"Are you ready?"

Harry looked up at Professor McGonagall, whose face softened at his nervous expression. "Not really," he whispered through a dry mouth.

"Well, at least you're honest," she said with a touch of whimsy. "Really, Mr. Potter, now isn't the time to be having second doubts. This is the last step, and certainly not the hardest."

The young Gryffindor dropped his gaze. "I know. It's just… there's no going back after this. What if it doesn't work?"

The professor frowned. "It will. You're the best student I've taught in this, and your mind and magic are as prepared as they ever will be. All that's left is the change itself."

Harry reached out a tentative hand to receive the potions vial. "I… all right." He'd come this far, and he didn't want to disappoint his head of house. At her gesture, he stepped back to give himself a bit more room; having a large animagus form wasn't very common, but given his father had had one, it was better to be safe.

The Boy-Who-Lived shot her one last nervous glance. McGonagall gave Harry a proud, reassuring smile in return, and he took a deep breath and downed the potion.

Nothing happened for a long moment. Then a fire ignited in his gut, and he fell to his fours as it spread throughout his body. His muscles were melting away from his bones, the bones themselves were turning to incandescent ashes… It was the Cruciatus all over again- no, it was worse than the Cruciatus. With the Unforgivable, you knew it would end; either the spell would break, or you would. But this just when on, and on, and on…

Or so it seemed. Harry could feel his muscles beginning to knit back together in new, radically different formations, though the shards of his bones seemed to have disappeared altogether. The intensity of the sensations reached an abrupt peak, and then, to his unending relief, began to subside.

For a long moment after, he didn't move, feeling a continuing dull ache in his new muscles. Then a shiver passed through him, one that a distant, detached part of his mind recognized as the reigniting of his nervous system, and he could think again.

Bloody hell! McGonagall hadn't told him it would hurt!

Indignation filling him, Harry concentrated on moving his unfamiliar body, swinging around to face the guilty professor with a motion that felt strangely unconnected to the rest of him. He gave her his best Snape-inspired I-wonder-what-your-body-parts-would-do-in-a-potion glare.

A few seconds later, the young basilisk was still staring at the very dead McGonagall.

'Oh, bollocks…'


A/N: The idea of me owning Harry Potter is like me owning Wal-Mart. Except I don't think I'd really want to own that second one, too many pending lawsuits. Anyway, this has been poking around up here for a couple of days, and I made the mistake of mentioning it to Shade Dancer. She requested it not be put down or given up for adoption, so I hereby dedicate it to her. This is meant to be a whimsical one-shot, but a few baby bunnies are lining up. Go figure.


24 February 2006