Chapter 44

29 Jan 1994

Katie lay in the hospital bed, examining her finger. She'd been doing so for an hour now. It was not the first time she'd done so since she was retrieved from the Shrieking Shack.

The first full moon as a werewolf had been pure torment. The week before the full moon she slowly became more and more irritable, her body ached, her flesh felt like it was drawn tight across her body. Scents and sounds seemed too strong and nothing tasted right. Her own mind seemed split and the slightest irritant, be it Cormac, the Twins, Oliver's insane practices, or even Sara just asking if she was alright for the nine-thousand and first time, set off her anger.

If she was honest with herself, she was surprised no one noticed. Then again, all anyone could talk about was Harry Potter's re-emergence into the Wizarding World. Gringotts' New Year's Day announcement had created a firestorm of articles, speeches, gossip, and theories. Whatever people thought or said, the Lily Potter Memorial Fund had been activated by Harry Potter and was now taking bids and giving out scholarship money.

Still, she looked at her finger. Three days ago, it hadn't been there. Now it was there, but it wasn't right. She knew her fingers. This one wasn't like the rest. The nail was too thick. The flesh was too tough. It was hairier than her other fingers too.

'Proof I'm a werewolf is what it is. Now I know why they told me not to worry about losing it.' Katie thought. She had her finger back. All it took was an extraordinarily painful transformation and a night she couldn't remember.

'At least I don't have to wear that fake finger Professor McGonagall made me.' Katie thought. It was a masterfully made work of magic that looked like a finger and mirrored her motions, but it wasn't real. At least it kept people from asking about her missing finger. 'And now no one will ask how I got the new one. They will just ask what happened to it.'

The door opened and Professor McGonagall walked with Madam Pomfrey. The mediwitch gave her a quick once over. She flicked her wand and gave a couple of taps on Katie's new fingers. Why? Katie didn't know, but she wasn't going to question Madam Pomfrey.

"You are good to go when you feel up to it. Minerva, she is all yours." Madam Pomfrey said, apparently satisfied with her checks. She left for her office, leaving Katie alone with Professor McGonagall.

"How are you feeling Miss Bell?" Professor McGonagall asked.

Katie shrugged. "Better than yesterday." She answered honestly.

"Do you feel well enough to leave or do you want to stay here tonight?"

Katie thought it over for just a second. Getting into her own bed would be nice, but a part of her was afraid to go back and face questions about her absences she might not be able to answer without exposing everything.

The silence stretched on until Professor McGonagall spoke again. "You need not worry about anyone finding out. You aren't the first, as you well know. While we might have to be a bit more creative about the cause of your absences no one is going to find out."

"How could you tell?" Katie asked as her Head of House's words cut straight through to her fears.

"Remus has the same look after his first full moon."

"Oh," Katie said leaning back and looking at the ceiling. "You know them being around might have made this a bit better. That's what all those trips they took were for weren't they?" The fact that the Lupins were not returning had come as a surprise. Katie felt frustrated after she'd learned about it. Here she was in need of their help and they just disappeared back to the States.

Professor McGonagall nodded. "Possibly. At the very least it would have saved me trying to find a Defense Professor at the last moment."

Katie chose not to comment. The long angry tangent when Sara had asked about the new professor in their first Transfiguration class had seen to that. Turns out some things could get Professor McGonagall to show her temper.

"I guess I'm ready to head back," She said instead.

Professor McGonagall stepped out as Katie changed out of the Hospital gown and then escorted her back to the tower. Along the way, they stopped by Professor McGonagall's office so Katie could get all the work she had missed. Looking at the stack Katie forgot to stop a groan. Three days' worth had produced an annoyingly long list of work to ruin her weekend.

'At least I'm still here to do the work.' Katie told herself as she returned to the Gryffindor Tower. 'I'm still here.'

XxX

31 Jan 1994

Katie reached to catch Angelia's pass and missed. She dived, recovered the Quaffle, passed it, but the play was ruined. A second later, a Bludger hit her. The play continued as she shook off the blow and tried to get back into the drill.

Down one side of the pitch and back. Constant passing between the three Chasers as Fred and George did their best to slam them with a single Bludger until one of them took the shot on Oliver.

Another run. This time she managed to complete all the passes. Then it was her shot. A wind-up, a moment of unbalance, and the shot flew wide. Oliver didn't even bother moving.

"Katie, swap out with Aanaya." He called out instead. Katie scowled as she broke out of the rotation and started doing laps between the stadium towers. Aanaya, that damned second year, took her place in the drill until the end of practice.

Water cascaded down Katie's back in the locker room. Waiting for everyone to leave meant she wasn't going to have long for breakfast, but that was nothing new since she became a werewolf. It was more important to keep her teammates from seeing the scars on her back. It didn't ease her hunger, and this morning, it only fed into her frustration and anger.

'You miss three practices and they already start planning to swap you out.' Katie thought, punching the shower wall. 'Bloody Aanaya. Bloody Ginny for recommending her. Knobhead me for being shit.'

Katie wanted to blame Ollie for it. She really did, but… If she was honest, she knew her performance was off last week, she missed several days, and she played poorly today. Her typical lie about wanting to get a few minutes more in while everyone else showered was turning out to not be so much of a lie.

Katie quickly finished showering, threw on her school robes and hurried to breakfast. If she was quick, she might be able to make some kind of sandwich.

XxX

Katie was pulled from her musings as their new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, Annalise Carefree, strode to the front of the classroom, her clockwork prosthetic making soft whizzes and tings as the gears and springs within it whirled and flexed.

The retired and horribly scarred former curse breaker reached the front and whirled around. The move caused her hair, which hung down the right side of her face, to fly up and reveal her missing eye, ear, and cheekbone before it settled once again.

"Good Morning Class," She said in a crisp tone. All side conversations ceased, and all eyes fixed on her. They hadn't forgotten what happened to Terrence when he failed to give his full attention Professor Carefree's first day. None of them wanted a repeat.

"Good morning Professor," they chorused.

Katie wouldn't deny that Professor Carefree was a component teacher...

"I see you have turned in your homework, so we can finish our lesson on the undead." She said as the homework sailed off into her office after Professor Carefree pointed her wand at it.

Or skilled in magic. Still, Katie would have preferred Professor Lupin, and not only because of the recent changes in her life. Professor Carefree was blitzing through the material and up next...

"Today we will begin our next lesson. A monster which terrible in much the same way as a vampire and others that slink in human skin. A cursed form of life known as the Werewolf."

Katie felt her heart drop. She knew it was coming, but that didn't make it any better. This was the last thing she needed right now.

"There are many tales and stories about the werewolf. Some true, some not so much…" Professor Carefree continued her lecture. The whole time Katie's fear and worry grew.

XxX

10 Feb 1994

Katie sat in the common room with her back against the wall at the desk she had claimed. She saw Neville and a few others leaving.

'Hmm, I guess the study session things are still going on.' Katie thought. She hadn't given them much consideration since coming back. Between losing her silent casting tutor and what happened over the holiday.

Katie pressed her back against the wall, feeling the stone against her scars. She was being even more careful ever since those damn lessons on werewolves. Confident she was alone and safe if anyone did come by she pulled out her potion's essay and set to work.

Suddenly the space near her filled with a human body. "Hey Katie, are you alright?" Sara asked.

"Of course. Why wouldn't I be?" Katie said doing her best to sound confident.

"It's just that you have been acting weird since we got back. You won't change when I am in the room, you insist on bathing alone, you were out sick for a couple of days when you never get sick, and you have been kinda twitchy lately." Sara said. "Did something happen over the holiday?"

'Bugger! Bugger! Bugger! Can I obliviate her? Do I even know how? Would it work if she is just going to realize it again?' Katie though trying to keep the panic off her face.

"Katie?" Sara asked, laying a hand on her shoulder. A hand that was far too close to her scars for Katie's comfort.

Katie rolled her shoulder and moved slightly away from Sara so that her friend couldn't accidentally touch them.

"I'm fine Sara. I just realized that I wanted a bit more privacy in my life over the break." Katie said, hoping she could wave off Sara's concerns. Katie held her breath waiting for Sara's reply. The longer the silence went on the more she was sure Sara could hear how fast her heart was beating.

Sara held her with a searching stare for a moment. "Alright then. I guess I can understand. We have spent most of the past few years stuck together. You do know you can talk to me if anything is wrong, though right?"

"Of course I do," Katie assured Sara as her heart slowed back down.

"Alright, hey is that the potion's essay? Did you figure out…"

XxX

26 Feb 1994

Katie was stressed. Very very stressed this Saturday night. Which hadn't helped her in the days leading up to the full moon. Professor Carefree's lesson on werewolves took a whole week worth of classes and a weekend of homework. The whole time she was certain to be even more careful with what she did to make sure no one saw her back or got too good a look at her finger.

To make things worse, this month she was on Wolfsbane. How did that make things worse?

It tasted horrible, it made her feel sick, and now she would have to remember turning into a wolf under the full moon. Oh, and Professor Snape was more cross with her than his usual horrid self when she stopped by his office each day leading up to the full moon for the required doses.

She pushed herself through Friday's classes, refusing to let her curse prevent her from going to class. Now, she was in the Shrieking Shack once again after Professor McGonagall walked her out under disillusionment. After dropping her off, Professor McGonagall left, sealing the trapdoor to the passageway behind her.

Now she was just waiting for the moon to rise. Katie shivered in fear despite telling herself it was only the cold as she took her clothes off. She didn't want to ruin another set of robes. Waking up to a pile of rags last month wasn't something she wanted to make a repeat affair.

'Tonight. I will remember tonight. That makes it more terrifying than last month.' She thought, walking around the house. Here and there she saw signs of previous inhabitants, both long ago and more recent. It made her feel lonely and lost to be the only one there, yet she was glad she wasn't stuck with the monsters that kidnapped her or some other creature that roamed the night.

'This is my life now,' She thought dropping to the ground and leaning against the wall. At the back of her mind, the steadily growing influence of the wolf pressed against her psyche, though much weaker than the last time.

Looking down she could already see brown hair starting to grow on her new finger as the nail thickened even more and the flesh darkened. Then came the pain.

Katie screamed as her bones began to change. Her flesh stretched and hair erupted across her body. Her scream turned to howls as her vocal cords changed. After a long few minutes, she collapsed to the ground.

Collecting herself, Katie struggled up and wound up sitting back on her haunches taking in the world through a wolf's eyes for the first time she could remember.

Katie released a pant of relief once she realized she was still in control. The wolf was there, at the back of her mind. Its rage, its desires, bleeding through, but she could ignore it. It didn't control her.

Katie jumped up in joy, then collapsed back down in depression. She wasn't controlled by the wolf, but…

She took in her twisted form. Clawed feet where only the toes rested on the ground when she stood. Wicked clawed hands with thick pads on too long of arms. Standing she felt hunched over.

A feeling of 'Lean forward. Lean forward. Lean Forward.' Came from the presence at the back of her mind.

Katie hesitantly obeyed and felt much more comfortable on all fours. She took a tentative step forward and spent a few minutes flailing around before she got the hang of it.

It was about then she noticed the scent. The scent of something else there with her. Katie snapped her head up as she inhaled deeply and just as quickly sat back and grabbed at her nose with her hands as her sense of smell was overloaded.

Feelings of anger and frustration came from the wolf, but Katie ignored it as she tried to deal with all the new information. There were so many scents, so much information. Some were faint. Some were very strong, but they were all there. Yet, the strongest was oddly familiar.

It was one she knew, but she couldn't place it. Then the source came around the corner.

"Black!" She tried to say. Instead, it came out as a snarling bark. Then she tried again. And again. By the fifth try, Black was rolling on his back laughing in a canine howl.

Katie frowned and dropped back on all fours. She tried quirking her head to the side like she'd seen dogs do in the past.

Black stopped laughing and sat up. He jerked his head to the side a few times and bounded off. Katie hesitated a second. Black came back, barked a few times, and then bounded off again. Katie took a step after him, stumbled, and wound up on the ground.

Black came back, looked down at her sprawled on the floor, then slapped a paw over his snout.

Much later, Katie stood reading a wall of text Black had apparently painted on one of the upstairs walls.

She knew he'd run around with his friends on full moons in the past. That one of those friends was a werewolf and thus the whole reason he was an animagus. That werewolves couldn't turn an animagus in their animal form.

What she hadn't expected was that he would do the same for her.

Yet here he was. A note of apologies for being too slow to prevent it and a promise to always be there for her on these nights as long as he could. Katie grabbed him and wrapped him up in a lupine hug. Maybe these nights wouldn't be so bad after all.

XxX

AN: So as you may have noticed we are starting to move a bit quickly through the months. This is for two reasons. First, without James/Harry at Hogwarts nothing big is going to happen until Tournament time for him other than basic training montage type stuff. Likewise for Katie it is going to be coming to terms with her new life until Pettigrew happens. Secondly, I was going for a show don't tell kind of storytelling but I realized I was going to far to the other side.

Otherwise thank you for the reviews, have a good one!