When Hermione had learnt of animagi she'd be fascinated.
When she'd seen McGonnagol transform from a cat to a woman on the fly she'd been awestruck.
When she saw how Sirius black managed to escape from Azkaban as a dog, and Peter Pettigrew attempted to hide in plain sight as as rat... she'd been obsessed.
It had taken her 6 months, but she'd done it.
The boys had of course worked through it with her , it felt right somehow, that the three of them do it together , just like the marauders had back in the day. Pettigrew aside.
Though Hermione managed it half way through her 4th year, 6 months after starting, it was half way through 5th year before Harry managed his form and now they were well into 6th year and Ron still hadn't shown any signs of a form.
Not even a partial transformation.
Her form however?
She'd been so pleased to have a form at all, but had been half expecting to come through as an Otter like her patronus, which she supposed she'd have been content with...but the other half of her was expecting her to be something small and unremarkable like a mouse or a hamster.
Something mundane, Ordinary, Plain.
But she loved her form.
Proud , Strong, Protective...fierce.
A very large , barbary lioness.
She loved it and she was immensely proud of it.
The forbidden forest did not frighten her anymore, not when she stalked through it on a night as a lioness.
When Harry found his form a year later, it had of course been a Stag , could he have ever been anything else?
Unlike his father however , who's animagus form was a red deer , Harry rose more than just a head and shoulders above... as a great Elk.
Gentle looking it may be, Bambi he was not.
The 16 point rack of antlers as dangerous as any blade would give anyone a run for their money.
It was hard for the two friends to watch Ron struggle to find a form.
He was convinced he would manage it someday , but they all knew that some witches and wizards were just incapable of changing.
Animagi were very rare and it was something that was inherent in your blood , you either were or weren't an animagus and there was nothing you could do to become one if it just wasn't in your blood.
And though they continued to support their friend, both Hermione and Harry feared he would never have a form , and what repercussions it may cause between the 3 friends.
The first time Hermione hunted as lioness, she'd been mortified.
She knew as an animagus , her instincts would bleed through in her day to day life.
Both her and Harry had noted changes since they found their form.
Harry was much more perceptive, his quidditch skills were even better as both his ability to track movement grew exponentially as did his speed and reflexes.
Hermione's sense of smell was through the roof, and her hearing greatly improved, her potions were now infallible as she could scent the best ingredients and hear the change in the bubbling potion.
Their personal traits were more emphasised too, whereas Hermione had always 'mothered' her friends, she was even more protective and nurturing of them now and Harry was even more proud and quick tempered, though fiercely protective of his friends. Especially his female friends , whom he liked to 'herd' around him , so he knew where they were at all times.
None of them were bad things really.
Even if Harry did butt heads a bit more with some of the boys.
But when she'd gone for a run in the forest one night , after skipping dinner , she'd found herself stalking an acromantula.
Instinct had dropped her into a crouch and had her shuffling on her belly through the grass , and when it ran she gave chase.
Eventually she'd brought it down and a sharp crack of her jaws had ended its's life.
She was about to bite into it when she'd scented something else on the air.
Horse. But not.
Man. But not.
Her first thought as the herd surrounded her was to apologise for hunting on their land , as they'd mistakenly trespassed before and had to apologise to the herd.
Then her second thought was...hunting?
And was going to eat a damn acromantula!
The centaurs had chuckled when the lioness had jumped away from the spider with a yowl , frantically attempting to spit and rubbing her tongue with her paws as if to rid herself of the taste.
"Peace lionheart , you hunt well"
She'd groaned then , and tried not to inhale a rather appetising scent coming from one of the centaurs.
Embarrassment aside, she was still hungry dammit.
"Perhaps we could come to some arrangement ? The young acromantula are a blight on this forest, their meat is a delicacy to us but they are so low to the ground that we struggle to hunt them. We have to crush them beneath our hooves but that leaves us open to being bitten in less than desirable places" The Stallion grinned and a few others chuckled around her.
"You however brought down that acromantula with more ease than our whole hunting party could have done , and it seems the meat is not to your taste?"
She shook her head and the centaurs once more chuckled at the visual of the lioness shaking her head.
"Perhaps if you bring down any more on or around our lands, we can offer an exchange ?" He threw something towards her from his pouch and instinct had her snapping it out of the air.
It was some kind of roasted meat, and it made her mouth water as she bolted it down.
She also decided then and there not to ask them what it was, because she had a feeling she didn't want to know.
Thus her bond with the centaurs was born.
And with it opened the doors to the other inhabitants of the forest.
Hippogriffs, unicorns, Thestrals.
She was 'herd' now to the centaurs and other hoofed inhabitants of the forest.
Pride, the inner lioness saw them as.
They would hunt together, play together and read together.
She learned the call of the herd, and they learned her growls and lows so they could hunt together.
Harry was supportive, but he didn't understand.
He didn't have that instinct.
The urge to hunt, to provide for her pride, her family.
Voldemort soon got tired of waiting and after his humiliating defeat at the battle of mysteries at the end of their fifth year, he became obsessed.
Death eater attacks were becoming more frequent, more reckless.
There were more casualties from both sides, as Voldemort's followers became desperate to appease their insane master.
Every failure was punished , so they got more and more desperate and more and more careless.
But it wasn't enough.
It was how when Voldemort got tired of waiting...a Chimaera came to be in the forbidden forest.
Now Chimaera are as dangerous beasts as they come.
With the body and head of a large lion with the back end of a goat, including the sharply cloven hooves and the tail of a dragon, just as sharp and deadly as the hungarian horntail itself.
But what made Chimaera's even more dangerous, and unique amongst among magical beasts was they resisted magic.
Even an Avada would not so much as tickle one.
The top duellers wore vests made from Chimaera hide, which would take the brunt of most spells even though the animal was dead, and which was exorbitantly expensive as it usually took a team of specialised unspeakables to trap and kill one.
It was Chimaera hair that was the core of the magic suppressant cuffs used in Azkaban prison , preventing prisoners from using magic.
Predatory , vicious and deadly.
Chimaera killed without conscience, hunted mercilessly and left most any who would stand in their way dead.
The three of them were sat on the grounds, by the edge of the forest. They had brought a 'picnic' out with them as they studied on the grass.
They heard it first.
She'd paused and cocked her head.
Harry had frozen at her look as Ron continued on unaware.
"Hermione?" He questioned but she raised her hand to get him to stop speaking.
After a moment she shook her head , as though clearing her thoughts.
"Nothing...I thought I heard-"
It came again, the deep bellowing roar , closer this time. Close enough for Harry to hear it too.
"What is that ?
His head was whipping side to side as he attempted to scan the forest for movement.
"I'm not sure I..."
Suddenly a scent on the wind hit her , one that was so foreign and yet strangely and vaguely familiar.
"It smells like... the defence room?"
It was Harry's words that connected the dots in her mind.
Foreign Smell , yet familiar.
Familiar because she was partly lion herself.
Familiar because they used duelling vests in the defence against the dark arts room.
"Harry..." Hermione whimpered as a morsmorde lit up the sky above the dark forest causing students to cry out in panic.
"Harry...it's a Chimaera"
Students were fleeing into the castle and screaming in panic as Hermione turned to Ron and Harry , both of which were fellow prefects , just as Neville, Dean and Seamus ran up to them.
"What's going on ?" They gasped.
"Chimaera, there's a Chimaera in the forest! Voldemort must have brought it here" Harry snapped out and the three boys paled.
"Wait, aren't the 5th year Gryffindors and Ravenvclaws in the forest with Sprout ?" Neville asked quickly
and Harry paled "Ginny's in the forest!? "
"The first year slytherins are too! " Hermione gasped , remembering Hagrid telling them that the students were going to see the newborn thestrals.
"Luna will be there too!" Neville gasped out, then the boys seemed more focused on Harry though as he ripped of his robe and began shifting heedless of the audience, eyes darkening and antlers sprouting from his head.
A voice pulsed at the back of her head.
The little ones are in danger.
"Ron! Get Mcgonnagol, Snape and Dumbledore...tell them there's a chimaera in the forest and there are students in there!" She snapped out a growl, her teeth elongating into fangs and eyes turning golden.
The boy turned tail and fled towards the castle, tripping over his feet and firing off his patronus as he went... the lively jack russell shooting off in the opposite direction as he did.
Seamus and Dean began running to herd up stray students while Neville stayed alongside Harry.
"We have to get to them" Harry snapped out as he began to run
"What about the Slytherins?" Hermione shot back.
"Fuck the slytherins" Harry lowed "Ginny is out there!"
"And Luna!" Neville added
Then Harry shifted fully and the great elk let out a deep bellow as it began to scratch the ground, Neville didn't need to be told twice and was grabbing an antler as a handle and jumping onto the great elks back.
Hermione was running beside.
Her heart torn. Luna and Ginny were her friends.
But she saw Harry bolt through the treeline with Neville in tow, and Seamus and Dean were running back with brooms along with a number of other students.
All headed to the north side of the forest.
To the Gryffindors and Ravenclaws.
She made her decision.
Shifting as she broke through the treeline she veed south.
Towards the Slytherins.