AN: Hello, ya'll! This is Noose with yet another story. I really need to control myself, I'll never get anything done if I keep pumping out new stories instead of updates. Don't hate me too much?
If there was one thing Harry Potter could do, it was keep people from knowing what was going on in that stubborn head. Holding one's cards closely to one's chest was something one had to learn if they were to survive the upbringing Harry did. Pulling details out of Harry was as difficult as ice-skating on hoarfrost; technically possible if you built up a large enough foundation to rely on, but ultimately what you got was no where near enough to really do anything with. This was the reason the two people that could claim they really knew Harry were often still out of the loop when Harry decided on something.
Predict the ways of Harry Potter? One might as well try to hold a moonbeam in their hands.
Even Harry didn't always know what Harry would do next! That was probably why the young Dark Lord vanquisher was wandering through a seedier part of the Alleys that had been more or less forbidden.
Harry had been set up with a room at the Leaky Cauldron after meeting with the Minister. Fudge had been too relieved to find the national hero alive and well to scold for running off, and set Harry up with basically an all-expenses paid vacation for inflating Aunt Marge the size of a hot-air balloon. (Mind you, she had already been half-way there on her own.) After a warning to stay in Diagon proper, Harry was left to do whatever it was nearly-teenaged children did in their free time; in Harry's case, it was wander about.
Diagon Alley became less exciting after the fifth time Harry ambled through it. That was not to say that it was dull, it was just the fact that Harry had been warned not to leave it, and anyone in the know could tell you that telling Harry not to do something was basically guiding the child by the hand directly into doing so. After a week and a half of being good, Harry was ready to stray. Fortunately or unfortunately, a shop sign glinted in the afternoon light and caught said child's attention
The shop in question was placed in what basically amounted to a side-road off of Diagon proper. It was at the intersection where Knocturn connected to Diagon, and if it hadn't been an unusually sunny day that day, Harry would have missed it altogether. The entrance to the side alley was the width of doorway though it was tall enough that Hagrid could have squeeze through if he turned on his side.
Harry pondered the side alley, wondering if it was anything like Knocturn. Harry was still leery of the place after the mishap with the Floo the year before and wasn't sure if soothing curiosity would be worth the potential of running into more crazies. Turning to look at the relaxed atmosphere of Diagon before the school rush, Harry double-took as a man with antlers came out from the shop that had caught Harry's attention. Mouth falling open at the sight, Harry was walking through the entrance way before realizing it.
The antlered man didn't notice Harry at all and continued on his way down the side alley. Harry watched him go before glancing up at the shop sign (Margaux's Metamorphosis, the letters shifting through different fonts) and peering through the tinted window. The interior looked as if an antique shop was dressing up as a greenhouse for Halloween. Fascinated by the idea of having antlers, Harry pushed open the door and walked inside curiously, a bell tinkling at the opening of the door.
The layout of the shop reminded Harry of a gift shop, one catering to hippies. Trinkets were here and there, potted plants were sat casually throughout, no rhyme or reason that Harry could discern as to where they were placed. What appeared to be a potions area was set off next to the counter, but it was difficult to be certain with all the curtains and fabrics strewn about. Harry would have called the place terribly messy if it hadn't been for the fact that everything was perfectly clean and more or less had a place for themselves; disorganized might have been a better word for it.
A woman bustled out from behind a shelf at the sound of the bell. She reminded Harry of a gypsy, like a carnival fortune-teller, with her fluttering skirts and golden bangles though she didn't appear to be Romany. She was sweet-faced and matronly, giving off a similar air as Mrs. Weasley, though more relaxed.
"What can I do for you, me wee duck?" The woman asked, accommodating but no-nonsense. Her accent wasn't polished like those in Diagon, so the alley must've been part of a lower-income shopping area.
Harry deliberated for a moment. "Would it alright if I look around, please? I'm not looking for anything in particular."
The woman's brows raised. "Coo, would you listen to that? Prettier words I've never heard!" She gestured vaguely in a sign of welcome and shifted the bundle she had in her arms to a hip. "You're free to browse, not a bother. What's a young toff doin' in Whimsic Alley?"
Harry smiled absently, going over to peruse a section of bangles much like the ones on the woman's wrists. Maybe it was time to shop for Hermione's birthday present? "Just exploring, ma'am," Harry told her, stroking a leather cuff. "I've already gotten the lay of Diagon so I was looking for something new."
The woman snorted good-naturedly. "Well, you don' get much more 'new' than Margaux's." She put the bundle on the counter and began to separate it. "You just tell me if you need any anythin' then."
Harry picked through the jewel for a moment longer before getting bored with it almost immediately. "Excuse me, ma'am," Harry said, catching the shop attendant's attention once more. "The man who was left just before I came in, how did he get his antlers?"
"Ah, you must be talkin' 'bout Davy, that batty blighter. He's been takin' the Madam's in-between concoction since he figured what his animagus form would be if he ever completed the transformation. Told me he doesn' see the use o' bein' a moose but he's pretty taken with his antlers."
Harry was intrigued. "Could I get antlers or horns or whatever?"
"No with the in-between concoction you won't, unless your form's something with horns itself."
Harry's shoulders fell a little. "Is there anything I could take instead that could?"
The shop attendant came out from behind the counter and waved Harry over to the potion section. "We've got a bit of a selection over here to choose from if you're lookin' to grown extra parts an' the like."
Harry was led over to racks of potions of various bottle types. The labels had things like 'Fox, snout' and 'Kappa, skin' written across the bodies of the containers.
"Wow," Harry breathed, picking up a vial that said 'antelope, horns.' It was pale yellow with a red shimmer to it when the light hit it. "How long do these last?"
"That's the thin' 'bout body modification," the shop attendant said. "You drink any o' these, they're permanent."
Harry straightened up sharply. "Permanent? You mean to say you can't change it back later?"
"Timin' agents cost a glossy Galleon," she explained with a shrug. "The Madam made her potions so they won' cost more'n they could sell for while still gettin' the job done."
"So it's like a muggle tattoo?" Harry wasn't sure if the awesomeness of having horns was worth the fact that they couldn't be removed.
"Don' sound so wary!" she admonished. "It's not like a glamour won' hide 'em. I suppose if you were really sick of 'em you could get rid of 'em the muggle way."
"I thought it was permanent, how can it be permanent if I could get it removed?"
"That's the genius o' the Madam; as soon as the change happens, it'll be like you were born that way. As far as anyone'll be able to tell, no magic was used at all! Won't even show up on a hospital diagnostic list."
"And no one will question the extra appendages?"
"Why would they?"
"Why wouldn't they? How often is a person born with wings or a tail?"
"You mus' be a muggleborn — how odd! Never met one with such pretty manners before. Anyway, it's not as unusual as you seem to think."
Harry thought it over. Horns would be cool, but it was starting to seem like Harry had walked into the wizarding equivalent of a tattoo and piercing parlour. It wasn't the same of course, but years of the Dursleys denouncing such things as trashy still made Harry hesita— 'Eagle, wings' sat directly in front of Harry's eyes.
"Can you fly with those wings?" Harry couldn't have been more eager if Snape had volunteered to retire from teaching.
"You'll have to learn to use 'em yourself but they're capable of flight, aye," the shop attendant confirmed with a sly grin.
There wasn't a word to properly describe how excited Harry was, practically vibrating with thrill.
If this was the life of someone else, say Percy Weasley, this would be the point where the potion in question would be purchased with no further fuss. If Percy was the one there, he would have left and returned to Diagon Alley without anything else coming up. Unfortunately, Percy was not the one having a run of the Alleys.
As Harry was looking through the bottles of different wing types, a door from behind the counter flew open. A person came rushing out from the back, a pile of fabrics stacked higher than their head blocking their view. Just when Harry looked up, a vial that came just behind the one with 'Vulture, wings' written on it in hand, the running pile of clothes and curtains ran headlong into Harry, sending both flying to the floor.
Was it any wonder, knowing Harry's luck that our little hero was drenched in a potion that turned him into a her?
The shop attendant had hovered frantically over the newly made girl, apologizing profusely to Harry while also scolding the person that had run into Harry with all the fury of an erupting volcano. Confusion and shock abounded.
The shop attendant offered to give Harry a wing potion for free to make up for the accident.
"Please, sir—miss—please, luv! Don't take your pound o' flesh out o' the Madam's shop! She's a fine old woman what's never made trouble for nobody!" the woman pleaded frantically, her accent thickening and grammar degenerating in her panic."Take the potion you wanted — take two or three if you like! I can't tell you how sorry I am!"
The person that ran into Harry — a boy a year or so younger than Harry — blubbered into his hands.
Naturally, Harry made to calm the anxious pair, assuring them that no revenge would afflict them. Harry wasn't one for revenge, especially when no harm was meant.
"I'll still take the potion," Harry continued, selecting one for the wings of a humming bird, "but I'm not taking it without paying. You're already out a potion after spilling that one all over; I'm not going to take away more of your profits, that'd be just mean."
Harry left shortly after that, assuring the pair once again that there were no hard feelings. By this point, Harry had quite enough of wandering the shops and wanted nothing more than to return to the Cauldron. A late lunch and a shower later, Harry was as untroubled as before the exploration backfired. It took her longer in the shower than usual to figure out how her new body worked (the peeing was distinctly less hands-on), but she tucked herself into bed feeling confident that she could handle no longer having dangly bits.
Was it any wonder considering Harry's habit of being tight-lipped that after concluding such a thing, she decided that there was no reason she shouldn't keep it to herself?
In all honestly, Harry wasn't that bothered about it. Before when she had been a he, he hadn't entered puberty yet, so it wasn't like he had been attached to masculinity, nor had he reason to feel manly; he had been raised to take care of the household chores and do the cooking and mending, the traditionally female tasks. He hadn't been attracted to girls yet either. Yes, it took a bit of getting used to, but really, she was still as Harry as she had been before. In fact, at the very least she wouldn't have to worry about adjusting her bits anymore, seeing how everything was now internal; convenient, that.
If there was one thing Harry Potter could do besides being more stubborn than suspicious bed-sheet stains, it was rise to the occasion. When no one was around to expect things from Harry, the child in question was actually thoughtful and self-aware. Harry could sit for hours just contemplating the ways of the world, thinking over things that had been done or had been read. It was a consequence of regularly being locked away in a cupboard with nothing to do but think. However, when there was a role to play, no one could say that Harry didn't throw everything into it.
At first, Harry didn't realize that he was doing it. He had so little time to himself that he fell into the role of bold saviour automatically during his first year of Hogwarts. He had read about what they had expected of the Boy Who Lived and when people looked to him, he gave them what they wanted. Oh, sure, he didn't cater to their whims, but there was no denying Harry in his boy-hero mode.
It was after the mess with Riddle diary that Harry realized what he had been doing. Actually, it was in the middle of battle with the basilisk that he became self-aware again. Even as he fought for his life and Ginny's, a part of him was separate from the immediate problem, wondering what the hell he had been thinking, him, a muggle-raised boy, rescuing damsels and fighting monsters. That wasn't who Harry was! But that was who the Boy Who Lived was, and it wasn't the time for Harry to reassert himself.
Harry was very familiar with self-reflection, he knew who he was in a way that was unusual for a child. He knew his faults, he knew his good points; even if he lied to others, Harry never lied to himself. He accepted that he had been running around without thought to the point where he almost got himself killed. He also accepted that such behaviour was what everyone wanted of him even if they said that they didn't like it.
It was a sticky position Harry found himself in. If he had been the type that desperately wanted to people to like him, he might have stuck with it. It was seeing a new goon being initiated into Dudley's gang that held Harry back from making such a mistake.
He had come across the initiation completely by accident, looking out into the neighbour's yard just as Dudley's yes-men talked the newest yahoo into beating up on another kid. The boy had been hesitant but Dudley's friends were insistent. By the time poor Mark Evans managed to get away, Dudley's new thug was just as mean-spirited and ugly as the rest of them. That was the price of conforming to gain popularity, a loss of self.
It was with the images of Mark Evans being punched that Harry resolved that nothing was worth it. Hadn't he already had popularity a good amount of the time for being the Boy Who Lived and the Gryffindor Seeker? And hadn't everyone still turned on him at the drop of a hat? No, popularity wasn't worth it; it wasn't worth his life and it definitely wasn't worth his soul. Harry would be Harry, and if they didn't like it, he would like himself enough that they didn't matter.
A calm had descended over Harry as he resolved to live by his integrity of character. He felt lighter and more at peace than entering the wizarding world had made him, when he realized there were people like himself.
It was in this enlightened state of mind that Harry also came to the conclusion that a change in gender didn't make him a different person. Just like entering Hogwarts didn't make him more magical, entering a different form of his species didn't make him more or less of the person Harry was before. Biological functions did not define a person. Boy, girl, hermaphrodite, or tree, Harry was still Harry; her soul was the same as always.
And because she was the same as always, it wasn't anything that needed to be shared. Just as she hadn't had to tell anyone that she had a prick back when she had a prick, she didn't need to go shouting to the world that she would eventually grow breasts.
Besides all of that, Harry was now the proud owner of two very attractive green hummingbird wings. The growing of them had been a pain similar to having mouths on your back and biting down on aluminum foil with them while having someone pull your shoulders out of joint, but she thought it all well worth it. The potion had even restructured her bones in such a way that her waist was higher to create grooves for the wings to tuck into in such a way that they weren't visible while they weren't out. It was incredibly cool and Harry was reveling in unassisted flight, her feet rarely touching the ground when she was in her room.
All was well in the world of Harry Potter.
It was a very zen Harry Potter that returned to Hogwarts. No one knew what had happened to put her in such a state but that was not to say that there weren't theories. Of course, a good lot of those theories were unflattering, like maybe Harry had gotten into questionable substances, or she finally lost the last shred of intelligence in her scruffy head (these mostly came from Malfoy and his ilk), but whatever tossed at her, Harry remained unruffled. In a part of her mind, she was tickled by how bothered those that disliked her were by her lack of reaction, but the rest of her was too relaxed from how little she really cared about it all anymore.
"I am a cucumber," she had told Ron when he asked why she wasn't ready to beat Malfoy's face in. And indeed she was, she was cool as cucumber and no one was getting in the way of that.
Ron had looked at her as if she was insane but that hadn't bothered her either.
She breezed through her classwork now that no one's opinion but hers mattered. Ron could moan but she would still finish her work in a timely manner. Snape could sneer and snark but Harry was too in-touch with her inner peace to anything but an excellent job; funny how not letting yourself be distracted by anger-inducing things could make you so much more effective in what you do. The teachers could praise or degrade her, she was too one with the void to be more than passingly interested in them.
When a Firebolt came in the mail and Hermione had snitched, getting the teachers to take it away for checking, Harry was irritated at the other girl's tendency to tattle. Seriously? She didn't take Ron and Harry's opinion into consideration before running off to tell McGonagall! The irritation eventually melted away. Being angry was exhausting and Harry wasn't going to waste energy being worked up over someone that thought being friends meant being someone's keeper.
Harry eventually forgave Hermione when the irritation over the incident left her completely, as it was too much of a bother to hang onto the feeling. Admittedly, it took a while to leave as Hermione had swamped herself in pointless extra work and was an emotional basket-case that shouted and cried about damn near everything as consequence.
When Ron, Hermione, and she had been dragged into the Shrieking Shack by the man that was said to be trying to kill her, she would readily admit that she lost her cool, all but physically attacking him in her fury. She later made up for it by knocking Snape out when he tried to interrupt Sirius and Professor Lupin's explanation, as well as coldly having Sirius break Pettigrew's legs so he couldn't escape again even if he somehow was freed from Lupin's body-bind.
Harry's precaution proved worthwhile when Lupin went werewolf on them. Ron and Hermione managed to drag the filthy rat to the professors while Harry ran off to save Sirius. Harry's cool head saved them once again when she managed to produce a Patronus strong enough to drive away the Dementors that swooped in on them. Professor Lupin's lessons proved their worth a hundred times over.
It was a self-satisfied Harry Potter that went back to Privet Drive, eagerly awaiting the trial Fudge couldn't deny Sirius now that Pettigrew alive and well enough was tossed at his feet. Sirius had promised her that he would take up the position of her guardian as soon as he could make it.
"I won't be staying," Harry told the Dursleys. They had been terribly upset when they picked her up from the train station. "My godfather's arranging to take me in soon, so I'll be living with him."
"Godfather?" sputtered Uncle Vernon. "You haven't got a godfather!"
"Yes, I have," said Harry brightly. "He was my mum and dad's best friend. You've heard about him on the new, you know? He's a convicted murderer, but he broke out. He told me to keep in touch while everything's being set up!"
Grinning wickedly at the look of horror on Uncle Vernon's face, Harry set off toward the station exit, Hedwig's cage rattling along in front of her, for what looked like a much better summer than the last.
She wondered what next year would be like.
AN: This has the potential to stay a one-shot so tell me if you think I should continue. I could easily leave it as is but I admit that there's a hint of a wider plotline lurking in the back of my head. Let's just say that Fleur is involved, as is a Slytherin from Fred and George's year.
P.S. I don't want to hear anything about Harry not reacting in a way you think appropriate. Real life is not over-dramatic breakdowns or shouting your troubles to any ear still able to hear. If you want angst for no reason, go read a Twilight fic. Harry Potter doesn't angst, he gets pissed and blows shit up. I believe in keeping characters true to the spirit of their canon characters while still spicing things up. Change is good; usurping is bad.
Think of it this way, if your character is so different from the original that you could rename it and it still works as the other character, you're doing something wrong. Harry's not an angsty princess that needs protecting, that's Draco Malfoy combined with Ginny Weasley; Hermione is not some supreme beauty queen that has guys panting after her and is into some kinky shit, that's Fleur Delacour mixed with Bellatrix Lestrange; Snape is not some misunderstood anti-hero that would actually do anything to protect his students, that's fucking Aberforth Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall smooshed together. You can change them! Just don't make them unrecognisable. I don't care what kind of story you're writing, if I can't tell who the character is without their name and physical description, you're not doing it right.
Phew! End rant ;)