Epilogue – All Good Things…
Author's Note: Well, this is it, folks. This is the last chapter of More than Human, which started out mainly to address a lot of poorly done clichés in HP fan fiction regarding Animagus plotlines. I hope that you have all enjoyed the story as much as I've enjoyed writing it.
On a late day in May, Harry dozed under the warm spring sunlight not far from the edge of the Forbidden Forest. He was not the only student taking advantage of the nice turn of the weather after the bitter cold winter. Most of the student body of Hogwarts was out of doors on this day.
Some of the lower years were engaging in a pick-up game of Quidditch while others congregated in small groups and socialized. The next day was Saturday, and it was a Hogsmeade weekend as well, so spring fever was running rampant.
More studious students, mainly fifth and seventh years, were also out on the expansive lawns and while still studying, many had discarded their robes in favor of lighter attire.
Harry smiled as he tracked the movements of his fellow students without opening his eyes once. The jaguars' acute hearing could be dead useful at times; especially when he was being stalked or about to be pranked. Seamus had taken it upon himself to try and catch Harry out several times, but to no avail. His other dorm mates had simply chalked it up as a bad job and moved onto other targets while the Irish wizard considered it a challenge to get Harry.
Right now, Seamus was 0 for 5 attempts, but there were still a few weeks of school left to go. After the last go round with the never-stop sneezing powder that Harry had managed to not only avoid, but to use to prank the blond Gryffindor back, it had become a matter of pride.
A faint rustling of the new leaves in the trees accompanied the gentle breeze that passed over his form. Not unusual, except for the few seconds more of rustle than there should have been. Something else other than the wind was out there.
Harry rolled over from his back to his stomach and settled his head comfortably along his forearms. His stalker's movements ceased abruptly. He kept his body still, but was ready to move on the instant.
Suddenly a sharp whistling cry followed by a sharp snagging pull to the back of Harry's head distracted from the hidden stalker behind him.
With a loud snarl, Harry raised his head and locked eyes on his tormentor, who was just winging back toward him with a mocking shrill as he began to stoop. Harry avoided the attack by jumping backwards toward the trunk of the large tree. His avian tormentor had to navigate more cautiously with his move and pulled up short on its attack.
The bird's dark grey plumage and sharp white bars blurred with the speed of his flight. Harry knew his reflexes were no match against his tormentor's speed, and so pulled back further under the cover of the tree. Ron was a right pest when he was showing off, he mused sourly.
The falcon disappeared from his view and Harry crouched defensively, searching for his quick winged friend. At the rate he was going, it felt like there would be a bald patch at the back of Harry's head. The sting of plucked hairs added to Harry's annoyance.
After a few seconds, Harry spotted his friend heading toward him from his right side and scrambled to place the tree trunk between them, which sent Ron back off out of sight again.
The small rustling that had caught his attention previously returned. Harry twitched an ear back as his hidden pursuer moved to his right. When he looked over his shoulder in that direction, the movement stopped.
The momentary distraction cost Harry. Ron buzzed him from behind and another sharp tug at the back of Harry's head caused him to snarl and shake to reduce the sting.
With a triumphant cry, Ron reduced speed to loop around the tree trunk for a victory lap before heading back off with Harry glaring daggers behind him.
Of course, the position also gave Harry a vantage to see what happened next.
Ron winged out of the clearing into the thicker woods, lowering his flight path to clear some overhead branches. The heavy undergrowth exploded upward and the peregrine falcon disappeared into the green maelstrom. A sudden sharp cry from the falcon was cut off abruptly.
Harry rocked to his feet and cocked his head, wondering if Ron was truly in trouble. The bushes vibrated and a tawny cat the size of a large dog strutted proudly into view with the annoying falcon caught in its jaws.
Harry stretched luxuriously before lying back down. The tips of the newcomer's dark ears were distinctive with long brown tufts of fur, and the golden eyes danced with more than mere pleasure at the catch. The feline's limbs were long and powerful for her compact size.
Of course, the care with which the smaller cat secured the now-struggling falcon was also telling.
The falcon was beginning to shrill louder. The caracal approached the larger Jaguar and without ceremony, spit the bird out at the larger cat's front paws and circled to flop down against him.
Harry, with great deliberation and more than a slight feeling of vindictive joy, placed a heavy paw on the struggling bird.
The bird shifted rapidly to Ron's normal lanky form. He brushed at the front of his jumper in no little disgust as Harry removed his paw.
"Yuck, Hermione!" he spat, rubbing his palms against his jeans after giving up on his damp jumper. "Now, I'm covered in cat spit!"
Harry had to shift form then as well or explode from contained laughter. Ron scowled at his merriment which did not lessen his friend's amusement one bit.
The caracal chirped once and then shifted into Hermione. Harry could tell from her face that she was just too proud of herself for having caught Ron right out of flight. She leaned back against Harry's side and giggled.
"That was a remarkable catch, Hermione," Luna's dreamy tones preceded her appearance around the bole of the tree.
"Thanks, Luna," Hermione smiled and accepted the book bag that the blond Ravenclaw held out to her. "Thanks for bringing my books along for me."
Ron put his hands on his hips in outrage. "You helped her?"
Luna raised an eyebrow and blinked once. "Of course, you weren't doing anything to provoke her, Ron?" she questioned.
"Of course not, Harry and I were just messing around," he answered in a suffering tone.
"And the fact that Harry may be getting a bald patch at the back of his head has nothing to do with you, then, Ron?" Hermione snapped.
Harry sat up and shifted to place his back against the tree. Hermione plucked a book from the bag and settled against his shoulder where Harry obligingly made room. Ron getting in trouble from both girls might just be entertaining. His red-haired friend shot him a beseeching look but Harry had no intention of interfering at this point.
The arrival of Neville and Ginny with a levitating basket between them saved Ron doubly by distracting the girls from their lecturing and addressing their missing of lunch in the Great Hall. The group happily transfigured cloaks or other paraphernalia into blankets and silverware before digging into the feast that Dobby and the other elves had provided for them.
When they exhausted the meal and flopped back down on the blankets, Harry looked up at the soft clouds that drifted across the sky with his oldest friend on one side and his second oldest friend, now girlfriend on the other, and knew in that one singular moment that he was happy to the very core of his soul. He closed his eyes and basked.
The sunlight poured down warmly, but not as warm as he felt inside. For whatever else might come, Harry would keep this moment within him and knew no coldness could ever intrude.
A soft hand caressed his cheek and Harry opened his eyes to see Hermione's gentle smile and amused eyes.
"What is it?" He questioned.
"You were purring again," she said, and dipped down to kiss him lightly.
She settled herself back against his side with her head on his shoulder. Harry glanced over to see the others had also taken the opportunity to grab a nap as well.
Harry leaned his head down over Hermione's with a sigh and let the world take care of itself for the moment and purred.