|SIYE Time:14:24 on 19th March 2018|
A Squirrelly Thing Happened on the Way to the Burrow
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Characters:Harry/Ginny, Other, Remus Lupin, Ron Weasley
Story is Complete
Summary: Harry finally achieves his Animagus form: a Eurasian red squirrel. When he realizes he is unable to transform back to his human form, he decides to seek help from Mrs. Figg. Unfortunately, Harry forgot about all her cats. Mortal peril has a way of making your life and priorities a lot clearer.
Hitcount: Story Total: 1923
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.
I don't own the Potterverse. JK Rowling does. End of story.
Okay, I started this one for the Animagus Challenge, but a combination of Real Life + slow writing means that I didn't finish it on time. (To say it's late is just a slight understatement.)
Thanks to Spenser Hemmingway who betaed this for me. It's been quite a while since I was in English class (the year started with 19).
So many people love to give Harry an awesome Animagus form, even a magical one or multiple ones. I decided to give him a lame one and see where that led.
Someday I would like to go back and rewrite this story to make it longer and perhaps find a way to use the squirrel form to help defeat Voldemort. There are about fifty stories ahead of that in my queue, though.
Harry James Potter was bored. Bee oh are ee dee - BORED. For someone who had inherited the genetic material of James Potter, this was intolerable. Number four Privet Drive was not a place for a young wizard. Not only did his relatives view magic as an insult to the universe, they viewed Harry the same way. Harry had achieved an uneasy truce with the Dursleys. They did not abuse him the way they had prior to his eleventh birthday, and they generally kept from insulting him, but Harry felt as though he were walking through a minefield. Uncle Vernon seemed waiting for a chance, any chance, to throw Harry out of the house forever...Dumbledore's threats to the contrary notwithstanding.
Harry was counting the days until he was able to rejoin Wizarding society, in the form of the Weasley family. The Burrow was more like home than some conformist house in a conformist Muggle neighborhood could be. It was loud, raucous, messy, magical, and full of people who genuinely loved each other. Not only that, they were even glad to see Harry. Of all the people of Little Whinging, only the batty Mrs. Figg was interesting. Of course, she wasn't even a witch, but the company of a squib was certainly preferable to the scorn Harry received from the people who were his family by blood only. At least she knew about magic, even if she could not perform it herself. Better to look at her endless supply of photos of her cats than to endure his family's ire.
Due to his surplus of free time, and a desire to avoid the Dursleys, Harry sent Hedwig with letters back and forth to his friends in an effort to relieve the mounting boredom, but that couldn't fill all his time. "Hermione would be proud of me," Harry thought. "I've done almost all of my homework and read my textbooks over and over." Still, Harry's academic endeavors could not fill all of his available time. Harry spent the rest of the time lost in thought. He thought about Quidditch, the wonderful house-elf-made food at Hogwarts, his professors, and the coming of all-out war against Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Mostly, however, Harry thought about his friends.
"Ugh! Harry mused. "I can't keep dwelling on things I can't have. Another week until I can go to the Burrow and the time is crawling. I feel like Sirius did when he was cooped up at Grimmauld Place." The memory of his late godfather saddened Harry, but then he remembered the book Sirius had given him before he died: a complete instruction manual on the Animagus transformation.
Harry's eyes widened as he had an epiphany. "Of course! The Animagus transformation is wandless! The trace won't be alerted if I work on that. Of course, Sirius cautioned me not to work on it by myself, but what's the worst that could happen?" Harry retrieved the book on Animagus transformations his godfather had given him and began to read it again.
After three days of reading and rereading the book, Harry believed he had mastered the theory of Animagus transformations. In particular, Harry had taken to mind the cautions given in the book. A wizard could become partially transformed, or even completely transformed, and be unable to resume his normal shape. To emphasize the point, the book had a series of highly graphic images depicting actual cases of the transformation gone wrong. All of them were animated, and many were quite gristly.
"Well that won't do," said Harry bitterly. "I can't even work on that without running too great a risk. It's best if I wait the few days until I can rejoin Wizarding society to attempt this." For the rest of the day, Harry amused himself thinking of all the Animagus forms that he could use to torment his cousin Dudley.
That night, Harry slept fitfully. He dreamed that he was being chased through a forest by wolves. If only he could climb one of the trees, he could escape! Suddenly, Harry felt his body shift. Without thinking, he leapt up into a tree and dashed up the trunk. Harry looked down at the frustrated wolves and felt a sense of triumph. He had escaped by changing into an animal!
Harry woke with a sense of accomplishment. If he could achieve the Animagus transformation in a dream, he must be able to do so in real life. He smiled as he reached over to get his glasses. All of a sudden, Harry was concerned. He could not reach his glasses. Harry looked at his arm and saw a furry paw.
"I must have done it in my sleep! I wonder what kind of animal I’ve become."
Harry scampered over to the mirror to look at himself. When he looked he saw a rather good-looking squirrel. His fur was red and white and he had tufts of fur on his ears. The only difference between a normal squirrel and Harry's form were markings on his face that could be his glasses and scar.
"At least I'm a proper squirrel," Harry thought with a chuckle. "Merlin forbid that I should have become one of those Yankee squirrels that are taking over our forests."
Being a squirrel was only amusing for so long. Harry soon found himself bored again and decided to transform back into his human shape. When he tried, Harry found that he could not change. He scurried over to the Animagus book and tried to flip through the pages. Unfortunately, his paws were not made for manipulating books. Harry had to seek help.
The sound of a door opening and closing startled Harry. The book had mentioned that Animagi had sharper senses, even in their human form. Harry closed his eyes and focused on his hearing. After a while, Harry thought he heard the back door open. This was his chance!
Harry slipped through the cat flap that Uncle Vernon had previously installed in his door and ran down the stairs. He scurried into the kitchen to slip out the back door when he saw Aunt Petunia sweeping.
"Vernon!" Petunia shrieked when she saw Harry. "There's a rodent in my kitchen!"
Petunia quickly twirled the broom around and swung the business end at Harry. With a panicked squeak, Harry scrambled under the table and away from the menacing broom. Petunia bent over and prepared to shove the broom at the squirrel to drive it out. She was shocked by the creature's indignant chittering that sounded remarkably like a lecture.
Harry saw his aunt back away momentarily after his tirade, and then resume her broom attack with a vengeance. Petunia overextended and fell forward, giving Harry his chance. Harry jumped onto his aunt's head, ran over her back, and then scurried out the back door to safety. As he gained his freedom, Harry laughed to himself as his aunt's screams turned into hysterical sobs.
A nearby tree provided a place for Harry to stop and rest while he decided on his plan of action. "I don't seem to have much of a choice," sighed Harry. "Mrs. Figg is the only person around here who knows about magic and about who I really am. She can't change me back, but she can alert Professor Dumbledore or someone else who can."
After letting his nerves settle, Harry got his bearings. With a flick of his bushy tail, Harry set off for Wisteria Walk and the home of Mrs. Arabella Figg.
As he was making his way, Harry thought about his current predicament. Being a squirrel was fun, but he could not wait to be himself again. Unfortunately, Harry was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he failed to pay attention to his enhanced Animagus senses. He was already scurrying through Mrs. Figg's yard when Harry finally realized what his nose was trying to tell him.
"Cat!" Harry thought with a surge of panic. "This place reeks of cat. I forgot! Mrs. Figg has cats.
Harry froze, his body absolutely motionless, as he furtively glanced around. He was about to relax when he heard a meow coming from his left hand side. With a jump, Harry turned and fled. From behind, he could hear the sounds of the cat pursuing him. Soon, Harry’s enhanced hearing detected the sound of other cats joining in the chase.
"What a way to die!" Harry thought grimly as he evaded his feline pursuers. "I'm going to be eaten alive by cats. I'll never defeat Voldemort. I'll never see my friends again. I'll never get married or be a dad! All I've ever wanted was a normal life, but my luck just won't allow that. I've been worried about Dark wizards, but now I'm going to be eaten by cats!" As Mrs. Figg's feline friends closed on him, Harry was overwhelmed and fainted.
Mrs. Figg returned from the market to find her cats clustered around a young squirrel that was lying very still on her kitchen floor. "You naughty things!" she exclaimed. "Don't I feed you enough that you don't have to harm poor defenseless creatures?"
At the sound of Mrs. Figg's outburst, Harry awoke. He began to tremble in fear, but then the cats started nuzzling him. Maybe they weren't going to harm him. Suddenly, Harry remembered that Mrs. Figg's cats were half kneazle. Maybe kneazle crosses were able to recognize Animagi.
Mrs. Figg saw what her cats were doing and her attitude softened. "I'm sorry my dears. It looks like I misjudged you. Did you rescue this poor thing?" Mrs. Figg reached down to pick up Harry and cradled him in her arms. One of the cats began to meow insistently. "What's that, Mr. Tibbles? Harry's in trouble?"
Upon hearing his name, Harry began to chitter excitedly.
Mrs. Figg set Harry down on the table gently. "Now dear, I have to help Harry wherever he's in trouble."
With that, all of the cats jumped up to the table and surrounded Harry, meowing forcefully. Mrs. Figg paused and looked confused for a moment before asking the squirrel: "Harry, is that you?"
Harry chittered happily and nodded his little head up and down.
"Harry Potter! Why did you try the Animagus transformation all by yourself? I would think that you would know better."
Harry began to try to explain that it was an accident, but realized the futility of that and hung his head.
Harry's apparent remorse seemed to prod Mrs. Figg in to action. "Now don't you worry, Harry. I'll contact Dumbledore and you'll be back to normal in no time. You wait right here," Mrs. Figg reassured him before heading into another room. After a couple of minutes, Mrs. Figg returned with good news. "Harry, someone will be by shortly to restore you to your proper state."
With the news, Harry jumped up and began to dance a squirrelly dance. He quickly settled down on his haunches and waited for his rescuer to arrive. Before long, a crack from the other room announced the arrival of someone by Apparition. His joy soon abated when he saw the scowling face of Remus Lupin.
"Harry," Remus scolded, "I thought Sirius told you not to work on that by yourself when he gave you that book." Remus performed the Animagus reversal spell and Harry was relieved to resume his true form, but a little embarrassed to find himself in his pyjamas.
Harry looked at Professor Lupin and tried to explain himself. "I didn't mean to transform, Professor. I mean, I did read the book a few times, but I knew better than to transform where no one could help me. Those pictures helped with that. I accidentally transformed in a dream and when I woke up, I was a squirrel." With that knowledge, Remus and Mrs. Figg both softened their expressions. Harry went on to tell about his narrow escape from Petunia's broom and had both laughing. "The worst part was that I forgot about your cats, Mrs. Figg. I was so afraid that they were going to eat me. Good thing that they were able to recognize me as an Animagus and help me!"
"Well," said Remus, "I think you've had enough excitement for one day." Remus conjured some trainers for Harry’s bare feet. After Harry put them on, Remus transfigured Harry's pyjamas into street clothes. "Now, Harry, let's get you home and see if you can survive the few days you have left without incident." He tilted his head and lifted an eyebrow for emphasis.
After they both thanked Mrs. Figg for her assistance, Remus walked Harry home. Harry was able to sneak back into the house and up to his room without incident. A glance at the alarm clock showed that the entire incident had taken less than half an hour. The remaining time until he could go to the Burrow would just crawl by. "Well," he thought, "I guess I could work on my homework." Harry sighed.
In the end, Harry did work on his homework, although he did not complete it before it was time to leave for the Burrow. He did spend most of his time thinking. Unconsciously transforming into an animal, being assaulted by a broom, and almost being eaten by cats had a way of forcing a young wizard to reexamine his priorities. While fleeing Mrs. Figg's cats, Harry had had a surprising moment of clarity. When he had thought about the future that he believed he would not have, Harry had for some reason pictured that future with Ginny Weasley. Before, Harry had thought he fancied Cho Chang, but now he wondered what he had seen in her, beyond physical beauty. Sure, Cho was beautiful, however, she was always weeping in his presence. Harry seemed to continually remind Cho of Cedric. The clarity brought about by that minute of sheer terror had certainly readjusted his priorities.
Ginny Weasley had been awkwardly infatuated with him when he first met her. Then, she was subdued under the influence of Tom Riddle's diary. More awkwardness and some hero worship had followed that, but Ginny seemed to have matured lately. Ironically, if Ginny hadn't started dating Michael Corner at the end of Harry's fourth year, Harry might not have been able to become friends with her and get to know the real Ginny. The version of Ginny Harry had seen more of lately was smart, fun, and had a terrific sense of humor. When Ginny had broken up with Corner, Harry might have pursued her if Dean Thomas hadn’t immediately made a move. Still, romantic relationships at Hogwarts were seldom permanent. He might yet have a chance. Of course, Ginny was still his best mate's "baby sister." Harry wasn't quite sure what Ron would think of his new found interest in Ginny.
After visiting Horace Slughorn and arriving safely at the Burrow, Harry was thrilled to see Ron and Hermione...and Ginny. When he finally got the chance to talk privately, he called the four of them aside to tell them of his accidental transformation and the adventures that followed. Ron was a little confused at Harry’s insistence that Ginny be included, but Harry insisted while flashing a grin at Ginny. When he told them what happened, Hermione was predictably upset at Harry for the unsupervised transformation. Ron and Ginny both thought it was funny. Throughout the telling, Harry found himself looking at Ginny more than the other two.
The next day, Harry found Ginny sitting out by the family Quidditch pitch. "Ginny, you don't think my Animagus form is silly, do you?" he asked.
"No, Harry, "Ginny frowned, "why would you think it's silly?"
"I mean, it's just, my dad was a stag Animagus. Sirius was a big dog. Me, I'm just a little squirrel...a rodent like Wormtail."
"Harry! You are nothing like Pettigrew!" Ginny shouted. She shuddered. "Ugh! Thinking of that creepy man living in our house for all those years. Harry, you're NOTHING like Wormtail. You are brave and you're determined to do what's right, unlike that little traitor. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with a squirrel."
"Thanks, Ginny. You don't know how much that means to me. It's just running for your life from a household pet really makes you think."
"And what have you been thinking, Harry?" teased Ginny with a coy grin.
"Uh, erm, um..." Harry stammered, blushing.
"Wow, Harry!" Ginny teased. "Those are some really deep thoughts you had while the cats were chasing you."
Harry was thrilled to have Ginny teasing him. This was the kind of girl he could really like! She was smart and had a terrific sense of humor. Ginny had greatly improved since the elbow-in-the-butter incident. At the same time, Harry wished he could just tell her how he was feeling about her now. This must have been how she felt around him when she was suffering from her childhood crush.
Ginny took his hand to reassure him, leading Harry to blush even more. If she noticed his blush, she didn't let on. "Harry, you know I'm here for you any time. We all are." With a flip of her brilliant hair, Ginny turned and walked away.
That evening, when Harry and Ron were talking before going to sleep, Ron dropped a bombshell on Harry: "Hermione seems to be of the opinion that you’ve started to fancy my sister."
At that, Harry began to blush and stammer, prompting an unexpected response from Ron. "So you do! Well, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to do anything about it?"
Harry was surprised. "You mean you're not upset, Ron?” Harry paused and his expression became one of concern. “You’re not taking the mickey out of me, are you?"
"No. She could do much worse than you. Come to think of it, she did do worse with that Corner bloke, arrogant little git. Dean is…better, but…well, I’d trust him with anything else, but Ginny’s my little sister. Harry, I couldn’t think of a better man for Ginny than you. I trust you. You know us well enough to know that if you try anything stupid you’ll wish Mum had gotten ahold of you by the time the Weasley boys are through with you. Of course, if you break Ginny’s heart you’ll have to have the rest of the family to protect you from Ginny’s wrath. Not to mention her temper and the constant threat of bat bogies. Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” Ron smiled at Harry, then his eyes narrowed. “Just don't let me see you snogging her. No one should have to see his sister snogging some bloke, even if it is his best mate.” Ron shuddered before continuing. "Now what you need is a strategy, Harry. Fortunately for you, you're talking to just the right man for strategy."
Harry rolled his eyes and smiled. He was glad that Ron supported his desire for a relationship with Ginny, even if he was dubious about Ron's claimed ability to help. Ron may be a master strategist at chess, but the lingering romantic tension between him and Hermione hardly said much for his qualifications as master strategist at matters of the heart.
As he closed his eyes and began to drift off to sleep, Harry's thoughts centered around a certain red-haired young witch.
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