Author's Note: Goodness, I had a hard time with this one. I was debating on a few things, which caused me to put off getting this chapter done…but I'm happy with it.
Also, some responses to reviews:
priestess of silvanus, I like your style! Snakes after rats…just what I was thinking too.
Hadas, I know there are still a lot of questions that haven't been answered yet, please be patient, I will address them all.
Japanese-jew, I agree, Harry doesn't really act his age (21) here, but then he hasn't really needed to. It's only been a couple days since he's shown up too. Also, remember that he never really got to be very childish as the Boy-Who-Lived, and he can be whoever he wants to as Darion. An interesting point is that we haven't yet seen his true fighting skills, either…
Kaaera, I was rather fond of the image of him perched on the rail as well. If you draw and post that picture somewhere, let me know! I would love to see it, and any others for that matter.
Dernhelm-caorann, hah, you caught that did you…someone else noticed it as well…
THANK YOU everyone for all the great reviews. I love reading them. Often multiple times.
"ss,Parseltongue,ss" Just so that you know.
Disclaimer: Not Mine. Talk to Rowling. Just borrowing them a while.
He turned his gaze away from the grizzled old Auror and turned to look at Remus, noting with some sadness that the man looked a little weary and worn. He knew that his information would not lift a burden from the werewolf's shoulders. In fact it would probably only increase the weight Remus felt he had to bear.
"Wormtail is in Hogwarts." Harry said softly.
The Founders' Heir
Harry watched as the emotions flickered through the Order members before him, ranging from unbelief, offended to outright rage. Moody, of course, looked completely disbelieving and was taking turns scowling at him and then at his companions. Albus just sat behind his desk watching as they argued amongst themselves.
Harry conjured a chair and sat down. He had a feeling that he would be there for a while.
It was Moody, of course, who addressed him first.
"What are you talking about, Apprentice?"
"There is a rat," Harry spoke slowly, enunciating each word carefully as if talking to a child, "in the castle; an animagus rat; its name is Wormtail."
"How do you know the name of a rat?" Tonks asked.
"How can you tell that it's an animagus is what I want to know." Moody growled.
Harry sighed and threw a leg over an arm of his chair. He was going to be there for a very long time. Especially if they didn't know that Wormtail was Peter Pettigrew, as Tonks' absent statement seemed to prove. Then again, Tonks was a little different.
"Animagus' have different auras than regular rats." Harry said.
"You can see auras?" Bill asked curiously. Harry looked at the red head, thankful that he wasn't accusing him like Moody, but simply asking.
"No, but I can sense them."
"What's the difference between sensing and seeing auras?" Bill continued.
Harry smiled a little at the man's curiosity, "Animagus' have unique patterns in their auras that make them stand out from other wizards. While those who can see auras see colors and visible patterns, I feel the vibrations and textures that magical creatures give off." Well it was true, Harry thought, mostly anyways. He could feel the vibrations from magic, just not enough to discern specific people, skills or spells. He was able to feel the power behind a spell or charm, however, which came in handy in certain situations; like duels.
"We aren't here for a lesson." Moody growled.
"But you did want to know how I knew he was an animagus." Harry pointed out with a fake smile. Moody did a passing fine imitation of a Snape sneer, except it wasn't so much intimidating as just scary, what with the man's scarred face.
As if Harry really had room to talk on that particular subject. Certain expressions of his own had the tendency to look a little freaky with the scars that marked his face.
"What happened to him?" Albus asked before Moody could retaliate.
"He got away." Harry scowled, glancing over at a sleeping Fawkes.
"Figures." Moody mumbled.
"Although," Harry continued brightly, "I did mark him!"
"Really?" Albus said.
"Yup!" Harry waved his knife in front of his face, showing off the slight trace of blood along its edge.
"What was it coated with?" Albus asked.
Harry frowned and cocked his head slightly to the side. "You know, I'm not sure." He ignored the snort from Moody's direction and Albus' chuckle as he ran a finger along the flat surface of his knife. He had many blades on his person at any time, and while he usually knew which was which, there was the random occasion where he couldn't quite remember what was coated on which blade.
"You can't remember…" Bill said absently as he watched.
"It really doesn't matter much generally." Harry said.
"Because they're all coated with poisons, and it doesn't matter which is used, unless it's some sort of unusual circumstance." Harry ran his tongue along his thumb, trying to pinpoint the flavor of the substance.
"All poisons. All of what?"
"My blades." Harry looked up, still gumming the flavor of the poison. The group was all watching him with curios fascination, except Albus, who, of course, was twinkling a bit merrily and watching the others. "Somniferum." Harry identified absently as he pulled a vial off of his belt and popped its cork. He tipped his head back and let three drops of the thick blue liquid fall to his tongue. He wiped his thumb off thoroughly on his pant leg and returned the vial to his belt.
"Somniferum?" Charlie asked.
"Yes," Harry waved his hand over his blade muttering a cleaning charm and sheathed it in its place. "It's normally a powerful sleeping potion, but up the potency and it turns into a deadly poison. However it isn't painful, and actually has a numbing effect. You'll fall asleep from it before you die, and simply not wake up."
"So Wormtail is dead in some hidden hole, now?" Remus asked.
"Not likely." Harry said, "I don't think he got enough of it in his system. If he transforms, his body mass will increase and he'll simply sleep it off. It is possible that he could survive it in his animagus form, but I'm not sure if his magic would be strong enough to make up for the small body mass or not."
"You don't think, and you're not sure." Moody pitched in, "What do you know?"
Harry turned a cold gaze towards the man, feeling his ire start to get the better of him. "You were an Auror, Mad-Eye, if you don't know the intricacies of a poison's effects on the body than it's a good thing that you no longer work in the department."
Moody curled his lip disdainfully, and prepared to speak, but Harry cut him off, not yet finished with the man.
"As it is, I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with the idea of having to work with you if you can't recall such basic tutoring. Pair that with your inability to think before you let your paranoia take control of what's left of your mind behind that thick skull and it's a bloody miracle that someone hasn't shot a hex at you simply to shut up your accusations and suspicions."
"Now see here you welp…" Moody started, rising from his seat. Harry didn't rise to meet him; instead he continued to bowl over the man's meager defenses from the sprawled position in his chair.
"A healthy level of paranoia is all well and good, especially from an Auror, and especially for anyone planning on facing any of Voldemort's top lackey's, but it is NOT a good idea to suspect your comrades to the level that you practice. All you will do is distance those that you should keep close and when you need it the most no one will be there to save your suspicious, sorry arse."
Moody's face turned three shades of red and Harry would swear that he could see steam coming form the man's ears, yet the old Auror couldn't quite manage a verbal response.
"Suspicions I can handle," Harry continued, "But when you can't even respect someone you trust to know who is an enemy or not than you've gone too far! I've given you a lot of leeway, Mad-Eye Moody, as I know that you have no idea who I am, but I do not take kindly to unfounded accusations and malicious comments simply because you can't handle not knowing everything about a person that is none of your Merlin-cursed business!"
Harry didn't move from his position in his chair, and kept his green gaze locked onto Moody. "I will not take it any more. Suspect me all you bloody well want, but do not accuse me of anything that you do not have reason to. Do not take your frustrations and paranoia out on me because you don't like Snape. And for the love of all things magic, trust the few people that you deem worthy of your trust, or you will loose theirs."
Harry held the man's gaze, and noted the well hidden surprise in the man's one good eye. He hadn't planned on saying such thing to him, but it desperately needed to be said. The man's paranoia would only cause dissent among his own comrades, and it wasn't a good thing.
Not to mention that he was not looking forward to the man's suspicions until Harry Potter could be revealed. If Moody could manage to set aside some of that paranoia towards Darion, life at Hogwarts would be much more pleasant for all involved. And really did think that the man was just a titch too paranoid for his own good and Harry was not the least bit fond of having it directed at him so heavily.
"Enough!" Albus said. "Sit down, Alastor. We've already gone over this once, and I do not want to do so again. Darion, quit riling him up."
Harry sneered at Moody before turning his gaze towards the window and mumbling incoherently under his breath. Surprisingly, Moody sat down, though his face was still red and his magical eye didn't leave Harry.
"Leave the boy be, Moody." Arthur said, pouring tea into his cup, "Albus trusts him; that should be enough."
"Perhaps for you, Arthur." Moody said gruffly, "But it's not enough for me."
"I thank you, Mr. Weasley," Harry said neutrally, not looking away from the window, "but you should know that I am not a boy, and I don't appreciate being called such."
"Ah, sure thing." Arthur said a bit uncomfortably.
Harry looked over at him and gave him a small smile. He didn't want to alienate the man, he was rather fond of him, but he didn't like being referred to as a child, especially since he never really was one.
"Let's leave the particular levels of trust and caution alone for now." Albus said, "Darion, do you know if he is still in the castle or would he have the time to escape it?"
Harry sighed and put Moody's misplaced – understood, but still misplaced – suspicion out of his mind. "It's hard to tell how much of the serum entered his system. Also, his animagus skill throws another wrench, so-to-speak, into the works. It is possible that he was able to hold out long enough to get outside the castle walls; however I tend to doubt it. His magical signature isn't that strong, and I wouldn't have even noticed him if it weren't for Stoney here crashing down the halls after him and making a general ruckus."
"You believe that he is still here then?" Bill asked.
Harry nodded as he cast a tempus spell to check the time, "Yes, probably holed up in some small crack by now. Even with a small amount of the Somniferum he will still fall asleep. If we're lucky we may be able to sniff him out before he wakes."
"How do you propose we look for him, Albus?" the still nameless man asked. Harry decided that he would have to put a name to the man soon.
"Remus, will you be able to help?" Albus turned to the werewolf. Remus' eyes flickered over to Harry before returning to Albus.
"Don't worry, Mr. Lupin," Harry said, "You're status as a werewolf does not bother me."
"Oh," Remus stuttered a moment, "How did you…"
Harry smiled slightly and shrugged one shoulder. There was any number of ways that he would know of the werewolf's existence; anything from a simple identification as a Defense student to someone – like Albus – telling him. There was also the little exaggeration about him being able to discern specifics from the vibrations of magical signatures that he fed to the group earlier. They could all guess at which one it was on their own.
"Where was he when you hit him, Darion?" Albus asked.
"In the main shaft of stairwells, fourth floor on the east side." Harry said, "From the direction he was heading before I hit him he was headed towards the third floor corridor."
"There's any number of places he could hide in there, especially if he's still in rodent form." Remus said.
"Does anybody have anything that could help?" Albus asked.
"To find a rat?" Tonks said.
"Molly may have some kind of home pest control charm, but I'm not sure if something like that would work on an animagus." Arthur said.
"It's doubtful." Harry shook his head. "We may have to do it the old fashioned way." Harry rose and banished his chair.
"Which way is that?" Tonks asked.
"By scent." Harry said with a smirk and walked out the door. He hurried down the stairs as he pulled Saire's head out of his shirt and hissed quietly to her.
"ss,Saire, will you help me? I need you to follow the trail of a rodent,ss"
"ss,Of course, Shay,ss''
"ss,Great. I won't be able to speak with you around the others as you know, but I'll point in the direction I believe he went,ss"
"ss,I would be delighted,ss" she hissed gleefully.
Harry eyed the serpent warily. She sounded far too excited about the prospect of a hunt.
"ss,You must not eat " he warned her, "ss,I need him alive,ss"
"ss,Very well, Shay,ss"
Saire curled her head around his neck like some sort of odd scarf. Harry glanced behind him as he turned a corner to make sure that the Order members were still out of hearing distance. He paused and waited for them to catch up before continuing.
"Mr. Lupin," Harry said, still walking through the empty halls, "How good is your sense of smell right now?"
"Ah, the full moon is in three days, it can't get much better now unless I was in wolf form."
Harry nodded. He knew that the others didn't have animagus forms, except Albus, but his two forms weren't the best for sniffing something out.
They arrived to the stairwell in question without further incident, where Harry pointed out the location that he nicked Wormtail with his knife. Luckily, it was past curfew and all the students should be in their dormitories.
"Saire should be able to follow his trail," Harry said as he unwound the serpent's body from his own, "But if you would follow it as well, Mr. Lupin, we'll have a secondary opinion."
"We came from that direction," Harry pointed up the stairs, "So I would assume that he would continue to head downwards, probably trying to get out."
Harry set Saire on the flagstones and placed his finger at the spot where his knife had stuck. Saire shifted and flicked her tongue around his finger and the floor under it, tasting the air. Harry knew that he was testing fate a bit with using Saire to follow Wormtail's scent as it was a little odd to have a snake as a blood hound. However suspicious it may be, he would rather have the rat in possession than not use her and let the sneak get away.
He would just have to deal with any additional suspicions when they arose.
"Will it be able to trace his smell?" Bill asked. Harry didn't bother to look at the red head.
"Yes. Snakes have an excellent sense of taste."
"How do you control him?" Charlie asked curiously. "And what kind is he?"
"She is a Diamond Head Cobra," he replied, "And I don't so much control her as I tame her."
Harry lifted his hand but didn't rise from his crouched position as Saire began a slow slither down the stairway. Her tongue flicked out at every step, tasting it, following the seemingly erratic path that Wormtail had taken.
"Tame her? What do you mean?" Charlie asked.
Harry turned his head around to look at him. "I'm a snake charmer." He said, sticking with the story he used before, "Salazar taught me the art." Well, it was true. He just didn't really need to use any snake charming skills as he was a Parselmouth, but he did know them.
"Slytherin?" Bill asked. Harry nodded, turning back to watch his serpent.
"Salazar taught him many things." Albus said, "No doubt much more than I'm aware of."
Harry chuckled. "Probably."
"I'm sure the rest of them taught you more than you let on as well." Albus said.
"I'm sure." Harry got to his feet to trail after Saire as she reached the third floor. "Mostly from Helga and Rowena I would think."
"Helga taught you more than Herbalism?"
Harry shot a look at his old friend. "Albus, surely you have some inkling of how much time I spent in her medical ward. Do you honestly think that she wouldn't take advantage of that time and teach me how to cast the bloody healing spells myself? She got sick of casting them on me all the time, and insisted that since I always needed them that I should know how to use them."
Albus laughed. "I should have known."
"Yea, you should have." Harry agreed. "As for Rowena, she taught me many things, and not always from a textbook."
"What did you learn from Gryffindor?" Arthur joined the conversation.
"Not as much as you would think." Harry said as he walked into the third floor corridor. Torches flared along the walls at their presence. Harry was strongly reminded of his first year at Hogwarts when they ran from Filch and stumbled upon trouble with three heads. Saire continued her somewhat slow progress along the wall.
"Gryffindor was very good with transfiguration and swords," Harry picked up the conversation again, "But I already knew transfiguration and I was never any good with swords unless I got lucky." Harry cocked his head to the side in thought. "He did teach me how not to cast a fire spell, though. I never forgot that particular lesson."
"I think I remember that." Albus said with a chuckle.
"I would be surprised if you didn't." Harry said, grinning at the memory. "He nearly blew up the south tower. Of course I'm very glad that he didn't as I was in the tower at the time. That was one of those occasions that Helga had no desire to heal me for. She said something about being too dumb for asking Godric to show me a fire spell, and thus I didn't deserve to be healed by her. She told me the name of two spells and I had to look them up in the library myself."
"She wouldn't heal Godric either, if I remember correctly."
"Nope." Harry said, still smiling, "She wouldn't. Once I figured the spells out and healed my own burns, I figured I'd be nice and help the guy out. Needless to say I never asked him to cast a fire spell again."
"Goodness." Tonks said, "That'd sure get me to learn my healing spells."
Harry sent her a smile. "I think that was the whole point, really."
"ss,Shay, I have found the rat,ss" Saire hissed to him. Harry knelt down next to her, where there was a long crack up the wall from the floor. Her head was currently inside it, and as far as he could tell, half her body as well. He ran a finger down the length of her scales, letting her know that he had heard her.
"I think she found him." He told the group.
"His scent does lead here." Remus affirmed, "Though I can't pinpoint the exact location."
Harry nodded and watched as the serpent writhed backwards out of the crack. A moment later and she emerged fully, a limp rat in her jaws. The rat bore the silver paw that marked him as Wormtail.
"Bingo." Harry said with a smirk. He held his hand out and Saire dropped the rat into his palm.
"ss,He tastes worse than that flapping, feline of yours,ss" Saire complained. Harry held in his chuckle.
He spun a bit on his heal and let himself fall to the floor cross-legged. He waved his hand, casting a monitor spell that healers used to see if the blasted rat was still alive.
"He's one lucky rodent." Harry mumbled darkly, "His magic seems to have been strong enough to counter the Somniferum enough so that it wouldn't kill him, although some of Saire's venom got in him when she pulled him out, but it shouldn't be enough to do him in. She's poisonous, but not deadly yet."
"Ah, well done." Albus said.
Harry pulled two vials from his belt, pried the small mouth open and forced three drops of each inside the traitorous rat. It wouldn't do for him to die yet, after all, no matter how much it irked Harry to have to heal him.
"He'll live." Harry said stiffly and rose to his feet. He handed the rat over to Albus, not quite trusting anyone else with him. Half of the group was likely to kill him if they could. "I'm sure you'll have fun with him." He said with a smirk.
"Indeed." Albus said and put the rat in his pocket. Harry shook his head slightly and put a hand down for Saire to reclaim her place around his chest.
"Ah, Mr. Elddir?" Remus said.
"Just Darion, please." Harry said, meeting the man's eyes.
"Darion, ah…if you would, I was wondering, how did you know that he…the rat's name was Wormtail?"