DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter and all other characters and locations belong to J. K. Rowling.
EPILOGUE - A New Year
Three Years Later
The Hogwarts Express thundered into the Hogsmeade station as darkness settled completely over the small town. Disembarking in a flurry of black robes, students from first year to seventh scurried to their next mode of transportation. Carriages pulled by thestrals clattered towards the castle sitting brightly above Hogsmeade, bearing the older students on the final part of their journey. Little boats slid silently across the water into the depths of the castle, wide-eyed first years clinging to their sides. Upon reaching their destination, they climbed onto dry land and huddled together, eyes searching the cavernous area they stood in. Driven on, they soon found themselves standing at the bottom of a staircase.
All eyes immediately went to the witch standing quietly on the landing above them, her fingers drumming against the stone softly. Smiling at them, she tipped her head and allowed her eyes to travel over the group. Hand stilling on the banister, she stepped forward and began to speak. "Welcome to Hogwarts, I'm Professor Hermione Granger. The beginning of the term banquet will begin shortly. However, before the feast may begin, all of you must be sorted into one of the four houses. The house you are placed in shall be like your family for the duration of your stay with us. Every victory you make shall be made for your house, every loss will result in the removal of house points."
Turning slightly, she pointed a finger at the large shield secured to the wall behind her. The crest seemed to glow with an ethereal light, shining brightly upon the dark stone. Mouth gaping, a snake hissed angrily at the massive lion rearing arrogantly across from it, large paws resting possessively atop the H in the center of the shield. Below the silently feuding pair, a badger and an eagle watched on patiently. "Each of these animals represents one of the four houses. Gryffindor guarded by the lion, Hufflepuff the badger, Ravenclaw led by the eagle, and Slytherin by the cunning snake. All houses have an interesting history and are deeply rooted within the castle." Smiling, she gestured for them to follow and headed toward the large entrance doors leading into the Great Hall.
"Ma'am?" One of the first years whispered, hand shaking slightly as it was held aloft. "What are the other two for?"
Her eyebrows arched as she halted, glancing back at the young student who had asked the question. Seconds ticked by as she stared blankly at them before blinking and offering a small smile. Hermione allowed her gaze to drift back to the shield. To either side of the crest, a new addition sat. Forelegs braced upon a gold trimmed corner, a massive black stag held his antlers in a guard position. Emerald eyes flashed under the candlelight, making it appear as if he were watching the students pass beneath him. Across from him, a white tiger stood on its hind legs. Nails curved into the edge of the shield as he glowered at the stag, teeth visible between his slightly curled lips. "They are the guardians of Hogwarts, as well as two very respected members of it's staff. You should consider yourselves lucky, you will be taught by Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. Together. . . together they are perhaps the best wizards residing in Europe." She gave a firm nod and waved the group onwards, tossing one last look at the crest. The tiger and the stag, protectors of Hogwarts and all those residing within its thick walls. Destined to forever live amongst students and their former professors.
The Great Hall was packed with students all clamoring loudly, impatiently waiting for the sorting to begin. Eyes constantly darted towards the large entrance doors as the students searched for their favourite professors. Fingers tapping as they glanced about for some sign that the pair were about to arrive. The thud of wood and the squeak of hinges had soft whispers filling the air. Older students rose respectfully as the doors swung open, all eyes turning to peer at the pair standing centered in the doorway.
With a spine tingling snarl, the ghostly tiger prowled forward, blue eyes scanning carefully over the tables. Behind him, the dark stag walked silently, his crowned head held high. Paws whispered over the stone floor and flickering candles were nudged aside by the sharp prongs as the two floated forward silently. Quiet hisses followed the beasts to the raised dais the teachers sat upon, awe and shock written across stunned faces as the tiger and stag took their place at the end of the table.
Rising, the headmistress smiled and nodded at the pair before taking her place at the podium. Her fingers grasped the wood of the stand as she looked over her students, carefully eyeing the new first years thoughtfully. "I welcome you all to another year at Hogwarts. For those of you still unaware, the former Headmaster resigned his position and is now happily catching up with old friends. This year shall hopefully prove to be as uneventful as the past few have been." She stated calmly, exchanging a wink with Hermione. Her gaze then moved to where Pansy Parkinson sat quietly beside Professor Snape, the young witch's eyes resting on the tiger on the other side of her. "I hope everyone has an exciting year and is prepared for the challenge of a new curriculum and several new classes." Clapping her hands, she resumed her seat and watched as platters appeared before the students.
The Forbidden Forest was dark; the moons light barely able to breach the thick branches hiding the green ground. Night birds called loudly, ignoring the animals that crept quietly around beneath them. In a small clearing, a black stag raised his head toward the dark sky and bellowed loudly. His cry echoed through the night, bringing silence to the forest for a moment as all those dwelling within it stopped to listen. As the first owl dared to shrill into the silence, the proud bay of a pair of wolves could be heard. Their voices rising and falling in the distance. Satisfied, the massive king lowered his crowned head and nudged the cat lying at his feet.
Yawning widely, the tiger snarled and raised a soft paw to rest between the stag's antlers, claws carefully retracted. Blue eyes dropped to half-mast as the cat flicked its tail and rose. Stretching lazily, he tipped his head back and roared at the branches overhead. His ears twisted and twitched as he listened for a response. At the continued silence, he smirked in a tigerish way before pressing his body to the stag's forelegs and collapsing at his hooves. With no challenger and no danger lurking in the nearby brush, he slitted his eyes and sought sleep.
Shaking his head in amusement, the stag turned his gaze back to the nights sky. They still had hope, and they still had the comforting presence of their friends. Progress was made daily, doctors ever closer to freeing the wizards from their current prisons. But for now, for now they could be simple creatures whose lives were based around food and safety. And there was truly no place safer then together.
Deeper in the forest, sliding quietly through the thick brush, a pale snake slid. It froze as the challenging cries rose and fell away, loosing the breath it had taken as the forest resumed its natural pattern. Tongue flicking, he sought the safest path to his underground lair, weaving his way between stumps and thick bushes. At the soft flutter of wings, he narrowed his red eyes and slipped deeper into the bowels of the forest, seeking to escape the clutching talons of the hungry owl. It was sad really, the current state he was in. Narrowing his slitted eyes in annoyance, Voldemort curled himself into a ball under an uprooted tree and glared out at the night.
A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed! Well, this is it: the end. I had a great time writing this fic and enjoyed being able to add a bit more humour to it then I usually would have. The ending could of been a bit happier, I mean I could of at least had the decency to give them their human bodies back, but lets all let sleeping dragons lie. Hope everyone enjoyed the reading as much as I enjoyed the writing. Good reading and happy writing all!
HellHathNoFuryLikeMine - lol, I hate writing summaries! You have three sentences to explain the complete concept of your story in hopes of attracting readers, horrible really.
Grimmer - Glad I could be of service, I love taking Harry and placing him in different animagus forms.
red-headed-psychopaths-wanted - This is, unfortunately, the final chapter of this story.
kazzzaaa - Yah, human speech in an animal body and they shall indeed be able to do magic.