A black wolf trotted through the undergrowth, its tongue hanging out happily, an expression of utter peace on its canine face. Its ears were pricked forward to catch even the smallest sound, and its nose twitched constantly, bringing in scents from all around it. After a minute or so of simply trotting along, it stopped, sitting on its haunches under a tree. It closed its eyes, which were an unusual bright blue, and remained perfectly still, almost as though it were meditating. But then suddenly the scene changed.
The wolf's body began to shift, its very shape changing into something else. Within seconds, it had transformed into a dark-haired young woman, who was now crouching with her feet flat on the ground, her fists barely touching the ground in front of her. "I can smell you, you know," she commented, seemingly to empty air, a wry smile on her face.
"They told me you weren't a wolf...but I told him that he's mad that trusts the tameness of a wolf. You look feral, even as a human."
The redheaded girl jumped down from the tree's branches, where she had been perched for the past three hours basking in the fading sun. Andromeda's hooded head peeked out from her purple long sleeved tee shirt and flicked a tongue warily at the animagus. Mandy's eyes narrowed a bit as she inspected Urania.
"I've not seen you too often around the safehouse. I assume you're one of the members with a real life?"
"Why, thank you," Urania answered the girl's first comment, grinning in a truly feral way. Then her expression shifted to a decidedly more cheerful mode. "But I'm not actually that bad; I just happen to take that form... Not my choice, after all-- Whoa!"
She had noticed the snake poking out of the girl's sleeve. "Nice... um... cobra," she commented, watching the snake the way a predator watches another of its kind, "Where-ever did you get it? And yes, I have a life outside of this place... I always have actually, but now I even have a job..." She grinned at the girl, inviting her to join in the joke. "I'm a teacher at Hogwarts school. Urania Blackthorne, professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts, at your service." She held out her hand for the girl to shake.
Andromeda noticed the wolfish attention and rose a foot and a half out of her hiding spot, flaring her hood. She hissed at the Defense teacher, and Mandy hissed back, chuckling.
"She thinks you're going to eat her, and promises to bite fast if you do...poor silly dear doesn't understand that you wouldn't do that. Or that if you tried, you'd have to go through me first. Andromeda is silly that way, having grown up in a zoo....I liberated her from their machinations."
Tonight was a relatively tame night for the hellion. She was mellow, calm, and Mandy. She looked at the offered hand for a while, far longer than normal, before she finally took it and gave it one shake before letting go.
"Amanda Grey. Sometimes....sometimes Hermes, but only occasionally here. My mates are Andromeda and Perseus."
"Snakes aren't to my taste," Urania grinned, but she pulled back slightly, out of the range of the cobra's strike, "And I wouldn't want to hurt your... friends, anyway. You say you have more than one? Where, exactly?"
Urania shrugged then, sitting back down on the ground and gesturing to the spot beside her for Amanda to sit down. "So, Amanda, how did you come to be here? I've never seen you here before, but I think I've smelled your scent... How often do you come?"
Mandy just pointed to her pants as a means of reply regarding Perseus' location. She obliged and sat beside the teacher.
"Oh, I live here...since a week ago. I don't stay very often during the night, but I tend to wander when it suits us. Would you teach me magic again? After all that has happened to me, I forget things I used to know." She pulled out her cedar wand and and began staring at it.
Urania couldn't help it: she burst out laughing when Amanda indicated her trousers as the location of another "friend," which Urania assumed meant another snake. "Really? In your trousers? How does that work, exactly? Sorry, I don't mean to be rude... I just love humor, and to me, that's pretty funny...."
She sighed, tossing her black hair back from her face. "And, by the way, I like to wander too, "she told the girl, "It's so... restful, which most people don't get at all..." She sighed again, then grinned at Amanda. "You've forgotten magic, hmm?" she asked, "But you still know some, right? What sorts of things do you know? I'd be glad to help you, Amanda, but I'd need to know where to start."
"She'll know better than I...let me ask..." The girl closed her eyes and bowed her head, going unnaturally still for several seconds. During this interval, both snakes left their hiding spots. Perseus indeed slithered out of Mandy's pant leg. The impressive thing was that all five feet of him coiled neatly beside all six feet of the cobra Andromeda. They watched the redhed expectantly.
Presently, she looked back up. Nothing had changed in any sense, yet everything was different. Hermes was in control, and the difference was all in attitude.
"I know serpentsortia, to summon a friend, the Patronus charm to get help, and the reductor curse to defend myself. After a run-in with some Death Eaters, it was barely enough. Help me. Please."
The hair on the back of Urania's neck stood up when the girl looked back up at her. She could sense the difference instantly, the wolfish side of her somehow knew that this... this was not the same person she had been talking to a moment before.
"Uhhh... um, ok," she answered, still watching Amanda or whoever it was now carefully but relaxing very slightly so that she didn't seem threatening, "That's.... not very much, but... I can build off of that, I think!" She smiled, allowing herself to relax a little more. Her teacher brain was taking over, and it had no need for a wolf's senses. "Ummm.... let's see... Summoning things besides snakes might be a good skill.... Do you want to start there? Or we could try Levitating, or anything you like..."
If snakes smiled, they would wear an identical expression that Hermes adopted. "I am in the business of breaking things and killing Death Eaters. What ever would be most useful to accomplishing those goals is what I need to learn."
Hermes leaned back against the tree and waited for instruction. She felt that it would be more of a reminding than a teaching, and hoped things would go quickly.
"Blasting Curse, then," Urania said briskly, getting to her feet, "Stand up, Amanda, I want you to practice with me." She pulled out her wand and pointed it at a nearby rock. "It's a simple wand movement, just a point, like this...." She brought her arm down to point at the rock again, intentionally exaggerating the movement.
"Then, after that, you just focus and say the incantation, ok?" Urania put her arm down at her side, then whipped it up and pointed it at the rock. "Confringo!" she cried, and the rock burst into violent flames, eventually melting into a puddle from the very heat of them. "Is that the sort of thing you want?" she asked politely, though she was grinning broadly.
A tightness started around Hermes' eyes before melting down to a tight lipped smile. She slashed her wand at another rock and hissed a phrase in parsletongue after it burst into flames. As she had suspected, all she needed was reminding to be able to perform the spells again. On top of that, she was able to perform them nonverbally as she used to do in school.
As an answer to the teacher's question, both snakes nodded eagerly in place of their mistress.
"Um... excellent!" Urania commented, excited over her pupil's aptitude and slightly unnerved by her choice of friends. "That was very good, Amanda... or, wait, are you, er, Hermes, now? Sorry, I just want to make sure I'm calling you by the correct name..." She smiled engagingly at the girl, hoping to keep her relaxed.
"So... there's that... let me see..." She paced back and forth, rubbing her chin in thought. "Ah, I know, how about a Summoning Charm? Accio is the incantation. Try and Summon... oh, how about that stick over there?" She pointed towards a small branch on the ground several yards away. "Watch out, though, if you over-concentrate, you could accidentally make it hit you in the head.... I know from personal experience, so trust me on this!"
The red and pink snake hissed a string of raspy sounds and the girl shook her head. She flicked her wand at the stick and got no response. She flicked again and spoke the word.
"Accio. And no, Percy...don't need defensive spells...useless..."
The snake kept hissing, and the cobra joined in the rasps.
"Fine. I'll ask. I said FINE!" She snapped at the serpents, who stopped nagging her. Hermes looked at Urania with a strange light in her pale eyes.
"It is Hermes....very observant of you...most don't notice." Her mouth twisted into a devious smirk. "Their loss. Engorgement charm? And a shield charm...they want 'em, so I'd better learn 'em, yeah?" A hint of American Southwestern accent slipped into her voice as she asked for more spells.
"It's my nature to be observant," Urania answered carefully, watching the girl with a predator's stance, "I turn into a wolf and I teach Defense, both of which bring about a strong affinity for observing skills."
She turned and flicked her wand casually. "Protego." A shining, silvery shield of energy formed before her. "That's the Shield Charm. And here is the Engorgement Charm... wait, I need something to, er, engorge..." She began to look around her for something that might work.
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