I own nothing of the marketing empire birthed from J.K.Rowling's fevered genius, and get nothing from this save the brief satisfaction of favourable reviews…
Harry Potter and the Forgotten Shards
The celebrations in the Gryffindor tower went on for most of the night. Professor McGonagall's presence had almost quieted things down…until her icy demeanour slipped and she conjured a large icebox full of butterbeers and the party kicked up a notch.
The next morning found a small number of bleary eyed Gryffindors arriving slowly to breakfast in the great hall, the rest of course were still asleep.
Draco Malfoy was incensed. The bloody Gryffindors had obviously cheated the previous day in Quidditch. They had blatantly kept the game from ending long enough to put them in a nearly unassailable position for the Quidditch Cup this year, and the way that Potter had finally ended the game, casually plucking the Snitch out of the air, was intolerable.
Draco was in a filthy mood and had just found an isolated pair of Hufflepuff third years to take his temper out on. "Oh look, a pair of mud-bloods wandering a little far from safety. Petrificus Totalus, Petrificus Totalus." Draco's wand swirled with practiced ease. "Mobilicorpus. Goyle bring the other one. Crabbe open the door to this classroom, we're going to have a little fun." Malfoy leered at the young girls he had just hexed.
Vincent Crabbe had just managed to get the latch open when he noticed a figure walking down the hallway towards them. "Draco."
Draco looked up from where he was busy molesting his captive. "Oh look, a feeble little Longbottom has decided to join in." Draco smirked as he twirled his wand around with practised ease. "This day just keep getting better and better. A mindless moron, just like his mindless parents."
The two Slytherin thugs moved to intercept the Gryffindor.
Neville paused, his smouldering rage-filled eyes fixed on Draco. "I think you should let these girls return to their House, Malfoy." An experienced listener would have heard the reverberation of power in his voice; a less experienced listener would certainly have heard the anger.
Draco laughed derisively. Crabbe cracked his knuckles, while Goyle drew back his arm in preparation to swing a punch at Neville. The Gryffindor sidestepped Goyle's clumsy punch, dropping his shoulder into the boy's stomach, flipping him over, and dropping him onto his head with an audible thud behind him. Crabbe swung a solid one-two into Neville's stomach as he turned to face the second Slytherin thug. Neville didn't even flinch, Crabbe staggered back nursing his hands, until the Gryffindor grabbed hold of his face and slammed the back of his head into the castle wall. Crabbe slumped into unconsciousness.
Draco, wide-eyed in shock, oriented his wand on Neville and began the wand movements for a rather nasty curse. He didn't get to complete it, as the Gryffindor boy seized the Malfoy heir's wand hand and pushed his wand up against the wall.
"All it will take is a small amount of additional pressure, and your wand will be snapped. With no evidence that I had anything to do with it, I might add. Do you yield?" Neville's face was mere inches from the other boy, his gaze fiery with suppressed anger.
Draco tried to maintain his gaze, but quickly withered under that implacable stare.
"What is this? Fighting in the hallways? A hundred points from Gryffindor, and a months detention, Longbottom," Snape swooped out of nowhere. "Now release Mr. Malfoy, or it will be two months."
Neville's gaze didn't even flicker, "Professor Snape, you should know better than to interfere in the dealings of the Great Houses. However," and here Neville did turn to look over at Snape, "If it is your wish to stand for Draco Malfoy. Then I am only too happy to accommodate your wishes."
Severus Snape blinked owlishly, surprise the only emotion on his normally dour face.
"Very well," Neville snatched Draco's wand from his hand and shoved the boy to the floor at his feet. "I shall be keeping this as ransom. Seek me out when you are ready to deal with my House." He turned to the two still petrified girls, "Finite, finite." A casual wave on his wand had both girls released. "Come. I will escort you both back to your Head of House."
Snape turned a mid-puce, "LONGBOTTOM! Two hundred points from Gryffindor, and you will go to the Headmaster's office THIS MINUTE!"
Neville froze, and turned back to consider the potions professor for a moment. His fiery glowing eyes narrowed, "So be it." He turned back to the two Hufflepuff girls, "Come, we must see the Headmaster." His flicked his wand and murmured something, and a faintly glowing blue shield sprang up in the hall directly behind him, cutting off both sound and the Slytherin Head of House's ability to follow him for the moment.
Minerva McGonnegal was enjoying a bracing cup of tea while reading an article written by one of her colleagues on the phenomenon of animagi taking the form of magical creatures; apparently the research subject had mastered a form reminiscent of a kneazle. A faint chime alerted her to the fact that one of her students had lost some house points. She shook her head, but didn't look up from her tea until the second chime a minute or two later.
"THREE HUNDRED POINTS?" She carefully placed her cup aside, set the book on her desk, and went to examine the device that kept a record for her house. "Severus, what have you done now?" She quickly donned her robes and rushed out. She just knew this would have to involve young Harry.
In the Gryffindor common room pandemonium had just broken out.
"Bloody Hell Harry," Ron slapped his own forehead, "What did you do to set off Snape this time?"
"Language Ron," Hermione clipped him across the ear. "We'll have to go find him, he'll probably be heading for the Headmaster's office by now."
A couple of other prefects were also muttering about Harry's amazing ability to loose house points to Snape.
Harry sat up from the other side of the couch he had been laying on, "What did I do this time?"
"You just lost us three hundred house points…Harry? How did you get in here so quick?" Ron suddenly realised who he was talking to.
"I've been here all morning, I haven't even headed down for breakfast."
The prefects all just blinked at each other in confusion.
"If you're still here, then who just lost us three hundred house points?" The seventh year prefect asked.
By the time he reached the Headmaster's office, several different Hufflepuff students had stopped them to ask where Neville was taking the two younger 'Puff girls. Thus, Neville was hardly surprised to find both Professor McGonnegal and Professor Sprout waiting for him beside the Gargoyle.
"Good morning, Professors. I am most appreciative of your presences, perhaps we can get this issue dealt with before lunch." Neville bowed respectfully to each of the teachers, and gestured for them to precede him.
"Good morning indeed, Mr. Longbottom." Professor Sprout smiled and muttered the password, activating the stairway, and leading her students up to the office.
"Yes, though I must admit," McGonnegal began.
"You were expecting to meet Harry here?" Neville finished good-humouredly.
"Indeed." She smiled primly, and started up the stairway, followed by Neville.
Albus Dumbledore had enjoyed a superb breakfast of fried scones with lashings of darkest treacle, and was thus feeling on top of the world. His school was running smoothly. True, Harry and his friends had not been present for breakfast, but that was hardly surprising since it was the weekend and the Gryffindor celebrations after that rather spectacular victory the previous day had kept them all up till the wee hours of the morning. And if Harry could devote enough time to Quidditch to become that good, then he was obviously not stressing about some greater plot.
His good mood evaporated somewhat when he became aware of the imminent arrival of the Heads of two houses. Gryffindor and Hufflepuff? That's not exactly common. Ah, Slytherin has just entered the Infirmary, things become clearer. He nodded to himself.
"Come in, come in. Ah, a good morning to you Professor Sprout, ladies. Please take a seat, wont you." A lazy wave of his wand had six seats emerge from the floor of his office.
Pomona gestured for her two students to take seats at one end, seating herself beside them. "Thank you Headmaster."
Moments later Professor McGonnegal entered, followed by a very dignified Neville Longbottom.
"Good morning once again Professor, and to you as well, Mr. Longbottom. If you would take a seat we can perhaps discover what brings you to my humble office this fine day."
Minerva frowned at Albus' jocular tone, and took the seat one down from the other professor, leaving the seat between them for Neville, who waited until she was seated before taking his own place.
Dumbledore made a cursory scan of the minds before him. Neither Pomona nor Minerva knows what is happening here, they merely are present to support their students. The two girls, hmmm, nervous about being here for the first time. Only stern self control kept his face smiling genially. Assaulted in the hallways by young Mr. Malfoy and his colleagues, and rescued by Mr. Longbottom. His attention focussed on Neville, this time his control wavered momentarily, he blinked. Where did young Longbottom learn such impressive Occulemancy shields? He certainly didn't have them the last time I looked.
"Lemon drops?" He offered the yellow sweets to the girls, who smiled and each took one, and to the other three, who all refused. After waiting a few moments for the girls to begin sucking the candies, "Perhaps we could begin, Miss Tuttle? Tell us what happened?"
"Me and Jenny were taking a shortcut to the quidditch pitch to watch our team's practice session, the game yesterday made us realise how serious the competition is, you know?" She said with utmost seriousness.
Albus nodded, They will need to practice hard, indeed, to crack the lead Gryffindor has now.
Taking encouragement from the headmaster's acknowledgement, she continued, "Well, we were walking along a corridor when we were hexed by Draco Malfoy." Without Snape there glowering at them, and with the comforting presence of both Professor Sprout and, oddly enough, Neville Longbottom, she had plucked up the courage to name names for the first time. "He said that they were going to take us into a deserted classroom and do things to us."
"Did they?" Dumbledore's eyebrows had shot up into his hairline, his voice expressing shock. Though it was more the shock of an outspoken and brave Hufflepuff than shock at young Malfoy's actions.
"He really did," The second girl chipped in. "But then Mr. Longbottom…"
"Just call me Neville," Neville interrupted, smiling.
The two girls looked at each other. "Neville," they sighed dreamily.
The first girl started again, "Then Neville came to our rescue." Then she scowled, "Then Professor Snape came and took points from Neville even though he hadn't done anything wrong, and didn't punish the Slytherins, and didn't even release us from the spells Malfoy put on us. Neville did, and he was going to escort us back to our house, but Professor Snape sent him here."
Both girls nodded to emphasise their point. And sat quietly while the Headmaster considered them.
"Ah, Severus. Join us wont you." It wasn't a request. "I was just about to ask Mr. Longbottom for his version of events."
Snape ceased looming in the doorway and swept across the office, robes billowing threateningly. "This should be precious," He snarked, "That boy is as much of a menace as the Potter brat. Assaulting three of my students, he should be expelled."
The two Hufflepuff girls glared small pointy things at Snape until he glared back, causing them to retreat behind the protective bulwark of Professor Sprout with a squeak.
"If you would like to continue, Mr. Longbottom," the headmaster almost reacting to his colleague's vitriol, but managing to hide even the faintest hint of his exasperation.
Neville had raised a single eyebrow at Snape's attack, blinked a couple of times at the sheer effrontery, and cleared his throat…with a rumbling growl that would have had Charlie Weasley retreating and signalling for backup. "I was wandering the more remote hallways…"
"Looking for isolated victims?" Snape spat out.
Neville raised both eyebrows this time. "I find the solitude…calming." His eyes narrowed at Snape. "I happened upon Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle breaking into a locked classroom. The two girls had been immobilised, and were being dragged into the room by Malfoy and Goyle. I…suggested they let the girls return to their house. They felt it would better suit their purpose to insult me, my parents, my House, and my Lineage. Then they attacked me. Or, at least, I suspect they did…if you call the feeble physical blows Crabbe and Goyle threw my way an attack. I have seen preadolescent muggles make a better showing. Malfoy, on the other hand, drew his wand on me. I countered his attack and held his wand à cassant sujet. Whereupon I demanded his surrender."
Albus regarded the young Longbottom heir carefully, "Indeed? And had Mr. Malfoy not surrendered?"
"As would be expected." Neville withdrew Malfoy's wand from within his robes, holding it up for all to see.
"Headmaster, I must insist that Mr. Malfoy's wand be returned immediately." Severus was on the verge of drawing his own wand to expedite matters.
"I suspect not, Severus. Mr. Longbottom, would you care to continue." Dumbledore ignored the potions master's surprise and gestured for Neville to proceed.
"At this point, Professor Snape intervened in an issue that had become a matter of honour between two Great Houses. Taking a hundred points from Gryffindor is a meaningless triviality, the additional two hundred an act of spite from a pathetic little man completely out of his depth. The insult Professor Snape has inflicted upon the House of Malfoy and indirectly upon the House of Longbottom, will take decades to rectify."
Snape began to turn a sickly pale as realisation began to sink in.
"Furthermore, as one of the aggrieved parties, I have no option but to inform both Dame Augusta Longbottom, and Lord Lucius Malfoy of this event. The Wizengamot shall decide this issue." Neville finished with a disdainful snort in Snape's direction, a faint wisp of smoke drifting away from him.
"I trust you understand the ramifications of your actions, Mr. Longbottom?"
"Of course, Professor Dumbledore. I am prepared to stand behind my words and actions." Neville's gaze was steady and unflinching as he met Albus' eyes.
"You may go, and if you would be so kind as to escort these two young ladies back to their House? Thank you, Mr. Longbottom."
Neville rose, nodded to the headmaster and held the door open for the two younger students, closing the door behind him.
As soon as the door closed, Snape stood up, "Albus, you can't possibly support this insanity?"
"He has no choice but to do so. You brought this upon yourself Severus. Had young Mr. Potter been raised in the traditions and laws of our world, this might have happened years ago," Pomona Sprout seemed almost…gleeful.
"Albus, will you reverse the ruling against Mr. Longbottom? Three hundred points and a month's detention for coming to the aid of a couple of younger students, while the perpetrators escaped without punishment, seems a little harsh." Minerva was watching her younger colleague with a self-satisfied smile on her face.
Albus regarded his underlings with tired eyes, "In a little over half a year, Mr. Potter and Mr. Longbottom will inherit their family's titles, including seats on the Wizengamot and with them a substantial, and very influential, voting bloc. If I ignored this now, or forced him to set this aside, in less than a years time he would destroy me politically, socially and with the aid of the Malfoy family, financially. It would take little more than a single meeting with the board of governors to have me removed from this position. No, I am sorry Severus, but I have no option but to take Mr. Longbottom's complaint with the utmost seriousness."
"Lucius would not move against me."
"I believe that this would be sufficient to draw a unanimous vote from both the light and dark factions in the Wizengamot. Even if Lucius himself did not act against you, there are many others who will." Albus shook his head, "No, this is not the time for endless debate. This must run its course."
Neville returned to the Gryffindor common room to discover pandemonium.
"Nev? Where the hell-ouch get off Hermione have you been, mate?" Ron swatted at Hermione after being clipped across the back of the head.
"Just out exercising my pureblood political clout."
"Neville? I never knew you believed all that pureblood rhetoric," Hermione seemed a little taken aback.
"Believed? Hah. It's a load of Hogwash. On the other hand, getting Snape fired may well be worth the effort." Neville was casually examining the fingernails on his left hand while watching for their reactions out of the corner of his eye.
The entire room froze into a stunned silence.
A first year was the first to recover his voice, "Did you just say the bastard is getting fired?"
A second year smacked him on the head, "That's Professor Bastard to you."
Seamus Finnegan gave them both a quick clip behind the ear, "We like to refer to him as Professor Greasy Bastard."
"Or the overgrown bat," Lavender looked up from her latest issue of Teen Witch Weekly. "How did it happen?"
"He interfered in a matter of honour between the scions of two Great Houses," Neville said matter-of-factly.
"Ouch, wonder who Dumbledore will get in to replace him," Pavarti winced in false sympathy.
Harry entered the common room from the dorms, and nodded to Hermione, who immediately got up to follow him.
Which attracted the attention of the entire house. Half of whom immediately got to their feet, while the other half were still putting aside their various activities.
Harry paused, "It's just a meeting with McGonnegal. I promise."
The room seemed to deflate as everyone returned to their seats and activities. The sentiment in the room could be summed up in the words of two of the first years.
"So, we're not rushing off to sack the Dark Lord's fortress?" followed by a sigh of relief.
"Aw nuts, you mean we're not rushing off to sack the Dark Lord's fortress?" in a tone of distinct disappointment.
Harry was still chuckling when they reached the entrance to Professor McGonnegal's office. He knocked twice.
The door opened, "Come in Mr. Potter, Miss Granger."
Harry led Hermione into the room, occupied as it was by a very calm Professor McGonnegal and a freaked out, on the verge of bolting, Whitley Haverton-Smythe.
Harry started humming softly, calming Whitley enough that he could sit without fidgeting too badly.
"Welcome, I assume you all know each other? Good, good. Now, Miss Granger, why did you ask for this meeting?" Professor McGonnegal asked, a little more of her Scottish burr coming out than was usual.
"A couple of reasons. The main one being," She turned to Whitley, "I am so very sorry for what happened the other day. I am an Animagus." Hermione glanced at McGonnegal, "I got lost in the instincts of my form, I hadn't realised it could happen so easily. I didn't think it could happen to me." She shook her head. "Poor excuses I know, but I didn't mean for that to happen."
Whitley's eyes were bugging open, "You…you…you're the Peryton? No ones that powerful."
"What about you, Mr. Potter? Are you…?" Minerva's question died as they observed Harry transform.
Moments later a beautiful Phoenix, it's bronze and crimson plumage fading to black at the wingtips, with the brightest emerald green eyes stood where the Gryffindor had been sitting.
Whitley and Minerva both stared in shock. There had never been a Phoenix Animagus, no one was powerful enough. No one. Not even Merlin, whose form had indeed been magical, a Hun O'r Tylwyth Teg Cath.
Harry began singing, his phoenix-song at full strength calming both Whitley and Professor McGonnegal enough so that when, moments later, Hermione shifted to her own animagus form, neither panicked.
Whitley just sat there in near shock. The creature that had attacked and tried to kill him only days before, now stood calmly only a few short feet from him. In his mind, he knew, that the only way he could be this calm was if Potter's form truly was a phoenix, and not just a large colourful bird. When the deer unfurled its wings, all doubt left him.
Minerva's mind was racing. Both her own, and Remus' reactions to the members of Harry's group had indicated that they had all changed. Both Neville Longbottom and Ronald Weasley had incited a stronger reaction from Remus and, until recently, Whitley. Their dietary habits had been quite noticeable of late. Her eyes narrowed, "Please resume your human form. Thank you."
First Hermione, and then Harry swiftly transformed back into themselves.
"If you are still feeling the effects of the animal forms instincts to such an extent, then your transformation must still be recent. I would not be wrong in guessing that the weekend that the Wards collapsed would have been when it first occurred for each of you?"
"You are correct. My father and his friends left copious notes on the subject. We studied the animagus transformation independently, and we have yet do decide whether or not we will actually bother to register." Harry still had an undertone of phoenix-song in his voice, its calming effect continuing.
"Not register? But why?" Whitley couldn't understand their desire to flagrantly disregard the law.
"Mainly because we've read the same sources you have. We know that our animagus forms seriously outclass even that of Merlin himself." Hermione chuckled ruefully, "Can you imagine the hardline pureblood reaction to a muggleborn like myself being proven to outclass Merlin? There would be riots, chaos, and assassination attempts. Quite frankly, I'd rather disappear into the background after I graduate." She smiled at the Professor, "And I don't need the additional project marks in Transfiguration, so I wont be declaring it."
"What about you Mr. Potter? And the rest of your group?" Minerva fixed a stern gaze on her most troublesome student.
"Ditto. Plus, I'm a phoenix. I really don't need another messianic title added to the current list," Harry laughed quietly. "As for the others. Pretty much the same story. Though I believe Ginny could get away with a partial reveal."
Minerva considered for a moment, "Are any of you normal animagi?"
Harry shook his head slowly.
"Any of you on par with Merlin?"
"I would guess Ginny would be the nearest."
Minerva sat back, thinking fondly of the half-bottle of seventy-year-old scotch in the third drawer of her desk, "Enough obfuscation, what are you all? Please."
Harry grinned, "Ron, as could only be expected for a true son of Gryffindor, has taken the form of the noble Griffon. Luna is a Pegasus. Hermione is, as you have seen, a Peryton. Ginny is a Stormcrow. And I am a Phoenix."
"You left out Mr. Longbottom. Is his form so insignificant then?"
Both younger Gryffindors burst out laughing.
"Hardly." Hermione snorted.
"Neville's form is our most closely guarded secret." Harry chuckled.
Minerva's eyes suddenly widened as the pieces fell into place for her. "No! It's impossible."
Harry raised an eyebrow.
"The prank on Severus." She looked shocked at her own conclusions, "You transported Mr. Longbottom around the castle, since the wards cannot contain a phoenix, and he was the…"
Harry smiled, "Just how did the twins get away with as much as they did?"
"The simple answer? They didn't." She shook her head, "Thank you for sharing this with us. You are quite correct about the Wizarding public's probable reaction to your forms. Do keep it quiet unless you have to. Pranks involving your forms should be discouraged."
"We'll try, but Ginny can be a mite impulsive at times…I somewhat suspect the Slytherin quidditch team will have a little difficulty finding a training time that doesn't also involve heavy rain," Harry stood up.
Hermione stood up, and turned to face Whitley, "Again, I am so sorry for what I did. I can guarantee if you want grazing time, none of us will be present…nor will any other predator for that matter." She turned, half smiled to Professor McGonnegal, and left.
Harry shook hands with Whitley, nodded to Minerva, and followed Hermione.
Whitley slumped down opposite McGonnegal and watched while she poured a couple of glasses of scotch. "So, what now?"
"Now we have a quiet drink, and forget everything we know about a group of people who have entrusted their deepest secrets to us."
Wow. Almost an entire year between chapters. Damn. Sorry everyone.
And thanks to those of you who kept watching and waiting for this. I'll try to make the next chapter sooner than this last one was.
à cassant sujet translates roughly to at breaking point. (French)
hun o'r tylwyth teg cath translates more or less to fairy cat. (Welsh)