Suitcase Burrower by 0902FRIENDs
Summary: It was the first Tuesday in September, 2016, time to go back to school. So when Auror Potter found his office utterly incapable of handling this - creature - thing, they call an expert, or experts... Oh and who can answer Al's increasingly challenging questions?
Categories: SIYE Challenges, Magical Creatures Challenge (2017-3)
Suitcase Burrower by 0902FRIENDs
Chapter 1: 1 EscapeAuthor's Notes:
Warning: strong language, implication of unsuccessful attempt of child rape
“Al, have you brushed?”
The day had a hectic start for the Potters. It was the first day of school, and with James gone, the kids didn’t seem enthusiastic at all.
“Why do I have to go to school, Daddy?” asked Lily as she stood at the bottom of the stairs, her hair flying everywhere.
“Because,” said Ginny as she hurried over to fuss over her daughter’s hair, “you can learn new things and make friends.”
“But we can do that at Hogwarts, too,” said Al as he ran down the stairs, “And we can learn magic.”
Harry heard her son’s deliberate emphasis, and decided to intervene.
“You need to learn enough skills before Hogwarts, don’t you? And school can help you with that. You’ve got some toothpaste on your lips Al, by the corner. No, the other one. Don’t lick it, please. Use your hanky.”
Harry sighed as his son insisted on licking the smear, and decided not to make a fuss. He gathered his things while waiting for Ginny.
“Got everything? Ready to go?” said Ginny just as Harry zipped up his briefcase. He looked up in time to see Al and Lily pick up their school bags grudgingly. He went and opened the front door.
“James said not everyone goes to school before Hogwarts,” Al whined as he walked past his father.
“Yeah,” Lily agreed, “And Mummy didn’t go to school, too!”
“But we all learn to read and write somewhere,” said Ginny as she magically locked the door, thereby securing the property, “Some people get tutored, Gran taught me and your uncles, or they went to school. Most kids go to school nowadays, don’t they?”
“They do,” said Harry, cottoning on, “The Ministry encourages everyone to send their kids to school. And you do have fun there, don’t you?”
They were walking on the pavement now. Stretton Sugwas Academy was merely half a mile away. There was no need to drive.
“Not as much fun as Hogwarts!” said Lily.
“You haven’t been there yet,” Al reasoned, “you can’t be sure.”
“But James said it’s more fun! And Teddy!”
Sensing an argument he did not want to endure, Harry stepped in, “But you don’t see Sally and Ruth at Hogwarts, do you?”
The question successfully diverted the kids into talking about their friends, and their anticipation to tell them “all about their summer”. Harry met Ginny’s eyes, and smiled.
“Well done,” Ginny whispered in his ears.
The rest of the journey went by much faster now that Al and Lily were looking forward to school. They reached the school gate in no time. Ginny quickly engaged in some gossip with some of the mums, while Harry pulled the kids aside.
“Remember the Statue -” he started.
“We know, Dad,” Al waved a hand, “We won’t talk about magic!”
“And control?” Harry raised an eyebrow.
“And control,” Lily promised.
“Well, then, have fun at school!” said Harry as he walked them towards the gate. Ginny, on spotting him again, joined him.
“The Mitchisons moved to Birmingham,” said Ginny, relieved, “So here’s hope that Al can actually fit in with the boys.”
“Doubt it,” winced Harry as they started climbing the hill back to Wye Cottage, “He’ll likely have a happier time without that emperor of a boy. But I don’t think Al wants to be one of the boys.”
“We’ll see,” was all Ginny said.
Despite his hopeful, yet realistic tone, Harry couldn’t help but worry about his youngest son. Al had always been quiet, and was easily satisfied. He didn’t seem to be bothered by the boys’ provoking chants. But sometimes, Harry was convinced that there was more than Al let on. The school, on the other hand, confirmed everything Al had said and nothing more. So Harry dropped it every time there was an issue.
“He’ll be all right,” said Ginny, squeezing his hand, “He’ll go to Hogwarts and he’ll find his group of close friends. Less drama than Eva and Craig, for sure.”
Harry chuckled. Both of Al’s school friends had declared him a fiancÚ just before the summer holidays.
They had reached the front door again, and Ginny had her hands on his shoulders.
“Don’t work too hard,” she breathed.
She was so close that Harry could smell her shampoo.
“I’ll try,” said Harry, staring right into her soft, chocolate eyes, “as long as work’s not too hard.”
“That’s my boy,” said Ginny as she pulled him into a long kiss. It was part of their morning routine.
“Five minutes!” squealed a faint, sharp voice. They separated.
“I gotta go,” said Harry. He could still feel the lingering touch of Ginny’s lips.
“You be safe,” said Ginny, winking.
“And you enjoy your writing,” Harry spoke his line, and Apparated.
It was a quiet, starless night at Rugby School in Warwickshire. Nothing could be heard from the occasional brushing of the trees and the faint breathing of the boys. Surely they were all asleep?
Xiaohu stood up slowly, and peaked from the edge of the suitcase. The boys in this room were both sound asleep, so she hopped out of her confinement, and studied the room. It looked a lot like her owner’s dormitory, with beds and desks and drawers and wardrobes. It was strangely decorated, with sturdy wooden furnitures rather than finely carved ones. There was no ink painting, nor calligraphy hung on the walls. What a strange place she was!
But where was her owner, Zijie? She had promised that they were travelling together. That was the only reason she would go into the hidden layer of the suitcase in the first place! Xiaohu had been here for four days, yet she still couldn’t feel Zijie. She tried calling her again. There was no response.
She was hungry. She could go without eating for days, but hunger was slowly driving her mad. It didn’t help that she could smell the meat cooked in the kitchen. It was just her luck that she hadn’t drooled all over the suitcase yet. Xiaohu needed to eat, to hunt.
She looked around, and spotted the open windows. Miraculously, there was no screen, nor bars. Xiaohu ran to the bottom of it, Transformed, and hopped onto the edge. She was only on the second floor.
But she didn’t want to accidentally hurt herself either. It was her nature to be cautious, so she reversed some of her Transformation, and jumped. Her big, fluffy tails cushioned her as she landed. Xiaohu stood up, and took a long breath. She smelled prey.
Being a human child never put her into a prime position to hunt, so she Transformed back to herself, and hurried into the bushes surrounding the school. She was small and swift, and her joints were flexible - a characteristic she shared with her owner. No fences or gates posed a barrier to her. Xiaohu quickly ran across the field, climbed over the fence, and hopped into the bushes. She smelled again.
It was one of those man-made habitats, she recognized immediately, and thus had limited food resources. Fortunately for Xiaohu, she wasn’t picky. She stood still under the disguise of low branches, and Willed the slithering creature to come close. Xiaohu waited patiently, listening, smelling. She knew her prey would come voluntarily - she had never failed to Will a single creature, save her owner.
Then she saw it, a fat, juicy adder snake, its tongue dancing in the midnight air. Without a second of hesitation, Xiaohu slammed its head onto the damp ground. The adder started twisting and digging in an attempt to make use of the soft soil and break free. Xiaohu then pinched her back claws onto its slimy body, crushing its spine. She lifted its head, and, restraining its teeth, bit hard around its heart. As the adder twitched and slumbered into lifelessness, Xiaohu was aroused by the smell of blood and food. She quickly quenched her hunger, and looked for her next prey.
By dawn, she had caught two more mice, and, with much difficulty, a fierce rabbit. Xiaohu scourged them down greedily, before looking for water. That last need was easily satisfied, as it was a damp place. She could find a puddle at virtually every single corner. She was just drinking from a puddle on the pavement when she heard a voice.
“What are you doing here? Get out!”
Xiaohu looked back, and saw a man - by heck he looked strange - shooing her. She didn’t need a second scolding, and retreated back into the bushes.
She was shaking as she sat down in a well hidden spot. The man was like no one she had seen before. He was big, burly, and had soft, blonde hair. He also spoke oddly. Xiaohu couldn’t really explain why, but she surprised herself by understanding the man’s words. It was a strange place, and she didn’t have her owner. She needed to get help.
But how? She didn’t know anyone here, except the boy at the boarding school. She knew for a fact that her appearance would shock that boy to death, and she didn’t want to harm anyone. She also knew that she’d better stay hidden. She didn’t understand it very well, but her owner told her that her appearance would scare people. That left her with two options: transform into a human child and ask for help, or carry on as her usual form and migrate through the strange land.
After some careful consideration, Xiaohu decided she’d move around as herself first. From what she had gathered since coming out of the suitcase, this was a small town, and folks were unlikely to be of help. She’d walk along a human road till she met a bigger town, and Transform there. She moved faster as herself anyway.
The decision made, Xiaohu went along the road she was on. It was a fairly big road, and it was straight. As long as she didn’t turn into one of the smaller roads, she knew she’d reach somewhere eventually. Crossing all those smaller roads without being seen wasn’t easy, and she had to wait at a junction for a group of workmen. Still, she managed to reach the outskirt of the town in no time. Miles and miles of rural pasture welcomed her presence, providing ideal disguise and perfect underfoot conditions. Occasionally, folks passed her in their cars. But they’d likely take her as a dog or something.
She soon met a three-way junction, and turned right as the road looked bigger. The next one was just a few minutes away, and she turned left here to her original direction. Despite the strangeness of the landscape and people, Xiaohu liked her journey. She was blessed with harvesting farms and boundless freedom. She could run as fast as she wanted, and never worry about a thing. There were plenty of streams and waterholes, too, in case she got too hot or too thirsty - but then, she didn’t even need that much water as it was a cloudy, breezy day. It was, even in her lost state, a perfect outing.
Then she reached a bigger town, or a city. She felt it before she even entered it - the vibration of the air, the bustle, and a sense of bouncing energy. Xiaohu followed the road into its centre, careful not to draw any attention to herself, and turned into a deserted backstreet to Transform.
“Speaking of girls... Look at that one over here! Right up your alley, boss?”
Xiaohu turned. She didn’t understand whatever the voice was saying, but its tone startled her. In front of her stood three boys, her owner’s age.
“She’s Oriental,” said the biggest of the three, his tone dismissive, “I don’t care about her. You lot can have her if you want.”
Xiaohu stared at them as the three discussed. She couldn’t understand a thing, but she had a sense that they were talking about her. She hesitated - would these people help her?
“妈妈，” she said finally, “我找妈妈。 (Mama, I find Mama.)”
The boys looked at her, stunned. Then, the one whose arms were covered by dark ink smiled, “Mama, what’s Mama?”
Xiaohu nodded. She didn’t like the way the boys looked at her, but they seemed to understand her. She repeated her line.
“We don’t give a fuck what Mama is,” said the same boy, grabbing her arm, “but you… We know what you are.”
“你们干什么？(What are you doing?)” Xiaohu slapped his hand as hard as she could, and tried to wiggle free. The boy was much stronger than her human form, and she couldn’t fight him off.
“Ziyi, Ziyi!” she called, desperate to reconnect with her owner. Like all the other times, there was no response. The boys had already pressed her onto the ground, and she was mortified. She didn’t know what to do - her owner always kept her safe!
Xiaohu heard herself scream as she Transformed back to herself, her big, fluffly tails slapping the boys in their faces, hurting them like a million whips. She needed to get out of here. Get out of the the back alley, and out of this town. No one - not a single soul - could see her or her human form.
In her haste to leave the town, Xiaohu failed to see her Illusion breaking from her. It grew bigger and bigger as it rose into the air, thrashing and rolling in agony.
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