A/N: *peeks out from behind the couch*
*squeaks, to find you all standing around expectantly*
*hurls the chapter in your general direction and ducks for cover*
All through the night, Hermione stared at the ceiling, listening to Lucian howling out in the greenhouse. He howled and he snarled, and Hermione heard more than a few crashes, suggesting that this evening his wolf wasn't making things easy on the small boy.
"He'll be alright, love," Harry whispered from beside her, squeezing her hand where she clutched his tightly, her heart aching inside her chest.
"What if he's not?" Hermione whispered. "You saw the things Remus did to himself when he was locked up all alone. Lucian has never been alone to transform before. Even at the Ministry, they put him in a different room, but he could still see his brothers through the glass."
"He's a brave kid, Hermione," Harry reminded her, speaking softly so as not to wake Dmitri and Alrik where the pair sprawled on the mattress between them. "He'll be alright. He's not a full werewolf. He said it himself that he has some control over his wolfish side even at the full moon."
"Lucian," Ranulf whimpered where Hermione had tucked the boy down to sleep on her chest, though the baby was no more asleep tonight than she was.
There was no way the child was cognisant enough to understand that it was a full moon and that his brother was potentially in pain, but the baby did not sleep, whimpering along with every howl Lucian emitted and once, howling in return. Harry had been quick to silence him, lest he wake Dmitri and Alrik, though both boys slept fitfully, fretting over the absence of Lucian from their dog-pile on Hermione's bed – something that had become a nightly occurrence since she'd brought them home. She put them all to sleep in their own beds every evening, but they joined her and Harry in her bed every night, just the same.
"What if he's hurt?" Hermione asked fretfully. "What if he's broken a pot and cut himself trying to get out. He's all alone. He's never been alone like that, Harry…"
"Hermione, love, you can't go and check on him until dawn. You know that."
"Love," Harry sighed, squeezing her hand again. "I know you're scared for him, but he's potentially dangerous right now. You need to think of these boys, too. If you go out there and he bites you, you'll have to give them all up, you know?"
Hermione bit her lip, nodding, though a tear trickled from the corner of her eye when Lucian howled again. She couldn't stand it. She wanted to protect him. She wanted to save him. She needed to help him. And she couldn't and she hated that more than anything else in the world. Maybe she would look into making him Wolfsbane potion every full moon. Maybe that would be better than whatever he was doing out there now. They could rely on the potion to keep him in control of his faculties and keep the wolf under control. Then he could curl up, transformed, alongside them like he did every other night when the moon wasn't full.
"Close your eyes and try to get some sleep, Hermione," Harry whispered, before he began humming Scarborough Fair very quietly – the song having become the lullaby the boys all asked for every night when they were put to bed and again when they crawled in with her.
Hermione tried. She tried to go to sleep, telling herself he would be alright; telling herself there was really nothing left in there that he could hurt himself on except his own fangs and claws and that he wouldn't seek to attack himself because he wasn't full of self-loathing like Remus had been and he wasn't a full werewolf, either. She tried to sleep and maybe she dozed in and out between his howls as the night wore on.
When morning came, Hermione eased an exhausted but finally sleeping Ranulf from her chest, tucking the baby in next to Alrik, who slung an arm over the smaller boy readily though he slumbered on, unaware. Slipping from the sheets, Hermione dressed quickly, running her hands through her hair and trying to revive herself, trying to make her tired mind focus long enough to get her socks on her feet.
As soon as the sun rose, Hermione left the house and charged to the greenhouse, intent on patching Lucian up however she could, and holding him until the ache in her chest went away. He was whimpering inside when she reached the door, scratching at it, and her heart broke for him.
"Lucian? Sweetheart?" Hermione called through the door.
Another whimper sounded.
"Are you transformed back, darling?" Hermione asked.
Lucian's sniffling could be heard.
"I want my dad," he said in answer and Hermione figured that if he could talk, he must be transformed.
Wrenching open the door, Hermione charged into the room, her eyes on the boy who, for all intents and purposes, was now her son. He looked unharmed, though he was naked and dirty, covered in dust and soil from the interior of the greenhouse. He still had wolf ears, but they were shrinking, and his teeth had returned to their blunt, human squareness.
"Oh, darling," Hermione sighed, holding her arms open for the softly crying boy.
He shook his head.
"Hurts," he whispered mournfully.
"Being hugged?" Hermione asked. "Or the transformation?"
"Both," Lucian whispered. "Have to… the fur…"
He waved an indicative hand to the fur slowly receding back into his skin, disappearing before her very eyes.
"I understand," Hermione nodded. "What can I do, darling? Can I help you?"
Lucian cried a little harder, choking on a sob before he coughed, trying to rein in his overwhelming emotions.
"I want my dad," he repeated. "Please, can we go and see my dad? Please?"
Hermione bit her lip.
"You dad will be transformed too, sweetheart," Hermione reminded him quietly.
"Moon's gone," Lucian shook his head. "He'll be human again soon. Please? Please, Mum? I need to see Dad. I need to. I have to. Please."
His pitiful begging broke Hermione's heart, and tears ran down her cheeks when, as the fur finally all disappeared from the child, he threw himself against her and buried his face against her stomach, one of his clawed hands pulling her arm to his nose and breathing in the scent that must still linger in the bite Fenrir had given her.
"Please," Lucian whispered again.
"I… I'll arrange it, darling. First thing. Let's get you inside and showered and I'll go directly to the Ministry and arrange to have you and your brothers put on the list to visit your fathers."
"I need to see my Dad," Lucian repeated and Hermione cried harder, stooping to scoop him up though he was already rather too big to be carried around like the others – almost as big as her thanks to her short stature and his own tall one.
He clung to her neck, crying as she carried him into the house and up the stairs.
"Will a shower hurt you terribly, darling?" Hermione asked him, wanting desperately to make everything better but not knowing how. Even her friendship with Remus hadn't prepared her for the horrors following a full moon because the man had been so very private.
"Yes," Lucian said. "But it will help, too."
When Hermione set him down, Lucian turned and began seeing to the preparations for the shower himself.
"Are you hungry, sweetheart? Can I make you something?" Hermione offered.
"Starving," Lucian whispered, nodding. "But I want to see Dad."
"The Ministry won't be open yet to process my request anyway, darling," Hermione shook her head. "I'll make you something to eat, alright."
Lucian whimpered, but nodded before stepping into the shower. He whined and twisted away from the stream almost immediately, obviously in agony and Hermione's stomach twisted with sympathy, hating her own uselessness to help him. Leaving him to it, lest she sob openly in front of the brave boy, Hermione returned to the kitchen and began cooking as much food as she had on hand, thinking the poor boy would need every ounce of nourishment he could get and knowing the others would soon be awake.
When Lucian joined her in the kitchen, he didn't even wait for her to finish cooking everything before he snatched up a strip of raw bacon and gobbled it down. He looked a little better, practically back to normal, but the dark circles under his eyes and the red puffiness of them told tales of a sleepless night and the tears he had cried.
"You're so brave, sweetheart," Hermione told him, rounding the counter to cuddle him again when he climbed into the breakfast bar-stool as she plated up a mound of protein for him to devour.
"Please can we see Dad today?" Lucian croaked between bites, his throat probably raw from howling and crying.
"I'll arrange it, darling."
"Now?" Lucian pressed, looking up at her with big puppy-dog eyes that clenched her heart all over again.
"I…. yes," Hermione nodded, resolving to invade Kingsley's house before the man could even get to the office for the day if necessary. "I'll… I'll wake Harry and make sure he can stay with you all while I arrange it with the Minister."
Lucian nodded, devouring his food ravenously.
Hermione hurried up the stairs, waking Harry and confirming that he could be late to training. She was relieved when he told her that he'd asked for the morning off, knowing Lucian would be suffering and that they wouldn't get much sleep.
"I'm going to see Kings," Hermione told him. "He has the authority to sign on getting the boys in and it's all Lucian has asked for since dawn."
"Are you sure it's a good idea, Hermione?" Harry asked. "It was a full moon last night, and this is Fenrir Greyback we're talking about. You won't be safe."
"He won't hurt me, Harry," Hermione shook her head. "I can't keep the boys if he does, and he knows it. And he's their father. I'd like to take all the boys to see their Dads if I can. Wouldn't you want to see them, even if it was your Dad in that place? Wouldn't you wish you could see your son if you were them?"
Harry sighed, nodding.
"Go, then," he said. "I'll wait here. Do you want to take Lucian with you to see Kingsley? Those puppy-eyes will push him over the line if he's on the fence."
"Good idea," Hermione nodded, changing out of her house-clothes quickly and into jeans and a jumper. "Will you be alright with these three?"
"You don't want to take Ranulf, too?" Harry asked.
"Not this morning," Hermione shook her head. "He'll be tired and cranky after last night and Lucian needs to see his father desperately. Undivided attention will be better, I think. Maybe I can take Ranulf next time. If Kinglsey gives me permission, I'd like to take each of the boys to see their respective fathers individually, I think…"
"Go on then, love," Harry smiled as Dmitri rolled over and crawled across Harry's chest to pillow his head there, one of his little arms resting across Harry's stomach as he slept on. "We'll be here when you get back."
"I don't know what I'd do without you," Hermione told him seriously, shaking her head and feeling emotional, another tear slipping down her cheek.
Harry smiled kindly and reached for her one-handed, pulling her down when she took his hand. Hermione kissed him quickly before resting her forehead against his, taking strength from her best friend.
"We'll figure it all out, I promise," Harry told her. "And you know I'll always be here for you."
She nodded, closing her eyes against more tears and kissing him again before she kissed Dmitri's cheek and leaned over him to kiss Alrik's forehead when she saw that the toddler was awake and watching them solemnly.
"Good morning, Alrik," she whispered.
"Mummy," Alrik replied softly, touching her face softly. "Why sad, Mummy?"
"Just tired, darling," Hermione promised. "Be good for Harry while I'm away, won't you?"
Alrik smiled widely. "Good. Good. Good." The young boy promised, nodding.
Hermione smiled, ruffling his hair before straightening.
In the kitchen, Lucian had finished his breakfast and was pacing the length of the hallway repeatedly, looking worried.
"Come on, Lucian," Hermione said, holding her hand out to the child. "We're going to see the Minister for Magic, himself. He's who we have to convince to let you see your Dad."
"Can I go like this?" Lucian asked, looking down at his clothes indicatively.
"That's fine," Hermione nodded. "We'll have to apparate. Have you ever done it?"
"Dad took me," Lucian nodded.
He crossed to her quickly, burrowing into her stomach again and wrapping his arms tightly around her.
"Ready?" she asked.
Lucian nodded again.
"Alright, hold tight, sweetheart. One… two… three."
With a sharp twist, they disapparated with a loud crack and Hermione clung to the child tightly, until they landed in Kingsley Shacklebolt's apartment foyer. He had given her, Harry, and a number of other former Order members direct access and Hermione knew it was a little uncouth to call on him so early, but she didn't know what else to do.
"Kings?" she called out loudly.
"Hello?" Kingsley called back, sounding surprised at having company, though the crack of their entrance had tipped him off to the idea before her voice could.
Hermione released Lucian, who looked a little nauseous, and took his hand, leading him through the apartment.
"It's Hermione," she called.
"Hermione?" Kingsley asked, and she found him on the balcony off the kitchen, overlooking the park in the distance, enjoying a morning coffee and some breakfast in his pyjamas.
"Morning, Kings," she said, smiling at the man
"Good morning, love," Kingsley smiled welcomingly. "And who do we have here?"
"This is Lucian Greyback," Hermione told him. "Lucian, this is Kingsley Shacklebolt. He's the Minister for Magic."
"Hello," Lucian said warily, clenching Hermione's hand tightly.
"How do you do, Lucian?" Kingsley asked polite, smiling encouragingly at the boy and rising to his feet to reach out, offering his hand to Lucian to shake.
"Oh… um…" Hermione frowned. "He might not…"
Lucian surprised her when he hesitated before reaching over and shaking the proffered hand quickly. He retreated swiftly, almost darting behind Hermione in his wariness, squeezing her hand again with such force Hermione had to bite her tongue on a whimper.
"To what do I owe the pleasure, Hermione?" Kingsley asked. "Would you care to join me for breakfast?"
"Oh… well, we're…" Hermione began.
"There's food?" Lucian interrupted, peeking around her again.
"Of course, there is," Kingsley said. "Sit down, sit down. Tea?"
Lucian surprised her all over again when he sat opposite Kingsley, accepting the plate of food when an elf appeared, proffering more. He ignored the offer of tea, but immediately dove into the bacon, eggs and sausage on his plate, devouring it wolfishly.
"Full moon last night, wasn't it?" Kingsley asked, appealing to Hermione a little worriedly.
Hermione nodded, running a hand through her hair and sitting as well, taking the tea the Minister offered and sighing gratefully at the first sip.
Cups of tea fixed everything.
"That's why we're here," Hermione said. "Lucian would like to see his father. Actually, I'd like written permission from you to allow me to take each of the boys to see their fathers, please."
"To the prison? Hermione, it's no place for children…" he protested quietly before stopping when Lucian began to growl very softly in warning.
"Their fathers are inside, Kings," Hermione said. "Two of the three serving life sentences. Visitors are not prohibited, only discouraged. Lucian would very much like to see his father."
Kingsley frowned worriedly at her.
"Hermione," he began carefully, eyeing Lucian, who was watching the exchange with the eyes of a cunning predator, ever on the lookout for weakness.
With his wolfishness so recently at the surface, his eyes were threaded gold and Hermione suspected that only Kingsley's years as an Auror and his friendship with Remus allowed him to keep from quaking in his seat.
"Please, Kings," Hermione asked. "They're the children's fathers. It would be immoral to keep them parted when there is no legal reason that visitation is prohibited. They won't be in any danger."
"But they're just kids," Kingsley said. "Do they… understand?"
"My Dad broke wizarding law and was caught," Lucian interrupted, his voice gravelly as though the wolf lurked right beneath his skin, fighting for control. "Doesn't mean he's not my Dad, Minister."
Kingsley looked over at Lucian for a long moment.
"That's true, lad," he nodded, finally.
"They need passes, obviously," Hermione said. "I'd like to take Lucian to see Fenrir today, if possible."
"Blimey, Hermione. The day after a full moon? He'll be in no state…"
"He's been force-fed Wolfsbane, I believe?" Hermione raised her eyebrows in challenge.
"Told you that, did he?" Kingsley sighed.
"Well… I guess that's true enough. Not that it's stopped him from attacking anyone…."
"There is no cage and drug powerful to make a wolf forgets it's nature, Kingsley," Hermione reminded quietly, quoting something Remus had once said to the pair of them when discussing werewolf rights and the dangers of Remus returning to one of the packs during the war.
Kingsley sighed, sitting back in his chair and glancing between Hermione and Lucian quickly.
"True," he conceded.
"The passes?" Hermione asked.
"For Fillan and Rieka too?" Lucian asked, looking hopefully at Hermione. "And Pup?"
"Pup?" Kingsley frowned.
"The second boy of Greyback's in Ministry custody," Hermione prompted. "In my custody, now."
"The nameless one?" Kingsley guessed.
"We've christened him Ranulf," Hermione said.
"Who are Fillan and Rieka?" Kingsley frowned. "I thought Dolohov and Rowle had boys… Alrik and Dmitri, wasn't it?"
"Fillan and Rieka are Greyback's other children."
"There're more of them?" Kingsley's eyes widened in shock. "How many have you adopted, Hermione?"
"Fillan and Rieka live with the Pack," Lucian piped up.
Kingsley looked baffled, turning his eyes to Hermione once more, waiting for an explanation.
"I haven't met them," she said. "They're Lucian's half siblings. Both to different women from before Fenrir ran across Lucian's mother."
"And you want passes for them? If they don't live with you… why…?" Kingsley said.
"They'll come," Lucian told her. "I'm out now. I know they'll come."
"Here, now, son, I can't just be giving out Azkaban passes to any old body," Kingsley reasoned with the child.
"But they're Pack," Lucian frowned as though that changed everything.
"Even so," Kingsley said. "What proof do I have that they'll uphold the rules, lad?"
"They're Pack," Lucian repeated.
Hermione sighed sadly, reaching to smooth a hand through the confused boy's hair when he started to snarl.
"If I speak for them, can we have the passes?" Hermione asked.
"You haven't even met them, Hermione," Kingsley said.
"I know," she sighed. "But I expect it won't be long…"
Kingsley frowned deeply, his eyes conveying concern for her even if he didn't voice it in front of Lucian.
"How about we get you passes for yourself and the boys in your care, and when the time comes that this Fillan and Rieka find you, we can revisit the issue?" Kingsley bargained.
"But they're Pack," Lucian said insistently.
"Lucian, sweetheart," Hermione said. "It might be days or even weeks before they come. Plenty of time to get them permission to see your Dad. I promise we'll get it for them as soon as they come, okay? Until they do, we'll have to settle for what's available, won't we?"
"But…" he protested, frowning.
"Do you want to see you Dad today or don't you, darling?" Hermione appealed. "If you want to go today, we can't have passes for Fillan and Rieka. If you want to wait until we can have passes for them, we'll go home and try to get some sleep, hmmm?"
Lucian growled again before shoving a whole breakfast sausage in his mouth and chewing it aggressively.
He didn't answer but Hermione looked back at Kingsley. The ex-Auror shook his head at the stubborn child and flicked his wand, summoning parchment and quill. He scratched out the required letter granting her and the boys permission to visit the prison whenever it suited them.
"I'll have official passes printed for the five of you, but this will do to get you in today," Kingsley said.
"Thanks, Kings," Hermione smiled tiredly. "I owe you one."
Kingsley waved her words away.
"Ready to go, Lucian?" Hermione asked.
Lucian pushed away from the table and rose quickly, stalking out of the room without saying goodbye. Hermione shook her head.
"Sorry," she apologised.
"It's fine. He's young. And last night was probably rough," Kingsley said, rising to his feet and hugging her goodbye despite being in his pyjamas. "Be careful with Greyback, Hermione. So close to a full moon, he might not be entirely himself, even with the Wolfsbane."
"I'll be alright," she said, rolling up her sleeve to show him the bite Fenrir had given her. "Apparently this make me Pack, too. As long as his boys are in my custody, I'll be safe with Fenrir."
"He did that?" he confirmed, eyeing the scabbed over wound.
Hermione nodded, shrugging. "Something wolfish to communicate to Lucian to trust me. I'm alright."
"The boy expects his siblings to join you at the cottage?" Kingsley pushed.
Hermione nodded again, glancing in Lucian's direction again.
"Lucian believes they'll have heard him howling and that they'll come for him. I think it might be best that I speak to Fenrir about it, just in case…."
"How are you holding up about the papers?" he asked.
"Let's just say that Ms Vane should expect an unpleasant visit from me just as soon as things settle down at the cottage," Hermione said darkly.
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that," he said.
"I'll be back to discuss some things about the state those boys were living in too, Kings," she warned the wizard steadily.
"Shall I have Carol schedule you in for a meeting?" he asked, smiling good-naturedly.
"That might be best," Hermione nodded solemnly.
"Next week?" he suggested.
"Sure," she said. "I better go."
"Be careful, Hermione," he said kindly. "And if there's anything else you need, you know where to find me."
Hermione thanked him, before heading for the other room where she found Lucian pacing up and down the entrance hall just as he'd done in the kitchen at the cottage, obviously agitated.
"Ready to see your Dad, sweetheart?" Hermione asked Lucian, trying to sound upbeat, rather than worried.
Lucian nodded, converging on her quickly and wrapping his arms around her middle tightly, obviously waiting for them to apparate. Uncertain she was even allowed to apparate directly to the prison without an escort, but willing to try it just the same, Hermione closed her eyes and twisted sharply, her arms wrapped around Lucian tightly and clinging to him as she thought of the place she'd landed on her last visit to Azkaban prison.
When they landed, Lucian pulled away from her quickly, falling to his knees and vomiting on the rocky beach, obviously regretting scoffing down so much food at Kingsley's place before the nauseating affect of apparating.
"Are you alright, darling?" Hermione asked sympathetically, vanishing the mess he'd made and smoothing her hand over his back comfortingly.
Lucian wiped his mouth before he looked up – way up – his eyes widening in horror as he took in the towering structure of the prison and the tiny beach, thrashed by the waves that surrounded it.
"Dad's in there?" Lucian breathed, looking a little terrified.
"That's right," Hermione said softly. "He's inside. This is Azkaban prison, Lucian."
Lucian gulped audibly while a collection of Aurors converged on them, wands out threateningly until they realised who she was and until Lucian rose to his feet and they noted that he was just a little boy.
"Miss Granger?" one of the Aurors asked, sounding baffled at the sight of her. "You're not supposed to be here."
"I have authority," she said, handing over the letter from Kingsley.
"This is from the Minister," he said when he read it. "And this is…?"
He eyed Lucian.
"Lucian Greyback," Hermione answered.
"Bloody hell," someone exclaimed. "Fenrir Greyback's boy?"
"One of," Hermione nodded. "We'd like to see him, please."
Lucian said nothing, cowering into her a little, obviously intimidated by the powerful wizards and still scared at the unnerving sight of Azkaban Prison towering above them.
"Was a full moon last night," one of them argued and Hermione sighed.
"We're aware. Take us to Greyback now, please."
They all exchanged glanced before looking at Lucian's determined face.
"I want to see my dad," he said roughly, his voice thick.
"Blimey," someone muttered. "Come on then. On your head be it, Granger."
Hermione nodded in agreement, taking Lucian's hand and allowing the Aurors to escort her and the child into the hideous building. And if Lucian clung to her side so tightly that she could feel him trembling, well, that could be their secret, couldn't it?