A/N: Slight AU in terms of Astoria's age and Luna's and the Greengrass sister's mother.
Harry had wanted to be an animagus ever since Sirius told him that his father had been one. Since then, he had dedicated a lot of free time studying the process of becoming one. The added benefit was that he always made top of the class in transfiguration in his fifth year when they discussed human transfiguration. It was an arduous process but to be closer to Sirius and his father, Harry was willing to fully dedicate himself to learning. It took him three years to achieve his first transformation. In early January of his Sixth year, he finally transformed.
Into a cat.
He had known, of course, that he would be a cat once he finally made it. There were potions for that stuff. It was still weird to shrink down so much. Since he had achieved his transformation in front of a mirror in the Room of Requirements, he got to study himself.
Harry knew squat about cats. But he had fur, long, fluffy and black, so he was pretty sure that he at least wasn't one of those hairless cats. The eyes were still green, but without the white of his eyes, it looked a lot more intense in its shade. And... what happened to his glasses? He didn't have any markings around the eyes as Professor McGonagall did. But, holy demented dementor! His tail was so fluffy!
The urge to play with it was overwhelming.
But he resisted and snuck out of the Room instead. The door somehow opened for him by itself, which was neat because he couldn't have forced it open as he was now, and he strolled out into the hallway. It was strangely comfortable, walking as a cat. Weight distribution wasn't an issue as he seemed to handle it instinctively, but his sense of smell took some time getting used to. Who knew the tapestries smelled even worse than they looked? And dark corners looked a lot brighter than they did before. Cats were supposed to see very well in the dark, after all.
Now, what to do with his new cat form?
Strolling about seemed like the best idea at the time. It wasn't like he'd let Filch catch him. Or his ruddy cat. Sirius had mentioned he could communicate with dogs. So. How about having a chat with Mrs Norris just because? Well, Harry was sufficiently bored for just that.
That and zooming down the Seventh Floor corridor was far too much fun. Damn, he felt like he was high in liquid luck. Just without the liquid. Maybe it was catnip? Was that what catnip felt like to a cat? Where the heck did he get catnip from and why was he thinking all these things? Did cats actually think that much? Mrs Figg's cats certainly didn't, lazy lil' thing. Then again, those were supposedly Kneazle rather than cats. Wait. Was he a Kneazle? What even was a Kneazle? And what's a cat anyway?
Woah, cat brain goes brrr.
His cat brain slammed furry face-first into a robe-clad leg that just turned the corner of the corridor he had been running down. The smell of soap and lemongrass was strong and it smelled like a woman. How he could differ that? Cat brain go brr. That's how. Damn, his nose was awesome. And it hurt. Even a girl's shins were hard, no matter how soft they all looked.
Harry peered up into big blue eyes and a soft, barely even visible smile. Right. He was a tiny cat. Well, modestly sized cat but still tiny compared to any human. He knew that face. Pretty, pretty sure he knew it. The Slytherin tie narrowed it down by a lot since he didn't really know a lot of Slytherins outside of Malfoy, them gits that followed him, and the Quidditch team.
Ah, she bent down to...
Scritches. Ah. Bliss. Cat brain goes purrr.
And then he was suddenly picked up. But scritches were too good to struggle until he was rested against the girl's bosom and basically face to face with her.
"Such curious eyes," she said softly.
Even her breath smelled good. Somehow Harry hoped he smelled at least neutral as a cat. Would it be weird if he smelled himself right now? What did a neutral cat smell like? Holy hells his brain was so strange as a cat.
Anyhow. He focused back on the girl that was carrying him (and scratching every purr he possessed out of him) down the corridor and right back to the Room of Requirements. He knew her. Come now, cat brain! Who was this pretty girl?
Alright, Slytherin girl, blue eyes, pale blonde hair, pretty tall, pretty... uh, busty. Was that being superficial? Well, it's not like he separated them by smell! Not before he got this transformation down anyway. If he did though, she would definitely rank top shelf.
She shifted him around as she walked up and down the door of the Room. So, Harry thought, she knew of the Room and how to get in. Hey, hold up. She was a member of the DA, no?
Did anyone of the DA smell that good?
How the heck was he supposed to know that!
Stupid cat brain.
Alright, Slytherin girls in the DA:
Uh... Davis something-something... and uh, that older girl, a bit stocky, uh, Mc... whatever, and then... Greengrass?
There had only been three. And since he knew Davis had auburn hair and Mc... Mc... McNeill! McNeill had been pretty stocky (and this girl right here was almost as tall as him, not cat-him though) so that left him with Greengrass.
Greengrass. Hadn't he heard that name before? Ah, the little girl! Astoria! Maybe they were sisters? They did have the same shade of hair. And the same pretty nose. And hadn't he seen both of them with Luna once? No wait, that had been Astoria and an upper-year Ravenclaw.
Harry hadn't realized it, but the Room of Requirements had turned into a big sitting room with a comfy hearth and one huge, Roman-style couch. Looked antique. But then Harry was distracted as Greengrass's hand reached for her neck and undid the robe she wore. Then he almost fell face-first into the two undone buttons of her dress shirt.
It suddenly occurred to him that maybe he should have tried to get away from her. Now he felt like a creep. He tried to turn himself away from her bosom so he could at least say he tried. He was held securely against her chest as she discarded her robe on a nearby coat hanger that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere (Harry still loved how the Room just did that) and ambled over to the couch. She was humming softly to herself. Her breath was tickling his ears. They flicked from time to time and she laughed softly whenever they did.
He was deposited on a couch cushion with a gentle pat to the head. He took the moment to stare up at her again.
Alright. She was pretty pretty. Well, pretty beautiful. She didn't seem to talk much. Then again, she was basically all by herself. Would he talk to a cat if he were in her situation? And why was she undressing? And why was he still watching!?
Alright, undressing might be a bit much. She had only taken off her sweater.
Had Hogwarts's dress shirts always been this form-fitting?
Right, right, he'd rather not be a creep. So Harry instead spent his time getting comfortable on his pillow. Not like he could just walk away anyhow. Right? Or maybe he was simply curious as to what this Slytherin girl was doing here.
And maybe cat brain was going brrr.
She picked up a book out of the air as it simply appeared there (goddamn, the Room was awesome) and sat down on the couch. After getting comfortable, she picked him up from his cushion, placed him in her lap, opened the book, and began reading in silence.
He was a cat, dammit! Just up and leave! They do that all the time.
Greengrass's hand reached around her book and for his head.
Ah. Scritches! How could he possibly leave like this!?
He had fallen asleep. Dammit, cat brain! The ceiling was lower, the air cooler, and the ambient was definitely... greener. He was not in the Room of Requirements anymore. But Greengrass's hand was still playing with his fluffy tail and. Wait. He was still a cat? Probably better that way.
"You are one sleepy cat," she said, smiling at him.
Well, maybe he was. Or maybe that place in her lap was just too warm to not sleep in. Now, how did he get into the Slytherin dorms? And into what he assumed to be Greengrass's room? You couldn't get into the girl's dorm in the Gryffindor tower unless they allowed a boy to enter.
Hm. Well. Technically Daphne had literally carried him here.
Her hand curled in the back of his neck and it flipped his shit as if she had just hit him with liquid luck. She laughed softly, a sound he was rather fond of. Her eyes peered down at him and she seemed to contemplate something for a moment. "Won't you be my familiar, little cat?"
Little? He wasn't a little cat!
"There, there," she placated, scratching just behind his ears. "But that's as good of an answer as anything, suppose."
She leaned down to him. Her eyes were an unholy shade of blue. Was that what Ginny had meant when she told him his eyes were stupidly intense?
Then she leaned down further until his forehead touched hers. What? What was she-
Her magic enveloped him like a fluffy blanket. Wait. What? That was strange. He had magic cast on him before. It never felt that nice. Compared to Snape's battering-ram-like assaults, this was bliss. Dumbledores calmy, prodding graze of mind magic had been strange, and not quite uncomfortable yet but compared to Greengrass?
But what was she even-
A light flickered directly above his eyes, soft and warm. Was that some sort of weird warming charm she was trying to impress him with? But the magic was still there. It felt nice enough, better than any warming charm, but what was he supposed to do with that? He reached out, magically, and pulled and the strange magic. Since Dumbledore had taught him how to prod and pull at any kind of magic without it blowing up in his face, this was easy to do. One of the more useful parts of these lessons.
This magic, however, wasn't even a spell. Or maybe he couldn't tell at a distance. So he pulled a bit more and suddenly it snapped back like a rubber band-
"Thank you," she said, pulling back.
What? Was it over? What did she even do? Dammit. He needed to leave. If Hermionie or Ron weren't already searching for him, then Ginny certainly was. Goddammit, she just had to become so clingy after the whole chamber thing (not that he actually faulted her, bench Tom and all).
Oh god, how could he get out of here? Turn back to human? Hell no! Snape would murder him, revive him, then murder him again! What time was it anyway? Oh god, had Hermione already sent a search party? And, oh damn! He was supposed to meet Dumbledore this Saturday evening! Meaning today!
Harry lept off Greengrass's lap and onto the soft carpet, immediately starting for the door. But how would he open that? He couldn't transform here. So he tapped at it with his paw, looking back pleadingly at Greengrass.
She smiled, climbed off the bed and-
Sweet Merlin why was she wearing nothing but a camisole oh god why did he have to run into a girl he was such a freakin' creep-
"Here you go, Mr Kitty," she said, opening the door for him. "Hope we meet again."
Harry was out of the dorms before he could entertain the thought. The warmth of her magic didn't leave him.
Halfway to the common room, Harry came to a startling realization.
He couldn't turn back.
Because he didn't know how to.
Okay. So maybe he should have thought about that before actually doing this whole animagus thing. But he imagined it couldn't be half as difficult as actually making the initial transformation. But for some reason, he couldn't turn back human, and Harry was pretty sure he was using both intent and magic correctly at this point. So there he was, sitting on the staircase below the Gryffindor common room, concentrating hard on turning back into a human. And nothing happened.
Goddammit, cat brain!
Did being a cat change the way he used magic? Could he even use- Of course he freakin' could! He could cast a Lumos with his floofy tail! (It looked ridiculous, but hey.) So why could he not turn back? Had Greengrass done something to him? Nah, she didn't even know he was human (and he still felt like a creep for the whole thing).
Alright. Who could help him with this? Hermione might know, but did he really want to explain this to her? Ron would probably think it was funny. And if he didn't show up anytime soon, people would really start getting worried. Probably thinking he'd been abducted or something.
So who could-?
Shit. He would have to find Professor McGonagall. The only other animagus he knew and a cat at that.
He scratched at her office door for a good while before it opened up. Good thing he knew that her private apartment was in there, too, since first year. The door opened abruptly, and he almost stumbled when it did. Professor McGonagall wore what Harry thought might have been the very same nightgown she had worn back in his first year and looked about as annoyed as she had back then, too.
She peered down at him wordlessly.
Harry peered right back. Okay. Wha now? Could she understand him if he...?
She blinked at him.
He blinked back.
"I... cannot believe you, Mister Potter," she said tiredly, heaving a great sigh.
Harry did his best to appear sheepish. Or cat-ish. Or at least cute. "Meow..."
The Professor sighed again before suddenly turning into the tabby cat he hadn't seen since first year. "I am as disappointed as I am proud, Mister Potter."
"Wow, that sounds weird," he said aloud before he could stop himself.
The Professor cat shook her head. You will get used to it. Now, Mister Potter, do tell why you have gotten yourself stuck in your very illegal animagus form?"
"I'm, uh, not so sure about that," he admitted. "I tried turning back the same way I transformed in the first place."
The cat nodded. And seemed to frown. It was kinda hard to tell. "Who exactly taught you how to become an animagus, Mister Potter?"
Alight, being called "Mister Potter" by a cat was just weird. "I mean, I used my father's notes on the stuff."
Professor McGonagall heaved a great sigh. "And that explains why you came to be with the exact same problem as he did."
"Uh, okay. Now, how do I turn back before people send a search party after me?"
The professor rose, and Harry noted that she was a bit smaller than him. "Follow me, then, Mister Potter."
Harry followed after into the transfiguration classroom, where she hopped onto the teacher's desk. He did as she had done and jumped on, too.
"Very good," she said, "Far better control over your form than your father had so early."
Harry was sure he was blushing. "Oh, uh, thanks."
"And just as illegal as your father's."
Right. "Uhm, sorry?"
"You better be, Mister Potter."
He could all but see the Professor's nose scrunch. Well, she hadn't killed him yet, so maybe there was still hope. His father had lived through this, too, right? RIGHT!?
Harry didn't manage to turn back human. But now he knew how to. And yet he didn't. Since transforming into his form required intimate knowledge of his animal form, transforming back required the same kind of insight into his human form. Which was why it was rather strange that he seemingly couldn't transform back. He knew of every scar on his body, of every ache, of every hair out of place. Professor McGonagall was just as puzzled. So he was to visit the headmaster about it.
The gargoyle slid aside before Harry could even begin to think about how to make himself known to it. Oh great, Dumbledore knew he was coming.
So, with a resigned sigh, Harry climbed the stairs. Until he heard it.
He wasn't even sure what he heard. But he heard it. Heard her. Calling for him, somehow. Drawing at the warmth that still lingered around him. Was that... Greengrass? What in the-
But he needed to go. Since she was calling. So he needed to go right the fuck now? Right?
Harry zoomed down the stairs before the gargoyle could spin back into place. Down the hallway, over the railing and skipping the staircase entirely, Harry raced down a path he couldn't make out as if tied and pulled by a string.
He had no idea where he was headed. No idea why he was headed anywhere, but he was going down, and he knew he needed to. When he reached the dungeons, he could maybe imagine where he was going, but when he turned a corner (and almost slammed into a pedestal), he glimpsed Luna and who he knew to be Astoria Greengrass, cornered by Malfoy and his cronies.
And when his sharp eyes saw the wand in Malfoy's hand in the dim torchlight, Harry needed no more reason to be here, strange ass pull be damned.
But he was still a goddamn cat.
Not that it mattered.
He was Harry Potter and his claws were fucking sharp! And Malfoy's neck seemed like the perfect place to sink them into.
With the sheer amount of speed, making the jump up to Malfoy's head was easy. And his flesh was very soft to his razor-sharp claws.
Draco howled in pain, dropped his wand, and just as he did, the elder Greengrasss sister stepped out of the Slytherin common room, wand raised. Crab and Goyle hit the ground before Malfoy figured out what was happening to him. And before he had the chance to, Luna hit him with a Full body bind. Harry let off and fell right into Astoria's arms. Her indifferent countenance almost unsettled him. Hadn't she almost been assaulted or something just now?
With Malfoy wide-eyed, bleeding from the neck and shoulder, and most of all immobilized, Greengrass walked over, took Harry from her sister's hands, put him on her own shoulder instead, and stared Malfoy down with a chilly glare.
Right. Ice Queen.
"I wonder," she began, raising her wand right under Malfoy's nose, "If the recent developments might have gone straight to your head?" The tip of her wand was almost poking into his eye. "The Greengrass family has no business with the petty likes of you and your delusions of grandeur. And if your try to approach any of us again, I will see to it that you won't be able to ever again."
The body bind released. The moment it did, Greengrass hit Malfoy with a powerful depulso. He crashed hard into the dungeon walls.
"Are we clear?"
She had yet to raise her voice. Damn. She was cool.
Draco opened his mouth, snarling, but she hit him with a silencing charm.
"Did you not hear me? I asked: Are. We. Clear?"
Draco jaw clenched so hard Harry imagined he might snap a muscle at any moment now. Then he nodded shortly.
Greengrass flicked her wand down the hall, toward the Slytherin common room. "Go. And take these buffoons with you."
For a second it looked like he might go for his wand instead. Harry hissed at him, hackles raised and teeth bared. After a moment of tense silence, Malfoy finally left, levitating Crab and Goyle into the common room, limping after them.
Harry allowed himself to relax and had mere seconds to figure out what the heck had even brought him down here before he was soundly squished into Greengrass's bosom. Alright. Teenage brain might have found two pretty nice reasons right there. Cat brain went purrr. Harry brain went Get me the heck out! Why am I like this!?
Harry was done with being a cat. So. Done. But since he somehow ended up in Greengrass's, given name: Daphne's, room again, he couldn't be done just yet. That and her little sister was relentlessly petting him. How old was she anyway? A second-year? She was so young! And so bloody adorable! Those big blue eyes! How could he not let her pet him!?
Luna, who was also in attendance, reached over a poked his side. He gave her a look. Why was she here, too? "Very soft cat," she said as seriously as if it explained the big bang to him. "Continue petting him, cousin," she said to Astoria, who nodded seriously.
Cousin? When did that happen?
Daphne was at her desk, furiously and sharply composing a letter to her father. If Daphne's dad was only half as scary as she was, Harry imagined he could almost feel pity for the elder Malfoy. With a few quick swishes of her wand, the letter sealed itself and floated out of the window where it was caught by a pitch-black owl.
Harry felt the need to scowl at it. What a show-off. It had probably waited for hours right next to the window to do that. Heck, he could have done that! And now he was jealous of an owl? He really needed to turn back. And soon. Catbrain was not good to him.
Luna plucked him out from Astoria's arms and nuzzled her face into his flank. Well... It was only the slightest bit strange. He was a fluffy cat, after all. And then she whispered into his ear, so softly he barely even heard it. "How did you ever get here, Harry Potter?"
He didn't know. He really didn't know. So he just yowled pitifully.
When he finally got into Dumbledore's office with Professor McGonagall, it was accompanied by not only the Greengrass sisters but Luna and Snape of all people as well. And so he sat there, on a pedestal next to Fawks, and awaited judgment.
He was so going to be expelled. And then Snape was going to skin him alive.
And Harry couldn't even fault him!
Shit. Becoming an animagus had simultaneously been the coolest and the worst thing he did all year.
Luna was still staring exclusively at him with that serene smile of hers. How did she even know it was him? But then, it would have been strange if she hadn't known. Luna just knew things. Period. The rather relaxed smile on Daphne's face was confusions, as if she, too, knew exactly why she was here. Astoria just looked as unfazed as ever.
And while Dumbledore and McGonagall discussed what presumably was his punishment, Luna ambled over to pet him, ignoring Snape's condescending stare.
"You are a good Kitty, Harry Potter," she told him.
Yeah, well. Not really.
"Oh, but you are!"
Great. She was reading his thought. Like Snape. Only cute and Luna-ly. Wow. What a disturbing image.
She giggled. "Just a little."
Luna lifted his head, softly scratching his chin. "Don't worry. You are in no trouble. After all, dear cousin mine knew you were you all the time!"
... Say what?
His eyes wandered over to Daphne, who offered an almost saucy wave. Astoria shuffled herself into his line of sight and nodded at him.
He looked back at Luna. She smiled. Harry wished he could sigh.
"We shall return you to your human form by means of magic," Dumbledore explained.
Oh really? Harry felt the need to be really sarcastic. As if there ever had been any other way.
Shit, he needed to get this Occlumency thing down. And why was everyone so freely reading his mind? That surely was some kind of crime.
Both Dumbledore and Luna actually laughed while Snape snorted derisively.
Wow. He hated today.
Dumbledore lifted his wand up to Harry's face.
"It is a rather complicated piece of magic," the headmaster explained, "but it will return you to human form. But once it is done, we must discuss what prevents you from turning back on your own."
Something rather severe swayed with those words, and for some reason, Harry suspected Tom-bullshitery.
"You suspect quite right," Dumbledore admitted and sounded almost reluctant.
"And," Snape cut in snidely, "punishment must be discussed! Not only an animagus hiding out in the Slytherin Girl's dorm but also a highly illegal one, just like his father!"
"Professor," Daphne said, speaking up for the first time since they got ushered into the headmaster's office. "Mr Potter-" Oh fucking hell she really did know it was him! "- did not hide out, as you phrased it, in our dorms. I brought him there."
A muscle in Snape's jaw jumped furiously.
"And if we take into account magical magic inheritance law from 1874," she continued, smiling serenely in a very Luna like fashion, "Mr Potter is allowed to both learn and practice the magic of his forefathers as long as it does not involve rituals, dark magic, and sexual eclipse rituals."
Ah, so he wasn't actually-! Sexual fucking what rituals? He almost fell off the pedestal.
"And I dare say," Daphne added, "he performed no such alluring ritual in my presence." Her eyes gleamed as she looked at him. "I would have noticed."
Uh, was it suddenly very hot in here?
Professor McGonagall made a noise Harry remembered her making in class whenever someone did something stupid. Only this time, he understood it! My god, she had been making cat noises!
"Hormonal Teenagers!" was what she said.
Alright. That wasn't so wrong, he supposed.
Dumbeldore seemed highly amused by all of this. "Quite right, quite right, Miss Greengrass! 20 points to Slytherin!"
"Indeed," Snape all but snarled, "And 10 more-!" he glared at Harry as he said it, "- for enduring this dunderhead!" With a dramatic swirl of his cloak, Snape billowed out of the office.
Dumbledore chuckled. "Well then, shall we begin?"
Harry nodded his head vigorously, which seemed to make cats rather dizzy.
"Then with no further ado..."
And then Harry kind of blacked out.
It was a bit like turning into a cat for the first time. Only that his head felt like it was about to melt off. His scar, particularly. As it formed back on his head, Harry felt something else coming with it, something that felt like it did not belong there. It was cold, and dark, and angry, and hateful.
And Harry did not want it there. Why would he? It bloody hurt! And, really, if fighting it would do something about this connection thing he had going with Tom, heck, he would fight it tooth and nail.
But that was easier said than done.
The thing clung to him with deep, long claws and fangs and it felt like tearing his own head off as he pushed against it. It hurt. It hurt about as bad as the cruciatus, but on the inside of his skull.
And then it started screaming. It howled in agony, screamed and raged against every little attempt he made to remove it.
Right. As if that would somehow motivate him to let it stay where it was. So, with a scream of his own, Harry pushed. And something else deep down within pushed as well. The thing let off with the snap of a taught string, a howl of pain, and then everything went dark.
Harry was still a cat when he regained his bearings. But then he was also still on the pedestal and Dumbledore was still casting. For half a second Harry wondered if he had just imagined his battle with the scar-thing, but then his cat head almost certainly exploded. At least, that's what it felt like.
In a visceral shower of black tar, it gushed out of his forehead, and as soon as it did, Harry felt himself shift back.
He hit the ground naked as the day he was born and got to see Dumbledore be doused in the black something. It was almost funny enough to forget that he was actually naked in a room with other people, two of them being girls in his age group, and one of them too young to have seen a stranger naked.
But he was too exhausted to move.
So he chose to pass out instead.
Harry awoke in the Hospital Wing, as he did every year like clockwork. He lay in his head, on a soft pillow and nothing seemed to hurt. Well, not bad for a start.
He almost flinched when he noticed Ron and Hermione sitting by his bedside. "Uh, hey."
Ron grinned widely down at him. "Hey mate." Oh no, why did he sound so gleeful? "Heard you had quite the adventure for the day."
"I guess," Harry admitted. "Wouldn't recommend that one, though."
Hermoine snorted but said nothing. Was she trying not to laugh?
"Luna told us you make a great cat," Ron continued, "and that you flashed your bits to the Slytherin Princess."
Harry felt his face heat up. "I- Uh..." Hm. Damn. He chose not to respond. Still... "That wasn't my fault...," he grumbled despite himself.
"Brave," Ron laughed, clapping him on the shoulder, "Brave and ridiculous. I bet Snape was livid!"
"He wasn't there when... it happened," Harry muttered. Thank Merlin, the Gods, and every Buddha for that.
"Lucky you," Ron mused.
Hermione scoffed. "Lucky is not what I would call that. He attempted a seriously dangerous transformation without all on his own!"
Ron waved her off. "You're just mad you didn't get to see him do it." He smirked. "Or turn him back."
Hermione flushed a lethal shade of red. "You jerk!" she exclaimed, voice breaking, as she struck Ron's shoulder, before storming out of the Hosptial Wing.
"That was mean," Harry said. "But I guess she would have benefitted from it if she ever turned into a cat again."
Ron guffawed into his fist. "I'll let her know if she ver brews Polyjuice again!"
"She can one of my cat hairs, then!"
Ron almost keeled over.
Apparently this thing in his forehead/scar had been a Horcrux. Not that it mattered much, but it just proved what kind of sick fuck Tom actually was. But since the one in his head that had had a direct connection to Tom had been spectacularly blown up (and subsequently all over the headmaster's Lime Green Robes), it was entirely possible that Tom had, for lack of better words, done the same and blown the heck up.
The diary, which had been a Horcrux as well, and a ring in Dumbledore's possession had done much the same, so it was entirely possible. Snape had gone to confirm any such thing and had yet to return, but Draco looked decidedly ill over dinner that day, so Harry kept his hopes up high.
He could already imagine the headlines if this ever got out. "Dark Lord spontaneously combusts into tar. Cat hailed as Hero."
He'd take it. Harry would definitely take it.
But there was another problem. Well, Hermione called it a problem. Harry was a bit reluctant to make it one just yet. Apparently he was now Daphne's familiar. If he had bothered listening to her back when she had first abducted him into her room, he might have heard that she asked him to be her familiar.
It wasn't like he was her slave or something and apparently Luna's mother was her aunt (hence why they were indeed cousins) so there was that. She didn't seem like any Slytherin he had ever met (and she was bloody hot, teenage brain supplied) and was no more a blood supremacist than Ron.
Ron, after he heard of his bond, admitted to being loosely related to Greengrass through a cousin of his father's mother's... Well, you get it. Loosely related. Apparently that meant Weasley blood flowed through her veins. Which made her O.K. in Ron's book because that meant she wasn't a blood supremacist.
The hypocrisy of that statement almost hurt.
But since he could now freely transform into a floofy sleek cat without being stuck as such, Harry decided to play the familiar part. Mostly because he got to scratch Malfoy's ankles bloody whenever he was in the Slytherin common room.
"So... you knew I was human... and still dragged me into your room?"
It was a question he had to ask. At least he felt like he had to.
Daphne smiled at him, sitting cross-legged in her own armchair while Harry rested at the very edge f her bed. That somehow amused her to no end.
"No. I took a cat with me of which I knew it was Harry Potter."
"But why?" Gods, he almost whined.
She smiled a bit wider, almost to Luna level now. "Because I wanted to get to know you. My sister and cousin tell me only the best things about you." She licked her lips as she said so.
Alright. Well, no! Not alright! Was he getting seduced!? He was getting flustered.
Daphne laughed softly in response.
Getting to know Daphne was easier said than done. Since Tom had evidently been turned into a puddle of tar in Malfoy manor (as the ill-looking Snape confirmed without even glaring at Hary once) the atmosphere at Hogwarts had changed significantly. All those that had born a dark mark suddenly found themselves unable to cast magic.
Draco could not look anymore pale and/or ill if he tried.
And while the entire country rolled over and reformed, Harry worked on his hardest project yet: Getting his heart under control while being around Daphne.
It was stupid, plain, and simple. He had had this crush on Cho before and got that under control after she cried herself into unconsciousness on his shoulder (what a brutal way to kill a crush, that one). He even got over his infatuation with Ginny within the span of an hour after he realized that marrying someone that came too close to being his mom was absolutely terrifying. Ginny had looked at him oddly as he stumbled over himself as he explained that.
"Hey, stop," she had said, "Jeez Harry, I appreciate being compared to your mom and all but, please, that's... horrible."
Yeah. He had to agree on that. But since she was eight times less shy around him after that, he actually got to tease her. She made a great little sister. And hackling Ron with her was just too much fun.
But Daphne. Why. She gave him that funny feeling that started precisely in his left foot, wandered over to his right knee, up over his groin, and straight into his stomach where it rested like Mrs Weasley's stickiest fudge. And whenever he thought he would simply have small talk with Daphne, the stupid fudge balled up in his throat and all he could get out was a chocked, "Hi!" that barely even sounded like English anymore.
Astoria had a rather strange response to his presence, much unlike Daphne's mindboggling smiles. The younger girl tapped his side and bid him bow down to her. He had since found no reason not to, and every time he did, Astoria would pat the top of his head. Then she looked at him expectantly. So he returned the favour.
It was some kind of weird, cute ritual. It got a bit awkward when Luna wanted in, but she got lectured by Daphne on proper conduct a few times. She still tried to get head pats when Daphne wasn't there.
It was during a charms lesson they had with the Slytherins tat Daphne ended up partnered with him. Harry felt outrageously lucky and at the same time was nervous out of his mind. They were charming marvels to defy gravity to a certain degree. Or so Harry understood it. The marbles were supposed to roll uphill but not a 90-degree wall. It was all about carefully measured power.
Until his marble rolled off the table, into Daphne's lap and up her stomach until it got stuck just under her breasts.
She raised a thin eyebrow at him.
"Uh, sorry," he offered sheepishly.
She remained silent and instead cast the charm onto her own marble again, which then (conveniently) rolled off the table and into his own lap. He watched it wander up himself. It slowed almost to a dead stop on his chest but, perhaps to indulge Daphne, he leaned back a bit to let it roll further up until ti rested just under his chin.
"Now we're even," she said, smiling beautifully at him.
Harry swallowed so hard he bobbed the marble off his throat and back into his lap. It got stuck in his belt and stayed there.
Not breaking eye contact, Daphne reached out and took her marble from him. His soul almost left his body. She plucked his marble from herself handed it to him.
He stuttered out a "T-Thanks?" and could not meet her eyes for the rest of the lesson.
People tried very hard to get out of Harry how he had defeated the Dark Lord this time around. Dumbledore took the brunt of the publicity stuff and insisted that Harry had been at school when it happened and how could he have done anything while at Hogwarts? Not that people cared about that.
The rumours were growing more outrageous by the minute, and Harry was highly thankful for his rather inconspicuous animagus form. He used it to travel between lessons, masquerading either as Hermione's new pet (riding on her shoulder was just too funny, flustered as she got oftentimes) or Daphne's. Though when travelling with Daphne, he was the flustered one.
She liked him, and she made sure he knew without a doubt that she did.
Harry wondered if his blush could become permanent at some point.
With the Dark Lord dead, Harry faced a new challenge: Dealing with Hermione's exam rush. According to her, now that no one was trying to violently murder him and everyone dear to him, he could finally focus on his studies.
He bit her ear once (as a cat, of course) when she nagged him about it on their way to transfiguration.
Speaking off, Harry was guaranteed to get an O for his seventh-year exams. Professor McGonagall was willing to count his successful animagus transformation as for his N.E.W.T grade. And as long as he didn't bomb the regular exam, he would get an easy O.
Snape, of course, was not willing to count anything in his favor. If anything, surviving and destroying a Horcrux had cost him five points when they randomly met in the dungeons between lessons. "For endangering fellow students," he had said.
And then, brushing against his mind, against those clumsy occlumency shields, were the words, "Your mother would have been proud."
Harry would never figure out if he hadn't just imagined that.
Sixth year turned out to be pure bliss. As Hermione had so nicely pointed out, no one was trying to kill him anymore (at least no one that he knew of) and that amounted to hours more in his days which would previously be spent with brooding.
Now he spent them with actually studying (which was all Hermione's fault), getting gud at chess, and being a cat.
And being a cat consisted mostly of sneaking around the castle or Daphne's feet. As her familiar, no less. And even though that bond was there, didn't really do much.
Until one night, she called for him once more.
It jolted him out of his surprisingly peaceful sleep in the dead of night, and it took him a few seconds to realize what was happening. But once he had his wits about him, Harry threw himself out of bed. It was the same as back with Malfoy. He couldn't truly hear the call; he felt it more than anything else. And it didn't feel happy at all.
He transformed midair and slammed hard against the door. Ouch, damn! So he transformed back, opened the door, and transformed again to zoom down the stairs. Damn, why was he in such a hurry? Daphne hadn't sounded- felt! Whatever! Hadn't felt like she was dying or calling for aid in mortal peril! Harry still didn't slow down until he reached the dungeon.
He barely made it to the weird crevice that hid the entrance to the Slytherin common room when Daphne stepped out of it and scooped him up into her arms.
"Thank you for coming," she whispered.
Oh no, why did she sound so sad! He hadn't heard her sad before. And by Merlin did it suck to hear her like that. He dared to lick the tip of her nose and wiggled himself out of her arms. It earned him a giggle, mournful as it still was. Right, he needed to cheer her up. And he knew just the place. So he beckoned for her to follow.
She followed, no questions asked. And they reached the Seventh floor and then the Room of Requirements without any trouble. Harry all but sprinted up and down into from of the wall. When the door appeared, he motioned for Daphne to open it.
With a slight bow of thanks, Daphne entered the room. It was the selfsame one she had brought him into when he had first barreled into her legs, cat that he was.
"Thought you needed some time to relax," he said, transforming into his human self.
She graced him with a small smile. "I do, indeed. Thank you."
Ah, the fudge was at it again. Well, actions speak louder than words, don't they? A mere thought had a coat hanger appear next to them as he stepped closer, offering to take her robe.
She curtsied. "Why thank you." The robe slid off her shoulders like liquid silk.
Depositing it on the coathanger, he smiled nervously at her. "You'll have to handle the book yourself. I don't remember which one you read back then."
Daphne offered a small smile. "No need," she said and gently took ahold of his hand. "Come. Sit with me."
He did as he was told. The couch, despite being more wooden than fabric and cushion, was surprisingly soft. This was about as far as he had planned. But thinking proved to be a tad difficult since Daphne still held onto his hand, which did strange things to his insides. But then he met her eyes so full of sadness and his previously flipping and flopping stomach plummeted to his knees. He squeezed her hand as gently as possible.
"My father passed away today." Her eyes dropped to their entwined hands. She started dragging her thumb over his knuckles. "He had been sick for a long time, so we knew it would happen."
Harry's mouth was inhumanly dry. But he swallowed it down. "Will you be alright?"
She smiled softly. "Already getting a bit better. Astoria, on the other hand..." Daphne sighed. "She hasn't left her room since the news came this morning."
Harry nodded hesitantly. Astoria didn't talk a lot, but sometimes, when she did, she tended to mention her father and the things they did together back at their ancestral home. "Did you manage to talk to her?"
Daphne shook her head. "No, she's... not been letting me in."
"And... your mother...?"
"She prepared for this and will manage. As will I but..." Her hand clenched around his. "... it will take time."
He offered a weak smile. "I can spare some."
She laughed softly. "I'm counting on it." And then she leaned over to him and softly kissed his cheek. "Thank you for taking me here."
Harry's heart was too heavy to do the flips it would usually do. "We don't have to leave just yet."
Daphne nodded, scooting closer to lean against his shoulder. "That's good."
They sat there in silence for a moment. Harry kept a firm grasp on Daphne's hand, his fingers itching to hold her, but he was unsure how to handle this. He never was good with crying girls. But when she turned her face into the crook of his neck, Harry turned and drew her in.
"I miss him," she whispered softly.
Harry had no response. So he just held her close. They returned long after curfew.
Astoria opened her door for him after he had insistently meowed at it for almost half an hour. And the moment she opened up she scooped him up into a hug. Her face was wet against his fur, her breaths trembling and short. With him in her grasp, Astoria retreated to her bed and hid under the covers once more.
And there went his plan of transforming and getting to talk to her.
He nuzzled her face. She was taking this really hard. A tiny sob escaped her, and she buried her face in his fur again.
They stayed like that for a while and eventually, Astoria fell asleep. As carefully as possible, Harry dug himself out of Astoria's grasp and the blanket, trudged over to the door, and transformed to open it. Daphne was already right outside.
"She's asleep now," he told her.
Daphne nodded and offered a weak smile. She kissed his cheek and hurried to her sister's side.
He allowed his heart to skip a few beats before he left the room and closed the door behind him.
Harry ran into Snape at the bottom of the stairs. It looked like he was about to say something, but he spun on his heel and strode through the common room to the door that led to his office (at least, that's what Harry thought it was). Malfoy caught his eye from across the room, and the two of them stared at each other for what felt like half an eternity before Drace, the Draco Malfoy, nodded once.
Startled, Harry didn't respond immediately. But after a moment, he, too, nodded. And that was that. Had they just made peace or something? Or a truce? He could deal with that, honestly. Harry was just about to leave the common room when someone ran into his back, someone small, arms around his waist.
"Astoria?" He craned his neck around to look at her.
She nodded into his back. "Thank you," she said, barely above a whisper. "Good kitty."
He smiled at her. "Anytime."
Astoria stuck to him since then. As did Daphne. And that somehow also added Luna. And since with Harry there was almost always at least Hermione or Ron, the lot of them all ended up piled in the library, studying for the afternoon. Astoria had positioned himself in his lap of all places, Daphne sat on the couch to his left, and Luna was to his right. Hermione was position right across from him and observed the scene with a raised brow. Ron looked like he was about to fall asleep over his potions book.
"Do we really need to know all these Tornique's Law stuff for the charms exam?" Harry asked, frowning over Astoria's head into his book.
Hermoine sighed in exasperation. "Of course! It was a question on a N.E.W.T. exam in 1864!"
Harry's brow furrowed. "And... has it been used since?"
Hermoine's cheeks pinked. "N-Not that I know of."
Daphne laughed softly, leaned over to him. She pointed out something on the page he was trying to read, but her hair in his face was highly distracting. Damn. It looked so soft. Would it feel as good as it looked if he threaded his fingers through it? He almost shuddered when she brushed her hair behind her ear. Alright. Down, boy!
And then their eyes met.
Be still, oh heart of mine!
It wasn't. His heart was impersonating a goddamn jackhammer.
Daphne smiled at him. "Let's cover potions instead. We have a charms lesson together tomorrow. The Professor has offered to answer questions."
Alright. Composure. Keep it together. Answer the- Oh damn, what did she even say?
Someone poked his cheek. Astoria, still in his lap, had turned to face him. "No kissing," she said.
Harry's face almost caught fire. Daphne merely laughed, but he could swear there was a hint of red dusting her pale skin.
"Oh, but they will!"
Luna's sudden exclamation startled him. He had almost forgotten about her.
Astoria looked at her strangely. "They will?"
What? Where was this conversation going?
Luna nodded seriously. "Yes."
Astoria nodded back, just as serious. "Okay."
And that seemed to be the end of it. Luna returned to - What was she even doing? - whatever she had been doing before, and Astoria returned to staring at his book. Hermione, across from him, stared at him with eyes wide as saucers and, face about as red as his own must have been.
That's when Ron rejoined the conversation by slamming his head onto the table between them as his head finally slipped from his hand.
Valentine's Day was not something Harry had cared for in recent memory. And he honestly hadn't thought he ever would in his lifetime. But now he had a perfectly reasonable excuse to get Daphne a gift. Right? Well, he was doing it anyway. And he was hella nervous. Very, very nervous.
He dealt with that by running around as a cat.
And all that running around led him right to where Daphne was, on the Sixth floor in a small room that had once been a library before they moved all the books down into the new one. Now it was just one of the many rooms that students used outside of teacher supervision. Damn, so aimless wandering led him along the string of their bond and straight to her.
The door opened for him as if she had expected his arrival. Daphne smiled down at him, and he was picked up before he could turn back.
"Took you a while, Harry."
How did she say his name like that? Magic? Probably. Because it made him feel exceedingly brainless whenever she did. He might even have purred in response. Maybe not. Daphne chuckled at whatever he did.
"Good kitty," she said, "But I'd prefer talking to human Harry."
He could do that. Hopefully. He felt a bit stupid at the moment. So when Daphne set him down, Harry transformed immediately. And subsequently found himself not an inch from her face.
"Why, hello there." Daphne was obviously unfazed by the lack of distance between them.
Harry was fazed. She must have felt the heat radiate off his face. "Hey."
Alright, didn't stutter. A point in his favor.
She took hold of his hands, and Harry almost jumped out of his skin. God. Why was this so nerve-wracking?
"A little bird told me you had something for me," she whispered, smiling softly.
Oh no. Had Hermione snitched on him? Did Ron actually go out of his way to talk to a Slytherin? Did Luna know!? That was a moot point. Luna always knew, damn her.
So he cleared his throat and tried not to reach for the small case in his back pocket. "I, uh, yes. I have, I guess."
Daphne laughed softly, her breath tickling his throat. It had every single one of is hair stand on end. Good thing his hair was already a mess so she wouldn't notice. "My Harry, that wasn't necessary."
"But, as it is, I do have something for you as well."
"Y-You do?" Ah, his voice might have cracked right there.
"I do," she said simply.
Great. Now he was curious. Shit, could his gift even hold a candle to hers? All he had was this rune bracelet! Dumbledore had helped him make it, and all and Harry thought it had turned out pretty great, considering that it didn't blow up. Yet.
"Really?" he asked, just the tiniest bit breathless. Aside from the torrents of fan mail and that one awkward incident with Ginny and the dwarfs, Harry hadn't received anything (precious) for Valentine's.
She nodded. "Really."
God, the suspense was killing him! Was she doing that on purpose? Harry bet she was. Then she began moving her hands up his arms, fingers dancing over his skin like a hundred tiny steps and each and every single one of them set his ears on fire the higher she got. Daphne stopped when her hands rested on his shoulders.
"Do you perhaps wish to know what it is?" she asked, tilting her head with the most innocent of looks on her face.
He almost shouted in her face. But, no, he was going to use what little mind-stuff Snape had actually taught him to keep what little of his calm was left. So he wet his lips - almost made a rather inappropriate noise when he noticed Daphne's eyes following his tongue - and smiled. "I would love to."
She nodded, her hair swishing mesmerizingly in front of Harry'S eyes. "Then, in return, I would ask to receive your gift as well, badly hidden as it is in your back pocket."
"Deal," he pressed out before he could begin to blush any harder than he already was.
Daphne let go and took a step back. Harry almost reached out to pull her back. Alright. That basically sealed the deal. If he wasn't head over paws for Daphne then he didn't know what it was. Probably some sort of fever dream. A rather nice fever dream. Oh no, he was staring at her. Stop staring! The bracelet! Get it, for merlin's sake!
After almost tearing his back pocket clean off, Harry finally held the precious box in his hands. It was sealed, magically, and would hopefully open only to Daphne's touch. Or it would incinerate. Wow, was he really about to give her something this dangerous? Hopefully, Dumbledore hadn't just put some half-assed work in for this. Most of it had been Harry, but Dumbledore's instructions had sounded pretty... sound.
And the headmaster wouldn't have let him go off with a death-trap, right?
"Here we are."
Harry almost dropped the box, fumbled with it for a whole second before it was back safely in his grasp. Daphne seemed highly amused by his antics, the twinkle in her eyes was strangely reminiscent of Dumbledore, yet it was so very unlike his. Though both spoke of mischief.
Daphne's was... beautiful, though.
She held out a box to him, no bigger than the one he clutched in his rather clammy hands. There was a sigil on it, not quite a rune, but close enough. A tree, equal measures roots and branches with leaves. Encased in a knot of some sort. It looked... Norse, Harry guessed.
"Let's exchange, shall we?"
Harry held his present out of her and was glad that his hand didn't remble as hard as his heart did (which, surely, it must have at this point).
She deposited the box in his hand and took his gift into her own. "Do you mind if I go first?" she asked, inspecting the box with curious eyes.
"Not at all," he offered, throat dry. She would like it. Surely she would. Hopefully, it had been a good thing that he decided to pass on the flowers and stuff.
Daphne curtsied, pulling her robes up only the slightest bit as her head dipped. "Thank you, Harry."
God. She was weaponizing his name. He was sure of it.
When she pulled the lid off, it didn't catch fire.
When she put the bracelet on, she smiled the whole time.
And when she kissed his cheek to thank him, he almost fainted from the joy alone.
Blood buzzing in his ears, Harry pulled open the box Daphne had given him. And found a collar. A cat collar.
He blinked at it. It wouldn't fit him. Well... human him. It was a black collar, some sort of silvery bauble attached to it. An intricate "H" was engraved into it, and many more tiny symbols that Harry recognized as Norse runes, much like the ones on Daphne's bracelet.
Hm, a warming rune, and a few he couldn't quite discern.
"Want me to put it on?" Daphne asked, stepping closer to him.
Harry looked up at her. "If you would." He handed her the collar, their hands touching for perhaps longer than necessary, and he transformed in a flurry a black. Daphne wasted no time picking him up, pressing her nose to is.
"It is a special collar, as you might have guessed," she said. "It will transform with you, be a necklace - a pendant if you will - when you return, and a protective collar for you fluffy self."
Harry climbed onto her shoulder and bent low, so Daphne could fasten the collar snugly around his neck. The warmth of it immediately settled bone-deep. It was almost like taking a bath, pleasant and warm, but the warmth offered no resistance. Harry nuzzled Daphne's face, eliciting a giggle from her.
"So you do like it," she said, "I had worried you would think it strange."
Well, maybe he had wondered why a collar, but then he could turn into a cat. Hopping off her shoulder, Harry transformed midair. He landed more steady than he ever had before and felt the weight of something new against his chest. He pulled it up on the black leather cord.
And emblem, the same tree that had been on the box, cut from light silvery metal. It emanated the same warmth as the collar had.
"It's beautiful," he said. Not as beautiful as Daphne, but it seemed handmade and that was worth so much more.
"You flatter me," Daphne giggled, "and it is indeed handmade."
Harry's face felt odd as it simultaneously paled and reddened at the same time. Right. She did kind f maybe read his thoughts like everyone else in this damn castle.
"Not everyone, Harry dear."
He glared half-heartedly at her. "I would really appreciate it if you didn't."
She laughed. "I shall try but your thoughts flatter me so, I could not help myself."
Oh god, he was going to die of sheer embarrassment around her.
Spring took hold of Hogwarts with a lot more euphoria than usual, mostly since the Dark Lord had been felled by a boy tat had fucked up his animagus transformation and exorcised a Horcrux from himself basically on accident. Severus Snape could say with absolute certainty that this was not how he had imagined this war's ending. And while those marked by the Dark Lord had all been assailed by a sudden lack of magical power, Severus found himself suspiciously unaffected. Perhaps it was due to his lack of actual loyalty to the shade of a man, or perhaps it was for any number of reasons that he could no longer discern. The fact was, Severus Snape was once more a free man.
And he hated it.
He had gotten off too lightly. For all the foul acts he had committed, Severus had expected and accepted retribution. Death, even. He had been prepared to offer up his all so that Lily's boy would survive. And, in the end, he did nothing at all.
For the last few weeks, Severus had spent in some sort of daze, automatically doing his tasks as they came. He taught his class, graded projects, herded the Slytherins away from foolish life choices. All in a day's work. But even he noticed how light the air in the castle way, could all but taste the palpable relief in the air. It all led him back to Potter; to Harry. Lily's son.
Severus had watched him, more so than before. He had to note that the boy made fast friends with Daphne Greengrass of all people. The girl was all but unapproachable to her housemates. Her father, Archibald Jacob Greengrass, had been the most severe man Severus had ever had the displeasure of meeting, and his daughter had done naught but conduct herself in his ways.
Unless she acted out her mother's blood in her veins.
Aurora Greengrass was something of an enigma. She and her long-dead twin Pandora had hailed from a nameless family, though of a long line. Both had been bright. Both had been exceedingly strange in their demeanor. And both sisters had... known. They, or so Severus supposed, were seers or some other kind of magical mind. And while Pandora had died in a freak potion accident, Aurora still lived.
As Lady Greengrass, she was as dignified as could be, silent and stoic, as it was expected of the Ladies of the House. Severus, however, had been... why, he would almost call them acquaintances. And as an acquaintance, Severus had been privy to Aurora's habitual behaviour. Some of those included randomly pointing out the thoughts of people she conversed with, the odd smile that seemed to make the very air around her shiver, and the way her hands reached out for things only she could see.
Severus imagined Daphne was much the same. And since the younger Greengrass daughter had already once read his mind through his rather steely Occlumency barriers, he knew that the sisters had inherited more of their mother than they had from their father.
Much like Potter, it turned out. But that was not something Severus liked to ponder on.
Draco was another thing Severus often thought about. After a long-suffering period of tense silence between them, Severus had had enough and straight out asked his godson if he was still capable of wielding his magic. Much like himself, Draco was still able. A bit of a relief.
"My father will kill me if he finds out," Draco had revealed.
Severus highly doubted it. Malfoy Senior was a poor magician even with his magic functioning. But Draco had always been afraid of his father. Severus hated how much he could relate.
"For now," Severus advised, "do not contact him. I will deal with any and all inquiries."
And deal he did. Lucius did not appreciate his mail being intercepted, but since none of the letters were cursed as of yet, Severus was inclined to believe that the elder Malfoy had on fact lost his magic. He mused that it might have something to do with one's allegiances. Snape might have taken the mark willingly, but he had not been especially loyal to the Dark Lord. Draco was much the same.
It was almost too good to be true.
Life for Lily's boy seemed to pick up massively as well. Severus could see it, plain as day, the way he looked at Greengrass like his father had mooned over Lily. Potter had been an idiot about his approach, a bumbling, prideful fool. Severus had hated watching them, hated how he had pushed her away over his own foolish pride. Said pride would dictate to push that fool of a Gryfindor as far away from his student as possible. He would have a stern talking to with Greengrass about her thoughtless allegiances. And he would have Potter in for detention at every day of the week and twice as much on the weekend.
The war was over. Severus had contributed just about nothing to its end. Who was he to tell this boy what to do and what don't? He who had ultimately robbed him of a childhood, of a loving mother?
He would not interfere. No one would interfere. If Potter could find his happiness with Greengrass, so be it. Severus would no longer stand in his way. If anything, he was obligated to clear it.
Daphne was happy as could be. A strange occurrence, since happiness had proven to be rather hard to find, no matter how hard she looked. Being an outcast was what she had intended to be, as was her father's wish - not to ally with any that hadn't proven themselves worthy of her time - but it had been rather lonely at times. Her mother would often insist that friends would prove themselves, not proving to be friends.
Luna had, of course, been the exception. And since they were basically half-sisters - what with their mother's being twins and all - Luna had been Daphne's only friend for years. Tracey Davis would only ever become her friend after she had stood up for Daphne when Malfoy had gotten in over his head.
She could have easily disposed of him, but blood was not an acceptable happenstance in the Slytherin common room, so she had stayed her hand. Tracey, however, had slapped the daylight out of Malfoy. They became best friends upon that fact alone. Tracey's tenacity in actually being friends with the Ice Queen of Slytherin had also helped.
And Astoria liked her. It sealed the deal.
Daphne liked to claim she had seen it coming as she had with so many other things. But things concerning her on a personal level always were a bit more elusive to grasp. Which was why she had been a bit surprised to actually have picked up Harry Potter, kitty extraordinaire.
And my, what a fluffy kitty he was.
Harry might not remember it, but he had interacted with her more than once throughout the years. The first time had been on the Hogwarts Express in their first year. She had been more than just nervous back then. Mayhap a lot closer to a panic attack than an eleven-year-old was ever supposed to be. He hadn't done much. Just bumped into her as they both manoeuvred through the train.
"Are you alright?" he had asked, and it had given her something else to focus on.
Not the stares of the other families that knew of her mother, not the whispers of gossiping mothers. All she had to focus on then was a nervous boy with bent glasses and bright green eyes.
Daphne hadn't even replied to him. They went their ways and would not run into each other again until a day in early spring in their second year. Astoria had fallen sick recently and the dreams of her little sister in pain and wracked with fever dreams kept haunting her every single night. She and Harry had yet to actually talk to each other, but in her less than focused state of mind, she had once more run into him onto her way to the great hall. Literally.
She was knocked over and in his hurry, Harry didn't do more than apologize and offer to pull her back to her feet. It was the first time she had held her hand and she kept having dreams about it for years. The dreams changed. Sometimes they were older, sometimes they were younger, but every time Hary would smile, offer his hand, and not let go.
Daphne might have become a bit obsessed at that point.
Luna had been ecstatic when she was told about it.
Two years later, when Astoria came to school, she, too, decided that Daphne should act upon her incessant dreams. Even her mother had told her not to ignore those dreams for too long.
In Fifth year, towards the end of it, the dreams changed. From innocent hand-holding to... more.
At first, she had felt a bit horrible about having them. Who was she to dream of all those unattainable things? About loving touches and moments with someone who was all but a stranger to her? So she, Astoria and Luna decided to make them attainable. That was why when she locked eyes with these green eyes, Daphne let her feelings do the rest.
And that's how she ended up with Harry Kitty Potter as her familiar.
Next step was to be his friend. And then all she ever dreamed of and more.
Harry unexpectedly didn't die of sheer embarrassment. Which was good. He got to be around Daphne more without, you know, dying. At this point, it was some kind of not-secret that Harry and Daphne were a thing. But they weren't. Or were they? That was the kind of stuff that was more likely to kill Harry than those smiles Daphne kept sending him.
She was doing it again during dinner.
His heart skipped more beats than a Jazz Player.
Harry decided that, yes, he needed to do the rumours true and be a thing with Daphne because if not, he was going to have a stroke.
"Harry," Hermione spoke up from across his stew, "You are staring again."
"Uh, I guess." He couldn't deny it. That would be... wrong. Of course, he stared. Daphne did too!
"You are sooo whipped, mate," Ron commented, smirking at him. "It's like you can't even, you know?"
Harry scowled at him. "Need I remind you of Lavender?"
Ron immediately returned to his breakfast.
"You need to talk to her about that," Ginny advised sagely, pointing her fork at him.
Harry scowled at her, too. "And that's coming from you? Is there a butter dish around to dip your elbow in?"
Ginny's face heated up impressively but she kept her face straight. "You know what I mean."
"We already... talked," he offered up. "About stuff."
"You mean you drooled all over yourself while staring at her," Ron scoffed.
Hermione kicked at Harry's shin. "Stop teasing him! And do go and ask her out, will you? It's becoming... well, unbecoming."
"Like that thing you and Ron have going?"
She kicked his shin again.
"Alright, alright!" Harry exclaimed. "You want me to go? I'll go! Right now!"
As he stood from his seat, Ron actually paused in his inhaling of food and raised an eyebrow at him. "Now?"
Harry nodded firmly. "Now."
That said, he spun on his heel and stalked down the aisle to head over to the Slytherin table. The entire hall immediately focused on him. It was some kind of sixth sense they had developed over the years. They just knew when he was about to mortally embarrass himself. Stupid magic, he'd bet.
But Harry did not care. He did chance a glance at the teacher's table to see Dumbledore twinkle at him like the freakin' Milkyway and pressed on. Good thing Daphne was sitting at the very front end of the table, so he did not have to walk past Malfoy to get to her.
She sat there, beautiful and dignified as ever, with Astoria and... Luna? And was that popcorn they had there? Dammit. They knew. But there was no turning back. Well, there was turning. Turning into a cat and getting the heck out of here but that would get him into legal troubles, wouldn't it?
Daphne turned her head just as he pulled to a stop beside her. "Hello, Harry."
Why was he- Oh right!
"Daphne?" he began, all too aware of the eyes of the entire damned school on him.
"Yes, Harry?" She smiled beatifically.
Right, right. He stepped closer, felt like he needed to do a lot more than that, but he did not want to incite a riot (just yet). "I wanted to ask you something." How was he even getting these words out?
Her smile grew wider. He could hear the crunching of popcorn from Luna and Astoria. What was he? A walking soap opera?
"As did I," Daphne said, drawing his attention. "But do go ahead."
Right. Going ahead, he told himself. Should he just...? Ah, whatever. He reached out and took her hand. Luna cooed from across the table. How did she even get there? Didn't matter. "Would you-"
Alright, a short pause to actually breath for once since he had walked over here.
"Would you do me the honour of becoming my girlfriend?"
Steady enough, but why did he have to sound so formal?
"This is it! This is it!" he heard, accompanied by the all but frantic crunching of popcorn, but he ignored it.
"Only," Daphne breathed, eyes bright and smiled even brighter, "If you do me the lovely honour of becoming my boyfriend."
Harry's heart, which had briefly ceased any and all activity, began to soar. Massively. He felt as if his face was about to tear itself apart from how hard he was smiling. And then, when he pulled Daphne out of her seat, she laughed and accepted his hug.
"Now," she whispered into his ear, "only one more thing to make dreams come true."
He blinked at her. "Really?"
Her smile tickled some more beats out of his already madly skipping and thundering heart. "Really."
And then she kissed him. He might have purred, then. He might not have. Harry didn't care to remember. Left speechless, all he could do was stare at her when Daphne pulled back after a long, blissful moment.
"What's this?" she asked mischievously, never letting go of his hand. "Cat got you tongue?"
Astoria's giggle grounded him a bit more in reality, but she still found himself unable to do more than just smile a dopey smile at her.
"We put that on the cake," Luna said, silvery eyes sparkling at him almost as madly as Dumbeldore's. Harry had no idea what she was talking about but he figured he would find out soon enough.
A/N: I like writing this stuff. A lot. So have at it! :3