Breaking the Chains
Author’s Note: Lots of thanks to my beta, Zsenya, for helping me with
some small details in this fic as well as the title. Also thanks to my copyediting class for inspiration.
When I was
a child, they told me I was different.
Mummy’s face looked strange and wet, and I reached up with my stubby
fingers to feel her soft, warm cheeks.
The water dripped onto my hands, and Mummy gently pushed me away. Why? I asked, scrunching my eyebrows
together like I had seen Daddy do. But
Mummy’s face was sad, and the wetness wouldn’t let her answer. I let her wrap her arms around me, the
wetness dripping on my flannel pajamas, knowing that she needed to hold onto
They kept me at home, and years
later I wondered if it was for my protection or for the protection of the other
children. I didn’t mind – inside the
house there were books and pictures. At
night, when my parents had retreated to their warm beds, I looked out my open
window, letting the cool night air chill my thin body. My parents’ fear of the darkness fascinated
me. I knew that the night should be
feared, yet I found it soothing and calm, much more so than the day. I knew the things the night held, and
understood that they were terrible and should be feared, but as I stared at the
crescent moon and surrounding stars, I knew that the night things were simply
I was seven
when I began to understand what different meant. One day as Mummy made lunch in the kitchen, I went into Daddy’s
office and saw that he’d forgotten to put his special book away, the giant one
covered in soft leather. It sat on his desk,
instead of its usual space on the shelf.
I wasn’t supposed to touch it, but Mummy was in the kitchen, and Daddy
was at work. They would never know if I
looked in it, just this one time. The
book fell open to a page that had obviously been read many times, and my eyes were
immediately drawn to a word written in fancy letters at the top of the page:
The word made me curious.
I’d read about wolves in my little books, and I knew they were
wonderfully fierce creatures. But I’d
never heard of werewolves, and I wanted to know more. Mummy was still in the kitchen, so I read more. One, two, five pages were written about
these strange yet interesting creatures.
I felt the hairs on my arms lift as I read. The stories seemed familiar to me, like dreams I’d had. They spoke of a full moon and a human
changing into a Dark creature, a creature who roamed in the night. But Mummy called me to lunch before I could
read more, and I had to leave the book on the desk. I wondered about the werewolves, though, and knew that next time
I had the dream, I would pay better attention.
came once a month, I noticed, and every time I had one, I scribbled it on a
little piece of paper that I kept in my favorite book. Mummy and Daddy would never look there, I
decided. Every night I watched the
moon, soon realizing that my dreams always came on the nights when the moon was full. I
would wake from the dreams feeling sore and slightly ill, and Mummy always let
me sleep later than she normally did. I
wrote it all down on my paper, the book getting thicker each month as I noticed
more and more strange things that happened around the full moon. At eight, I realized that the nights I had
the dreams, my nighttime drink tasted sour, and I fell asleep quickly.
They had to have known that they couldn’t
keep it a secret forever. I was always bright. Dad called me “Mum’s little Ravenclaw,”
which made her blush with pride. I didn’t tell him about my fascination with Dark
creatures, or the book of funny curses I’d found in a hole in the wall, left
over from the previous owner. I was
nearly nine when I found Mum in the kitchen mixing the dream potion. That night, after Mum left to get me a
tissue, I switched the potion for a glass of water. I understood, now, the strange rules and full moon dreams. I awoke as the moon rose in the dark sky and
found myself locked to the wall of our cellar, chained to the wall so that I
wouldn’t hurt anyone. A strange feeling
built inside of me as I watched the white orb in the sky and felt my body
change. The chains kept hold of me no
matter how hard I struggled, and as my mouth turned into a muzzle I howled
loudly. With my newly formed wolf ears
I heard a shriek, my mother’s shriek. I
let the Wolf take control of my thoughts and mind, and disappeared into the
world that had always before been a dream.
It was real now, and I knew I had to experience it to find some reason
in my parents’ decision to lock their son up.
When morning came, I had found none.
not let me go to Hogwarts, but I did not argue. I rarely spoke to them, and refused my nighttime drink even when
it wasn’t the full moon. Mum took me to
Diagon Alley one day for ice cream in hopes of finding the son she had lost,
not realizing that it was her own fault that he would never return. I disappeared as soon as she turned her
back, loving the feel of the cold November wind on my pale skin. I flew past the shops, my eyes looking for
the one place where I knew I would find answers. Knockturn Alley appeared before me, and I raced down it, knowing
I had little time before Mum found me.
I needed books, books that would tell me what I was and what I could
do. Mum had given me a wand at my
eleventh birthday, but she wouldn’t teach me the curses I longed to know. I wanted revenge, but at twelve years old, I
was sensible enough to know I couldn’t run away and live by myself. I would survive with them for a few more
years until I was older.
I yearned to know the world. My parents
ignored me, and I them. I knew they
feared me, saw their fear and hatred with every glance my direction. My mother no longer came to my bed each
night to bid me goodnight, and my father had ceased to allow me into his study
to borrow books. My world as I knew it
was in my bedroom, but I knew that there was an outside. I knew there had to be others like me, those
bitten by as children and changed forever, their family and friends turned
against them because of one simple bite.
I knew werewolves were hated by the world, and decided that I would hate
the world more. My hatred burned within
me each passing day.
As the full
moon rose over the house on the evening of my seventeenth birthday, I allowed
the Wolf to overcome my body, but not my mind.
The Wolf snarled, and I snarled back, knowing that on this night I would
need part of a human’s mind to act out my plan. The chains that kept my parents safe shattered easily thanks to a
rusting charm I’d placed on them earlier that week. My claws tore into the wood door of the cellar, and I snarled at
the blinding light of the moon. I
wanted out, needed out. My teeth bit
into the wood, ripping it to shreds, and finally I found an opening that my
wolf form could fit through. Across the
lawn, onto the porch, toward the light.
I ran with speed, my legs glad for the exercise that they’d been robbed
of for fifteen years. The back door
broke down with ease, and from upstairs came the scream I’d awaited. I bounded up the stairs and toward the light
that had turned on suddenly. My parents
waited in their locked bedroom, believing that charms and spells could keep a
full-grown, angry werewolf from killing them.
I howled toward the sky and tore through the door. My claws found the throat of my mother, and
her screams ended. My father stood
speechless in the corner, his hands up against his mouth. He looked like a child, a frightened
child. I snarled at him, and bit him
once on the leg. He would suffer, but I
would not. To him, a werewolf was a
child with a terrible and incurable disease, a family member to be ashamed of,
a word not spoken. To me, a werewolf
as I tore apart the house, venting my anger on the place that for so many years
had been my prison, I found comfort in the cries of my father. When I heard of his death a month later –
jumping from a bridge into the cold waters below – I was pleased, and ordered
myself another Firewhiskey from the bartender.
I’d changed my name, not wanting to be associated with the man who was
too weak to accept the life fate had given him. Greyback, I called myself, for the streak of grey fur that
covered my back. I smiled and lifted my
bottle of Firewhiskey. It was a name
yet unknown, but soon to be feared by all.