Harry woke in the middle of the night to a raging storm. The lightning caused the room to light up in odd intervals, and the thunder sounded deep within his bones. Harry slid out of bed and moved to the window, opening it to see better as the rain lashed heavily against the glass.
He had always loved storms and would often sit for hours watching them. But something felt different this time. Like he needed to be out in it. He watched entranced as a bolt of lightning created a path and struck somewhere in the forbidden forest.
It was so beautiful.
The storm was tremendous. Unapologetic and unaccountable. Utterly uncontrollable. It answered to no-one. It was powerful. It was free.
The thunder rolled and the lightning struck.
Harry knew there was power in the storm, enough that it could destroy anything in its path. But storms were also healing, they cleansed that which they prevailed over and nurtured what grew.
Without conscious thought, Harry turned away from the window and suddenly found himself on the grounds of Hogwarts. He only vaguely remembered exiting the Fat Lady’s portrait.
Tilting his head back he let the rain lash his face. He could feel his nightclothes sticking to his body, the fabric growing heavy and constrictive. He struggled with the nape of his shirt for a moment, before finally pulling it over his head and tossing it aside.
He shuddered at the next rumble of thunder, not in fear, but in anticipation. Even if he did not know what he was waiting for. It felt right to be standing here. In the middle of the storm. He didn’t even feel the cold.
He lifted his arms into the air and gasped as the next bolt of lightning struck him.
~*~*~*~ Harry&Blaise ~*~*~*~
Harry groaned feebly. The sounds of students voices loud and grating against his hearing. He struggled to open his eyes and stand up. Somehow managing to get himself onto all fours. Merlin, it felt like he had been hit by a bus.
“I think it’s waking up!” cried a voice.
“Oh! Look how cuuuuuuuuuute!” exclaimed another.
Harry blearily opened his eyes and immediately yelped, his voice coming out strange and animal-like as he jumped back. There were three giants surrounding him.
How had giants gotten into Hogwarts? Harry had thought the wards were supposed to keep them out? And- were those, Hufflepuff ties around their necks?
One large hand began to reach slowly for him and Harry stumbled back. Tripping over something behind him. Beginning to panic, and not wanting to get caught by the giants that were masquerading as Hufflepuffs, Harry ran.
He headed for the forbidden forest, it was close. It would lead them away from the school if they tried to follow him and he could lose them in the trees.
It was only once he got to the nearby tree line that he realised he was running on all four limbs. And it was only after he had run deep into the forest that he thought perhaps they weren’t giants after all; and that perhaps it had been him that had grown smaller. The trees on either side of him were huge and the shadows were long. It must have been very early or very late in the day.
He looked down at his hands, only to discover they were no longer human hands. But rather, small paws. Covered entirely in black fur.
‘What on earth?’ He thought, utterly bewildered.
He tried to swivel his head around on his neck to see what was going on with the rest of his body when he stilled.
The forest was quiet.
Something was wrong and wasn’t just him.
He started to spin in a circle, looking for the anomaly and for somewhere to hide when he heard rustling from above him. His gaze tracked upwards, the sinking feeling in his gut was confirmed when he met a glittering eight-eyed stare.
Slowly, Harry started to back away. He didn’t seem all that big, maybe Aragog’s sprog wouldn’t be all that interested in eating him. Especially if he made it hard for it. Harry continued to back up, the Acromantula moving restlessly as he did so. Swallowing hard, Harry sent a quick prayer to whatever gods that were paying attention.
Please don’t let it eat him.
Harry felt a sensation shiver through him. Taking it as a sign, he turned, and ran.
Hearing a furious clicking behind him only spurred Harry to run faster. He could feel something like a tail flaring out behind him but he paid it no mind as he tried to navigate the thick undergrowth of the forest.
But he was unused to this body and that was soon apparent when his foot became entangled in some roots and he was sent sprawling.
He felt something in his paw snap and when he tried to stand and tug free the limb from the tangling vine, the pain sent him to his metaphorical knees. Whimpering, he sank low to the ground and looked about for the giant arachnid. He could hear it clicking and moving about in the trees, it was close, far closer than Harry would have liked, but he might have a minute or two.
Slowly he tried to work his paw free, biting back whimpers as he did. He did not want to draw attention to himself if he could help it.
Instead of tugging on the trapped paw, he tried to bring the other forward to claw at the vine that had wrapped itself around him but that meant putting weight on the trapped paw. It felt like fire shooting through him.
He was about to try and tear into it with his teeth when he heard a victorious shrieking sound. He whipped his head in the direction of the source and swallowed. He’d been found.
Well, he certainly wasn’t going to go out without a fight, he stood his ground as best he could and growled at the oncoming creature.
The Acromantula chittered at him and began to raise itself onto its hind legs, exposing its spinnerets.
Shit, Harry thought. That didn’t sound good.
A shout came from behind him, a spell Harry had never heard of and suddenly there was a lashing of fire between him and the spider. The Acromantula shrieked and backed up quickly and then Harry’s rescuer stepped out in front of him.
With his back to Harry, his identity was unknown, but he was tall and dressed in Slytherin colours. Harry was momentarily struck dumb by a Slytherin fighting an Acromantula.
He seemed to know what he was doing though, as the whip of fire from the end of his wand came slashing back to cut across the face of the beast.
“Be gone!” He bellowed in a deep, commanding voice.
Harry had to admit, it was an impressive shout.
The Acromantula chittered angrily and attempted to leap forward. Only to be met by another whip of flame. After a few more lashes, resulting in large burns and cuts upon the spider. It fled.
His rescuer stood for another minute, fire whip still active on his wand before he muttered something under his breath and it went out. He turned around and his eyes immediately fell on Harry.
The Slytherin’s expression softened and he crouched down before he shuffled closer to Harry.
“Hey there, little fellow. Please don’t be afraid of me. I’m here to help you.”
Utterly perplexed at the turn of events, -and what sort of Slytherin said please?- Harry stood frozen.
Zabini seemed to take this as a good sign and he crept closer still to peer at Harry’s paw.
“You’ve got yourself stuck in some Devil’s Snare, by the looks of it. Hang on, I’ll get you out. Don’t worry.”
Devil’s Snare? Harry peered at what he had previously thought was a bundle of roots. Huh, so it was, it was just so small that he hadn’t immediately connected it to his previous experience with the plant.
Zabini had moved even closer and he slid one hand underneath Harry’s stomach. Harry snarled at the touch, he was not about to just let some Slytherin manhandle him! No matter how small he was!
“Hush, I’m trying to help,” said Zabini, and Harry reluctantly settled. Grumbling under his breath.
It wasn’t as if he could get out on his own anyway.
Zabini pointed his wand at the Devil’s Snare and whispered “ Lumos! ”
The Devil’s Snare cringed away from the light and Harry whimpered as his paw was released. Evidently, the plant had been holding something in place and Harry was now quite sure that something was broken.
Zabini stood and brought Harry with him. Harry clutched tightly at Zabini's arm with his good legs as the ground zoomed away from him.
“Hey, hey, hush, no need to be afraid, I've got you, I won't let you fall,” said Zabini in a reassuring voice.
Harry snorted, he was a seeker! He wasn't afraid of heights. He just… hadn't been this far off the ground without being in control before. And Merlin, just how tall was Zabini anyway?
“Come on, I'm going to take you to Professor Hagrid and get him to take a look at that paw of yours, see what's wrong with it.”
Harry nodded in relief, Hagrid would know what to do and hopefully, he would figure out that it was him.
Zabini spoke soothingly to Harry the entire way out of the forest, Harry didn't really pay much attention to what he was saying, it was all very generic, but he did pick up on the underlying tone of worry in his voice.
It felt decidedly odd to be worried about in such a way.
Soon they breached the tree line, and Harry spotted Hagrid's hut. It was just starting to get dark and Harry couldn't believe that he had managed to sleep through the entire day. A sudden wave of exhaustion overcame him, and the aches he had been aware of when he first woke were starting to make themselves known again.
The adrenaline must have worn off, he mused as Zabini knocked on Hagrid's door.
Harry heard Fang barking and a muffled call of 'Who's there?’ before the door opened to reveal Harry's giant friend and his dog.
Harry huddled down into himself a little at the sheer size of Hagrid. Harry couldn't remember ever being intimidated by the man before, but by Merlin, it looked like his beard could swallow him whole.
“Zabini isn't it? What brings you here so late?” Hagrid asked.
“Yes, Sir. I found this little guy on the edge of the forest,-”
Harry snorted, edge of the forest his newly furry bottom, it had taken them ages to traipse out of there.
“-And I think his paw is hurt. I was hoping you could look at it.”
Hagrid looked down at Harry and immediately stepped aside, “O’ course! You'd best come in. Set 'im on the table there.”
Hagrid moved aside and let Zabini in. Harry was placed onto said table as Hagrid bustled about the place, grabbing different objects and placing them in his arms to carry back to the table.
Harry looked about the hut from his lofty vantage point. Keeping his one paw tucked against his chest so that he didn't accidentally put weight on it. Even Hagrid’s table was huge. Harry was sure it wasn’t usually this big. On the table, he saw a few odd items, a comb, scissors, a few straggly curls of hair and a large shaving mirror.
Harry huffed in surprise, it made sense when he thought about it. He had never seen Hagrid’s hair or beard ever get any longer, but he’d never had reason to think about it before.
It was handy though.
Harry limped over towards the mirror, wanting to see whatever it was that he had become. He paused as he took himself in. He was a fox. A small fox evidently. Not much larger than a small cat.
He cocked his head to the side, noting that his eyes were still green. His ears were quite large and seemed to be able to move independently of one another, evidenced by the way the flicked towards the noises Hagrid was creating. One of them had a little kink in it, causing the tip to fall forwards. His attention was soon drawn to his tail. Or should he say tails. All four of them. That just seemed excessive, Harry thought with a snort.
“Righ’ then,” Hagrid said, as he thumped into a seat next to Harry.
The half-giant discarded what he had in his hands onto the table and he reached out slowly towards him.
“Hello there, yer quite the looker aren’t you? Do yer want ta come over here so we can take a look at that paw of yours? It looks like ‘urts. We can make it all bett’r fer you.”
Harry sighed, Hagrid’s cooing was expected, he was an animal after all, however that had happened. He limped towards Hagrid’s outstretched hand.
“That’s a good fella, c’mon, that’s it.”
Harry felt Hagrids fingers pat gently over his head and he waited patiently for him to tell him what to do next.
Hagrid’s other hand reached for a book and he flipped through it until he came to a certain page.
“Righ’ Zabini, yeh see this spell here? I want you to cast that at the little guy. It will tell us wha’ injuries we’re dealing with.”
“Me?” Zabini asked surprised, “You want me to cast it on him?”
“Well, yer the one that found ‘im. The one that’s gonna be looking after 'im, yeh? Best know this sort o’ thing. Now, just nice and slow, there’s no need fer nothing flashy.”
Harry watched as Zabini quickly read over the spell and pointed his wand a few times away from Harry.
“That’s it, it’s an easy one. C’mon.”
“It says I need a piece of parchment, Sir.”
“Oh, righ’ righ’,” Hagrid patted his pockets and pulled out a scrap of parchment, he placed it on the table and ran his fist over it a few times to get rid of the worst of the creases. “‘Here yer go.”
Zabini nodded and swallowed. Harry barely had time to think of a swear before the Slytherin began to cast, he tapped the parchment and then pointed his wand at Harry.
“ Dico injuriam.”
Harry flinched bracing for something to go wrong as an inky looking substance slithered out of his wand. It flowed over Harry, momentarily blinding him before it retreated to the parchment and began to form words.
- Fractured left metacarpal
- Fractured left metacarpal
- Totum corpus muscular strain
- Left ante pede tundere minutium
“What does all that mean?” asked Zabini.
“He’s broken sum bones in his paw and he’s got sum bruisin’ too. It says e’s strained all of ‘is muscles as well. Dunno, how the little tyke managed that.”
Maybe it has something to do with being forcibly changed into fox, Harry thought acerbically. Or from being struck by lightning.
“All of them? And he’s malnourished?” Zabini asked.
Hagrid had slid a hand around Harry to bring him closer, his big hands questing over him and feeling for his ribs.
“He is a mite on the skinny side, couldn’a tell yer why though, there’s plenty for ‘im ter eat in the forest.”
Harry felt Hagrid's hand at his elbow, pushing at it gently to get him to bring it out. Harry took the hint and extended the paw as much as he could before he whimpered.
“There’s a good lad, yer alright,” Hagrid said softly.
Harry’s eyes flicked up to Zabini’s face and he saw that it was pinched, his brow was furrowed and he appeared to be chewing on his lower lip.
Harry yelped as Hagrid drew his paw out straight and had to resist the urge to pull it back.
Hagrid made some shushing sounds and started to wrap a shimmering white cloth around his paw.
“What’s that?” Zabini asked, stepping closer and peering at the cloth.
“This? It’s tail hair from a unicorn. They are always losing it on trees and bushes and the like. I weave it all t’gether, makes brilliant bandages for this kind o’ thing. You can charm it t’ harden and it makes a dead handy splint.”
Hagrid finished wrapping Harry’s paw, and much of his leg, before he splashed some water over it, muttering a few words under his breath as he did. Harry felt the wrap shrink and harden around his leg and though it hurt initially, causing him to yelp loudly, and Zabini to flinch. He had to admit that it felt better.
Experimentally, he put his foot down and rested his weight on it. It hurt, but not nearly as much as Harry had expected it too. He tried to express his thanks but the words came out as happy sounding yips.
Hagrid chuckled and scratched Harry under the chin, “Ah, yer welcome litt’e fella.” He then turned to Zabini and fixed him with a firm look.
“Now, yer wanna tell me what really happened?”
Zabini looked caught out, “I told you what happened, Sir.”
“That there,” he said pointing -rather rudely, Harry thought- at Harry, “Is a kitsune. They aren’t exactly ‘people-creatures’ keep to themselves mostly, until they find one they like for whatever reason. I dunno all that much about them, they’re mainly found in Japan, but I do know you wouldn’t find one on the outskirts of the Forbidden Fores’. Blimey, I’ve been at Hogwarts fer ov’r fifty years and I’ve never seen one before. So giv’ us the truth now.”
Blaise sighed and sat down, “I was coming across the grounds after staying late for Herbology, I was giving some extra care to my project, when I felt this- call. I don’t know how else to describe it. I just knew I had to follow this feeling. I went into the Forest and eventually, I came across this Acromantula, I didn’t even know that we had those at Hogwarts-”
Harry saw Hagrid fidget and shook his head at his large friend.
“-It was after this little fellow, but he was trapped in a patch of Devil’s Snare. So I fought it off. Eventually, it left. I freed him,” Zabini said looking at Harry, “and then I brought him to you.”
Hagrid appeared deep in thought for a moment before he slapped his thighs and stood up.
“Righ’! Grab the little fella then, we need ter go see Professor Dumbledore. And you'll be needing to see Professor Snape too. He'll have some pain potions that will be able to help this little guy.”
“I am in trouble? Professor Hagrid, I was only trying to help!”
“Trouble? What would yet be in trouble for? Nah, we just going to go see Professor Dumbledore about letting you keep yer familiar. It wouldn't do for you two to be kept apart.” Hagrid grabbed his coat and threw it around his shoulders. “Come on then.”
Harry yapped in surprise as Zabini lifted him off the table and back into the cradle of his arms before he followed Hagrid out of the cabin.
“Aye, he musta called you somehow. Only familiars are capable o’ that.” Hagrid said as he began the trek towards the castle.
Harry wanted to protest that he wasn't anyone's familiar and that he hadn't called anyone before he snapped his jaw shut. Remembering the prayer he had sent. Still, he refused to think that it had been answered if it landed him with a Slytherin, and as someone's familiar! Of all the luck!
“Do I need to know anything about his condition? Is he going to be okay now?” Zabini asked.
“Hmm? Oh, yeh, he'll be fine now. It'll take a few weeks or so ter get him to heal up. Can't use magic to speed things up unfortunately, most magical animals don't react well ter human magic. 'is own magic will help out 'n any case. Bring him back inna 'bout a week to change his bandage.”
“Yes, Professor.” Zabini agreed as they climbed the steps to the castle.
“Oh, ‘n don’t let him go changing or anything. That’ll just re-break the bones.”
“Yeh, yer know, like his size and what not, kitsune’s can get big or small depending on how they feel. Bit like an Occamy. At leas’ that’s what I’ve heard. And he needs to be kept quiet, no running around, ‘owever much he might want to.” Hagrid said sternly.
Harry felt Zabini’s hand run through his fur and he huffed, did this mean he would have to stay a fo- kitsune, whatever he was, until he was all healed?
They made their way to the stone gargoyle and Hagrid gave the password ( curly wurly ) and they stepped onto the everlasting stairs. Slowly winding themselves to the top.
Hagrid was about to knock on the door when it opened, and they were stood face to face with Harry Potter.
~*~*~*~ Art by Q ~*~*~*~