A/N: Don't ask me why this idea has taken such a strong hold of me. You can probably push off some of the blame to painlessj and her list of permanent or semi-permanent magical transformations, and to Leni Jess that (in my opinion and in my opinion only) rather butchered the idea of Harry somehow becoming a part-phoenix using Polyjuice potion. All I can snobbishly promise here's that it won't be Polyjuice potion, and that Lucius Malfoy will not be admiring Harry's muscles.
In fact, Harry will barely be admiring himself.
Harry woke with a start, and, for all of the next five seconds, wondered where he was.
He shifted carelessly, meaning to get up, and it hit him. Or, rather, hurt him.
A sliver of excruciating pain sliced down his back once – twice – and only worsened as he tried to get up. There seemed to be something wrong with the bed underneath him – it was slippery, somehow, and it hurt, and scratched, and –
"Mr. Potter! Stop moving this instant –" Madame Pomfrey's sharp, almost terrified voice halted his struggles, and Harry's panting was drowned out by the brisk footsteps of many. "Please remain calm –"
"What happened?" Harry demanded – no – coughed out, his voice seeming almost an octave higher. What on earth was going on – he'd been eating, just eating, and then –
Memories seemed to flash thickly through his skull. Screaming – wrenching, physical pain, like fire in his flesh, like the very fires of hell had poured into his entire body all at once –
"Breathe, Potter!" snapped Pomfrey, and Harry tried, despite the crushing weight of hysteria on his chest, despite the debilitating pain knifing down his back – "Quietus animus!" A sea of cold seemed to swamp his limbs, unnatural cold drifting through to his very bones like magic, intensifying the pain as fire and ice warred in the muscles of his back – "Albus – no magic – he's reacting again –"
"We'll lift him, then," came that voice, that familiar, almost hated voice, now filled with a fear that pierced straight through Harry – "Severus – now –"
Hands seized him, and the air under his back felt like heaven, but no – the room, he could smell now, and it smelt horrible, like something was burning, like burnt meat –
Somehow he was folded awkwardly onto his knees, and a sudden weight seemed to unfurl over his back, like a slightly itchy cloak, and the hands left hold of him abruptly, as if something was wrong –
"Wha's – going on –" Harry got out somehow, seizing oddly pliant fistfuls of cloth from the bed under him to steady himself. His voice was so high –
"Please, Harry, calm yourself," Dumbledore's voice said, still fearful, and the urge to attack him rose dizzyingly high in Harry, surprising him in its strength as his brain seemed to process that the Headmaster was weak at this moment, and was violating his territory, and deserved to be punished for such presumption, and –
That alone compelled Harry into obedience, making him take deep, odd-sounding breaths – ignore them for now, just ignore them – and relax his tense, heavily draped back.
"That's it, Potter," Snape said slowly, calmly, from his right. Too calmly – Harry couldn't help twisting violently around to see what on earth the other man could be thinking, being so fucking calm when Harry was in pain, probably enjoying it just as much as he'd enjoyed hearing the news about Sirius –
And then he saw red.
And gold, he thought, dazedly. Red and gold – on my back. The cloak – he swallowed, now, because it was not a cloak. It was – oh, Merlin, it couldn't be – feathers.
And Harry was rising shakily from the bed and looking around, wondering why everything within a metre was looking so scorched, and why there were so many feathers – red and gold, don't forget that, he reminded himself, a little hysterically – everywhere. EVERYWHERE –
"Harry, please breathe," Pomfrey was saying now, very gently, even as he slowly, slowly, so slowly, turned his head, so that he could disprove the thoughts whirling about in his head. Surely those – feathers – didn't come from me. They're not – they can't be part of me, they can't – "Breathe, Harry," she whispered, still gentle, as his eyes began to really see – red and gold – growing out of his back, out of two slightly scaly things protruding out of his back, which felt oddly weighted down by the feathers, because they were feathers, and he was starting to think those were – he flexed his back muscles sharply, as if to get the horrible joking things off, and –
Footsteps scattered heavily around him as something very large and red flapped past his eye, making him duck convulsively to the ground, thinking that, from the way Madame Pomfrey was shouting, something was attacking him. But the flapping kept on and on as he kept tearing at the thing on his back, tears of fear, real, gut-stripping fear pooling in his eyes –
And then it hit him, again. Wings.
As if by magic, the things above him stopped flapping, and everything was still, or almost. He could hear heavy, panicked breathing around him, and could sort of hear Pomfrey's slightly panicky voice in the distance, but what he could really hear was what he was saying to himself.
Wings, Harry thought. I – I have wings.
They flapped again above him, and such a jolt of fear and anger and bewilderment ran through Harry that the pain came back, blinding in its intensity, making him scream – or shrill, his voice was so bloody fucking high and he didn't know why or what was going on –
Thankfully, mercifully, darkness came.
Preview of Chapter 2: And Again
Harry abruptly found his eyes were open, and he was staring at something that looked very much like – like claws.
He closed his eyes again, very quickly.
A/N: Not much to say, apart from an addendum to the disclaimer above: I am writing this story for fun. Which means it probably won't be as long as my others, and might never come under the knife of my current beta.
As always, it really doesn't mean you can't review, or anything :D I had fun writing this - hopefully you'll have fun reading it too.