Notes} Yesss, the Quidditch Cup was /supposed/ to happen last summer (every four years). But just roll with the changes in this story ;) Thanks for those who reviewed, xoxo.
If there was one thing Harry would take away from this summer, it was that Caleb White was an incredible fighter, and he definitely was not a pushover with a silly grin on his face. Though he tended to be a bit jubilant the majority of the time, Harry quickly discovered what kind of predator prowled underneath.
The first few weeks of summer were painful: figuratively and literarily.
The temper and anger he woke up with those many weeks ago grew significantly worse days after his 'awakening'. It had taken a few beatings and several, upon several of mediation lessons to get his temper in check. A part of him just wanted to be an immature, rebellious teenager, but Harry had eventually succumbed to the harsh realities of being a werewolf.
There was no time to act like a hotheaded idiot. During the times he found himself reverting to such a silly role, Caleb's sharp tongue and even sharper strikes brought him back down to reality.
Physically brutality was no longer uncommon. It was no longer scandalous and shameful. It was a necessity in the werewolf community.
According to Caleb, Harry would hate the Alpha by the end of this summer. The Seer couldn't have been more wrong. Though the number of physical dominations could have made Harry hate the Alpha, it did nothing to stop the admiration. He admired the way Caleb treated his pack, the way he held each member in high regard.
The man was calm, impish, and graceful. That wasn't to say that he wouldn't hand out physical punishment when needed, but in most cases, he shrugged off situations with inappropriate comments and a joyful grin.
Harry desperately wanted to be like Caleb, but he knew he'd never possess such casual impishness. He didn't want others to wonder if he'd knocked his head a few times too many. What he wanted to mirror most of Caleb was the Alpha's air of authority and elegance. Others flocked to Caleb for this very same reason.
Though the Alpha did not possess an impressive stature, quite the opposite actually, he did possess the aura of authority.
Moreover, he fiercely protected those under his care.
It was admirable, and Harry strived every day to eventually obtain a position of leadership like that.
"Good, good," Caleb praised as Harry ducked. One thing that encouraged Harry to try harder was Caleb's tendency to actually praise. The praise was alien to Harry, and it certainly did its job."You're getting better. Much better."
Harry threw up his arm and blocked another hit. He grabbed his opponent's hand and twisted it, flipping around in the air and keeping his grip. At the added twist, his opponent's socket popped from its confinements. Once he landed back on his feet, Harry kicked his opponent's neck, causing the body to stumble and fall lifelessly to the ground.
Breathing heavily, Harry watched as the imaginary opponent disappeared at Caleb's command. The Alpha approached from his observation area, his expression oddly serious.
"You're anxious," he commented keenly. "That was a precarious hit. I didn't teach you to execute that until it was absolutely necessary."
Harry fisted his shirt, feeling the sweat drip down his neck and underneath the collar of his shirt. "I feel like I still have a long way to go." He was frustrated. "School is going to start soon and I don't think I could take on any of Greyback's pack yet. I've heard the rumors. The Ministry and Greyback are closing in on the final stages. He'll get custody of me before school even starts."
Caleb pressed his lips together. "You're not ready yet, no. And yes, you have a long way to go."
Harry scowled and looked away.
"But that doesn't mean you haven't improved significantly this summer." The Alpha cleared his throat. "I taught you this fighting technique because I don't anticipate you having a very large stature. You'll probably be tall and lithe, but not impressively burly. Performing power combat, like the majority of Greyback's pack, would not suit you. You're a natural athlete, Harry. Very graceful. Have patience."
By this fighting technique, Caleb meant a distance fighter. Harry had to rely on his athleticism, his speed, and his flexibility in combat. There was an obnoxious amount of kicking and flipping, but it felt right. The Alpha knew what he was doing. It had taken Harry quite some time to figure out how to channel his canine's grace in his movements. Because of his difficulty in learning the mere basics, he'd spent far more time in the puppy cabin than he would have liked.
"That still doesn't change the fact that I'll be pummeled by his pack."
"Greyback will not take you early. He'll let you attend your Fifth Year in peace. Besides learning how to fight, the rest of your training needs to come from real-life mistakes and experiences." Caleb suddenly appeared mischievous. "Alex, you can come in now."
Puzzled, Harry watched as a familiar boy stepped inside the room.
"Harry, this is Alex Dross."
Harry looked from the boy with curly hair back to Caleb. "I know," he supplied shortly. "I bunk with him."
"Do you?" Caleb inquired innocently. He placed his hands on Alex's small shoulders. "You're Mr. Antisocial, Harry," he sang sweetly. "Can you truly say you know Alex here?"
Times like these reminded Harry why Caleb could be extremely infuriating. "I know of him," he corrected himself. At Caleb's stern look, Harry expanded. "I don't want to get to know anyone intimately. I won't be here next summer. What's the point of forming attachments?"
"What the point of forming attachments, he says," Caleb mocked, making eye contact with the boy in his grasp. Harry suppressed a sting of jealousy at how close they appeared. "Well, I'll remedy your mistake by forcing the two of you to become fast friends. Alex will be attending Hogwarts with you this year. He's only fourteen, but he will be attending the same Year as you."
Alex, the boy with warm brown eyes and a noticeable space between his front teeth, smiled at Harry. "I will try to keep up with you."
Harry surveyed the two werewolves in front of him, scowling at Caleb's encouraging nod. He wanted to know why Caleb was sending this other boy with him, but he kept his questions to himself. "I can help you out with the coursework if you need it."
At his offer, Caleb and Alex looked at one another and snickered. Harry's scowl deepened. Clearly, the two were enjoying a private joke that only they were privy to. "I find it amusing as well," he drawled.
"Aw, Harry, don't be so dour. You're far too young to carry that heavy frown." Caleb removed his hands from Alex's shoulders and pranced toward Harry. "I homeschool all my pups here. In Hogwarts terms, Alex has already passed his Seventh Year. He will try to stay down to your level, though. Isn't that right, Alex?"
Alex smiled faintly, though with a sharp look from Harry, he glanced away in submission.
Caleb stopped behind Harry. "There is something very unique about Alex, but I'll let you determine that for yourself. During your school year, please take advantage of his presence. Spar every day and you might not be so far behind once Greyback collects you from the Platform at the end of the year."
This time, Harry couldn't help the scorn in his tone. "He's a bit… small and young."
A hand wrapped around the back of his neck and squeezed warningly. "What have I told you about underestimating your opponents, Harry?"
Harry scoffed. "You never mentioned anything about that."
Caleb's hand loosened around his neck and his surprised expression moved closer to Harry's face. "Oh?" he exclaimed in astonishment. The Alpha looked between Harry and Alex. "I could have sworn we had that lesson…" he trailed off before smiling blindingly. "Swell. This will be an excellent lesson for you, then. I don't anticipate you besting Alex this year, but it will help you quell your arrogance."
"I don't have arrogance," Harry hissed.
Caleb simply smiled in response.
The man was… exasperating. Nonetheless, Harry looked back at the younger werewolf, contemplating Caleb's high praise for the boy. He pushed his jealousy away and wondered if there was truth behind Caleb's words. Maybe Harry was being a bit arrogant by underestimating someone he had yet to combat against.
He never intended to be arrogant, especially when he didn't have talent to back up said arrogance.
Just as he was about to apologize to the boy, Alex spoke first.
"Would you like to be partners for Lunar Days, Harry?"
Harry opened his mouth before closing it abruptly. "Lunar Days?" he repeated dumbly. "What the bloody hell is that?"
A smart tap caught his cheek. "Language," Caleb hissed. "I could have sworn I told you about this in one of our lessons…" he trailed off with a shrug. "Lunar Days is an annual celebration for the werewolves. All the Power Alphas and their pack members assemble for a summer festival. We camp out, eat food, have contests, eat food, and did I mention eat food?" Amber eyes widened with admiration. "The food, Harry, is what makes the Lunar Days so impressive. You're a growing boy, you'll enjoy it, I'm sure."
Harry shifted and clenched his fists. He practiced deep breathing in order to push down his rising frustration. "My friend, Ron, invited me to the Quidditch World Cup. I asked you if I could go and you said yes." He lifted his eyebrow and smiled tightly at Caleb. "Remember, Caleb?"
Despite Harry's blatant disrespect, Caleb simply raised his eyebrows in mock surprise. "Did I?" he spluttered. "As much as I'd like for you to be my puppy, Harry, you are technically Greyback's responsibility. He will be at Lunar Days. You can ask him yourself."
That immediately quelled all of Harry's anger until it grew back with startling intensity.
Caleb turned his heel. "You cannot hate the man forever, Harry. He had no control over it."
Harry watched the Alpha leave the room, silently fuming. Of course he could hate Greyback forever, though, perhaps hate was too strong of a word. Dislike, certainly. He tried not to think about what he overheard those many weeks ago between Caleb and Greyback, but it came back to haunt him occasionally. He vowed he'd never succumb to Greyback like that.
He'd rebel. He'd fiercely rebuke fate.
Harry slowly turned to look at Alex. He tried softening his features into something more approachable, though he had a feeling he failed miserably.
"Here comes Caleb and his pack of monkeys."
Harry didn't think the comment was meant to be mocking, but his lip curled nonetheless. A fierce bout of protectiveness swelled in his chest as he settled on a branch and looked down at the occupants. Despite Caleb's comment yesterday, about Harry being Greyback's responsibility, Caleb always went out of his way to include Harry as a member of his own pack.
Moreover, Harry definitely considered Caleb his true Alpha.
Looking down at the werewolves, Harry marveled at the numbers and the clear pack distinctions. Each Power Alpha had at least fifty to over a hundred members. It was a bit amusing to be able to identify the pack members of the Marvel Alphas and Greyback's members.
Caleb undoubtedly had the most children in his pack. The ratio of male to female was also equal.
Andrea Marvel seemed to have more females in her pack, and her brother, Andrew, had predominantly men. Both packs dressed sophistically and richly, as if they didn't have plans to camp outside for the next few days. Greyback's pack, on the other hand…
Harry leaned against the tree to get a better angle. He suppressed a shudder.
Greyback's pack was clearly the dominant group. Caleb tried to tell Harry repeatedly that it was an elite pack, but Harry hadn't really grasped it until now. They were mostly all men, though there were a few women. Their expressions were nearly as hard as their muscular and toned bodies. Harry thought Remus Lupin stuck out like a sore thumb, though the man seemed to have gained weight and muscle since the last time he'd seen him.
A brief flutter of hopelessness flared within Harry, but he immediately smothered it with fierce determination. He finally understood why Greyback wanted him in his pack, but that didn't mean Harry would take advantage of Greyback's protection.
If Harry was going to be a part of Greyback's pack, he would earn his spot. He wouldn't be a patsy and he wouldn't be known as the Alpha's mate.
"You know how I love to make an entrance."
Caleb dropped from his perch and the rest of his pack followed his lead. Harry jumped from his position in the tree, fighting the stupid grin as adrenaline licked his body. It was a far drop, but he'd done it countless of times before. Caleb's pack thrived in the trees. It had been a long while since Harry was on solid ground.
He landed in a crouch, one leg bent, the other supporting his weight. The other members of the pack dropped near or around their Alpha, silent and still.
"Did you bring our golden new pup, White?" a man with a cruel voice inquired from Greyback's pack.
Harry scowled, the tips of his ears warming with anger. He knew there would be animosity. They probably all hated him for creating havoc within their pack. Phillip Hobbs was proof of that animosity. Nevertheless, if they really wanted someone to blame, they could blame their own bloody Alpha.
"I brought more than my puppies," Caleb replied airily. He had a unique ability of diffusing the situation. "I brought this special new recipe that I'd been itching to try. Deep-fried pickled sweet potatoes. Doesn't that just sound scrumptious?"
That really wasn't a thing, was it? Harry's anger abruptly dissolved and a wary grin settled across his lips. Slowly, he stood up with the rest of the pack members, watching Caleb's back as he interacted with the unimpressed werewolves.
"Why are we just waiting around?" Caleb continued, sounding oddly distressed at the immobile forms. "Why don't we get the festivities started, eh?" As he clapped loudly, a wave a magic washed over the clearing.
Small lanterns appeared around the trees, tables upon tables of food popped into existence, large tents sprouted out of nowhere, and small obstacles and games appeared for the children. And that was just what Harry could see. The event spread for acres, mostly all wooded. It would probably take him all day to walk around and absorb all the different attractions.
If on cue, the children raced off with high-pitched squeals, ignoring their parents as they hollered after them. Eventually, the rest of the adults tapered off, leaving behind the tense-filled group.
"I'd like to see Potter." Someone demanded from Greyback's pack. "Step aside, White."
When Caleb reluctantly stepped aside, Harry was right there, standing tall under the sudden surveillance. The attention was not unfamiliar, nor was the open hostility in the eyes of some of the pack. Greyback's entire pack stayed behind to catch a glimpse of him, the newest addition that caused so much angst within their numbers.
As soon as their curiosity was sated, they slowly retreated. Harry tried to meet eyes with all the members, not caring if they thought it was an act of defiance. He wanted them to know their distaste did not intimidate him.
The majority of Caleb's pack remained silent observers, spread in a semi-circle behind both Harry and Caleb. A few of the more aggressive members of Greyback's stayed rooted in their positions, especially the blonde-haired werewolf who'd demanded to see him earlier.
His amber eyes and his wild hair reminded Harry of fire. The man's eyes were certainly bright enough. Harry calmly gazed back at him, undeterred and unconcerned.
"Phst," the man exhaled in spiteful amusement. His intimidating posture diffused. "You're nothing but a kid."
Harry shoved his hands into his pockets and shrugged indifferently. "I didn't know what else you expected from a fifteen-year-old."
The man's eyes widened and his face flushed hotly. Harry knew, though, that it was not out of embarrassment, but of fierce anger. The other werewolf opened his mouth, most likely to deliver a scathing remark, but he literally jerked into silence as a fist rose in the air. It was if the fist somehow grabbed the blond-haired werewolf's tongue and held it captive.
"It's good to see you alive and well, pup," A deep, quiet voice interjected. "While most introductions can wait until later, I'd like to introduce you to a few members now."
Harry knew that voice and he knew Greyback was the one to silence the unruly werewolf with just his fist alone. There was a reason why Harry hadn't looked in Greyback's direction earlier. For some, unexplainable reason, he was… he was a bit uncomfortable around the man. Perhaps it was intimidation, but he hated to consider that as the case.
Maybe it was the fact that Harry knew he was Greyback's destined mate.
Whatever the reasons were, Harry pushed them aside and finally looked at the Alpha. The clear, predatory blue eyes instantly caused Harry to look away, his body washing cold. As soon as he realized what he'd done, he refocused on Greyback once again, his ears turning warm. He avoided direct eye contact, but at least he wasn't looking away like a sniffling submissive.
Behind him, Caleb snickered.
"You've already met Aelius," Greyback continued smoothly, motioning to the angry blond werewolf. "Though there are times I am ashamed to admit it, he is my son and one of my betas." Without missing a beat, the Alpha pointed to another man with dark hair and blue eyes. "And my other son, Jericho."
Son. Sons. Plural.
Harry stared, unware that Greyback had children, though 'children' probably wasn't the most accurate description. Despite the surprising revelation, he supposed it made sense. Both the Alpha and his sons were older than Harry. Greyback wouldn't have waited around for a predestined mate before having children. Caleb informed him that true mates did not occur often, and as a result, most werewolves did not anticipate ever having one.
"It's a pleasure to finally meet you," the brunette —Jericho— said pleasantly, even offering a small smile.
The two brothers hardly looked alike. They were like night and day, both in personality and appearance. They shared a few features as Greyback, but other than that, Harry suspected that they had different mothers and were merely half-brothers.
"And this is Rohan, my second beta."
The short, stocky man nodded sharply at Harry in greeting. He had a baldhead and wore no sleeves, revealing the Dark Mark on his forearm. Harry stared at the mark, not understanding why the man displayed it so proudly.
He snapped his attention back to the group, realizing that the three werewolves were the only men Greyback wanted to introduce. "It's…" Harry trailed off, struggling for words. It wasn't nice to see them, or a pleasure, but he knew his manners. "It's nice to meet you all." His eyes caught Aelius' wild stare and he did nothing to suppress his impish grin at the man's obvious displeasure.
Caleb suddenly popped up next to Harry. "It's nice to see all of you start off on such a positive note," he sang pleasantly. "Now that the lines of communication have been opened, Harry has something to ask you, Greyback."
Harry scowled, flushing hotly. He gazed accusingly at Caleb. He didn't want to do it here, in front of everyone.
As if actually possessing a considerate bone in his body, Greyback waved at his pack members, instantly dismissing them. A few left reluctantly, but within seconds, Harry stood opposite of Greyback with just Caleb at his side. Even Caleb's pack had disappeared, deeming it a safe environment to leave their Alpha.
Greyback came to a stop just a few paces from Harry. With Greyback's close proximity, Harry was suddenly aware of their height difference and their stature differences. It had been a long while since Harry had interacted with the Alpha while coherent. It was in the summer of his Third Year, actually, during his first full moon.
"What is it, pup?"
Harry grimaced and clenched his fists together within the confinements of his pockets. "My friend, Ron, invited me to the Quidditch World Cup with his family. I wanted to ask your permission to go." Actually, Caleb wanted Greyback's permission. Harry received permission a week ago.
A hand suddenly reached out and grasped his chin. Harry found his attention forced on to Greyback's face. He withheld another grimace, wondering why his body felt weak. He avoided direct eye contact, and yet, the smothering proximity sent his mind reeling. He finally understood why so many feared and respected Greyback.
His power was absolute. It was so very tangible.
"What kind of security does Dumbledore have in mind for your group?"
Dumbledore? Security? Mindful of the calloused fingers grasping his jaw, Harry offered a miniscule headshake. "I'm just going with the Weasleys. I'm sure there will be security already there…"
Greyback raised his eyebrows and dropped his hand. "I don't feel comfortable with you going without added security detail. I am sure White agrees with me on this issue." His pale eyes swept the length of Harry. "I'm sorry, pup, but I think its best you stay behind and stay here for the festivities."
Without another word, Greyback turned his heel and swept off, leaving Harry standing dumfounded and ashamed.
"I'm so stupid," Harry whispered fiercely. "I just let him walk all over me!"
Caleb made a humming sound in the back of his throat. "You just need more practice when it comes to Greyback, Harry. That man is a legend. Most people can't even look at his face, let alone form coherent sentences." He patted Harry's shoulder. "You can't expect to engage in a pissing contest with him, especially when you just rediscovered your wolf. These things take time."
"You shouldn't have to practice dominance," Harry argued.
"On the contrary," the springy Alpha replied. "It takes work, practice, mistakes, and embarrassments to fully embrace a dominant role. You did well for your first time in front of Greyback's pack. You should be proud."
He wasn't proud; he was upset at himself. He had all these ambitions and dreams. His interaction with Greyback just proved how far behind he was with all of it! "I don't understand why I can't go to the World Cup," he complained… or more appropriately, sulked like a moody teenager. "You said I could go when Ron asked."
Caleb sighed dramatically and rolled his eyes, most likely trying to reenact Harry's sulky behavior. "It was not my place to grant you permission. And he's right, you know. There should have been more security guaranteed for this event. It's a big gathering, Harry. I don't feel comfortable with you going either."
He clasped Harry's shoulder, unaware of the growing anger in the teen's chest. "I need to address something with you. Just between the two of us." Lowering his voice, Caleb's hand tightened on his shoulder. "You may or may not realize that you hold a great deal of sway over him. There were reasons why I let you overhear that particular conversation I shared with Greyback. But just as a word of caution… do not take advantage of him. He will counter your defiance by pulling your leash tighter. You will not like the consequences."
Caleb was trying to warn him about something, but Harry could not appreciate it right now.
"Now why don't you wipe that petulant sneer off your lips and enjoy yourself." He led a reluctant Harry towards the festivities. "I really do want your honest opinion on those deep-fried sweet potatoes. And I overheard that they were bringing a refreshing spinach salad with blueberries and mandarin oranges. You must keep a look-out for that and let me know when you find it…"
He kept speaking and Harry kept stewing in his frustration.
It had been so easy, too easy. In fact, it had been so easy, he would have been ashamed with himself if he hadn't gone for it.
Ron Owled him a Portkey. From the letter, the Portkey would activate at a certain time and all Harry needed to do was touch it. And he had. He'd disappeared into the woods, somehow shaking Alex Dross' constant companionship or surveillance. Within a few strides into the thick woods, he disappeared from the werewolves.
He'd never traveled by Portkey before, but he added it to his least desirable means of travel.
Landing awkwardly on his feet, he stared, wide-eyed at the sight before him. He stood on top a grassy hill that overlooked thousands, upon thousands of tents. In the distance, he could see the imposing Quidditch field. How was he supposed to find Hermione and Ron in all this mess? With all these people?
A few men and women brushed past him, never once looking in his direction. He stared after their excited and animated figures, suddenly dumbfounded.
He was amongst the world of normalcy again. It felt good. It truly felt good.
Turning, he intercepted a bushy-haired girl. Harry chuckled and embraced Hermione back, relieved to be with these familiar faces once again. He looked at Ron and the group of redheads from over Hermione's head, grinning widely. Yes, he was relieved to be here. He supposed he'd gone against Greyback's word, but he'd gladly accept the consequences as long as he could savor this one event with his friends.
Yes, Harry's a bit immature and childish right now… but he is fifteen and he has a remarkable amount of things to absorb and swallow. Eventually, he won't have time to sulk. As I mentioned in the first chapter, this is a dark story. Many upcoming situations will force Harry to mature and take a position of leadership.