Lurking

"Charlie, how much farther? I have a really bad feeling about this.." Charlie Weasley looked over at me, tossing his red hair out of his eyes "Oh come on, Tonksy! You're not scared, are you? Where's your sense of adventure?" I rolled my eyes and scoffed, trying to act like lurking around the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night, on All Hollow's Eve, was something I did all the time. "Don't you trust me?" Charlie continued, pressing me up against a near-by tree "Don't you think I'll protect you against things that go bump in the night?" He quieted my protest with a long kiss, slipping his hands inside my robes. Sighing, I tangled my fingers in his hair and kissed him back. He could be as dull as dishwater sometimes, with his dragon obsession, but the boy could kiss.. "Alright" I muttered when I could speak again "Where is this secret place, then?" Charlie smiled and tugged me forward "Bill said it was just past the largest clearing, in that thicket. Come on, watch your step Baby"

I cautiously trudged behind him, clutching his hand in one hand and my wand in the other. I looked behind me, trying to gage how far we'd gone: I could barely see the top of the Astronomy Tower. A shiver ran up my spine: it felt like we were being watched, tracked even. "What time is it, Tonksy? I forgot my watch" I let go of his hand long enough to check "It's close to midnight" My voice sounded unusually loud in the silent forest "Ah, it's almost showtime then" Charlie dropped his voice to a mysterious whisper, and slipped his arm around me, putting his mouth right to my ear "Now, legend says, at the stroke of midnight on All Hollow's Eve, in that thicket right there, the ghost of the werewolf will appear, mourning for the lost love that he himself killed"

Just as we reached the thicket, the full harvest moon disappeared behind a patch of heavy clouds, plunging us into total blackness. I reflexively grabbed my wand and was just about to cast Lumos, when Charlie stopped me "No, Tonksy, you'll spook him. Just…wait" I pressed myself flush against him, which I am fairly certain was his plan all along, as the hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention, and the feeling of being watched grew stronger. My wrist vibrated as the alarm charm I'd cast on my watch went off "Midnight" Charlie breathed. I felt him tense next to me as we inched a little further into the thicket; the moon was still almost completely obscured. I couldn't stop my own breath from quickening in fear. Legend or no legend, this was bloody creepy.. After a few more minutes of fruitless waiting and silent tip-toeing deeper into the darkness, I was ready to beg Charlie to turn around and bring us back to the castle. Then suddenly, the moon broke free of its cloudy blanket, revealing a thick canopy of foliage..and a wolf we never even heard approaching.

I bit back a scream, and Charlie breathed a half terrified/half excited laugh "It's true.." he whispered "All this time a thought the prat was just trying to scare us, but the ghost wolf..it's true!" Clutching Charlie's arm tightly, I did a quick study of this 'ghost wolf': it was beautiful, a sandy brown with subtle grey streaks, and amber eyes that looked almost..human. Those eyes.. They stared right back at me, boring through mine, not missing a thing. My breath came in quick bursts as realization hit.. "Charlie" I moaned, my nails biting into his arm "That's not a ghost, you thick idiot! That's a real..a real werewolf" We both stood rooted to the spot, paralyzed with fear. The wolf shook itself, as if congratulating me on my revelation, and took an almost cautious step towards us. With reflexes I didn't know he possessed, Charlie drew his wand with one hand and shoved me behind him with the other "Stay back!" he shouted, pointing his wand threateningly at the wolf, who, amazingly enough seemed to understand. It sat back on its hunches, those eyes never leaving mine. I stared back, fascinated..

Charlie's whole body started to shake as he raised his wand higher "Confrin.." "NO!" I screamed, grabbing his arm with every ounce of strength I had, forcing it to a near-by tree, which exploded on impact; the werewolf didn't move. Charlie turned his head toward me "What's wrong with you?" he shouted angrily "You fancy being its midnight snack?" "It's not going to hurt us" I whispered "I just know it won't. Besides, if it was going to, it already would have. We were much more vulnerable before.." He still looked unconvinced, but lowered his wand none the less. "Let's go back..now" I pleaded, tugging at his arm. Charlie nodded, keeping his wand raised and wrapping his other arm securely around my waist. Giving the werewolf a last look, I turned and allowed myself to be led away.

"Are you sure we're going the right way?" I whispered. The identical trees, the constant peek-a-boo game the moon played with the clouds.. It was all too disorienting, and I was certain we had lost our way; the Astronomy Tower seemed no closer than it had twenty minutes ago "Of course Tonksy.. We're almost out of the thicket, then we'll be able to see more clearly" The lack of cocky confidence in his voice did not go unnoticed.. "If you say so.." I murmured, casting Lumos and circling my peripheral vision; it did seem like the woods were starting to clear..

I checked my watch: it was one-thirty in the morning, and we were no closer to Hogwarts. Even though he tried to hide it, I knew Charlie was starting to panic "Tonksy" he whispered "Do you happen to remember the Directional Charm Professor Flitwick taught us in Third Year?" "I think so.." I held my wand out and muttered "Directio" I felt a subtle vibration go through my arm, before it independently swung in the opposite direction of where we were heading "That can't be right, the castle is that way.. Are you sure you said it right?" Scowling, I pulled away from him "If you think you can do any better, you try it then!" He frowned back, and was just starting to raise his wand when a rustling sound came from behind us. We whirled around, wands raised: it was the werewolf..

It watched us for a moment, with those eerily human eyes, then cut a wide path around us until it stood just a few feet before of us. It sniffed the air and huffed, then trotted ahead, stopping to look at us over its shoulder "I..I think it wants us to follow it, Charlie" Unable to come up with a reason not to, we both shrugged and hesitated after the werewolf. After trudging along for a little while, I felt my fear and exhaustion turn into anger "We are so going to get expelled.. I cannot believe I let you talk me into this Charlie Weasley!" "Oh, come off it Tonks! If I recall, I didn't exactly have to twist your arm.." I stopped, stamping my foot in frustration, knowing he was right but refusing to admit it "That's it, we are through!" Charlie whirled toward me, wand raised. But whatever he was going to say was cut off, as with a vicious snarl, the werewolf jumped between us. It kept its back to me, shackles raised, snarling and snapping at Charlie, who stood totally dumbfounded. "No!" I croaked out as it advanced on Charlie.

"Stupefy!" As the werewolf fell stunned at my feet, Professor Snape burst out from behind a patch of trees, his face a contorted mask of anger. Keeping his wand raised, he stalked slowly toward us, his robes billowing in the wind behind him. "Whatever reason the two of you have for being out here, at this or any hour of the day or night, will not save you from heavy detention. Or from your parents being notified. I will also be speaking to Professor Dumbledore about the possibility of expulsion. You foolish children.." he spat out, his black eyes glinting in the moonlight "Now go, strait to your dorms. I need to take care of this.." He looked down at the werewolf while pointing us in the direction that it had been leading us. Charlie took off at once, not even checking to make sure I was behind him. I inched around the werewolf and followed, stumbling more than once and not noticing that I had dropped my wand.

"Rennervate" Professor Snape muttered. He stared into the werewolf's eyes as it stood and shook itself off "I don't know what in the bloody hell you are thinking, coming this close to the castle and interacting with the students! Have you lost your mind?" The werewolf growled deep in its throat, narrowing those amber eyes "Go" Professor Snape hissed "Now, before I change my mind" He whirled around, then stopped, his strong chin lifted. "I..I dropped my wand" I stammered, gripping it tightly and pulling my cloak closer around me "Mr. Weasley wasn't chivalrous enough to fetch it for you, then?" he sneered "Very well, back to your dorm Miss Tonks. Now" With a last piercing look, he strode ahead. Before I followed, I turned and gave the werewolf one final look. It stared back, its eyes almost gentle, as I lifted my hand in a small wave then followed Professor Snape. Little did I know that close to midnight, on All Hallows Eve, I had met my destiny lurking in the Forbidden Forest..

Thank you to RedOctoberRising for her lovely drawing! You can find it here: #/d4cyagu