Against My Nature
Newt/Harry, Timetravel Shenanigans, Canon Divergent
His plan was to avoid changing the timeline. He knew he wouldn't be able to resist if the opportunity presented itself. So he fled to Africa, where opportunity found him instead.
Head trauma was the worst.
Huddled under a rock in the middle of buttfuck nowhere in the African wilds, Harry Potter was thoroughly miserable, and not a little upset with his current lot in life. With one hand up over his face, sleeve shielding his eyes from the harsh glare of the sun, he couldn't even find the energy to shiver as multiple cool scaly forms slithered atop, and inside his clothes in search of body heat.
Because of course the rock he crawled under just so happened to be filled with snakes. Of course.
Talkative snakes who wouldn't shut up and let a guy suffer in peace and silence until his brain felt less like soup attempting to dribble itself free from every facial orifice he may or may not possess – and a few he was fairly certain he shouldn't have had that morning.
He didn't even know what happened, that was why he really hated head trauma. The lost hours.
Or in his case, the lost day and a bit.
Despite the nice medi-witch that had seen to him when he first stumbled into Diagon Alley earlier that day, he still had a lump the size of an occamy egg on the side of his skull, and a melon sized bruise surrounding it. No broken skin anymore, and thankfully he still had both of his wands, and his auror equipment, but there was a distinct smell of time-dust and that weird reek he'd only encountered in the Department of Mysteries in the sandy creases of his robes that made his stomach turn with 'please no'.
He'd landed in the middle of Diagon Alley, on a chilly spring morning, blood down his face, much to the shock of onlookers who immediately rushed to his aid upon recognising his uniform for what it was. He quickly found himself ushered onto a chair outside a cafe, people calling for a healer, and a cup of tea being pushed into his hands a moment before a plump witch with a brisk manner was in front of him. With his skull fractured in several places, she had been quick to pull her wand and get to work on him. Skull fractures, broken nose, she had commented on how he was a handsome young man as she reduced the swelling and syphoned off the blood.
That had been when he noticed the newspaper on the table beside him.
Daily Prophet, April 11th 1925. Articles about Grindelwald.
Even with his brain having all the processing power of a flobberworm in a hamster ball at that exact moment, he knew he shouldn't be there. He knew he shouldn't be there. Couldn't be there. Had to leave because it was 1925. It was almost a decade before the second world war was due to really kick off, and he could not be there. He remembered staggering away from the table, garbling something about the date being wrong, that oh god, what happened, the date was wrong, it had to be – and then before the well meaning witches and wizards that had helped him to his seat could do much more than reach out, he fled. Apparating as far and as hard as he could.
He hit dirt, and the sun was like icepicks through his brain when he looked up. The world swam, and he crawled, dry heaving all the way, into the shady hollow he now called his own, ignoring the startled and terrified hissing of the occupants until one threatened to bite him. That he was once again speaking Parseltongue did not even register to him as he sluggishly assured the serpents he just wanted to hide in their shade, that he would gladly let them use his body heat and avoid the birds overhead if only he could stay for a while. They let him, and now he had to deal with cool slithering forms managing to wriggle their way into his robes, up his shirt sleeves, or down his collar.
"SsBite me and I'll kill everyone,sS" he warned just the once before allowing himself to fall into a painful sleep.
Of all the Aurors in his graduating class, Harry was perhaps the only one that took to learning as many languages as possible. He knew the most out of everyone in the entire department for that matter, and when questioned as to why, would only cite that his luck being what it was, he had better learn before he had need of it.
He could only be thankful for his rare moment of clarity and the years of dedication he spent on linguistics when he awoke to a language that, while he wasn't fluent in it, was at least passably familiar with.
"I'm alive," he managed to croak out in what he hoped was passable Afrikaans.
"You are in a nest of vipers, white man. How is this so?" a male voice demanded incredulously, accompanied by the hissing and spitting of several of Harry's bunkmates telling his visitor to go away.
Harry rasped a chuckle, "Bribery. It isn't so hard when you know how." He slowly extracted himself from the hollow. He didn't feel anywhere near so awful anymore, the nap had done him a lot of good, but he was still a little woosy, so he took it slow and careful so as not to step on any of his hosts and earn a bite. He cringed from the bright sunlight overhead in pain, and then began the arduous process of removing serpents from his clothing. "I don't suppose you could tell me where I am, could you?" he asked as he untucked his shirt and removed three bush vipers from his waist.
The men he was speaking to exchanged looks. Definitely magical, Harry could tell, but he couldn't identify their tribe off the top of his head. There were many magical african tribes, but sadly many of them had modernised or phased out by either force or necessity. They were both very tall, a depressingly common occurrence for Harry who had never quite managed to hit any manner of height past 5'3" thanks to his stunted growth (cheers Aunt Petunia), they wore traditional garb, brightly coloured beads of semi-precious stones and glass, and not a lot else. Harry was a little jealous. He had been out of the shade for all of three minutes and was already beginning to sweat like a pig thanks to his heavy auror robe.
The one with the most elaborately decorated skirt said something that he honestly couldn't begin to understand, he assumed it was the local name of a place, and nodded as if he knew where that was – even as he undid his trousers to rummage another viper out from his crotch.
The looks on the men's faces was quite comical as Harry nonchalantly tossed the serpent back under its rock.
The snake said some mightily unflattering things as it slithered away, to which Harry hissed some equally insulting things back. The nest burst into a raucous of jeering and laughter at that, which only sounded a lot like hissing and spitting to his audience as the snakes began to writhe in agitation.
"You speak the tongue of serpents?" the guy with the fancy skirt demanded in shock. Harry nodded warily, curling his wrist carefully just in case he would have to pull his wand. The two tribesmen looked at each other before Fancy Skirt took a single step forward, "Would you help us, white man?"
"I'd need to know what the problem is before I can say," Harry admitted, a little bewildered.
Fancy Skirt nodded solemnly, "The village is this way," he announced, "The headman will explain. Come," he begged earnestly, and without any reason to actually say no, Harry shrugged and trailed after him and his companion.
The village was several hours away, and Harry ended up stuffing his heavy robe into his pocket before long (he had to remove another three serpents from his pockets, and a fourth little cheeky bastard from his sock), and he was fairly sure he was going to get sunburn on the top of his head, but he was in fairly high spirits by the time they reached the collection of traditional mud and stick huts with their very cool thatch roofs.
A few of the people gave him odd looks, Fancy Skirt stared at him challengingly as they passed a group of women with their children. Harry just tilted his head quizzically, wondering what he'd done wrong, but Fancy Skirt's expression faltered for a moment before he nodded, almost in approval, and gestured at him to hurry up. Harry glanced to his companion, Lots of Necklaces, who just stared at him with an expression that the Gryffindor couldn't even begin to identify.
Shrugging, Harry followed after them to an area where a group of men and women were repairing what looked to be very fine river nets for fishing. An older man with iron grey curls, and scars climbed to his feet and approached them. Fancy Skirt did... something, Harry couldn't quite see it from the angle he was at, but it must have been some kind of warrior greeting or something.
"My son tells me you are a Serpent Speaker, white man," the headman announced slowly, with great seriousness, his son translating for him as he spoke a very different language to Afrikaans. Must be their tribal dialect maybe?
Harry nodded, "He's not wrong. My name is Harry. He mentioned you folks needed some help, what's up?" he asked glancing around. Just because they looked like they were living in relative peace did not make it so. And if they were interested in his Parselmouth talents, then it was likely their problems were decidedly more bestial in nature.
The headman gestured for him to walk with them, and began to lead them away from the other members of the tribe, his son translating for Harry to understand.
"Three nights ago, a great serpent moved into our tribe's sacred lands. It attacks all who make it through the caves, and consumes them whole. We have already lost three young warriors, and an expectant mother. The sacred land is where every member of our tribe has been born, it is protection and blessings to the child to be born within the cradle of life," the headman explained as they came to the top of a steer incline that swooped down across miles and miles of plains and grasslands, it was a fantastic view that went on for many miles, a distant carpet of trees, a river that lead to a wide lake basin, and a long ridge of jagged rocks that jutted out from the earth as if piercing the flesh of the planet. Dark and foreboding, he could see the distant specks of life springing from rock to rock upon the distant cliff-face, the wheeling of birds, the grasslands and forest at the foot of the mountain teaming with life. It was not as desolate as one would assume at first glance.
Harry hummed, "Has anyone gotten a good look at it yet?"
"I have," Fancy Skirt announced before his father could speak, taking a step forward. "It is a red viper, much like the ones wrapped around you earlier, but larger. The size of a water-buffalo with the temper of a hippo. If you survive the nest of bees that guard the only entry into the mountain, then it will set upon you within seconds. It must be dealt with, before it lays its eggs!" the warrior declared, stamping his staff onto the hard packed sunbaked earth with passion.
A random huge ass snake just moving in one day? That... didn't sound right.
Definitely a magical snake, and if the size was any descriptor he would have thought an elderly Basilisk the culprit, but he didn't know of any species that actually resembled a natural species of snake. And if it were, why on earth had it decided to move from its original territory?
"Has there been any local disturbances lately? Changes in herbivore habits, new predators, uh, another tribe changing territories, mating season for large predators, anything you can think of?" he asked frowning. He was no mythozoologist, but he was hardly an idiot. You needed at least passable knowledge as an Auror, not to mention being friends with Hagrid, Charlie, and Luna necessitated the knowledge just so you could carry a conversation with them (to say nothing of Luna's fiancé who was probably as monster mad as Hagrid but less likely to smuggle them around in his pockets).
The son translated for his father who nodded, "There is a Nundu pair. They have recently cubbed, yet rejected the youngling. It has been seen prowling the edges of their territory snatching prey, and scavenging. The female has begun to blood her kills once more, she will be fertile soon," the headman explained grimly, and Harry immediately wanted to hit something. Preferably himself.
Nundus. Only what was considered the most deadly creature in the beast category, beating out the Manticore and Basilisks simply because it was a naturally occurring species and far more common than either created Dark Magic monstrosity.
Harry scratched the back of his neck, casting his mind back as much as possible to Care of Magical Creatures, and the jokes he shared with Ron and Hermione about how soon it would be until Hagrid was presenting them with one during their lessons. It started as a joke, but they went scrambling for text books none the less, just in case.
Nundus were a strange species. Huge almost dragonic leopards with pufferfish characteristics, they could be mistaken for gargantuan lions at a distance while displaying the puffed up venom sacks that corded their powerful necks. They stood at roughly the size of a three story house when fully grown, and much like Basilisks and some species of reptile, did not stop growing until their death's. Typically they were loners, coming together only to mate and raise young. A female would begin to blood her kill when her fertility cycle was kicking in, to find an appropriate mate, there would be a chase across their territory, if the male was able to keep up with her, or subdue her, then she would consent to the mating. By only consuming the blood of her prey, it would ensure she had enough energy for the run without being weighed down by excess consumption. Males would have one hell of a time keeping up with the hyper-aggressive females, fights would often break out if more than one male were trying to claim the right to mate. Once mated, the two would remain in pairs until a successful cub had been raised for a year, then they would split and the cub would remain with its father while the mother moved on to find another male. If the cub were deemed too small, or inferior, it would be rejected and the mother's fertility cycle would begin again – this time, the male that fathered the previous cub would not be permitted to mate no matter what.
Being the size that they were... It would not be considered unusual for them to pursue a large predator, and if the snake were magical that came part and parcel with a higher intelligence. It would immediately move to occupy an area that said Nundu would not be able to access. Such as a cave system.
Harry scruffed at his hair in frustration, "Right, I think I can assume what happened. Ignoring the snake for the moment, it's unlikely to move while the Nundu are in the area, are you not concerned about the cub prowling around the local area?" he asked in concern. Surely they should be a little more on edge regarding the huge predator that hadn't yet learned to avoid humanity rather than a snake that wasn't actually actively doing anything?
"The cub has already been driven away once. It will not return," Fancy Skirt told him shortly, slamming his staff again.
Harry tried not to feel sorry for the creature, and the no doubt violent reaction the locals had to its attempted invasion. But it was hard. The poor thing was just a baby, and a hungry one at that.
"Well, let's get going then," he announced casually, stretching languidly, and ignoring the considering look the headman was giving him. "The only way I'm going to know how to help is if I actually know exactly what kind of snake I'm dealing with. Some can be relocated, some can be negotiated with, so if you play your cards right, you may end up with another protector for your sacred space. If not, then I'll just kill it."
If it were a Basilisk then it didn't matter if it could be reasoned with, he would kill it anyway. Such creatures were not meant to exist, and the enchantments that brought about their creation would eventually warp their minds into not only madness but also evil.
And with that said, he casually jumped off the ledge, drawing yells of surprise from the men he left behind as he landed on a small rock spray and practically bounced down to the base of the cliff and started walking. He may have cheated with a smidge of a carefully applied cushioning charm, a little Arresto momentum, but it was faster than walking, and he was lazy.
A quick Point Me charm, and he knew the mountain he was heading towards was south-east. He had been walking for an hour by the time Fancy Skirt and Many Necklaces caught up.
He flashed Fancy Skirt a grin, and received a dirty look in return.
Some people, no sense of humour.
The trip was uneventful for the most part. They skirted the lake basin and made for the river where it would be shallower and there would be a lesser chance of crocs ripping their bellies open. Harry noticed how his guide only said 'lesser'.
Okay, he cheated like the cheeky bastard he really was, using a hover-charm on his shoes, and literally walking on top of the water to avoid not only getting wet, but also attacked. When he got to the otherside, he very carefully levitated Fancy Skirt and Many Necklaces over to join him. Many Necklaces was a bit shaken, but Fancy Skirt seemed more considering than anything else.
"You are skilled with magic, white man," he observed thoughtfully.
Harry snorted, "Harry. My name is Harry. And I would hope so by this point. I wouldn't have made it far in Magical Law Enforcement if I weren't," he pointed out. Though given his name, and accomplishments in the war, he could have been as skilled as Goyle and they probably would have given him the DMLE department on a silver platter if he asked for it.
Fancy Skirt nodded, "That means you are powerful."
Harry glanced at him from the corner of his eye, wondering what his angle was as he felt a small fissure of unease. Was this some kind of trap?
"Yes," he confirmed with absolute confidence, stopping, and looking Fancy Skirt dead in the eye. "Very."
Fancy Skirt leaned back, clearly intimidated but trying not to let it show as piercing green eyes bored dark obsidian black without mercy. Harry was powerful. And if this was a trap, Fancy Skirt had best be aware of just what he was tangling with before he made that stupid decision.
Slowly, the headman's son nodded jerkily.
And they kept walking.
Harry mentally cursed himself. Now things were just awkward. Fuck.
Many Necklaces started shouting then, he darted off into the undergrowth, leaving both Harry and Fancy Skirt to follow.
"What's going on?!" Harry called as he flitted along behind Fancy Skirt (was this guy ever going to introduce himself? Harry was starting to feel a little bad about referring to him by just a piece of clothing).
"Dakarai has seen someone, they are injured," Fancy Skirt told him as he leapt over a small fallen log that Harry had to roll under because he wasn't tall enough to jump it.
Fancy Skirt skidded to a stop, Harry close behind, as Many Necklaces (Dakarai) knelt beside a young white man in a dusty white shirt covered in tears and dry blood. He wore brown trousers tucked into sturdy boots, a white shirt, clean bandages around his wrists indicating that he'd had time to at least try to do something about his injuries, and was slumped under a tree in the shade, looking as though he had simply toppled to the side as he passed out on top of his leather suitcase.
There was a wand in his free hand.
"Stand aside," Harry commanded as he immediately began to reach for his field kit.
It was a well known fact in the Auror Corps that Harry couldn't heal so much as a papercut. He never explained why, he didn't want to, especially when Skeeter decided to draw him through the mud for it once it became public knowledge (famous historic Parselmouths were all amazing healers, is this a sign of Harry Potter going Dark? Read more on page 3). But that just meant he had the most well stocked first aid kit of everyone in the Ministry and even St Mungos. It meant that when Harry sat for remedial potions, he paid specific attention to medical potions. Even going so far as to look into muggle methods of helping people and combining the two. He may not be able to use charms and spells, but he gained his qualification as a certified First Aid-Healer in other ways.
He cast several sensory and scanning charms before cursing and unfolding his whole potions kit in front of Dakarai and Fancy Skirt's fascinated gazes.
Curly Hair had been attacked by a Nundu. Not badly, but enough to be in trouble. A little bit of clawing, some internal bruising, and poison inhalation. The spells showed signs of a recently ingested bezoar, and the use of a Bubblehead Charm, the poison had been introduced at first via the lungs, Curly had quickly spelled himself a clean air-source and choked the bezoar down, but then he had been clawed and the poison had entered into his system that way. Like most cats, Nundus had sheathed claws, and they were known to lick their paws and bodies with saliva tainted from their venom sacks.
Harry worked quickly, healing potions, muggle antiseptic, magical anti-inflammatory, cleansers, etc. He threw them into a cauldron and began to work carefully balancing them on the base level. He threw in orange zest, three drops of flobberworm brain juice, the tiniest bit of powdered ashwinder, shredded bloomslang, and three stewed horned slugs, stirring feverishly even as with his other hand he got rid of the bandages and began to cast spells.
He couldn't use healing spells, he improvised with other, more painful, spells.
Summoning charm on the venom in his bloodstream, scouring charms on his skin, water purification charms that he had to tweak with what he knew of blood chemistry in order to purify Curly's blood of the poison. If he had been awake, no doubt he would be in agony, cursing Harry out, or possibly trying to kick him.
As it was, his face only creased in pain as Harry worked.
Harry pulled his cauldron off the naked flame, snuffed it, and conjured a bowl made of ice. He poured the concoction into it, listening to the whole thing hiss and spit before casting spells, and conjuring a lid of ice to go over the top of it. It would need to cool and quickly, otherwise the ashwinder powder would react to the shredded lionfish scales and armadillo bile and cause an explosion. The flobberworm brain juice was to delay that while the orange zest would raise the acid pH level of the armadillo bile to improve the effectiveness of the recovery potions. In truth, mixing potions like this was heavily frowned upon. It was not often done, and those who were capable of it were often thought to be potions addicts. Harry wasn't one, but he knew that all knowledge was valuable, so he made sure to learn, just in case. Ron had looked horrified the first time Harry demonstrated this knowledge, and the Weasley clan actually staged an intervention, only to be embarrassed and relieved when their fears proved to be unfounded. Hermione had been torn between furious and amused herself because that method of potions adaptivity should have been celebrated, and studied, but was instead relegated to the shadowy corners of social unacceptability because of a couple of junkies.
He watched the ice carefully and whisked the lid off the second the potion turned a nice petroleum jelly shade of clear-white. Using a butter knife, he began to slather Curly's injuries with the ointment, his puffy inflamed skin from the multitude of harsh spells that Harry had used on it losing some of their redness almost immediately as he worked.
He bandaged the injuries as he went, and it wasn't long before Curly was all nice and neatly bandaged up, his colour significantly improved along with his breathing – there was nothing much Harry could do about that beyond reapply the bubblehead charm and tweak the oxygen levels.
Actually... maybe he could!
He had cactus flowers in here somewhere.
And that's the end of Chapter One.