The bride and groom paused in the exchange of ham and corn.
"Stop," the shaman panted as she strode into the townhouse. "The spirits who had once blessed this union will curse it if it continues as such."
Everyone turned to the old woman in surprise. What had been done that would anger the spirits so?
"Your future has already been foreseen, dear one," she addressed the groom as she strode further into the room. "It is not with her. The wolf will devour you within months… only to leave a mourning wife."
The groom started, his widening just slightly as his tribe turned to him with mournful eyes. It was nigh unheard of to have a foretelling of your death but when it did… They never failed to happen within the given time limit. He only had months to live.
Harry staggered forward, clutching Teddy's sleeping body tightly. Travelling so long avoiding civilization was starting to take it's toll. He was tired and hungry. Even magic had it's limits when you were constantly on alert and fleeing from very persistent aurors. Especially when he couldn't use it without being tracked down hours later. Of course, his friends sent him care packages when they could but it wasn't very often considering how scarce he was making himself.
The green-eyed man glanced up at the setting sun and gave a mournful sigh. He would have to find a tree for his godson to sleep in tonight.
Two months. Two months of knowing the end was coming soon but not exactly when or how. Really, he was getting tired of the tribe treating him as if he was already dying. Yes, he wanted to be with the spirits but he wanted to spend what time he had left with the company of his loved ones. Was that really too much to ask for?
With an aggravated huff, he brought the handmade pipe to his lips and took a deep draw of the calming smoke. Instantly he relaxed and settled himself further onto the tree roots. He just needed to relax. The spirits knew what would happen and he would allow-
The tan skinned male sat up straight and glanced around the clearing. It was only a few minutes until sunlight but…
A vicious howl rent the lightening sky followed by another scream of a small child. He jumped to his feet, the pipe falling to the ground from his slackened hand, and took off further into the forest. A wolf… perhaps this was where he would die? If so, it would not be a bad way to die. Protecting someone, that is.
He finally heard the sobs of the child, as the sun was rising in the air, and sprinted to the damaged tree he was hiding in. Big, bigger than he'd ever seen, claw marks littering the length of the tree ending just about two feet from where the child was hanging onto a branch for dear life. And there was a heavy, stomach curdling stench of blood that drenched the area.
The small black haired boy in the tree sniffed before letting out a weak, "Papa," as he glanced down at the other side of the tree.
He was almost afraid to go check on what was sure to be a mutilated corpse but he pushed on. He was strong, a leader, this would not deter him. Though it did almost make him turn back around; if it wasn't for the herbs he had just smoked he might have. The male body on the ground was smaller than him and paler. Definitely not from around here…
As the sun rose a little higher, bits of light filtered through the trees illuminating the gory scene even more. Scratches and bites littered his arms and legs and what he could see of the man's hands were cracked nails and sluggishly bleeding bites. The only indication that it wasn't just a body lying there was the slightly rattling breath the other was taking.
It took him a few minutes to coax the boy, seven or eight maybe, out of the tree with the offer of healing his father the best he could. Then he was carefully lifting the broken foreigner into his arms, ignoring the stains he was never going to get out, and set off towards the village.
Harry groaned and shifted around on the soft sheets, mattress springs creaking beneath him. Where was he? Why was it so dark?
"Hush now, foreigner. It is too early for you to be thrashing about as such."
The voice was wispy with a bit of a rasp and most definitely female. Her scent was soothing and indicated her elderly age before her hands even settled upon his arms.
"Wh-er-her," Harry attempted before giving up and settling for hacking up half a lung as painful spasms ran through his body.
"Calm now," the elderly woman said and then there was breath of smoke in his face. Harry couldn't help but inhale deeply. The pain started to fade and his mind drifted as if on a cloud. Part of him protested. Where was he? What happened? Was Teddy okay? Why couldn't he open his eyes? But those were drifting too and soon he was back to sleep.
Slowly he inhaled another puff of his pipe as he gazed at the foreigner. He never thought that people could actually get so white. Sure he had seen white men but this was… The man was as white as a sheet of paper. Surely that wasn't normal?
A soft groan from the bed interrupted his musings and he shifted his attention to the enigma on the bed. By all rights, he should be dead. Even with the Healers help the blood loss the man had suffered was critical and there was no medical facility around for miles that could help with transfusions. Then there was the state of his internal organs. Mush really. As if the wolf had shoved his snout in the man's gut and dug around. But still somehow he was alive.
"H-he-llo-oo," he croaked.
He sucked in a breath and allowed the smoke to exhale slowly through his nose. "Hello, foreigner."
"I am Mink. You are a guest of my tribe."
"Tr-iib-e?" There was a pause, "T-eed-dy?"
Teddy. Another little enigma. The little boy had refused to leave the tent for the first few days before the shaman had declared his father stable. Normally this would be fine but… He could swear he saw the child's hair color change several times but whenever he would look again it would be black.
"Your son is safe. He is outside playing with the other children."
"You've been asleep for two weeks."
There was an explosive rattling sigh and one of his pale arms came up to rest against the bandages around his eyes. At first no one thought the boy would see again but the shaman said he would be fine in that regard. It was strange seeing he now had several scratches across his eyes but Mink was inclined to believe the old woman.
"Th-aaa-nk..." his voice trailed off into slumber again.
Mink felt his lips quirk up slightly. He was glad this man wouldn't die. He was stubborn. It was a good trait to have.
For the third time Harry woke to darkness. This time though, his thoughts were mostly clear of cobwebs and his body felt much stronger. He weakly lifted his hand to the bandages on his face and felt around for the edges. He didn't need this thing anymore. Two weeks the man smelling of cinnamon had said. That meant, depending on how long he'd been asleep this time he had less than two weeks until the full moon. He'd have to leave by then.
There was a slight rustle and the smell of herbs that Harry vaguely remembered from the first time he woke. So, the old woman then? It was blurry and hard to remember.
"Ah, Mr. Potter you are awake again. Good. Your son will be happy with this news." Definitely the wispy old lady. "I can see you've been picking at those bandages," she clucked disapprovingly. "No matter. They can come off now."
And then there were strong soft hands moving his own away and tugging off the nuisance on his face. Finally, finally they were unwrapped and he opened his eyes hesitantly. Then slammed them back down.
The damned old lady chuckled at him and shuffled around for a minute while Harry tried to adjust to the bright light.
"Here, foreigner, this will help with your throat."
The brunette blinked blearily at the blurry wooden cup in front of his face. It smelled of water so he inched forward and pushed himself upwards, ignoring the slight tremors his abs and arms gave, so the cup was right next to his lips. Embarrassingly, he couldn't move his arms otherwise he'd lose his support so the old woman (who he could almost make out now if it wasn't for that halo of light behind her) held the back of his head while she tipped the water in.
It burned a bit at first because his throat was so dry but then it was cool and soothing and perfect. Just what he needed, thank Merlin.
The smell of cinnamon pervaded his senses only moments before he heard that deliciously deep baritone voice calling the healer. A large frame walked in the doorway blocking the rest of the light and Harry couldn't help the small gasp that escaped him. This guy… was one hell of a specimen. Tall and broad with thick well defined muscles that were perfectly sized for his body type, not too big or too small. His dark brown hair was thick, long, and cascaded down his back turning red at the ends with a few braids and beads and feathers throughout. Then there was his face. High protruding cheekbones with an aquiline nose and intense golden eyes. All of this offset by his perfectly tanned golden skin and the dark jeans, heavy knee high combat boots, and cream button shirt. The guy was like a wet dream come true!
"Ah, Mink, back to check on Mr. Potter?" The Healer, a thin old wrinkly lady with tan skin, white hair (with the same random spread of beads and feathers as Mink) and dark eyes, grinned.
"Yes, Shaman. His son is asking about him again."
"I see. Well, he is fine to leave the bed but his muscles will not allow him very far."
"I'll be fi-ine," Harry huffed, slowly sliding his legs out from underneath the blanket.
Neither of them helped him as he slowly pushed off the bed. Even after he fell over several times, they stood back and watched. That was just fine for Harry. He liked doing things his own way, he didn't need their help.
After several failed attempts to reach the doorway, Harry finally managed to stand on his wobbly legs and look outside the small tent he had been in for the better part of a month. The bright sun made his eyes water but he was fine with that. He'd adjust. His first priority was Teddy, now. Obviously the boy had told him their names (how else would they know it? He didn't sense any magic in this settlement) and he'd been staying with strangers for a while while his father was injured. That had to be a scary time.
And there he was, his lanky legs sending him tumbling to the ground right before reaching Harry. Just as clumsy as Tonks, the poor kid.
"Teddy bear," he rasped happily, plopping to the ground right next to his son.
"You have a strong child," Mink said as he strode into the sunlight.
Harry gave the man a small smile. "I'm lucky to have him."
And he was. Andromeda had died from dragon pox only two years after the war and Harry being his Godfather immediately accepted him. Ginny didn't really like that decision and about four months later they broke up, her not being able to handle a toddler while in a relationship. Harry wasn't that sad to see her go. He did truly love her but after the war she never seemed to mature the way most of his other friends did. They still got along just fine but… They didn't see each other all too often. Then Harry was bitten a year ago. He hadn't seen any of his friends face to face after the Daily Prophet, annoying rag that it was, posted his infection all over the paper.
"Mink!" Teddy leapt from the ground ignoring the scratches on his elbows and knees. "I told you he'd be alright! My Papa is the best! No one can beat him, not even a stupid wolf!"
Harry's gaze sharpened upon his godchild but Teddy only gave him a mischievous grin. What in the world had this boy been telling people? Nothing too incriminated the wizard hoped.
"Thank you for your hospitality. I can pay you for any medical supplies you used on me but I have to leave."
Mink's stare, while not unkind, was very intimidating, especially considering the man was almost a full 8 inches taller than him.
"I mean, It's almost been a full month since I've been here and it's great that you let me and Teddy stay in your cabin while I finish recovering but we were going somewhere and now we are so totally late and my friends are going to be worried." And Harry knew he was rambling but he just couldn't help it. He'd not had sex in six years (ever since Teddy came into his life) and now there was this beautiful specimen sitting in front of him (and since when was he gay!? There was nothing wrong with it of course but how had he never noticed?)... and now he was even rambling in his head.
Harry stuttered to a stop. That was it? He hadn't even finished healing an he was free to go?
"There's no need to pay either," the native american grunted while taking another puff of that, oh so, calming smoke.
"No way! You've hosted me this long. There must be something I can do!"
"If you wish to repay me and the shaman, stay. My parents don't mind you staying in our house and your son gets on well with my younger sister."
His jaw dropped. He couldn't help it! It was the strangest form of payment that he'd ever heard.
"I can't," he exclaimed.
"Can't or won't?"
And then those golden eyes were focused on him again and Harry cursed in his head. It wasn't fair. He'd never seen such an intense gold on anyone but werewolves, even his own green eyes couldn't claim as such.
He sighed explosively. "Can't," he mumbled. "Look, I've got some horrible people after me and I can't just put your whole village in danger. It's better if Teddy and I just leave."
Mink said nothing and Harry couldn't help but fidget for the next few minutes. When he finally couldn't stand it anymore, the wizard pushed out of his chair and out the back door. Without a thought as to why, he took off into the woods with long loping strides. It was still warm near the end of summer but the fall would roll in soon and the chill would start to appear. He really needed to leave before then.
As the air rushed past his face, Harry calmed significantly. Running wasn't quite as relaxing as flying but it was close enough. Teddy was safe for now and he could let his worries and trouble stream away behind him with the wind.
He could… Wait. Stopping dead in the middle of a sprint wasn't a smart thing to do and he almost fell flat on his face; his reflexes were a life saver, though. He'd rather not have his face broken by a root, thank you very much. Now…
Lifting his nose in the air and taking a big whiff he caught it again. The faint scent of an alpha predator. Not just any alpha though… A werewolf. Springing into action he followed the scent back to a clearing, a very familiar clearing that still had the scent of his blood all over it.
So if there was another werewolf here then Harry hadn't given himself those wounds. He'd thought it strange that this month had been so awful compared to the rest of them… And he hadn't had a chance to talk to Teddy.
Letting out a gasp he gazed at a tree a little ways away. The claw marks were huge; bigger than his own for sure, and they were so terrifyingly close to the branch he remembered settling his little boy on. So had he protected his cub then? Tried to fight an alpha when he himself was a beta? No wonder he was out for a few weeks!
He needed to talk to Teddy.
Mink glanced up, disbelievingly, at the pale man in front of him. Harry Potter had been so adamant about leaving not even two hours ago. What had changed his mind? Actually, it didn't matter. His fascinating enigma would still be within his reach. The reason didn't really matter much.
"That's all you're going to say?" the brit asked dryly.
Mink raised an eyebrow. The man gave an irritated huff and mumbled something under his breath before speaking louder, "Thank you for your invitation, by the way. I talked it over with Teddy and, for now, we've decided staying is the better option. We make no promises about how long, though."
That was fine. Mink would just have to convince him to stay in the time that he did have left.
"You are most definitely a man of many words."
Again with the dry sarcasm. It was actually rather funny. It was a humor Mink himself could appreciate, though he doubted he'd be very good at it. Already he could feel the corners of his mouth tilt up.
"So… since we're staying for a while. Will you tell me about yourself?"
He gazed and the brunette contemplatively. It wouldn't hurt would it? There wasn't anything too exciting about him anyway.
Apparently he'd been silent for too long because Harry started rambling about how they could exchange information, like twenty questions. That worked even better than just telling him about himself so he replied, "Sure."
The rambling was cut off and a bit of pink flooded those pale cheeks and Mink couldn't help but think it was a little cute. It was a rather startling thought all things considered. He'd never thought of anyone (except his younger sister) as cute or handsome before. And there was also the shaman's words still hanging over his head like a death sentence keeping him from getting too close to anyone in the village.
In his brooding silence, he pulled in a sharp draw from his pipe (he was almost constantly using it now thinking about his impending death) and let out an explosive breath. It was the sharp gasp that let him know how close Harry had gotten since he'd unconsciously dropped his gaze. Not even a foot from his face, the brit was leaned over looking all for the world as if he was going to kiss Mink.
The pupils in his eyes were so dilated that there was almost no green left and his mouth was open in the middle of a word.
"Ah, sorry," Mink choked as he waved away the smoke between them.
At the abrupt movement the smaller man seemed to come back to himself, snapping his jaw shut with an audible click and blinking dazedly.
"No, no. It's… you're fine. I just thought you looked a little out of it," the brunette replied as he staggered back a bit to plop into his chair.
"So twenty questions. My first question is… Your favorite color."
Harry blinked his dazzling green eyes and shook his head slightly. "It's gold actually. Yours?"
"Really? That's… um," Harry cleared his throat briefly and scratched his head, "Not often you come across a bloke that likes pink but to each their own. So my question then… How old are you?"
"Ah! I'm 25," Harry told him cheerfully. "And Teddy is 8."
"When is your birthday?"
"July 31st and yours?
"So your should be coming up in the next few months. How exciting," Harry said smiling pleasantly. "I hope we can stay that long."
Oh, Mink was going to try his damn hardest to make sure they stayed longer than that.
"So, what is your position in this tribe if you don't mind answering?"
"I am… in line to become leader if the Elder so chooses but I mostly train under my parents who learn from the shaman and I do my own crafting."
"Ah the Lady Healer? I see, so you know medical herbs and stuff, huh? That's good to know."
Mink smiled and gave a slight nod, his pipe laying forgotten on his lap. "My turn. Where is the mother of Teddy?"
It was slightly risky and a bit more personal than the smaller man's own but he really was curious. Harry twitched but opened his mouth, "Teddy is… not my biological son. His mother and Father died in a terrorist conflict and as his Godfather it fell on me to take care of him when his Grandmother passed away from an illness six years ago."
Mink winced. "I am sorry-"
"No, it's okay. Lots of people ask that. It's rare to see a single Father I know and one so young too, huh? Anyways, would you show me some of you crafts?"
"Of course…" There was silence for a few seconds before he pointed to the bright blanket decorating the top of his bed. "That was one of my first blankets that I made. I have a few others in some of the rooms."
"May I look at it?" Mink gestured toward the bed and Harry stood and walked over to run his fingers curiously upon the colorful weave. "It's very beautiful and this is only your first? You must be very talented at the loom then."
He smiled at the compliment. "Is it my turn then? What's your favorite animal?"
Harry gave a startled laugh at the abrupt change in questions before slowly returning to his seat, throwing a few glances back at the blanket. Mink was extraordinarily pleased the foreigner had taken such a liking in his work. Perhaps he would leave that one to the brunette after he died.
"My favorite is definitely the lion and you?"
"Lion? Hm, I would say the raven. He is a trickster at heart but cares about people."
Harry's smile twitched a bit higher and the questioning went on for quite a while into the night, avoiding all the unpleasant topics.
The full moon glared through the treetops and Harry moaned as he dropped to all fours. His bones creaked in protest as they shifted under his skin popping here and there. Slowly the wolf emerged but this time Harry's mind was still there. A care package had reached him just yesterday from Hermione with a convenient vial of wolfsbane. Now he could hunt the alpha with his own mind with risk of turning on the village behind him.
With a soft huff he set off into the forest sniffing everything in a vain attempt to come across the other werewolf. He knew there was a chance it wasn't here anymore but… he'd rather be safe than sorry.
Hearing a rustling, he tensed. The scent was downwind and he couldn't tell what it was. It was definitely heavy to be making so much noise. With a growl he lowered his head expecting an attack and receiving… the very unwelcome surprise of seeing Mink. What the bloody hell was he doing here!?
The tall Native American paused and glanced up and there was very real far in his eyes now.
"So you are the wolf that attacked Harry. Perhaps you will be the death of me, but I will not allow you to harm him or his son again. You will die with me, wolf," the man spat, his golden eyes flashing warningly.
But Harry could not move. He had thought he had made it into the forest without being followed. And what was with him saying Harry would be the death of him? What did that… Wait he was planning on killing Harry to save Harry. Oh, the irony!
He growled and flicked his ears up but made no more threatening moves. Harry was bigger than an average wolf but he was still small enough to have his neck crushed by those large calloused hands. As Mink stepped forward Harry shot his head in the opposite direction because that damn alpha was coming his way! This was not good! Not good at all!
He let out a sharp yip as Mink took another step forward but it did nothing to persuade the man who looked like a wolf himself at the moment. And when Mink looked to lunged, Harry barreled right into him, knocking him out of the way of very sharp teeth.
A loud long wail left his lips as the alphas mouth crunched down on his hind leg. Mink let out a startled grunt beneath him attracting the attention of the other wolf. Harry wouldn't have that! He nipped sharply at the others throat as it reached around to snap at the human's face.
It pranced out of the way angrily, leaving Harry to pick himself up and stay protectively in front of the idiot native american. I mean really? Who the hell goes into the forest with intention of dying by wolf?
'Beta! You protect a human again!?'
Harry growled angrily and lowered his head baring his teeth.
'You cannot have him. He is mine!'
'Such insult you pay an alpha,' the larger wolf growled hatefully. 'This time I will not let you live.'
'Just try to kill me!'
And the fight started, both wolves aiming for each others throats. Their claws tore at each others flanks to bloody ribbons and their teeth tore flesh from bone. But Harry was determined to keep the other away from Mink. He was his human!
But it was getting harder and harder to do especially considering the merlin be damned man kept throwing knife stabs in at which ever wolf got closest to him. He'd already gotten one in the left hind leg (the same one that was bitten thankfully so he still had use of three of his legs) and two on his right flank.
Hours of them squabbling at each others throats dragged on and Mink still refused to run, taking stabs that aimed to damage more than blindly stabbing now. Harry was getting tired but the alpha still seemed to have endless energy. Already he could see the mocking in the others eyes. That damn wolf knew he was losing steam, that soon he would have access to the delicious human and the village behind them.
A sharp pain from behind sent him whimpering to the ground and the alpha wasted no time in chomping down on his throat. Harry was barely quick enough to make sure it was his jaw and not his throat in the ruthless mouth.
'I want to watch you die,' the other mumbled around his mouthful, shaking his head viciously. 'I want to watch the light leave your eyes and know that you failed to protect your precious humans this time!'
There was a sharp snap and Harry was honestly surprised that he was still alive. Then he remembered Mink and was able to shake his jaw free enough to see the knife handle protruding from the top of the alpha's spine. With a thud the huge body collapsed to the ground and spasmed before morphing back into a burly man with black hair and a scruffy beard.
Mink was staring with wide eyes and Harry needed to leave now. With barely a whimper he dragged his beaten body off the ground and started limping as fast as he could. He didn't care what direction it was in as long as it was away. He really didn't want to be murdered by his crush.
"Wait! Wolf wait!"
But Harry did not slow down instead speeding up slightly as his wounds started to slowly stitch themselves together. There should only be about three hours left until sunlight if he was right. Damn! Had they really fought for so long?
The smell of cinnamon grew stronger and despite his best efforts, the native american caught up.
"You are just like him aren't you?" The man huffed as he blocked the path.
Harry had never seen him quite so animalistic before. It was rather arousing and if he hadn't been in so much pain he might have been sporting an erection. That would have been embarrassing.
"You are, aren't you?"
Harry huffed and settled himself slowly onto the forest floor.
Mink never would have believed it if he hadn't seen the man change with his own eyes. When he had followed Harry into the forest he hadn't expected the giant wolf in the clearing and had forgotten that Harry was out there. Then he remembered the shaman's words that the wolf would devour him. He honestly wouldn't mind if he was able to stop the wolf from going after anyone. Then the second, bigger, one came and Mink felt slightly overwhelmed. During the conflict he hadn't really noticed but the smaller one had been protecting him, taking bites and swipes that could have been avoided if he'd only let Mink get hit.
So if the smaller one was smart enough to protect him from the big one what was to say that that one was human as well.
"So can you change back now then?" He queried as it's amber eyes stared at him in… annoyance?
A huff. So no?
"You were protecting me weren't you? Thank you. Black Eagle swears there was another set of prints in Harry's clearing but no one believed him. It must have been you."
The wolf made no move and Mink hesitantly sat on a protruding root and pulled out his pipe. Harry was still somewhere in the woods… and what if there was more of these wolves? But... he had a gut feeling nothing was going to happen tonight.
Stuffing some herbs into the pipe he couldn't help but wonder why there were even wolves like this? Were they only human at night? Or was it…
He glanced at the moon curiously before looking back over to the wolf. A full moon. So were those legends about werewolves true? Once his pipe was lit, the drowsy black wolf perked up, his nose twitching.
"Like that do you?" He asked with a small grin. It was understandable. The smoke brought about a sense of peace in people it was possible that it worked on animals too though no one had tried to the best of his knowledge.
There was a light snuffle and the huge beast scooted forward slightly so it could lean forward and whiff at the smoke that Mink exhaled. After a few times it's muscles all seemed to relax at once and its head thumped into his lap. Mink let out a grunt of surprise but couldn't move with the heavy weight on his legs. The wolf seemed to be fast asleep so perhaps he should just leave it? No. He was curious to see who his protector was.
So for the remaining hours until sunrise, Mink made himself comfortable on his tree root gently running his fingers through the coarse fur on the beast's head. It was the spasms that woke him from his trancelike state.
The black beast was whimpering and shivering, giving spasmodic twitches before huffing out whines and yips. The bones visibly started to contract under the skin and the fur fell out in clumps upon the dewy ground. Finally a human appeared under all the fur and a pipe hit the ground at the same time as a very green pair of eyes blinked open.
It was a very awkward few weeks. Harry had to explain to Mink, and all of his tribe because someone had gone looking for them and found Harry in the middle of turning back, about his situation. He left out as much as he could about the magical world but it was inevitable that the reference to other magical creature would pop up. Teddy was bursting with joy not having to hide his secret but Harry was worried.
The aurors hadn't been too far behind him a while ago. They could show up at anytime and ruin everything he had here. This tribe was so accepting it was incredible. Not a single person hated him because of the lycanthropy. They were careful, of course, but who could blame them? They didn't want the curse to spread.
"I think I understand what the shaman meant."
Harry shook himself from his using to look at Mink who was sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea in his hand. He said nothing, instead waiting for the man to explain. He either would or he wouldn't. That was just Mink.
"He said I would be devoured by the wolf. The wolf he said. Not a wolf."
That didn't really clear anything up but…
"Was this an important proclamation?"
Those lovely golden eyes turned to him as those large hands swirled the tea in his cup. "It ended my marriage before it even began and was thought to be a foretelling of my death."
"You obviously don't think so."
"No. I think I know what he means now. This is a much better fate."
Still not really understanding, the brunette shrugged and returned to making his own tea. One spoon of sugar, two dashes of cream and it was perfect. He sat at the table across from Mink and couldn't help but smile in contentment. He really hoped nothing would change.
Two months Mink had spent giving small hand crafted gifts to Harry and still the man seemed oblivious. Teddy had warned him as much in the beginning but he hadn't truly thought someone could ignore the signs. Really? The werewolf was always so perceptive in other matters too. Like how stubborn Mink was about getting close to the black wolf.
Harry had outright said that he was not to follow him again into the forest. The first time, he said, he was lucid because of something his friends sent him, this time he would not be. Instead he would have a craving for human flesh. Mink only frowned at him.
Later in the night, after he knew the man had to have transformed he had cautiously made his way into the darkness surrounding the thicket of trees, his knife held securely but loosely in his hand; ready to defend but not to attack. It went on with him slowly pacing forward until the sound of muffled snarls and whines floated through the air.
It hadn't been difficult to trace them back to a secluded area filled with dead trees and moss where a huge felled oak lay slightly propped off the ground on a boulder. Wrapped around the trunk had been a large heavy chain that had looked like actual silver (and probably was according to the legends but he wasn't going to ask).
Harry had obviously heard him arrive and lunged, not even getting three feet before the metal pulled taut, hooked to an iron collar around the canines neck. Why was the chain silver but not the collar? Were the legends actually true? He had wondered at the reason.
Which was answered moments later when the wolf tried to chew the chain and let go with a yelp, his mouth actually steaming as if burnt. It had to have hurt and was probably the cause of the whining the native american had heard on the way over.
"Hello Harry," he had said.
Growling was his only answer. He had smirked and sat atop a mossy boulder pulling out his pipe and getting it ready to light. All the while Harry snapped and struggled and tried to choke himself in the process of reaching him. When Mink was finally done he had taken in a deep breath of the calming smoke and blew in into the wolf's direction.
It had pulled the same reaction from his furry friend that it had when Harry was lucid. So Mink sat there until sunrise breathing his smoke in the wolf's direction until it fell asleep and he was free to slink off back towards the village before his house guest could arrive.
Of course Harry knew nothing about the last two visits he had made and all for the better. The man would be frothing at the mouth from anger if he ever found out Mink was placing himself in danger but… he really didn't care. Harry was too interesting, too kind, too stubborn and strong to not follow around. He didn't care that his love interest turned into a wolf once a month, it only made Harry, Harry.
Now if only he could get the man to understand he was trying to catch his attention without outright saying so.
"Mink!" He stopped his carving and glanced up as Harry jogged into the room with a grin. "Teddy made something for you."
He glanced down at the pink cloth held lightly in those pale hands. It was held up with a grin and presented happily. In the corner of the doorway he caught Teddy peering in shyly and gave a soft smile to the boy. The child meeped and ducked away quickly startling a laugh from his mouth.
Harry gaped at him quite cutely and he couldn't help but wonder why.
"That… is actually the first time I've heard you laugh! Like full on laugh! This is great," he exclaimed bouncing on the spot, the pink cloth slightly crushed in his grip now. "You actually can laugh."
"Of course I can. Weren't you giving me something?"
"Oh, right! Here you go! Teddy actually dyed it with some berries. I know it's a darker pink but with a few washes it should settle on a lighter color," the brunette stated cheerily handing the cloth over.
He took it gently and noted that it was folded in a rectangular shape. One that would be easy to wear on his head. So he did just that, tying it on his hairline like a bandana.
"Hey, that's actually your color," the brit said with a smile. "Now I wasn't sure what to make you that you could have all the time and I thought jewelry would be too cliche especially since you already have bracelets from your parents... but then I found this beautiful quartz crystal that is actually really good at reflecting light and is so clear! And I thought it would go well with your eyes so I made it into a necklace. It might be a little small but I had to make the rope so I could string the beads and it took me forever! I mean you wouldn't believe how difficult it is to make rope from hemp but actually, you probably would and-"
"Harry," Mink chuckled sticking out a hand. "Are you going to keep rambling?"
Really, Mink found it pretty much impossible to keep the amusement from his voice. Harry's nervous habit was a dead give away. And as cute as his flustered rambling was, it could go on for over an hour (which had happened once when Mink wanted to see how long the man would last. The longer he went the less breath he seemed to take and the more quickly he would speak) which he didn't really want to happen.
"Oh! Right," he replied nervously and reached behind him, presumably into a back pocket. What was placed into his hand was beautiful little rock surrounded by small blue glass beads.
"You made all of this?"
"Yes! Even the beads. Had to go to the glassblowers in the next town for that-"
With every sincere fiber in his body, Mink smiled and said "Thank you."
Harry paused and his pupils fluctuated briefly before he gave a small smile in return. Before he even knew what was happening the werewolf's slightly chapped and scarred lips were pressed down on his before pulling back.
Then the brit was gone and Mink was left stunned.
Harry couldn't help but pull out the letter Hermione had sent only a few weeks ago. Reading it brightened his day every time and he could walk around the small village with a goofy grin on his face with no problem.
I know it's risky sending this to you so close to my last letter but I couldn't help it! You are a free man, Harry. As long as you aren't caught or turned in by any other wizards or witches you can roam as you please.
The Ministry has finally called off the manhunt for you and Teddy. It's not like they had much to hang over your head anyways, other than being classified as a dark creature. Really, I completely understand why you took off at the first chance you got without letting anyone know.
If it wasn't for that bug, Skeeter…
I'm happy for you Harry. I really am and I hope you stay safe and happy wherever you are. And if you can, would it be too much to ask for a letter? I haven't once received anything that says you've gotten any of my packages other than Pig showing up with empty claws.
Forever your friend,
Of course, she always asked for a letter back but Harry had never been able to send one safely. He couldn't ward his letter against tracking without the ministry picking up on his trail. Now, all he had to do was wait a few months for the hype to die (and the watchers that were no doubt waiting for him to contact his friends) and he could finally say hello to them.
Not only that but he didn't have to leave! He could stay with Mink, where both Teddy and he had found a sense of peace and contentment. Nothing could ruin this day. He'd finally gotten the courage to kiss his native american and Teddy had found a new and loyal crush in Mink's younger sister. He wasn't stupid. He knew what all those gifts meant, he just didn't know how to react. He'd never had a normal relationship, not even with Ginny.
But he was willing to give it a go.
Later that night he dragged the chain behind him making sure none of it was touching his skin and wandered to his normal spot in the forest about an hour away from the village. With a big grin he set about wrapping his leash securely around the trunk and giving a few experimental tugs to make sure it would stay. Satisfied, he was about to lock the collar about his neck when he heard the first scream.
There was another younger scream followed by a haze of smoke rising into the sky and the smell of fire. Suitably distracted and worried the werewolf never noticed as the full moon started to peek through the golden leaves. Pain wracked his body as the transformation started and he scrabbled to grab hold of his safety net. His fingers fell short as claws burst from their tips and he fell to the ground with a loud thump.
In the next few moments a large black wolf rose and shook the dirt and leaves from it's shiny fur. It blinked its amber eyes around the forest and couldn't help but wonder where the packmate was. He was always here with smoke that made him hurt less. Then sound finally filtered in and the crackling of fire and the wails of the injured caught it's attention.
It broke into a dead sprint.
The shaman had refused to accept Toue's proposal and Mink viciously agreed. The spirits would not want their secrets spread to this undeserving man. Even if every last one of them fell they would hold their tongue.
Now if only Teddy had escaped before being caught in the mess surrounding them. If Harry woke to them all dead, well he wasn't sure what would happen but it likely wouldn't be pretty.
"Very well, then. Kill them. Keep a few for later."
That was all that dick of a man said before the explosions started and fire burst around them. The screams were the worst though. People he knew, people he loved. He would not stand for this!
But fighting seemed futile. No matter what he did another soldier was there to knock him to the ground. No matter how fiercely he fought another member of his tribe would die right before his eyes. The only thing that kept him from capture right away was Teddy. He had to protect Harry's child. He just had to.
So, when a soldier knocked the eight year old in the head with the butt of a rifle, Mink roared and flexed his arms to knock off the two men holding his arms behind his back. The soldier, a very non descript man with black eyes and black hair gave him a small smile before pointing the barrel at the prone figure on the ground. Their eyes never left each other but Mink could see the trigger finger pull back just slightly and his world just about fell out from under his feet when a giant black wolf rammed straight into the soldier and ripped out his throat.
The amber eyes were feral, not at all like the peaceful and relaxed wolf he had seen the previous months. In fact it reminded him of the first time he had ever seen Harry like this and the subsequent fight with another werewolf. It was beautiful and terrifying all at once. He now understood why Harry never wanted him to see this form without the gift his friends had sent him.
Letting out a victory howl, the wolf then crouched over Teddy and snapped at anyone that came near. Mink could see the bastard Toue watching so he saw when the man raised his pointer finger and swirled it around in a circle.
The wolf paid him no mind, instead grabbing the leg of a man that got too close and ripping it clean it with a vicious shake of it's massive head.
"Harry," he grunted, ignoring the punches trying to put him to the ground. The fire was spreading and the area seemed to be covered in a red haze that glinted menacingly off the gleaming black coat. The blood dripping from it's maw did nothing to deter him as he struggled forward dragging his capturers with him. "You need to run! Take Teddy and run!"
The pointed ears flattened on the broad head and it growled snapping at his chest when he got closer. It seemed there was no recognition whatsoever... but there had to be. Why else would he be protecting Teddy?
Already he could see the soldiers moving in a loose circle and now he was getting desperate. How was he supposed to get the stubborn wolf away?
"Please Harry, go!"
He was close enough now to see the coarse fur sway in the heat and feel the putrid breath on his face. What he was not expecting was to have two inch long canine teeth suddenly in his shoulder dragging him forward and away from the men.
It was a white hot pain that radiated into his very being. It lanced up and down his arm and clanged around inside his head. He had.. been bitten? Yes. The gaping wound in his shoulder stinging with sweat and the heated blood running down his arm proved that. Why had Harry bitten him? It was getting harder to think. Already thoughts were slipping away. The only thing he knew was that he had to protect something. His vision grew blurry and the last thing he saw was a wolf's head jerk forward with a splatter of blood.
He never noticed the tear that evaporated in the extreme heat.