise and stood silhouetted on the clifftops against the full moon. Even against the rising wind, his howl was loud and mournful, chilling in its agonized clarity. Stark and beautiful, standing powerful and alone where midnight sky met land and sea, he howled again. The night seemed to pause indefinitely, waiting with him for an answer that did not come. Then the wind rose up, wailing around him, joining its cries to his own. The night was cold, ruthless, uncaring. The shriek of wind was icy and emotionless, mocking the wolf, whose deep-throated howls were as full of pain as the sky was full of stars. The howls went on and on, while the moon slowly traversed the sky, sinking silently down into the sea. Only when it had gone did the wolf lope away, as if chased by demons that it alone could see. Only then did the wolf run, as though chasing something that remained just out of sight, something elusive but desperately needed. Something it could not truly hope to catch.



The full moon was over. He slumped in the chair near the window in his bedroom, exhausted and more weary of spirit that he could ever remember feeling. He ached all over, but it wasn't the physical ache that frightened him. That kind of pain had been a constant companion once a month, since he could remember. It was the mental ache, the emotional hurt that terrified him. It had been four months, but the pain had only intensified with time.


It had been four months since Sirius had died. Four months since the last true member of his pack had been torn from him. Four months in which pain had etched itself so deeply into his days and nights, he knew it would never truly be erased. Four months in which he had been forced to realize that some wounds would never heal. Four months since everything he had once believed in had come crumbling down about him to lie in ruins at his feet.


His pack. They hadn't truly been his pack, not in the strict sense of the word. A wolf might hunt with other wolves, might play with them, might live near them, but a wolf was, in essence, a loner. A predator. Inhuman in its grace and power and ruthless hunger. They hadn't truly been his pack. But then, until they were all gone, he hadn't truly been a wolf. He'd never truly been alone.


Four months ago, his pack, such as it had been, had been destroyed.


Four months ago, he had learned the true meaning of being alone.


Four months ago, he had become a wolf in the true sense of the word.


The waning of the moon gave him back the ability to think, to analyze, to explore his new reality.


He had never before wished for the full moon.


His thoughts, released from their prison as the wildness diminished, slid through his head relentlessly. His pack. James, Sirius, and Peter. One by one, they had been taken from him, until he stood alone, a rogue, wild and reckless during the full moon. No longer held back by the strength of their bond. No longer hiding his true self. No longer holding it back with potions that could not cure it, potions that could only mask what he really was.


He was a wolf. And he no longer cared whether or not the wildness came through. He hungered for the days when feverish animal instinct took over, leaving thought and care and pain behind. Nothing else eased the grief, the darkness of his days. Nothing else erased the icy cold loneliness of his nights.


James. Tall and wiry and dark-haired. Scent of intense concentration and fun and healthy sweat. Scent of hope and optimism, laughter, courage, and love. Later, the scent of responsibility had mingled with the rest to form a heady, addictively sweet mixture. He'd been the first to share the burden of knowledge, the first to ease the burden of the full moon with companionship. He had discovered the secret. He had discovered the solution. He had been somehow perfect, despite his flaws; he had been the sun around which their planets revolved. He had been the first to become a member of the pack, and the first to be irrevocably torn from it.


He had been the first to die.


The force of the blow had nearly unleashed the wolf.


But there had been others, holding him back.


Peter. Short and round and blond. Scent of desperate hope and frantic need. Scent of fear and insecurity, laughter, bitterness and failure. Later, the scent of guilt had mingled with the rest to form a miasma of despair. He'd been the last to learn the secret, the last to learn to change for the full moon. He had tried to hard to keep up, tried so hard to win a competition that had, for the others, never existed. He had been perfect in imperfection; he had never understood that for them, he was good enough just as he was. He had been the last to become a member of the pack, and the cause of its slide into destruction. He had, in the end, been too good at hiding himself for anyone to suspect him. Even the wolf, who had smelled desperation on him from their first meeting.


He had betrayed the pack. He had caused the death of two of its members.


Finding out the truth of it had nearly loosed the wolf.


But there had, in the end, been another holding him back.


Sirius. Tall, slim, strong, and black-haired. Scent of loyalty and mischief and fun. Scent of daring and courage, laughter, dedication and recklessness. Later, the scent of loneliness and grief had mingled with the rest to form an intoxicating blend of humanity. He'd been the second to share the knowledge, the second to ease the full-moon burden, and the first to embrace the change as a means of proving his loyalty and friendship. He'd shared every smile, every laugh, every ache. He'd loved fully and without reservation, and he had gladly taken on the burden. If James had been the sun in their universe, Sirius had been the moon; strong and wild and shining, he had controlled the tides of their lives. He'd survived James' death and Peter's betrayal. When he'd escaped Azkaban, he had gladly returned to the pack. He had become the pack, with the same single-minded dedication and loyalty that he had always shown. And he had been ripped away, just as James had, victim to a chain of events set into motion by Peter.


The agonizing truth of that had loosed the wolf.


There was no one left to hold him back.


Peter. Peter had betrayed the pack. But for Peter, James would have lived. But for Peter, the evil that had taken Sirius would have stayed in hiding.


But for Peter, the wolf would have been restrained.


It was only the finest poetic justice that what Peter had loosed would kill him in the end. Whether it was Voldemort, or whether it was the wolf, Peter would die.


The wolf would make sure of it.


He sat in the chair, his head back, his mind beginning to drift. His hold on consciousness started to slip. And the wolf started to show through.


Peter was the cause of the pain and rage. Peter was the cause of the loneliness. Peter had destroyed the pack, the finest and most precious thing the wolf had ever known. Peter had betrayed them all.


Scent of prey on the air, sharp but imagined. Scent of prey that was nowhere nearby.


Scent of prey, remembered as vividly as a splash of crimson on white velvet.


Scent of prey, perfectly recalled in all its terrified splendor.


Scent of prey.


He jerked awake, but the wolf had been loosed and he would not fight it. There was no turning back. He knew what he had to do in order to make things right. In order to bring some kind of justice to his world. In order to bring an end to the rage and grief and tearing agony that his days and nights had become. In order to honor the pack.


Scent of prey.



Author's note: Original content 2004 by DarkWitch; story based on content and situations created by J.K. Rowling, and no infringement of any and all copyrights held by her is intended.


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