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Delilah Gorse

I guess you are afraid of what everyone is made of

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Delilah Gorse

VERY VERY CLOSED. Thank you ?

 

It’s okay...

 

Delilah felt demonic.

 

Covered in gore and mud that was caking dry and itching against her skin, she fled the castle for the sanctity of the forest – the woods, where the trees and creatures wouldn’t know what she’d done, where the blood on her breath would nonetheless keep them away.

 

Predator in body for ten years, only tonight had made her a predator on paper, too.

 

‘M sorry I couldn’t stop you...

 

The night air felt cool yet harsh. Snow had begun to fall, sparsely, like stars on a cloudy night. She blinked it out of her watering eyes and ran while it gathered and melted on the grass.

 

The water, the water, the water…

 

She reached the lakefront, did not mind the mud there for it was clean and unburdened, stepped into the water, dunked her head like a baptism.

 

I forgive you...

 

Rinsing the blood away took not enough time. It was too easy to retract the evidence of what she had done. She gulped water down, her thirst insatiable (or was it the coppery taste of guts and red in her mouth she sought to slake?) despite the scummy smack of it. She used her paws to wipe crusted blood, rusty mud, from her muzzle, her forehead. Licked them clean afterwards and cut her tongue on a claw.

 

You're still good.

 

She did not have much time. The woods were waiting.

 

She left the water to stand on the mudded bank again and shook herself dry. Beads of water turned to flakes of ice as Delilah raised her head, perked her ears, and sniffed. Abruptly, she caught a scent.

 

Veronica.

 

Instantly, she was sprinting again.

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Veronica Williams-Hughes

There was a time when the outdoors would have been calming for the wolf. The tickle of the breeze making her ears twitch, the smell of grass and mud and woodland creatures, the crickets chirping and the sound of nocturnal birds calling her to run with them, fly with them.

 

The birds were silent, now.

 

Remorse tickled the back of her addled mind like a feather, muted only by the sharp shooting pain in her back right leg. Something was broken, or at the very least sprained. She as an animal knew what that meant, what being vulnerable meant, particularly at a time like this. She recalled the way the woman had made the rope appear from nowhere, and she ran in spite of the hurt. How close she had been to being caged. Why would they do that to her? What had she done, other than be perfectly herself for the first time in a decade?

 

Ronnie shook off the thought. Now was not the time for her humanity to rear its ugly head. Now was the time to run and run she did, her nose blindly leading her where she knew it ought to go.

 

Delilah looked every inch the savior, even with water droplets raining from her nose.

 

Crouched down, tail tucked between her legs, Ronnie approached her alpha with gentle cries and whines. For the first time in a long, long time, she dropped into the grass, flashing her belly.

 

I'm sorry.

 

The wolf seemed to say.

 

This is what happens when I leave your side.

 

She wished the moment of peace could last forever, that she could ignore the irony that she was now the one who smelled of fear, but the air was immediately tainted once more with the smell of it. Her. The one who had done this to her. The one that had made her feel weak. An hour ago, Ronnie would had lumbered to her feet. Thirty minutes ago, she might have finished what she started.

 

Now, she simply slumped into the grass, and waited.

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Jessica Sheffield

Snowflakes, twisting through the air. 

 

Jessica's feet stomped through the ground, her boots heavy thuds in the night. In the distance there were screams, muted like sounds under water. Somewhere out there her fellow aurors were battling against the darkness, holding back not people this time but beasts  (but couldn't people be monsters too?) with teeth and claws who were hungry for blood, flesh and bone. In the darkness, Jess was alone. 

 

Her breath came out in little white puffs of clouds, heavier than she would have liked. The claw marks across her throat - silvery, in the moonlight - made her skin pull tight when she breathed, but the pain was distant, forced down by a numbing spell and healing charm, enough that she could keep going. Blood stained the front of her jacket, too dark to be seen in the night sky, except where a lone gold button was stained rust-red. 

 

She could just see the injured wolf in the distance, the one she had followed from the Great Hall. The other one, the one she had stupefied - @Vesper Frey - was lost, hopefully one of the other aurors had found it. Jess had no energy to split her attention, finding it only narrowed down to this one thing: she had to stop this wolf before it did more damage, before it tried to eat another child.

 

The wolf headed away from the quidditch pitch towards the lakefront, away from where most of the children were gathered or so Jess had been told. The wind started to blow the further she got from the castle towards the open expanse of the black, mirrored lake. Not a ripple was to be seen in the distance, no figures out on the bank. Nothing but the wolf, lumbering towards it. 

 

It was only because of the wolf's injury that Jess was able to keep up. Werewolves could cover far more distance on foot than a human ever could, auror-trained or not. Jess felt no remorse for what she had done, nor the pitiful whine the creature had let out when the bone had snapped. She just had to subdue. Confine, control and capture, the three tenets of her position as auror. 

 

They could still fix this, everyone could still be saved. 

 

The badge Jess was wearing spoke with Harry Potter's voice. 

 

A living legend. 

 

Her boss. 

 

Code Black: Aurors are permitted emergency use of Unforgiveables

 

It was at that moment she saw the other wolf, sprinting out of the darkness towards the first. Jess's wand raised on instinct but her grip wavered, the surety with which she'd cast spells in the great hall fleeing from her in the face of an instruction from her boss, the living legend. Cast an unforgiveable curse? How? What had happened? What had the werewolves done? She was supposed to be a good guy, was supposed to do the right thing. If she cast such a dark spell - one requiring absolute intent - could she really count herself as one of the good ones? 

 

Snowflakes caught in her hair, on her cheeks. The two wolves ran towards each other. 

 

Kill or be killed, a voice said in her mind.

 

It's authorised, you're allowed. Let out the rage.

 

She'd been carrying it around for so long, it was so heavy: all the hurt and anger at her mother's untimely death; the dark wizards who had done it to her; the Ministry who had refused to look into what had actually happened; the evil things in the world that wanted to hurt people, to sink their teeth into them and tear them apart limb from limb. 

 

Kill or be killed.

 

Jess's grip tightened on her wand. 

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Delilah Gorse

Delilah appreciated Ronnie's supplication, gloried in the sight of the Beta's belly – the vulnerability, the softness and thinness of the skin there, just under it pumping vital organs she could wreck with such ease, if that was what she wanted.

 

But such punishment she did not crave (not when her person-mind was pulsing so near beneath her wolf one and the thought of what she had done was still goring her heart over and over). Instead she nudged Veronica in the throat with her muzzle (rather hard, enough to cause a cough), encouraging her to get to her feet, that things would be alright, that she wasn't mad, only disappointed, like any mother might be when her young ones ravaged a boarding school and turned a dozen students into creatures like them.

 

No more or less disappointment than precisely, very precisely, that.

 

But Veronica stayed slumped over, her whining a creaky sapling, and a low rumble began in Delilah's throat.

 

We have to GO, NOW, she was saying. They're after us. They won't let us live.

 

She had seen what had happened to Gwyn, but had not processed it yet. Her growling stopped, for only a moment, then picked up again with more volume and intensity. She took a step towards Veronica, so ready to take the back of her neck in her jaws and drag her up, like a hopeless pup, but froze, every muscle tense and braided, when she heard footsteps – human – coming towards them, fast.

 

She threw herself between Ronnie and the human – a woman in a black coat that blended with the black grass behind her – holding herself high, unharmed, cleaned of all evidence of her wrongs by the water.

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Veronica Williams-Hughes

Every minute of every day was a bargain for her life.

 

She knew that if Delilah so chose, she could slash her claws through the thin membrane of her flesh and end her misery right then and there. A whisper in the back of her mind reminded her what a blessing it would be, to not have to wake up and acknowledge the carnage that had transpired here this night. To not have to remember what she had done to those poor pups. Kids. Human children. She had been a human child, once, hadn't she?

 

It was the thought she had when Delilah roughly tried to muzzle her to her feet, and the one that lingered when the monster arrived, her canine heart thundering in her chest as the alpha stepped over her—protecting her. 

 

What if she is right to hurt us? Ronnie conveyed with a whine, her eyes flashing to the creature in the dark coat (that's what it was, a coat, not fur). The thought was immediately silenced as the women faced off, as Delilah let out a succinct growl in her direction that told her all she needed to know.

 

With what little adrenaline the wolf had left, Ronnie lumbered back onto all four paws, listing slightly to the left. She turned in a circle, just enough to catch the eye of the huntress who had nearly been the end of her, letting out a low grunt that promised they would meet again.

 

And then she took flight, bounding as quickly as she could to the forest, trusting Delilah to make it right, and knowing that she'd be able to catch up.

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Jessica Sheffield

Crouched down, tail tucked between her legs, the wolf Jess had been chasing approached the one who had sprinted out of the darkness. Rather than snarling at it, chasing it, turning on her with it, @Veronica Williams-Hughes let out soft, gentle cries and whines, dropping into the grass and flashing her belly.

 

Jess's wand had wavered. 

 

It was a flash of humanity from something that, for the whole night, had been nothing but a beast

 

The terror of the great hall still rang in Jess's ears, the screams of children and their cries for help. They'd been picked off for fun, unable to defend themselves against grown beasts who had no thought beyond kill — or so Jess had thought. The two wolves now out by the lake, they weren't mindless, terrifying beasts out for the kill. They weren't savages overpowered by the light of the silvery full moon above, shining through the grey-streaked clouds. 

 

Their concern for each other, the whines and the nudges and supplication, it was almost... human.

 

(The wolves, she thought, were human.)

 

Jess slowed down almost to a stop. 

 

Harry Potter's words rang in her ears. The use of unforgiveables, banned under all circumstances unless there was grave reason, had been permitted. The aurors were to kill these creatures if they had to. If they must do. If they wanted to. 

 

The thought made Jessica feel sick. 

 

She had not become an Auror to take lives. 

 

(These wolves, she thought, had not transformed to take lives.)


If she raised her wand, if she cast an unforgiveable curse, she was making a choice; she was deciding to take the life of something that had no choice. Werewolves were not in control of their actions when they transformed, they were just consumed with the desire to kill or be killed, but Jess... Jessica had a choice.

 

The second werewolf stepped forwards, around the first, muscles tensed in its legs and teeth bared. The wound across Jessica's throat ached with the feeling of claws tearing through her skin. One of these creatures had tried to kill her. Several of them had tried to kill children in the castle. There were students there who would be living nightmares for the rest of their lives, ostracised from society and forever shunned because they had been bitten, something that was out of their control. Those who hadn't been bitten would be scared in other ways, both physically and mentally. Nothing would ever be the same. These wolves had destroyed lives.

 

And, still, looking into the eyes of @Delilah Gorse, Jess could not bring herself to say the words.

 

She had always thought that, facing down something evil, she would be able to enact justice, get revenge, but the anger and pain she had been carrying around for so long suddenly didn't seem right. The dark wizard who had wrecked her own life had been evil, bent on destruction and death but these wolves... they know not what they do. Her breath misted in the night air, wavering clouds. Cold was the night as the very concept of right and wrong, good and evil, fell apart around her. 

 

Then: movement, a shadow of copper-streaked darkness, the first wolf running off into the night.

 

Jess's heart thumped, painfully, in her chest. Her lungs squeezed. Her grip on her wand tightened. 

 

"I can't," she said, and 

 

all those children, hurt and betrayed and lost

 

the humans these wolves had once been, hurt and betrayed and lost

 

a world that did nothing to protect 

 

— and she made a choice. 

 

"Go."

 

 

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Delilah Gorse

Veronica, tilted and guilty, departed with a growl that was a half-promise. Delilah did not take her eyes of the human to see her charge safely to the tress, but she did not need to: her ears would hear the rustle of Ronnie’s legs crossing the brambles at the treeline, her nose would not catch her scent any longer. Her gaze was forward. A glance away could mean defeat.

 

So her bright eyes bore a hole into the Auror and Delilah tried to tamp down the plateauing motherly concern within her as she lost sense of Veronica, but it was impossible suppress that instinct in either of her iterations and so she rode it as it rose, parting her lips into a snarl, showing her clean, cold teeth.

 

You won’t hurt her again, that snarl said.

 

The droplets of water on her clean clean fur begin to crystallize and turn to gems in the chill. They glimmered in the moonlight: diamonds to combat the human in the coal-black coat.

 

Stay back.

 

She could hear the human’s heart beating in her chest, such thunderous thumping, blood pushed and pulled through veins, red red red. She swallowed, felt a slash of pain on her tongue where she had bitten deep into it back in the Hall, when the girl had kicked her in the jaw. She growled louder.

 

I bite.

 

She could hear the breath going in and out of the human’s lungs, vortexes of wind and wheezing, uncertain where it belonged.

 

I have bitten.

 

She could hear the muscles in the human’s hand tighten, creaking, crass, around her wand. Could hear her arm shaking in its sleeve. A rustle like cattails, a whisper like weeds.

 

I was bitten.

 

Delilah was about to take a long step forward, to bark and sneer until the woman lost her nerve and took to her heels, when she spoke:

 

“Go.”

 

Delilah’s ears perked. Her muscles went suspicion-stiff. She narrowed her eyes and dropped her head low, shifted her weight forward, got ready to catch the lady in her lie, but something felt…safe.

 

Something felt like trust. Like a promise or a swear, with honest softness to it.

 

It was so fair, so human, and Delilah could not deny it.

 

She took a step back at first, and another and another, eyes still on the woman but not very wary. She backed away another few feet, each step crackling some of the frozen hairs on her haunches, her back, before turning and taking off.

 

Now a glance was alright: she looked back over her shoulder at the Auror, held her gaze for a glimpse, then sped off faster, on the trail of Veronica’s scent.

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