|SIYE Time:7:26 on 23rd February 2018|
Harry Potter and the Summer of Flight
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Category: Animagus Challenge (2013-1)
Characters:Harry/Ginny, Minerva McGonagall, Ron Weasley
Genres: Drama, Romance
Story is Complete
Summary: *** Winner of Transformation & The People’s Choice Award in the Animagus Challenge ***
Harry found himself stuck on Privet Drive for the summer. In looking through a box of old books, Harry finds Sirius' guide to becoming an Animagus. Despite the warnings to ensure he was not alone, Harry decided to give it a go. He managed to transform, but now what? How did he change back?
Hitcount: Story Total: 4334
Disclaimer: Harry Potter Publishing Rights © J.K.R. Note the opinions in this story are my own and in no way represent the owners of this site. This story subject to copyright law under transformative use. No compensation is made for this work.
Sorry this is not the next chapter of Perilous Journey, but I loved the idea of this challenge. Thank you to my wonderful betas - StephanieO and Ministry Malcontent. Their hard work is so appreciated.
Harry sped up as he pedalled down Privet Drive. He hadn’t meant to be out so long, but it was a beautiful day and he was enjoying himself. He hurried past the old neighbour lady who glared at him as she pruned her roses. He was never certain exactly what she expected him to do, but she obviously didn’t trust him. Like most of the neighbours, she believed Aunt Petunia’s assertion that he was no good.
Pulling into his relatives’ drive, he set the bike back into the garage. It was Dudley’s old racing bike. Dudley hadn’t ridden the bike in years and Harry had found it during his first depressing days back on Privet Drive this year. It had taken a while, but he had managed to get the bike working again. Now he went riding every day. Usually he didn’t leave until he’d finished all of his chores, but today after he’d finished his indoor chores it was so nice out he’d taken the chance to go riding. It somehow helped him feel better to bike around Little Whinging. When he was riding, he was able to forget his problems. Not to mention, it was really helping his stamina. He wasn’t certain if Umbridge’s ban would still be in place, but he was hoping to be able to play Quidditch this coming year.
He wasn’t sure if his cousin knew he had fixed the bike. However, he did know for certain that his aunt and uncle wouldn’t approve, so he hid the bike in the back of the garage behind the wall of unused sports equipment that his cousin had demanded for some reason and then had either broken or never used.
Glancing at his watch, he cursed. It was getting late and he needed to finish weeding the back flowerbed. Hurrying into the back, he knelt by his aunt’s prized flowerbed and started weeding. Once he’d finished the first row, he sat back on his heels.
It was hot. Not as hot as last summer thankfully, but it was still hot. Looking around, Harry verified that he was alone. Standing up he stripped off his tee shirt and draped it over the low growing shrub. He wanted to go into the house for something to drink, but Aunt Petunia had decided that Harry needed to be locked out of the house when no one was home. Shrugging, he took a few drinks from the hosepipe and got his head wet before continuing to weed.
To his relief, he finished his chores just as his aunt returned. As he was putting away the supplies in the shed, he heard the familiar click as the back door was unlocked. Apparently Aunt Petunia had become tired of obsessively cleaning her house and gossiping about her neighbours, because she had joined the volunteer guild at the local hospital. The first time he’d heard her talking about it, he thought she was joking.
Then he had overheard her on the phone with one of her friends, talking on and on about the poor children at the hospital who needed someone to love them. It was a stab to the heart, hearing the aunt who had despised him all of his life lavishing her love and attention on strangers while still treating him horribly. It only seemed to reinforce that somehow he just wasn’t meant to find someone to love him.
He entered the house just as his aunt arrived back in the kitchen. Her nose wrinkled as she looked at him. “You are filthy! Can’t you weed the garden without looking like a vagrant?”
She turned away from him in disgust. “You may take a shower. Five minutes only, young man. Don’t think I don’t know that you spent eight whole minutes in the shower yesterday. It costs me money the way you waste water.”
Stoically Harry made his way upstairs and quickly showered. He made certain he didn’t spend any more time in the shower than necessary. He knew from experience that she would come up and turn off the water when his time was up, whether he was done or not. He recalled the one night the previous week when he’d spent the whole night with soapy hair. She wouldn’t even let him into the bathroom to rinse out his hair in the sink. His cousin and uncle had thought that quite amusing.
Entering his room, he threw himself down on his bed. This was really turning out to be the worst summer of his life. Against his will, the events at the Ministry of Magic in June ran through his head again. Sirius had died because of him. He couldn’t really get past that fact.
In the fortnight since he’d been back in Little Whinging, he’d been veering between despair and resignation. At least this summer his friends were keeping in touch. Ron was at the Burrow and complaining about the Chudley Cannons’ disgraceful performance this past year while Hermione was getting ready to go on a cruise around Greece with her parents. Luckily neither of them had any lasting effects from their injuries and were both doing well. He was rather envious of them. While they’d both been injured at the Ministry of Magic, they had recovered quickly and were back with their families who loved them. Neither of them really understood what he’d lost when he’d lost Sirius.
To be honest, he hadn’t really expected much from Ron in the way of emotional support. That’s just not how their friendship worked. Hermione was the more sensitive of the two, but she had no experience with the loss of such a close family member so she was at a loss as to how to help him.
He’d laughed at her last letter when she suggested that his aunt and uncle would be able to help him through the summer — maybe they could help him join a support group. He hadn’t told his aunt and uncle about Sirius’s death, and he planned to keep it that way. They had never comforted him about his parents’ death so he couldn’t imagine they would provide any comfort now. His cousin was a different matter; all through their childhood Dudley loved to tease Harry about the fact that his parents were dead. Even though they were older now, Harry didn’t think Dudley had matured to the point that he wouldn’t harass Harry about Sirius’s death.
He found himself looking forward to Ginny’s letters more than any others. She didn’t avoid the topic of Sirius like Ron did or hover as Hermione had a tendency to do. She was cheerful and chatty, rather like she was in person. It had surprised him when she shared some stories about Sirius from earlier last summer when they’d been staying at Grimmauld Place. That made him feel good, as though someone else was missing Sirius as well. He had rather hoped to hear from Remus Lupin, but he’d heard no word from the older man all summer. Ginny had mentioned in passing that she’d seen him once or twice at the Burrow.
Unfortunately, Professor Dumbledore felt it was not safe for Harry to leave Privet Drive at this time, so he was stuck with his relatives for the foreseeable future. He held out some hope he’d be allowed to visit the Burrow at least at the end of August and hopefully go to Diagon Alley with them.
With a sigh, Harry dragged himself off his bed and headed downstairs. He entered the kitchen to find his aunt waiting for him. She handed him a paring knife and pointed at a large mound of potatoes. “I need them all peeled and diced.”
Nodding, Harry got to work. He actually didn’t mind the mindless work. It was relatively easy and at least he was inside and it was cool. After finishing with the potatoes, he chopped the other vegetables his aunt requested — onions, celery, carrots, and some peppers. Once he was done, she came to stand next to him as she surveyed his work.
“You need to make your cuts more uniform,” she sniffed. “Thankfully it is just a family dinner tonight. I could never serve that to guests.”
She gestured to two slices of bread and the glass of milk on the counter behind him. “Eat and get upstairs.”
He resisted the effort to laugh at his aunt. Uniform cuts? Who was she kidding? She just couldn’t resist complaining about him. Dudley would certainly never notice how his vegetables were cut. In an act of defiance, Harry slathered his bread with butter and jam before heading up to his room. Eating his make-shift meal, Harry left the crusts in Hedwig’s cage. While his relatives were downstairs eating, he filled up Hedwig’s water tray and headed back to his room.
He straightened up his room, more to give himself something to do than because of any real need. It was still early and he really wasn’t tired at all. He knew going downstairs would just start another fight. Standing, he walked over to the window, searching the skies for his faithful owl, Hedwig. She had gone out hunting earlier and hadn’t yet returned. He wasn’t concerned as she hadn’t been gone long.
Looking down the street, he could see the driveways were filling up as parents returned home from work. He could see parents greeting their children with hugs and kisses and parents spending time with their children. The dad from Number 2 would cook out on his grill almost every night during the summer. His wife and children would play outside, and they would all eat together outside. Both parents at Number 8 worked and when they came home, the whole family was often seen riding their bikes together. The father at Number 12 spent hours playing football with his two small sons. As Harry watched these scenes of domesticity, he wondered not for the first time what his life would have been like if his parents had lived. Would his father have taught him to ride a broom? Would one or both of his parents have worked? He didn’t even know what his father had done for a living.
With a sigh he tore his eyes away from the other families on the street and looked up in the sky for one last look. He didn’t see Hedwig, but he did see two owls flying his direction carrying what seemed to be a box between them. A glance up and down the street told him that none of the Muggles noticed the owls.
He opened the window as the owls neared and they flew inside, depositing the box on the bed. Harry quickly detached the box and took the letter from the owls. He offered them both some water and owl treats which they both took gratefully before taking off.
Once the owls left, Harry turned his attention to the envelope that was embossed with the seal of Gringotts. Tearing open the letter, he discovered that his godfather, Sirius Black, had been declared dead and Harry was his sole beneficiary.
Stumbling over to the desk, Harry sat down heavily as he read the letter from the Director of Inheritance. Sirius had left everything to Harry including Grimmauld Place, a plot of land in Wales, and his entire fortune. To Harry’s surprise, the amount of money left to him was quite substantial — over five million Galleons. He had two new vaults at Gringotts that contained not only the money, but also belongings including works of art, household furniture, jewels, and other assorted goods according to the letter.
The letter dropped from his strangely nerveless fingers. A wave of pain and longing crashed over him. Sirius was gone. He didn’t want all of Sirius’s stuff; he wanted Sirius. He crumpled under the onslaught of emotion. Moving the box without really looking at it, Harry crawled into bed. On his night stand, he’d placed a picture of his godfather next to the framed picture of his parents. Reaching out, Harry picked up the pictures and studied their faces. Tears streamed unheeded down his face as he looked at the beloved faces; he missed them all so much. It was just not fair that he never really got to spend time with any of them. His parents' deaths were something he’d grown up with. He missed them, but it was more the idea of his parents that he missed. With Sirius, he’d known and loved Sirius and he knew what he was missing.
Two hours later, Hedwig flew into the room. She was full from the meal of toads she’d caught. When she caught sight of the tear tracks on her boy’s face, Hedwig flew over to the bed. He was holding the pictures again and Hedwig knew that was never a good sign. Clucking softly, Hedwig took the sheets in her beak and pulled them up over the sleeping boy. Once he was covered, she brushed his cheek with her wing before returning to her cage. She settled in to watch over her boy for the night.
Harry woke early the next morning. It was still rather dark. As he sat up, memories of the night before came rushing back to him. A more muted wave of longing swept over him. Looking across the room, he saw Hedwig’s amber eyes reflecting in the moonlight.
“Hey, girl. You’re back.”
Hedwig flew over and landed next to him. He ran his hand down her feathers. “Thanks for watching out for me, girl.”
After nipped affectionately at Harry’s hand, she flew back to her cage. Harry had to smile. He might not have a family, but he did have a very devoted owl. With a sigh, he leaned over and picked up the box he’d ignored the day before.
On top of the box was a letter with his name on it. His heart clenched at the sight of his name written in Sirius’s familiar scrawl. He put it aside for now as he didn’t think he could read it at the moment. Below the letter were some books; Harry pulled them out and set them on his bed. They were advanced Transfiguration books and a book on Animagus Transformations.
Harry’s heart beat a little faster. He’d always been fascinated by the idea of becoming an Animagus. He’d even wondered from time to time what his form might be — it would be amazing to be a stag like his father or even a dog like Sirius, but at the same time he liked being different. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if he could become something like a leopard or a panther? He stifled a laugh. He’d die of embarrassment if his Animagus form was something awful -- like a spider or skunk or worse a useless animal like a fluffy dwarf rabbit or something.
His thoughts turned to his friends as he wondered what they would become. For Hermione, his first thought was an owl, but he knew she hated flying. He thought she might enjoy becoming a cat to play with Crookshanks. Ron, he thought, was certainly some type of dog. Dogs were fun and loyal and they loved to play, just like Ron. Ginny, what would she be? She would most likely be some type of big cat; she was graceful and sleek like the big cats. She was rather sexy, too. Harry blushed. Where on earth had that thought come from?
Shaking his head, he opened the Animagus book. The first chapter stressed the importance of not attempting to transform unless you were fully trained and in the company of other trained wizards. Harry snorted. That wasn’t likely to happen. He was trapped on Privet Drive without another magical person in sight. He didn’t even know if any members of the Order of the Phoenix were keeping track of him as they had last summer. He hadn’t seen any sign of them, but that didn’t mean anything. He hadn’t known about them last summer until the run in with the Dementors.
He flipped to the next chapter and started reading. The book was so interesting and Sirius’s notes in the margin were entertaining. Once he’d fixed breakfast for his relatives and cleaned up the dishes, he quickly finished up his chores and, grabbing his book, left for the day.
He rode to a small meadow he’d found earlier in the summer. It was small, but there was a small copse of trees that provided just the right amount shade. Best of all, it was usually deserted. It didn’t take him long to finish reading the book. He’d even gone back and reread portions of the book and made some notes. He had to laugh. If he’d made such in effort in his classes, his grades would be a lot better.
Flipping to the chapter on beginning transformation, he decided to try the transformation. Following the instructions in the book, he answered all of the questions on the Animagus questionnaire. The questionnaire was designed to help a person discover the optimal Animagus form for them.
Once he completed the questionnaire, he looked around to ensure that he was alone. He didn’t see anyone else around, so he pulled his wand and tapped the parchment. The ink swirled around on the parchment before forming into the shape of a bird. Underneath the picture, the words ‘Peregrine Falcon’ appeared.
A smile broke across Harry’s face. A falcon! That sounded like a lot of fun. Harry flipped the page of the book and started rereading the information on how to transform. He discovered that you needed to really understand your form.
Packing up everything, he headed back to his aunt and uncle’s house. After putting away the bike, he hurried into the back garden. His aunt was out again, so Harry jiggled the window to the sitting room and climbed into the house that way. He smiled. His aunt and uncle didn’t know how easy it was to sneak into the house.
In his uncle’s study, he found a set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica on the shelves. As he picked up the volume he needed, he discovered that the book that never even been opened. The pages were shiny and new and the binding was not broken. He carried the book up to his room and after dumping everything on the desk, he curled up on the bed with the encyclopaedia.
As he read about the Peregrine Falcon, Harry was thrilled to discover that they were among the fastest animals on Earth, and while diving they could reach speeds of up to 200mph. His heart leapt at the thought of diving at those speeds. That sounded totally brilliant. Harry studied the pictures of the falcons. They weren’t large, but they were beautiful birds with a blue-grey back and head and a white chest and stomach. He stared into the dark eyes of the falcon and felt a thrill of kinship.
Harry pulled out a fresh sheet of parchment and began to sketch the falcon and label all of its parts, just like they did in Care of Magical Creatures. Once he completed his sketch, Harry decided to see what else he could find out about the falcons. He went down to the kitchen and rummaged through his aunt’s junk drawer. As he remembered, Dudley’s library card was mixed in with other papers that were never used. His aunt had never bothered to get Harry a library card, but for some reason Dudley had one. Harry wasn’t certain that Dudley had ever even been inside the library.
Two hours later, Harry returned back to the house with three more books on falcons. He spent a good part of the next week reading more about falcons and learning everything he could about them. He had drawn several more pictures and he had even painted one with the paints he found on one of the shelves in his room.
The only bad point was Hermione’s letter warning him not to attempt to transform on his own. He groaned as he read her letter. He didn’t know why he had told her about Sirius’s journal, but he had been so excited he wanted to share the news. He hadn’t told her that he’d discovered his form, but Hermione had read between the lines and knew he wanted to try to become an Animagus. He almost burst out laughing when he realized the perfect Animagus form for Hermione — a mother hen. That suited her perfectly, she was always pecking and mothering him and Ron until they fell in line.
With a sigh, he put her letter away. She would never understand the allure becoming an Animagus held for him. It was a link to his father and his godfather. He couldn’t follow in his father’s footsteps and be a great prankster, but maybe he could be an Animagus.
The day after Hermione’s letter arrived, Pig arrived with three letters for Harry. He looked through the letters: one from Ron, one from Mrs Weasley, and one from Ginny. Deciding to save Ginny’s for last, he quickly skimmed the other two letters.
He rolled his eyes, Hermione had certainly been busy. Ron’s letter was short. He complained about Ginny and about Hermione being with her parents, but the end of his letter he admonished Harry not to attempt the Animagus transformation. Mrs Weasley highlighted the dangers of attempting to become an Animagus and asked him to please be very careful.
Harry sighed, he should have guessed that everyone would be concerned. He opened Ginny’s letter cautiously.
As you might imagine, Hermione let us know how concerned she was that you might try to become an Animagus. Ron didn’t really see what the fuss was all about. He said it would be too difficult to do over the space of a few weeks in the summer, but he obeyed Hermione and wrote to you. Mum was very concerned. I know she talked to Professor McGonagall and Professor Dumbledore, so don’t be surprised if you hear from them as well.
I’m not even going to go there. I will just say, please be careful. So, do you know what your Animagus form is? I was thinking you would make a great Cheetah because you are so fast. It would also be cool if you had your dad or Sirius’ form. I think it would be brilliant to be an Animagus. I wonder what my form would be? Maybe a horse like my Patronus or a cat might be fun. Do you think I could take the questionnaire?
Nothing very exciting going on here. Ron was complaining that Hermione is gone with her parents and you are stuck with your relatives. He was complaining so much that Mum threatened to send him to Aunt Muriel’s. Since then, he hasn’t complained much. However, he does keep telling me I’m way too young to date. I’m really sorry now that I let him think I was interested in Dean. I thought it would make a great joke, but Ron is being a total prat!
Have fun and be careful!
Harry smiled broadly when he finished reading Ginny’s letter. He was strangely relieved to know that Ginny wasn’t really interested in Dean. Somehow he’d known that Ginny wouldn’t be against him becoming an Animagus like everyone else was.
Harry slammed back up to his room. Aunt Petunia had come home in a mood, and Harry couldn’t seem to do anything right. He’d painted and repainted the shed out back after she changed her mind about the colour, but she still wasn’t happy. He hadn’t expected such a violent reaction and he hadn’t ducked quickly enough when she swung the heavy frying pan at him. She’d hit him in the chest, and he knew it was going to bruise.
He opened one of his new falcon books and lay down on his bed. After a while, he fell asleep with the book on the bed next to him. When he first woke up, he was confused. He didn’t remember taking off his glasses, but he didn’t have them on and he could see really well. As he turned his head, he jumped when he realized he was no longer human. He’d changed!
He had really managed to change! He took a few cautious steps along the bed as he adjusted to his new, much smaller body. He could hear Aunt Petunia’s favourite programme on the telly as if it was in the same room with him the sound was so clear. He hopped to the window and looked outside. He couldn’t believe how far he could see and how clearly. As he looked into the yards he had seen every day this summer, he couldn’t believe the details he was noticing now. He could see flowers in the grass three houses away; he could see flaking paint on Number 12; and he could even see the wallpaper in the bedroom through the open window at Number 10.
He wished the window was open; he would have loved to fly. Looking over to Hedwig’s cage, he was sorry to discover it was empty. Wouldn’t it be amazing if he could talk to his owl? He straightened out his wings and found them to be very different from arms. It took him a few minutes to work out the mechanics of flapping his wings, but soon he was able to take flight and fly around his room.
It was the most amazing feeling in the world! It was even better than flying on his Firebolt. He eyed the cat flap and decided it was worth the risk. He flew out of the cat flap and headed first for the bathroom. He landed on the vanity and looked in the mirror. If he could have, he would have gasped. He really was a Peregrine Falcon! Turning around, he admired his new form from all angles.
He was a rather small bird. Harry guessed he was about a foot and a half long and his wings spread out were about two and half feet. His feathers were dark on his head and back. Wait, what was that? Harry peered closer into the mirror and he could see lighter feathers on his head in the ever familiar shape of a lightning bolt. That must be his identifying feature. His eyes were a dark, solid black. He made quite a handsome bird, if he did say so.
He looked down the stairs and wondered if he could get away with flying out of the house. Deciding to take the chance, he flew downstairs and past Aunt Petunia, who was so engrossed in her programme she didn’t even notice, and out the kitchen window that Aunt Petunia often kept open while she was home.
As soon as he was outside, he started climbing and twirling in the air. It was wonderful! He felt his third eyelid slide over his eyes as he picked up speed. After a short time, he levelled out and looked down. It was amazing! He was so high, he didn’t think he’d ever been this high in the air before. Everything on the ground was so small, but he could see so clearly. He looked out toward the horizon and it seemed like he could see forever. He knew that was ridiculous and that even a falcon’s vision had limits, but he really felt like he could see clear to London if he tried.
Shaking his head at his own fancifulness, Harry decided to try something he’d been dreaming about since he first started reading about falcons. He dove. It was the most amazing feeling in the world! He gained speed as he dove and instinctively he changed the way he was holding his wings so he was more aerodynamic. The rushing wind and the free feeling of falling were exhilarating! He hadn’t felt so happy since he couldn’t remember when.
Just then he spotted another bird flying below him. He wasn’t certain what type of bird, but he though it might be a black bird. Part of him wanted to capture and eat the bird, but thankfully he easily fought that impulse. He slowed down and started flying towards the bird who had noticed him and seemed to be trying to escape.
Opening his mouth, he was surprised when what he said was, “Kee kee kee.”
The black bird responded with an aggressive sounding chirping, but to his disappointment Harry couldn’t understand what the bird was trying to say. Figuring he was just scaring the bird, Harry wheeled around and headed back to Privet Drive. He was having a great time, but he was getting a bit tired and his chest still hurt a bit from where his aunt had hit him earlier in the day.
Flying back to the house, he was thrilled to see a familiar white shape approaching him. Hedwig cautiously approached him with confusion showing in her eyes. Harry decided he’d try to communicate again. “Chi chi chi chi.”
Hedwig eyed him for a moment before hooting at him in return. She watched him for a moment and seemed to gesture with her wing. Harry followed his owl and soon the two of them were circling Number 4. Hedwig flew to Harry’s window, but it was still closed. With what seemed to be an owl’s version of a shrug, she flew to the same window Harry had flown out of several hours earlier. It was early evening by now and Harry could hear his relatives eating.
Even the sounds of their forks hitting their plates were clear and recognizable. He followed Hedwig upstairs to his room and landed on his bed. Hedwig seemed to have accepted him as just a bird form of Harry. She shared her water with him. He was hungry, but he didn’t know what he should eat.
Deciding he should wait until his relatives were through eating, Harry curled up on his bed. Now that he’d stopped flying, his chest and back were quite sore. Harry imagined that he was using muscles he never had before. As he waited, he could easily hear the conversation taking place downstairs.
“Where is that blasted boy?” Uncle Vernon was asking.
“I don’t know,” Aunt Petunia replied. “Last time I saw him, he was headed up to Dudley’s second bedroom. That boy was useless today, he couldn’t follow the simplest directions. I don’t think I make things that difficult to understand.”
“Of course you don’t,” Uncle Vernon reassured her. “That boy is just damaged.”
“How long is Harry staying this summer?” Dudley piped up.
There was a pause before Aunt Petunia said, “I don’t know, sweetums. I was hoping he would be leaving soon, but he hasn’t said anything yet. He’s so inconsiderate. The least he could do is let us know how long he will be here.”
Harry frowned. Did they really think he wanted to be here? He’d leave in an instant if he was allowed. Calming himself, Harry turned his thoughts inward and mentally he reviewed the steps to reversing the transformation. He needed to visualize himself as a human and he should transform back into himself. After several attempts, Harry was starting to become alarmed. How did he change himself back? He thought transforming into his animal was supposed to be the difficult part.
He wracked his brain trying to think of what he needed to do next. A voice in his head that sounded disturbingly like Hermione reminded him that this was why he was supposed to only transform around trained witches or wizards who could help him. He wished Hermione was there. He knew he was in for one or more long lectures from his bushy haired best friend, but she probably knew how to change him back into a human in a heartbeat. He would have sighed if he could; he should know after so many years that he shouldn’t ignore Hermione’s advice. She might come across as a bit bossy at times, but she really did only have his best interests at heart.
Forcing himself to relax, Harry settled into the bed and soon drifted off to sleep under the concerned eyes of Hedwig.
It was morning the next time he woke up and to Harry’s dismay, he was still a falcon. The sky was already light, but as he listened carefully he realized that his relatives weren’t up yet. Flying down to the kitchen, Harry looked around carefully. He realized that he didn’t know exactly what falcons ate. He knew they ate other birds and sometimes other small animals, but that certainly didn’t appeal to him.
Was it safe for falcons to eat people food? He vaguely remembered hearing chocolate was dangerous for dogs and something about rice being bad for birds, but he didn’t know about other food. Looking around the sparkling clean counters, he saw a plate of artfully arranged fruit. Fruit should be safe for a bird, right? Flying over he looked over the selection and decided blackberries looked good. After eating his fill of berries, he flew back up to his room.
Hedwig offered him some water which he drank gratefully.
‘What am I going to do, Hedwig?’ Harry wondered out loud. He knew it came out as a series of chirps and clicks, but he felt the need to at least try to speak.
Harry knew he needed to go for help, but where should he go? Ideally, he would go to Professor McGonagall, but he had no idea where she spent her summers. A vision of her puttering around the garden with her hair still in a bun popped into his head. Harry laughed, but that didn’t solve his problem. The thought entered his mind that Sirius would have been able to help, but he quickly squashed that thought. He needed to focus on the problem at hand. He spent the next several hours trying to change back, but couldn’t even change a feather. He grew more and more anxious as the morning wore on. Hedwig watched him with concern obvious in her warm amber eyes.
He did wonder if this had ever happened to his father or Sirius. He was quite entertained by the thought of his poor father stuck as a stag. Stags didn’t exactly blend into the background.
A low hooting sound broke into his thoughts. Turning, he saw Hedwig pushing a letter towards him. He was confused for a moment; looking at the letter he saw it was the latest letter from Ginny. Harry looked back up into his owl’s amber eyes. Slowly it dawned on him.
‘You think I should go to Ginny?’
Hedwig must have understood some of what he said for she nodded. Harry considered his options and realized going to the Burrow was his best option. Mr and Mrs Weasley would know how to get in contact with Professor McGonagall. The more he thought about it, the better an idea it seemed to be. As he came to that decision, he realized he had no idea how to get to the Burrow.
‘How do I get there?’
The look Hedwig gave him made him feel very foolish. ‘Can I follow you?’
Hedwig hooted as she stretched her wings. Before Harry could do anything, the door to his room crashed open. Aunt Petunia stood in the doorway. Surreptitiously, Harry burrowed a bit deeper into the nest he’d made of the bed clothes. Luckily he had dark sheets so he tended to blend in with the sheets.
“Where is that idiot boy? He did nothing right yesterday and now he can’t even cook breakfast? I swear I don’t know why we put up with the dratted boy.” Petunia made her way across Harry’s room as she continued her tirade. Harry had frozen on the bed, hoping that somehow his aunt wouldn’t notice his bird form.
Petunia opened the window and turned to glare at Hedwig. “That irresponsible boy doesn’t even think about his pet. I better not find a mess somewhere because that boy couldn’t be bothered to open a window.”
With a huff, she turned and strode out of his room. Harry let out a sigh of relief. For a few minutes he’d thought that she would see him and cause more problems. Looking over at Hedwig, who seemed to nod at him, the two birds took flight.
Flying with Hedwig was a joy. While she did not fly as fast or as high as Harry would have on his own, it was so much fun to fly with his owl. They played tag and follow the leader. It was eye opening to Harry. He’d flown to Grimmauld Place the previous summer on broom, and to the Ministry of Magic a few weeks ago on a thestral, but this was completely different.
He wasn’t cold or uncomfortable in any way. It was as though the air was his natural element. Hedwig watched indulgently as Harry swooped and dove through the air, but she kept him on track. She definitely knew where she was going. They flew over some forested areas and small towns and villages, but they hadn’t flown over any large cities. At times, Harry caught sight of what was below them. They flew over parks and for a while they seemed to be paralleling the M3. It was interesting to see the cars below them.
The longer they flew the more grateful he was for Hedwig’s guidance. He would have gotten incredibly lost or distracted watching the scenery below. Harry really had no idea where they were going except they were heading west.
It was mid-afternoon by Harry’s admittedly spotty reckoning when Hedwig seemed to feel a break was in order. She dropped a bit and turned to the south where a few minutes of flying brought them to a stream. Harry landed gladly and drank deeply from the crisp, cold water. Hedwig caught several toads and offered them to Harry, and even though the falcon in him wanted to eat them, Harry couldn’t bring himself to eat live toads. He found berry bushes growing near the river and ate his fill.
He hadn’t thought about it while he was flying, but he was a bit sore. His body simply wasn’t used to the mechanics of flying. After resting for a bit after their meal, the two birds took off once again. Harry was surprised when Hedwig didn’t return to their western route, but flew north.
Several minutes later, Harry gasped. Up ahead on the open plain was Stonehenge. He could feel the waves of magic pouring off the ancient relics. Looking over at Hedwig, he tried to thank her. She led him to the giant stones. Unlike humans who were secured behind the ropes, Harry and Hedwig were able to fly right up to the stones. Harry was fascinated by the stones. He could see some symbols carved into the stone. He thought they might be runes, but he wasn’t really certain. It was a fascinating stop.
Harry could tell it was getting later, but the sun was still shining as they left Stonehenge and continued on their westward trek. Sometime later, Hedwig turned and seemed to following another river. They flew over a small town that Harry realized with some excitement was Ottery St Catchpole — they must be following the Otter River.
His heart was beating faster as he saw the outline of the Burrow up ahead. The closer the got to the Burrow, the stronger the magic he sensed around the house. He imagined these would be protective wards for the Weasleys. He hoped they didn’t have any wards that would keep out an Animagus. To his relief, he was able to fly onto the Weasley land, although he could feel the magic protecting his friends.
Hedwig flew on to the house while Harry flew around outside for a few moments. He saw Kingsley Shacklebolt leaving the house, and as he flew by the house he noticed Tonks having tea with Mrs Weasley. Harry followed the voices he’d heard and to his delight found Ginny and Ron playing one-on-one Quidditch.
Landing on a tree, Harry rested and watched the siblings play. Ginny was very good. Harry remembered her saying she wanted to play chaser, and from what he could see she would be great. Ron was a good keeper, but he didn’t have quite the elegance and grace on a broom that Ginny did. She was more of a natural flier — like Harry himself.
Listening to the siblings talk, Harry was surprised at how friendly they were. While they certainly did their share of trash talking, they were also much closer than Harry had ever realised. They certainly never acted like this at Hogwarts. A wave of guilt washed over him as he realised that Ron usually paid much more attention to him and Hermione than to his sister during the school year.
Harry certainly wouldn’t mind including Ginny more. She was fun and pretty and smart and she was a good Quidditch player. If falcons could blush, Harry was certain he would be bright red by now. He realised that he was attracted to Ginny. The question was what should he do about it? He turned his attention to Ron.
Ron had kind of hinted that he wouldn’t mind Harry and Ginny dating, but Harry wasn’t certain if Ron had been serious about it. He hoped Ron wouldn’t object. As he watched Ron play, he wondered why Ron had never had a girlfriend before. He kind of thought that Ron had a crush on Hermione, but as he never did anything about it Harry wasn’t certain.
He shifted his weight as he considered the possibility of his two best friends dating. Would they be embarrassing to be around, like Bill and Fleur sometimes were? Would they want to spend all of their time together leaving Harry on his own? Harry wouldn’t mind the opportunity to spend more time with Ginny.
Ginny flew across the clearing, circling her brother while laughing. Harry watched totally enchanted by the picture she made. She was wearing what Harry assumed to be an old Quidditch jersey of Charlie’s and a pair of denim shorts. Her hair was falling out of the plait she had put it in, and to Harry’s eyes she looked amazing. Her eyes were shining and her cheeks were red. She was beautiful.
After watching the siblings play for a while, Harry realized he should take the opportunity to make contact with them. Looking around, Harry flew off to some bushes on the other side of the paddock. He remembered seeing wild rose bushes there a few summers ago and to his relief they were in bloom. After some trial and error, Harry managed to pick a pretty red rose and carry it in his beak.
The siblings had just landed when Harry flew over and hovered in front of Ginny. She looked quite surprised, but after a moment held out her arm. Harry landed gently on her arm trying not to scratch her.
“Ginny, what are you doing?” Ron exclaimed as he watched the bird’s strange behaviour.
She took the rose from him and cautiously reached out and ran a finger gently down his back. Ron reached out and knocked her hand away.
“Are you crazy?” he yelled. “You can’t just go around petting strange birds.”
“Kee, kee kee,” Harry chittered angrily at his best mate.
Ginny smiled at him before glaring at her brother. “He brought me a rose, Ron. I don’t think he’s going to hurt me.”
“Chi, chi,” Harry vocalized in a much softer tone of voice. He looked down at the ground and realized that where they were standing was soft, loose dirt. Reluctantly leaving Ginny’s arm, he flew down to the ground and landed in front on Ron.
Using his beak, he dragged it through the dirt carefully spelling out R-O-N.
Ron gasped as Harry hopped over in front of Ginny and spelled out G-I-N-N-Y. Stepping in front of his sister, Ron pulled his wand from his pocket. “Who are you? What do you want?”
Harry looked up at his best mate cautiously. For the first time, he looked all the way up into his friend’s face, realizing just how big he was — and he was a bit scary looking with his longer hair and the still visible scars on his arms. Hopping back a few paces, Harry carefully spelled out his own name and looked hopefully up at his friend.
“Harry... what’s that supposed to mean?” Ron asked angrily. “Have you done something to Harry? Who are you?”
Anxiously, Harry tapped the ground next to his name and then tapped his chest — willing his two friends to understand what he was saying. To his relief, Ginny gasped suddenly.
“Harry, is that you?” she asked as she knelt down next to him.
Harry nodded vigorously as he hopped over next to her. She seemed to be studying him and soon she said, “Look, above his eye. His feathers are a lot lighter, it looks like his scar.”
Ron didn’t look as convinced. “Is that really you, mate?”
Harry nodded. Ron knelt down next to his sister, wonder dawning in his eyes. “Wow, you really managed to change into an Animagus!”
Flapping his wings, Harry preened a bit under his best mate’s words.
“What kind of bird do you reckon he is?” Ron asked Ginny.
“A falcon, I think,” Ginny replied as she watched Harry. Harry nodded proudly.
“Brilliant,” Ron replied. “Change back, tell us how you did this?”
Two pairs of disbelieving eyes swung over to Ron. Ginny shook her head at her brother. “He’s obviously stuck, Ron. He would have just changed back by now if he could.”
Harry nodded while Ron started laughing. Glaring at his best mate, Harry flew up and pecked at Ron’s hand.
“Sorry,” Ron replied a bit sheepishly as he tried to stop laughing. “I guess you didn’t listen to Hermione.”
Harry chirped in a rather aggravated manner. Before the conversation could continue, Mrs Weasley’s voice could be heard calling Ron and Ginny into dinner.
“My window’s open, mate,” Ron said. “Why don’t you fly up there and we’ll talk after dinner.”
Following Ron’s suggestion, he flew up to Ron’s room. For a moment he wished he hadn’t, the bright screaming orange hurt his eyes. Was that why Pig was always bouncing off the walls? Hedwig wasn’t there, so cautiously Harry flew back out the window and circled the topsy-turvy building looking for another way inside. One of the first floor windows facing the back garden was open, so Harry flew in.
It was a bright and cheerful room, but thankfully without the screaming orange walls. Harry sat on the desk as he looked around the room. There was an unmade camp bed up against one wall and another bed with yellow bedding. The room was neat, much neater than Ron’s was usually kept. The books were neatly stacked on the desk and the wardrobe doors were shut. There were no piles of clothes on the floor. He liked this room, Harry decided. Just as he started getting comfortable, he looked around the room a bit more closely. One of the dresser drawers was open and to Harry’s mortification he saw a bra and several pairs of knickers.
If he could blush, Harry knew that he would be bright red. As much as he thought he should probably leave, he just couldn’t get over the fact that he was in Ginny’s room. He looked around with much more interest this time. One the walls were several pictures of the Weasleys with more pictures of Bill and Charlie than the other brothers. There was a collage with a mixture of Muggle and Wizarding pictures. He saw a picture of Ginny and Neville at the Yule Ball; he couldn’t believe he’d missed that opportunity to ask her out. There were pictures of Ginny and her roommates, Ginny and Luna, and several pictures of the Gryffindor common room. He even saw several pictures of himself mixed in with the others. There was one of him playing Quidditch, one from the Yule Ball, and one where he was just hanging out in the common room.
It made him feel better to see that she had pictures of him up on her walls. Hermione had said that Ginny had given up on him, was it possible that Hermione was actually wrong for once?
As he looked around the room, Hedwig flew into Ginny’s room and landed on the desk next to Harry. She hooted lowly and seemed relieved to discover Harry was still in one piece. If an owl could fuss, Hedwig was fussing over Harry. He found that while he still couldn’t understand exactly what she was saying, he got the gist of what she meant.
Harry clicked at his owl, ‘I’m good, Hedwig. Ron and Ginny know who I am.’
Seeming to be mollified, Hedwig settled in and was soon asleep. Finding that he was rather tired as well after flying all day, Harry flew over to Ginny’s bed and settled down on the soft quilt. Within a few minutes, he was sound asleep.
“In here, Ron!” Ginny called. She and Ron had panicked when Harry hadn’t been in Ron’s room. Walking over to her bed, she sat down next to the beautiful falcon. Part of her was amazed that he had managed it, but part of her knew that if Harry put his mind to something — he would accomplish it.
“What’s he doing in here?” Ron asked a bit loudly.
“Sshh!” Ginny hushed him. “I don’t know why he’s here, but he’s sleeping and so is Hedwig. It must be a long trip from his aunt and uncle’s house. I imagine he’s worn out. Close my door.”
Just then, Harry’s eyes opened and he looked around the room. He made a quiet chirping noise when he saw his friends.
“We saw Hedwig downstairs, but she didn’t have a letter,” Ginny said to Harry as she gestured to the snowy owl. “Did she help you find your way here?”
Harry nodded and hopped a bit closer to Ginny. She responded by gently picking him up and setting him on her lap. “You must be tired,” she said. She ran her hand down Harry’s back and he snuggled closer against her. He would have been perfectly happy to stay there all night.
“Ginny!” Ron said in a horrified tone. “You can’t be picking Harry up and petting him. He might look like a bird, but he’d still Harry.”
He lifted Harry off Ginny’s lap and set him back on the bed. Harry glared grumpily at his best mate. He certainly hadn’t minded Ginny taking care of him. Harry vocalized a bit, but found himself wishing he had some other way of communicating with his friends. Looking around Ginny’s room, his eyes lit on her stack of books. Reluctantly flying over to the desk, he pecked at the Transfiguration book. Ginny rose and followed him.
“I don’t think you can do any homework as a bird,” Ron laughed.
Ginny glared at him. “I think he’s asking about Professor McGonagall.” Turning to Harry she said, “I asked my mother and she said Professor McGonagall should be here in the morning. I told her I had a question with my Transfiguration homework so she’ll be sure to tell me when the professor gets here.”
“Oh, is that why you started yammering about homework?” Ron asked. “I thought you were channelling Percy the prat.”
Ginny just shook her head, but Harry spotted the sadness in her eyes. He chirped and she looked at him. After a moment she shook her head, “I don’t know what you mean.”
At the same time she seemed to realize they didn’t really have a good way to communicate. “Hold on a minute, Harry. I’ll be right back.”
Ron watched his sister leave in confusion. “I really don’t understand that girl.” Turning back to his best mate, he asked, “So why’d you come in here? My window was open.”
In exasperation, Harry flew over and tapped Ginny’s much calmer walls. Ron looked at him in confusion. “Walls? What do you mean?”
Before Harry could even consider how to reply, Ginny came back in carrying what looked to Harry like a computer keyboard. After closing the door, she set it down on her bed. “I got this from Bill. He was telling me the other day how they had to use these sometimes if one of the crew got hit with some type of curse where they can’t speak or they only speak in tongues — apparently that was a favourite of the Ancient Egyptians. He said he’d let me play with one.”
Harry flew over and looked at the contraption with interest. Ginny said, “Just tap on the letters and spell out the word you want.”
Looking over at his best mate, he tapped out, ‘Walls too bright. Hurt my eyes.”
Ginny started laughing as Ron blushed. He shrugged sheepishly. “Sorry it hurt your eyes, but it’s my favourite colour.”
“Are you hungry?” Ginny asked.
“Yes,” Harry tapped out.
“What can you eat?” Ron asked.
“Berries,” was his reply.
Ginny hurried downstairs and returned shortly with a tray holding a plain bowl of berries for Harry and two bowls of berries and cream for her and Ron. The two boys immediately started eating, while Ginny ate at a bit slower pace. Once Harry had eaten his fill, Ron claimed the rest of the berries.
The keyboard contraption helped, but it was rather tiring for Harry. He explained that he’d been a bird for a little over 24 hours and Hedwig had helped him find his way to the Burrow.
“Your aunt and uncle are going to get worried about you, mate,” Ron observed. “You’ll have to let them know what’s going on in the morning.”
Harry looked at his friend in confusion, but he decided it wasn’t worth it to try to explain right now that his aunt and uncle really didn’t care where he was. He lifted his wings and settled them down in his version of a shrug. Ron must have assumed Harry was agreeing with him because he didn’t say anything else.
Watching his two friends, Harry typed out, “Order?”
“They are using the Burrow as headquarters right now,” Ron explained. “Dumbledore is looking into the protections around Grimmauld Place; he’s not sure how safe it is right now.”
Ron and Ginny exchanged a look. It was Ginny who answered, “I’m not certain. I think someone is in Surrey, but I don’t think they are guarding you like they were last summer. Professor Dumbledore knows that you’ve been riding your bike a lot, but I don’t know how he knows.”
“There have been some attacks,” Ron said. “Some Muggle families, but some Wizarding families as well. The Dark Mark has been seen again.”
“Dementors have been breeding,” Ginny said. “Have you noticed the fog?”
Harry nodded, he had, but he hadn’t realized it was related to Dementors.
“Did you hear that Fudge was voted out of office?” Ron asked with a touch of glee in his voice. “Dad was very happy about that.”
Silence settled over the room for a moment with Ron and Ginny not looking at each other. Harry immediately felt bad for bringing up such an obviously touchy subject.
“He’s still being a right prat,” Ron said harshly. “Even though he knows You-Know-Who is back and he knows you were telling the truth, he’s still not talking to our parents.”
“Guess who arrived yesterday?” Ginny said obviously changing the subject.
Harry looked up at her expectantly. She laughed, “Fleur. Can you believe that she and Bill are engaged?”
Harry was rather surprised and he was even more surprised to see Ron’s ears redden with a goofy smile on his face. He really didn’t understand Ron’s reaction to Fleur, she was nice and pretty enough, but for Harry there was just something missing.
He chirped in surprise. Ginny shrugged, “Bill wants her to have the chance to meet the family. She’s…”
“Lay off her,” Ron interrupted his sister. “You and Mum are just jealous because she’s pretty and you’re not.”
Ruffling up his feathers, Harry screeched at his friend, “Kaa-ack, kaa-ack!”
“Get out!” Ginny yelled angrily. Harry could see the hurt on her face and his anger at his friend grew. He flapped his wings.
Ron ran out of the room as Ginny went for her wand. She slammed the door behind him, but Harry could still see the hurt in her face. Luckily for Harry, she wasn’t crying. He didn’t handle crying girls very well. Without looking at Harry, she sank back down on the bed.
He hopped over next to her before flying over to the keyboard and typing, “You are pretty.”
Ginny blushed as she smiled at him. “Thank you, Harry. It’s okay, I know Ron is just being Ron. He doesn’t think before he talks sometimes.”
Harry nodded, he knew that for a fact. Ginny ran her hand down Harry’s back before she continued, “I know Fleur is part Veela and she’s beautiful, but she…I don’t know... she doesn’t really fit in well. She and Mum aren’t getting along well, and she tends to treat me like I’m about three years old.”
She laughed, “Ron loses his mind every time he sees her, going all goofy. The twins hide it better, but they tend to get goofy also. It’s a bit annoying.”
“You are prettier,” Harry typed insistently.
Ginny laughed when she read that. “Please, Harry. That’s a bit much. I mean, I know I’m not the troll Ron makes me out to be, but I know I’m not prettier than her.”
“Yes,” Harry typed again, willing her to believe him.
She looked at him for a long minute and seemed to sense the seriousness in his eyes. “Thank you, Harry. That’s very sweet.”
He chirped quietly while he wondered if being sweet was a good thing or not. After a few moments of silence, Ginny said, “I’m going to take a shower. Are you going to sleep in here?”
Harry’s brain jammed for a moment at the thought of her showering, but shaking that image he nodded. Ginny pulled a small blanket from the bottom of her wardrobe and made a makeshift nest for Harry on her desk next to Hedwig. He was soon asleep.
Harry woke early the next morning feeling a bit sore all over. He imagined it was from all of the flying he’d done the day before. Stretching a bit, he caught sight of Ginny sleeping in her bed. Inwardly, he blushed as he remembered their conversation from the night before, but he was glad that at least she knew he thought she was pretty.
As he watched her sleep, he realized she was not just pretty, she was beautiful. Her multi-hued hair was spread all over her pillow. He’d long been fascinated by her hair, there were just so many colours blended together. It looked so soft and silky, he longed to touch it, but he’d never been that forward before. As he recalled how brilliant she’d been last night in figuring out who he was and how to communicate with him, he resolved to ask her out as soon as possible. He needed to be human first.
Realizing it was probably a bit creepy to just sit and watch Ginny sleep, Harry looked out the window. It was another beautiful day and the lure of the outdoors proved too strong. He slipped out the window and headed up into the sky.
He spent quite some time swooping and diving and in general enjoying himself. As he rose above the Burrow, he could see clear to the river. He laughed as he watched some gnomes sneak back into the Weasley’s back garden. After he’d flown around for a while, he noticed people starting to move about.
Mrs Weasley came out to the hen house and collected eggs. He watched Mr Weasley leave for work, followed to his surprise by the twins. Dropping down, Harry flew by the kitchen window and the aromas from within the house were enticing. He couldn’t wait to become human again. Surely Mrs Weasley would feed him before sending him back to his relatives, right?
Tonks and Kingsley stopped by on their way to work. Harry listened in, but didn’t learn much news. Remus’s name came up and Harry listened closely. Tonks was worried about him, but said he was doing better. An unexpected wave of sorrow swept over him. He’d forgotten how devastated Remus must be — after all he and Sirius had been friends since they were children. He wished he had a better relationship with Remus, but while Remus was always polite and friendly, he just didn’t encourage close friendships.
Settling into one of the bushes outside the kitchen window, Harry waited. After the Aurors left, Ron and Ginny eventually made their way downstairs.
As the two siblings sat at the table, Ron said, “You didn’t need to flip out last night, you loon. I didn’t mean anything bad.”
Ginny arched an eyebrow at him. “You meant ‘you aren’t pretty’ in a positive way?”
Ron rolled his eyes. “I just meant that Fleur is different, she has an advantage over you.”
If he could have, Harry would have argued with his mate, but he obviously couldn’t in this form.
Once Mrs Weasley had set a large platter of eggs and bacon on the table, Ron leaned over to his sister. “Where’s Harry?”
Ginny shrugged. “He’s out flying. I saw him a while ago, diving and playing out there. He looked like he was having fun.”
Once Ron and Ginny finished eating, Ron was sent out to de-gnome the garden while Ginny was sent to wash dishes. When she was alone by the sink, Harry flew up to the window.
She smiled when she saw him. Looking around to ensure they were alone, she whispered, “Good morning, Harry. Did you have fun this morning?”
He chirped softly and she smiled. “Good, you looked like you were having a brilliant time.”
Once she finished the dishes, she prepared a bowl of berries and another dish with water for him. Harry ate and drank his fill. He butted his head up against Ginny’s hand in a gesture of thanks. She smiled at him as she puttered around and finished cleaning up the kitchen. Harry kept her company, just happy to be with his friends.
It was mid—morning and the two were up in Ginny’s room. Harry was watching Ginny work on her summer essays. As an OWL student, Harry didn’t have any summer homework this year for which he was very grateful. Watching Ginny, he realized that she was quite smart. She worked hard and from what he read over her shoulder, she wrote very well.
A knock on the door startled the two, but Ginny rose and opened the door to reveal their Head of House.
“Professor,” Ginny said happily. “Thank you for coming up.”
“Not at all, Miss Weasley, I am always happy to help my students,” the older witch replied. “Your mother said you had a question about your homework.”
“Not exactly,” Ginny said as she closed the door behind her. She gestured for the professor to sit at her desk, while Ginny sat on the edge of her bed. She gestured to Harry who ruffled his feathers suddenly.
Professor McGonagall looked at the bird for a moment before looking back at Ginny. “This appears to be a Peregrine Falcon. Why is it in your room?”
Taking a deep breath, Ginny replied, “It’s actually Harry.”
Professor McGonagall’s eyebrows rose almost to her hairline. “This is Harry Potter?”
“Yes,” Ginny hurried to explain. “He arrived yesterday with Hedwig. He transformed the day before yesterday and became stuck.”
“That is why one should never attempt to transform without a fully trained witch or wizard to help them,” Professor McGonagall replied acerbically.
Harry ducked his head bashfully at her tone. Pulling her wand, Professor McGonagall confirmed that the bird in front of her was actually an Animagus. Standing, she gestured to the chair.
“Mr Potter, why don’t you sit in the chair?”
He obeyed automatically and a moment later, Harry was sitting in the chair as a person. He knew immediately that he was back to normal. He stretched his arms and stood up.
“Thank you, Professor,” Harry said gratefully.
“Of course,” she replied. With a wave of her wand, she conjured up another chair and waved Harry back into the chair. Once they were all seated, Professor McGonagall said, “Please tell me what happened.”
Harry was surprised, he’d expected an immediate lecture. Quickly, he explained how he’d found the book and everything that had happened over the past week. To his surprise, the professor nodded approvingly.
“You did well,” she said. “I was afraid from what I’d heard that you’d rushed into this, but you did research your animal properly. Tell me what happened when you tried to transform, but you couldn’t.”
He explained what he’d done and how he woke up as a falcon. Professor McGonagall actually laughed. “I’m sorry, Mr Potter. That must have been very disconcerting for you.”
“What do you think I did wrong?” Harry asked.
Professor McGonagall stood and reviewed the entire process before transforming into her cat Animagus. Harry watched closely. Once she had transformed back, she said, “Why don’t you try again?”
Harry was surprised, but did as he was instructed. To his surprise, it was much easier to transform. When he was once again a falcon, he flew around the room for a moment before landing back on the chair. He tried to transform and he could feel the panic rising when he didn’t transform right away.
“Calm down, Mr Potter,” Professor McGonagall said soothingly. “You can do this. Close your eyes and feel the magic flowing through you.” She watched her student carefully and when she sensed he was ready, she said, “Transform.”
A delighted Harry Potter was once again sitting in the chair. Professor McGonagall had him go through the transformation several times until he could change easily from one form to the other.
“Good work,” she said at last. “I will speak to Professor Dumbledore. I don’t know that he would want to broadcast your ability, but it is a requirement that you register your Animagus form. Congratulations, Mr Potter. Very few people have the discipline necessary to become an Animagus.”
She watched him for a moment. “Should I expect Mr Weasley and Miss Granger to attempt the transformation next?”
Harry looked up in surprise. “I’m not sure, neither of them have ever said anything about becoming an Animagus.”
She nodded before looking over at Ginny. “What about you Miss Weasley?”
“I think it would be brilliant,” Ginny replied earnestly.
The older witch studied the young girl’s face for a moment before nodding. She pulled a newer copy of the book Harry had used from her robe pocket. “I’ve had this since I received Miss Granger’s letter. Is this the book you used?”
Harry nodded, “It’s the same book, but mine was a lot older. It was Sirius’s book and he had lots of notes and comments in the margin.” Harry felt proud of himself that he was not only able to say Sirius’s name, but he actually felt happy.
Opening the book to the appropriate page, Professor McGonagall instructed Ginny to complete the questionnaire.
While she did so, Harry said quietly, “Professor, do you know if I will be able to stay here?”
“I shall discuss the matter with Professor Dumbledore,” she promised. After a moment of silence, she said, “How have you been doing, Harry?”
“I’m better,” Harry admitted. “The first few weeks were horrible, but I know Sirius wouldn’t want me to be so…depressed. I really miss him.”
Harry swallowed. “It’s hard to think that I can’t write to him and he’ll answer me. I’m angry, but I’m realizing that it’s not all my fault.”
“No, it is not,” she affirmed. “I am very sorry for your loss. Sirius loved you very much and I know he would be quite upset if you were to blame yourself for what happened. Voldemort is very adept at fooling people. Your vision at Christmastime saved Mr Weasley’s life, so it is reasonable to think this vision was real as well.”
“Thank you,” Harry replied. He really was feeling much better.
Professor McGonagall gazed as him with an expression of almost pride on her face. “So tell me, Harry. How was your trip here?”
Harry lit up as he recounted following Hedwig and how she took him to visit Stonehenge. “It was brilliant, Professor. We were able to fly right up to the stones.”
“That is certainly a unique experience,” she said. “Hedwig is quite a devoted owl.”
“She’s brilliant,” he replied earnestly.
“Were you able to understand her?”
Harry frowned as he considered her question. “I can’t talk to her like I am to you now, but we can communicate. She seemed to know that I was just a bird form of Harry. I was talking, but of course it was coming out as clicking or chirping and she seemed to know what I meant.”
He looked over at her. “Can you talk to other cats?”
She did smile that time. “Like you said, I can communicate, but I can’t translate meows.”
Suddenly, Ginny squealed attracting the attention of the other two. She held out the questionnaire. “A fox, my form should be a fox.”
Professor McGonagall took the questionnaire and looked it over. “Good.” Looking up she said a touch severely, “You must put in the work if you wish to become an Animagus. There are no short cuts. Read this book carefully and you need to study your form as well. Mr Potter’s idea of sketching the animal is an excellent idea. I will be pleased to help you become an Animagus, but I must impress upon you this is a difficult task. I do not want you to attempt to transform without me.”
“Of course, Professor,” Ginny promised happily.
Professor McGonagall stood. “I will go talk to Professor Dumbledore. Perhaps he will let you stay here, Mr Potter.”
Once she left, Harry turned to Ginny. She squealed again and hugged him. He squeezed her tightly. “Thank you, Ginny.”
She pulled back so she could see his face. “For what?”
He blushed a bit, but continued, “For being such a good friend this summer. Your letters have been a life saver. You’ve been great since I got here. I just really appreciate it.”
Ginny smiled. “You are welcome.”
Reluctantly, she stepped back and returned to her spot on the edge of her bed. Harry sat back down in the desk chair. He watched her wanting so much to say something, but not knowing how. Finally he decided to just push on.
“Ginny…I don’t know if I’m going to sound like a total prat or not, but…I really like you. I know you gave up on me and I don’t really blame you. I haven’t been a good friend to you at all. I hope you will give me a chance to make that up to you.” He looked up into her warm chocolate eyes. “Is there any way you would consider going out with me?”
For a moment Ginny didn’t move or respond and Harry was starting to become very uncomfortable. Just as he was about to give up, she said softly, “Yes.”
“Yes?” Harry questioned wanting to be certain.
“Yes,” she laughed.
She reached out and took his hands in hers. “What on earth made you think I’d given up on you?”
“Hermione told me you did,” Harry replied.
She shook her head. “I think she meant something other than what I meant.” She dropped her gaze for a moment. “I meant I had given up my ridiculous crush.” She blushed. “I want to thank you for never making fun of me or anything. I’m sure it must have been embarrassing for you, but you never said anything. I realized that I’d had a crush on some make-believe Harry Potter, not you.”
“And now?” Harry asked uncertainly.
She smiled. “I like you.”
Harry grinned. Standing, he pulled her to her feet and pulled her into his arms. Looking down into her eyes, he slowly leaned down giving her time to pull away. When she did not, he leaned down and kissed her. The first touch of her lips was soft and inviting. Harry soon discovered he really had no idea what kissing was like before he kissed Ginny. He kissed her slowly and tenderly, enthralled with the taste and feel of her.
A knock on the door brought them both back to reality. Ginny took a step away from Harry and called out, “Come in.”
Professor McGonagall opened the door. “Mr Potter, I have received permission for you to stay here at the Burrow. We will return to Privet Drive to retrieve your belongings before returning here for the rest of the summer.
It turned out to be the best summer of his life. After a rather blistering lecture from Mrs Weasley, she’d engulfed him in a hug and fed him until he couldn’t move. Ron had seemed pleased that Harry and Ginny were dating, but he easily ran out of patience with them when they got lost in each other.
Harry flew all over the Burrow both in his bird form and on his Firebolt. Professor McGonagall had returned his broom and along with it brought the Gryffindor Quidditch captain’s badge. He had been afraid that Ron might be upset, but Ron was thrilled for Harry.
The last week of summer, Harry woke early on the first day, looking around trying to figure out what had woken him up. He’d gone to bed early the night before with a Voldemort-induced headache, but he was feeling much better this morning. Sitting up he looked around the room. What had awoken him became apparent when a pretty, red fox jumped up on the bed next to him.
“Ginny?!” Reaching out a hand, he petted the fox who seemed quite happy with the attention. After a moment, the fox pulled back and transformed back into a laughing Ginny.
Harry reached out and pulled her into a hug. “Ginny, that was amazing!”
“Thanks,” she replied happily. “I finally got it last night when I was working with Professor McGonagall, but you were already asleep.” She laughed. “You should have seen the look on my dad’s face, he was so thrilled.”
“He should be,” Harry said proudly. “Let me see again.”
Ginny transformed back into her fox and was soon playing a game, with Harry chasing her around the room. She was running and jumping and having a wonderful time. The door slammed open, distracting Harry. He was quickly knocked to the ground with a triumphant fox sitting on his chest.
A bleary eyed Ron stood in the doorway. “What the bloody hell is going on here? Harry...” Ron gestured to the fox as Harry reached up and ruffled the fur on either side of Ginny’s face.
Harry laughed. “It’s Ginny. Can you believe it? Isn’t she beautiful?”
Rolling his eyes at his best mate, Ron made his way into the room. As he reached down to touch Ginny on the top of her head, she nipped at his hand and made a strange kind of barking noise. Harry laughed as he sat up and cuddled the now purring fox on his lap. Ron shook his head.
“Great, you two are all over each other even in animal form.”
A laughing Ginny appeared on Harry’s lap. “You’re just jealous.”
Ron laughed. “Yeah, cause I want to be cuddling with Harry.” He rolled his eyes before turning serious. “Congratulations, Ginny. You’ve put a lot of really hard work in on this.”
“Do you think you want to try it?” Harry asked as Ron sat down on the floor across from the couple.
“Becoming an Animagus?” Ron asked. He shook his head. “No, I mean I know the two of you have had a lot of fun, but I don’t think I want to do it.”
“You’re missing out,” Harry said. “I love flying.”
Ron glanced across the room at Harry’s clock and smiled. “I’m going to take a shower. Hermione should be here soon.”
Two hours later Harry flew down the road leading to the Burrow, he was high above the car that was making its way to the Burrow. As the car stopped, he watched as Hermione alighted followed quickly by her parents.
Ron burst out the door of the Burrow and stopped short of hugging Hermione. A laughing Ginny pushed her brother aside and hugged her. The two girls started talking as Mrs Weasley came out to greet Mr and Mrs Granger. Harry dove towards the group causing Hermione to shriek and duck out of the way. Righting himself, Harry flew over and landed gently on Ginny’s shoulder. Ginny laughed as he rubbed his cheek against hers.
Hermione gasped, “Is that Harry?”
When Ginny nodded, Hermione glared at the falcon. “Harry James Potter, I don’t believe you!”
By the time Harry had landed and transformed into a laughing Harry Potter, Hermione was well into her stride. Harry just shook his head and reaching out, pulling his friend into a hug.
“I’m fine, Hermione. Thanks for worrying about me,” Harry said. Stepping back, he wrapped his arm around Ginny’s shoulder. “I’m actually doing really well.”
As the foursome made their way back into the house, Hermione was still fussing at him, but Harry was too happy to care. What had started out as the worst summer of his life had turned into one of the best.
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