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Woolsey

Something Lurking in the Dark

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Woolsey

There was a border in the forest, it couldn’t be seen, but it could be felt. The point at which the castle's magic began to ignite her every nerve, make her hair stand up on end, send a shiver her spine. The point Woolsey hadn’t ventured past in what felt like decades.

 

She knew, somewhere inside of her mind, that her sense of time was skewed. Her life was divided into simple pieces: moon, not moon. Everything else was constant: rage, rage. Animal, animal.

 

She had found herself at the border more often than not, lately. Feeling the itch of the magic, tasting the scent of human, seething. There was no point in being there, but there was no point in anything else, either. Hunt, eat, sleep. Avoid the pack, avoid the inanity of it all. The humanity they still clung to.

 

Instead, she watched. Filthy little children, sneaking around her forest. If only they knew what they weren’t seeing.

 

The growl rose in her throat, inhuman, raw.

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Sadie Hunt

A new moon was coming. 

 

The pull of that primal, central change in her life was constant - coming and going, pulling and pushing. It controlled her life: the moon.

 

At the moment it was also controlling her dinner. "Uuungh." She whined pathetically. That dinner had been the only thing keeping Sadie from passing out before. She was always hungry and scavenging for food was hard. 

 

Sadie Hunt spit one last time on the ground and kicked at the forest floor to cover up her sick. The mottled bits of hair and mucus disappeared under her foot. The days right before a transformation were the worst for her - as if her body would never stop rebelling against the curse raging through her blood. 

 

Stumbling back into a clearing, Sadie scratched at herself and glared around. A growl came from a direction she didn't like. There were wards that made her feel cold and scared when she got too close to them. They protected the school - ha- Protected the School from people like her. Except it hadn't protected her, had it? 

 

No, no, wards were new. Wards were for special children the ministry actually Cared about.  Bitter resentment spooled out of her pores and she used the burst of energy to rush up, kick out at Woosley and then shift quickly back to the safer feeling of the clearing.  

 

Woosley and Ed were idiots. At least Ed wasn't making any noise.

 

 

"What are you two doing?!" She hissed, half order-half whine. Her foot came back around and tapped impatiently at the ground in a nervous gesture. "Get away from there." Her own low voice was almost a growl but she knew better than to attract the attention of anything near the school grounds. Pain. Memories of Pain.  

 

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Ed Liekos

Forced to live on the fringes of society his whole life, the pack was the only place Ed felt he belonged. He resented society, who outcast their kind like they were rubbish, and hated it more as the moon passed through each of its phases, ruling his body. Transformation was all he had known, he wasn’t able to remember a time when he hadn’t been a wolf on the full moon. It almost felt natural to him now. Almost.

 

Ed itched at the back of his head, always feeling scratchier as the moon grew closer to being full. His temper was fraying as well. Impatient thoughts coursed through him, wondering what they would do next. He heard a growl and instinctively moved towards Woolsey.

 

She was standing much closer than he’d ever dared to the protective wards around Hogwarts, a place he’d never had permission to go to for school. He resented that, too. Stomping his way through the leaves, he had none of the lithe grace that Sadie did as she kicked out at Woolsey. This made him pause in his steps, wondering if approaching Woolsey was the wrong move.

 

He turned back to Sadie, back to the clearing, listening to her attempted order before angling his head back in Woolsey’s direction. “Yeah, Woolsey, what are you doing?” Ed asked accusingly, as if he hadn’t been about to walk just as close to the wards as she stood. “We need to go back,” He repeated Sadie’s words, daring to turn away from Woolsey and head back towards Sadie… toward safety.

 

If that’s what you could call their existence here on the fringes.

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Ulric

Stepping gingerly around the poorly disguised pile of sick, Ulric followed a few steps behind Sadie. Close enough to track, but not near enough so that the fleas nested in her hair could jump and make a new home in his own. His own mane was a tangle of black hair with rare, thin streaks of silver throughout and he swept it up skillfully with one hand, tying it out of his face with a bit of frayed cord. The effort would be in vain, a vanity he still indulged in himself, a minor tie to his former life.

                                            

A former life that was suddenly a lot closer than it ever had been before.

 

Pangs of curiosity mixed with something coldly unfamiliar hit the bottom of his gut, but they were soon wiped away with a wave of pure irritation. Order would be had. “You heard her,” Ulric grunted, lashing a hand out to grab onto Woolsey’s shoulder. He yearned to yank her backwards, but waited for her to turn on her own accord; there were enough scars on his forearms and hands from her fangs and any new ones may not be capable of being worked into his existing tattoos. “Get away from there. We’re too close.”

 

His words held a double meaning. Lifting his eyes to the forest ceiling yielded no information about the moon’s status so far, but after this many cycles, he knew. They all knew.

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Woolsey

The castle’s lights barely reached her retinas, but the sound of footsteps behind her echoed like cannon blasts through the trees. The moon made everything echo, this close, and the shuffled gait of Leikos was unmistakable. Further away, she could hear the others, but she had a few moments left. Not enough.

 

She leaned into the wards, embracing the discomfort, letting it wash over her. Remembering. Remembering a puny little human, one that no longer existed. Never would again.

 

Disgust distracted Woolsey, and she wasn’t quick enough to dodge Hunt’s clumsy kick, but she absently snarled and snapped her teeth as she caught herself and crouched in the underbrush. Hunt couldn’t give orders, she could barely feed herself. Woolsey went where she liked, but she pushed herself back up onto her back legs, upright. Vulnerable, but back in the wolves’ territory.

 

The blood rushing through Woolsey’s ears had muted the idiotic chatter, but she tensed as another one touched her, Ulric. Too slow. She had to keep from biting his arm off—again, but she couldn’t help digging her elbow into his side as she quickly turned, breaking free and lashing out at Sadie.

 

Bared teeth millimeters from the pretty little wolf’s face, she snarled again and glared back at the Ulcer.

 

“Closer,” she growled, and bounded toward the border.

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Sadie Hunt

Claws and teeth slashed in front of her face but Sadie was used to Woosley's volatile nature enough that her flinch was mostly sneer. Sadie Hunt was smaller than the others and physically weaker but she had fast learned the value of holding her ground. Her own lips peeled back over her teeth, preparing for aggression but thankfully Woosley was easily distracted. Woosley was probably the most animalistic thing she'd ever come across. 

 

The movement of her head in a combination of an eye roll and a head shake that sarcastically conveyed her oh come on... was lost on the disappearing woman. It was too close to transformation for Sadie to be engaging in physical brawls. Still - if no one stopped the brash wolf; Woosley would be slain. The magical wards protecting the school grounds were intact as far as they knew. 

 

It wasn't all Woosley's fault she was like this. It wasn't any of theirs; They were victims abandoned by the System. The noise that escaped her was half whine, half howl.  

 

"One of these days we're just going to let her kill herself." Sadie muttered under her breath knowing the words were a lie. Didn't they go through this every new moon? Her queasy stomach revolted but she started off in the direction Woosley had bolted at a much slower pace. One of the males would have to take her on anyway. Sadie just clung to the ideal of being a group. She held tight to the notion that she wasn't all alone. Like it or not she needed the group - thus she needed the group alive. 

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Ed Liekos

Ed hesitated, feeling uncertain. He was accustomed to following someone else’s lead, and while Woolsey seemed a strong voice that should be listened to, she also at times seemed totally unhinged. And, if Sadie and Ulric were both protesting what Woolsey was doing, it seemed more reasonable to listen to them. Deciding, he hung back with Sadie, watching to see how Woolsey would react.

 

They were a pack, and they had to stick together. Them being able to stick together was likely what had stopped them from being captured thus far. Ed was very aware of the precarious position they were in, and he had no desire to be the one that got them into hot water. If and when they made a move, it would need to be perfect. The threat of the werewolf capture unit was ever present. He snarled at the thought; that branch of law enforcement’s existence feeling like a constant slap in the face of his kind.

 

His thoughts were grounded back into the present by Woolsey darting off suddenly, a spit in the face to the pack urging her to stay back. Another growl left his throat at her insolence, but he wasn’t spurred into action, instead hanging back, always watching to see what the others would do first.

 

Sadie’s words made him guffaw idiotically and he called after Woolsey, “Yeah, Woolsey, maybe we’ll just let you get yourself killed!”

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Ulric

The point of her elbow hit square between Ulric’s ribs. The distinct lack of fat padding over his side made this landed blow very effective to her intention; he immediately released his grasp on the feral woman and bent over for a brief second until the throbbing faded from that tender spot near his kidneys. It gave Woolsey enough time to break away.

 

Threads of hair already began popping out of their tether as his head hung down, his eyes parallel to the ground. Ulric cursed his packmate under his breath just moments before throwing a dirty look at Ed. “Volume,” he snarled between clenched teeth, straightening up once again. “Because if the ward doesn’t kill her, they will.” A dark look entered his eyes as he finished the second part silently. And if they don’t kill her, they will take her. But they cannot take her if we will kill her first.

 

Pack protocol. Knowing Woolsey, she would do just like Sadie stated, though, and off herself before she would allow any other paws- gifted or not- to do the same deed. Ulric could respect that pride, but like Sadie, would prefer the pack to stay intact.

 

“I’ll get her.” With a resigned growl, he stormed off after Woolsey, disliking how much lighter the forest seemed to feel as he made step after step. The woods thinned as you approached the edge.

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Woolsey

For Woolsey, the ward felt like fear. Pure, primal fear so dense it was like running full speed into a wall of stone. None of her pack actually knew what would happen if they crossed it, human or wolf, but they all had heard the lore. They weren't the only creatures in the forest, they weren't the first wolves, and the ward's power was legend.

 

No one dared test it.

 

So while Woolsey relished in the icy dread that washed over her, finally feeling something other than hatred and rage, she froze before she did something she could not take back. The ward was doing its job, then. Keeping out the undesirables.

 

She hadn't been so undesirable, once.

 

Crouching, Woolsey waited for Ulric to catch up. He'd be in no hurry to get this close, it was reckless. Once, that had mattered to her. Once, she hadn't needed wards to ignite her survival instinct. Now, she just wanted those privileged little fleas to feel what scared really was.

 

Growling quietly as the footsteps approached, Woolsey didn't move. He could drag her back if he wanted, they all needed to let off some steam before the change.

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Ulric

A gruff scowl creased his face, the lines intertwining with existing scars that marked his skin. They all had not always been there and to be fair, Ulric forgot they were present; after all, it was not often that they were able to come across a mirror in the locales the pack frequented. There were no mirrors in the woods, only shards of what once was.

 

The underbrush crackled beneath his feet as he stalked towards Woolsey, masking the low snort that was the closet to a laugh he’d gotten to in some time. It was brought on by the abrupt vision of their ragged group taking a cheeky jaunt into the nearest town and slapping a few sickles or pounds at whichever local inn, hotel, motel they happened to come across first. The kind with finery, with mirrors. With lavish meals in plush comfort. Depending on the phase of the moon, he mused. We could make anywhere a bed and breakfast.

 

Even here...

 

A spasm racked down his spine, a harsh reminder that the barrier was near. He sneezed, spittle flecking the tree branch that he then ducked beneath. Ulric’s jaw clenched at the noise and cursed himself doubly. He was a fool, they were fools. But they had to maintain the pack.

 

He had to maintain the pack.

 

“Woolsey.” His eyes keenly tracked her shape in the dim light too easily; he felt more comfortable in the deep forest than here. “Let’s go.” The crack of his knuckles snapped in the quiet air, an audible threat to match his tone. “Now.” He gave her only the briefest moment to comply before launching forward with a hissing howl, his hands grappling for any shred of her thin frame that he could grasp to drag her away. It was a pity that she had cut her hair.

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Sadie Hunt

Sadie lagged behind. She would not venture too close to the ward nor would she interfere with the physical match between Ulric and Woosley.  While they hashed out their problems she leaned against a roughly barked tree and rubbed around against herself. Living in the wilderness had gifted her with the constant company of the fools surrounding her and also fleas. 

 

One severely unkempt hand reached up to scratch at her hair. She would be more worried about Woosley's impetuous nature but she trusted Ulric to handle her.   A long nail broke off and lodged itself in the mass of matted curls.  She noticed with a shrug. 

 

Pungent earth and the crushed greenery around Ulric and Woosley flooded the light breeze with the scent of their skirmish.  Sadie's nose twitched with the violence and her stomach lurched again. 

 

Ed's presence hulked at her side and she muttered under her breath to him, "They're going to get us noticed." Her foot tapped unconsciously again in consideration. She was thinking of bolting - her instinct was to run and cower. However, she was tied to the pack and her survival depended on all of them. It was a state of affairs she resented almost as much as her affliction. 

 

"We need to go." The words were low but filled with certainty.

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Ed Liekos

Volume. It was only one uttered word from Ulric, but it was enough to make Ed snap his mouth shut and seethe silently as he watched Ulric bound after Woolsey. Ed almost wanted to go along with Ulric. He wanted to know what was going on, but Woolsey and Ulric had pulled out of his line of sight, and he could only vaguely hear the sounds of conflict brewing. The fear of the wards kept him back.

 

He slouched as he stood next to Sadie, feeling sullen even as she began to mutter things to him. The wolf grunted in response to her words, his sign of agreement. She was right. Even though every muscle in his body was urging to join Ulric, every hair on his body itching for a good fight to get out his aggression; he still hung back, fear of getting caught and captured welling in his gut.

 

We need to go.

 

Her words echoed around in his brain, and he hesitated for only a moment before emitting a discontent growl. His resentment didn’t stop him from turning on his heel and retreating, fists clenched so tightly that his nails dug into his palms. Ed withdrew impatiently, wondering when their day would come when they could take a stand against this society that oppressed them so. For now, it was back to the fringes. He despised that this was what their existence had come to.

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Woolsey

A low growl had only begun in the back of her throat as Ulric grabbed her, and she barely had time to fight it before he had latched onto the ragged wool of her sleeve. She hated the need to wear the filthy human clothes, but without the wolf’s thick coat of fur she remained reliant on human comforts to avoid dying of exposure.

 

But she wouldn’t make it easy for him, she wouldn’t allow herself to be frog-marched back to their camp, simply threatened into submission by their so-called alpha. He hadn’t won.

 

She reluctantly let him drag her away from the castle, far enough that the wards no longer screamed on her skin, before she lashed out. Tearing her arm away, she threw her shoulder at his chest with all the force of her smaller frame, the guttural sound that she emitted vibrating through her entire body, “I’ll walk.”

 

Yes, she had to retreat. She couldn’t attack the castle on her own, or at all. The wards would most likely kill her or lead to her capture, which would amount to the same thing. But she didn’t have to be dragged past the pack with her head hung in defeat, even if she had to give in. And she could at least give Ulric a few bruises for his trouble.

 

And she wouldn’t stop watching the fleas that infested the castle she had once called home.

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