Disclaimer: I'm not dead! And as tempting as it probably is… *cringe* you can't kill me. I'm not sure when the next chapter will be out, but I already have part of it written.
Madame Pomfrey came out of her office when the wards let her know that someone had just entered. She blinked when she saw who it was. "Miss Granger, what is going on?"
Hermione quickly set Danny down on the nearest bed. "We don't know. We were just walking to the library when Danny staggered out of a hall in front of us. Once we were sure it was okay to move him, we brought him up here."
Madame Pomfrey quickly cast several diagnosis charms over Danny. "Hmm. Wonderful. Whatever potion they used, he's having a bad reaction to it. He'll wake up soon."
Danny woke up slowly, something he really didn't like. After two years of hunting ghosts, he had learned to sleep lightly and whenever he could. Then another thing hit him, and he abruptly sat up, hand clapped over his mouth.
Madame Pomfrey recognized the signs of someone seriously considering if they could aim over the side in time and quickly conjured a bucket which she handed to him.
Danny snatched the bucket and puked up what felt like everything he'd eaten in the last month. Harry, Ron, and Hermione all winced, but Pomfrey simply watched.
When he seemed to be done, Pomfrey cast a diagnostic charm meant to tell her everything about her patient. Her eyebrows shot up at the results, but fortunately she had the presence of mind to clear them before anybody else could see it. "Good news is you should be fine in a few minutes. Bad news, I don't know what potion it was."
Danny shoved the bucket to the end of the cot, where Pomfrey promptly cast a vanishing charm to get rid of it. "Great. Hopefully they won't try it again." He rubbed his temples and muttered, "I hate getting drugged."
Pomfrey frowned, but decided not to question his soft words. "At any rate, I'm keeping you in here today." Turning away, she quickly shooed the trio out. "Go on, you can bring him some homework to do."
Danny looked at her warily. Something told him that she had a reason to shoo the three out. When she turned around and he caught her expression, he was sure of it. "What?"
Pomfrey sighed and cast a privacy spell around them. Danny blinked at it, but he was quickly drawn back to Pomfrey when she spoke. "I would very much like to know how a boy who seems to have lived as a muggle could be only half human."
Danny gaped at her, and without thinking about it his gaze flicked around, gauging his chances of escape. Pomfrey frowned and reached out to touch his arm. He flinched, but looked at her.
Pomfrey's frown deepened at the look in his eyes. 'He's half a breath from panicking.' "Don't worry. I won't say anything unless you give me permission."
Danny watched her warily for a long moment before deciding that she was telling the truth. "How did you know?"
Pomfrey sighed and cast the same diagnostic charm as before, frowning when he flinched. Handing him the parchment that formed, she spoke as he studied it. "That was a diagnostic charm, a kind of deep scan. It tells me everything I need to know about my patients. In your case, it tells me that you're only half human. I obviously don't know what you're other half is."
Danny sighed softly in relief as he studied the results of her 'deep scan.' "Someone's coming," he announced.
Pomfrey frowned and was about to ask how he knew that when a third year came in with several of her friends. She quickly got rid of the privacy charm and stalked over. "Alright, what is it?"
A boy stepped forward. "Well, we were playing Quidditch and Cynthia was knocked offa her broom."
Danny tuned out the rest of it and turned back to the scroll. At the top, it had his name, and underneath that it said, - ½ human, ½ unknown. - Underneath that was a detailed list of his physical condition. He sighed and rolled it up, sitting back to wait for Pomfrey to take care of the third year girl.
When Pomfrey came back, Danny gave her a measuring look, but he didn't speak until she put the privacy charm up once more. "You said you wouldn't tell anyone."
Pomfrey nodded. "Healer-patient confidentiality. I won't tell anyone unless telling could save your life. Since I have no idea what you are besides human that will only apply if and when you decide to tell me."
Danny sighed and finally looked away from her sharp gaze. "I can't."
Pomfrey gave him a shrewd look. "Can't or won't?"
Danny smiled slightly. "Both."
She waited for him to elaborate, but when he didn't she sighed. "Alright. If you ever change your mind, I'll be here. But in the meantime, you're staying here for now." She stood and once more cancelled her privacy charm. "Your friends should be here soon."
Danny watched as she walked away. Once he was sure she was gone, he channeled a small ecto-blast through his hand and into the scroll. It disrupted the magic which made it up, and it disappeared.
Voldemort snarled. "What do you mean, you failed?"
The boy who had tried to send Danny to his master was in full prostration. "I'm sorry, my lord. I did everything you asked, but he dodged the portkey and seemed to disappear. By the time I found him again, Potter and his friends already had him."
"I don't want excuses, I want results! Crucio!" The boy screamed, and Voldemort watched dispassionately as he thrashed. After a long moment, he canceled the curse. "Perhaps I should give you another chance," he mused. "Or perhaps I should make an example of you. Hmmm, decisions…"
The boy, an unimportant seventh year Ravenclaw, said nothing. He knew that nothing he could possibly say would sway the Dark Lord in any way except to annoy him more.
Soon after Madame Pomfrey left him alone, Harry, Ron and Hermione came back, lugging their bags. Danny blinked. "Study party?" he asked wryly.
Ron shrugged and gestured discreetly at Hermione, who didn't seem to notice. "As long as you're here, we might as well work together," she commented. She raised an eyebrow, making him think of McGonagall. "Besides, you've been neglecting you're schoolwork. I don't think Professor McGonagall put any kind of time limit on your animagus studies."
Danny grimaced. "Yeah, I know. But the ears are hard. I must have found about a hundred ways to screw up with them."
Hermione smiled slightly. "Then work on something else, and when you go back to it, maybe it'll be easier."
Seeing he was about to protest again, Harry shook his head. "Don't bother, she really digs in when she knows she's right." He thumped Danny's bag on the end of the bed. "Besides, I know how boring it is to be stuck in the Hospital Wing. We might as well study together."
Danny blew hair out of his eyes. "Fine, fine. I'll work on Charms."
Hermione frowned again. "You need to work on Herbology, too, Danny."
Danny rolled his eyes and muttered something unflattering about gardening. When he saw the look Hermione shot him, he shook his head. "I'll get Neville to help me. He understands it better than anyone but the teacher, anyway."
Hermione had to admit he had a point there, so they settled into studying with no more interruptions.
After a while, Ron stretched backward in his seat, glad to be done with his Transfiguration essay. "Hey Danny? How'd you get drugged, anyway?" Harry and Hermione also looked up, curious.
Danny shrugged. "I was exploring and someone came up behind me and threw a potions vial or something. If I'd been thinking, I would have tried to catch it, but whoever it was caught me by surprise." He wrote a bit more in his own essay, and added, "Good thing I dodged the other thing. Felt kind of like apparating. Who knows where I would've ended up?"
Suddenly, he seemed to realize they were staring at him. He blinked and looked up. "What?"
"Someone threw a portkey at you? You were almost kidnapped and you're just now mentioning it?" Harry asked. "Aren't you worried it could happen again?"
Danny snorted. "At least now I know there's something going on. Whoever it was won't catch me by surprise again." He stretched out and grabbed a book from the end of his bed. "Not like they could hold onto me, anyway," he muttered. Only Ron heard him, and Hermione spoke before he could ask.
"Danny! How do you know it wasn't Voldemort? Next time you might not get so lucky!"
Danny frowned at her. "Exactly. I was lucky. And now that I know there's something going on, I'll be more careful."
Hermione growled. "At least tell a teacher! They'd be able to—"
"Do what? Tell me not to go exploring alone? I don't know who did it or why, so there's no point. They won't be able to do anything," Danny told her flatly.
"But still!" Hermione protested.
Harry shook his head. "He's right, Mione. We all know that's exactly what would happen."
Danny nodded. "And there's no way I could do it. If I can't get away from everyone for a while, I'll go nuts."
Ron frowned. "Hey."
Danny shook his head. "That's not what I meant. You've all been going to Hogwarts for years. You're used to sleeping in a room with five others and going straight from breakfast to classes in the morning." He twisted around until his back cracked, then twisted the other way. "Why do you think I end up sleeping in the Common Room so much?" He pointed at Ron. "You snore. Loudly. And I'm a light sleeper."
Ron blushed at the blunt observation, but since he'd been hearing the same thing from his roommates for years, he couldn't exactly complain.
Harry frowned. "That does explain a lot. I hadn't thought of it that way."
Danny shrugged. "This is my first time going to a boarding school. I knew there'd be some kinks to work out when I started, I just didn't realize how much it'd all affect me." He frowned. "Good thing Jazz isn't here. She'd want to do some study on it. 'Sleeping habits of boarding students and how it affects their social lives,' or something like that." He shuddered.
Voldemort smiled over the assembled Death Eaters. It was a hideous sight. "Welcome, my Death Eaters. You are here to witness a choice." He waved a hand and two of his bigger minions stepped forward, dragging the seventh year Ravenclaw between them. The boy was struggling now, regretting his decision to join Voldemort, but without his wand, he was helpless.
Voldemort held up the boy's wand. "Marcus Vellon, your choice is simple. You can either go through the portal into the 'Ghost Zone'… or stay and become our night's entertainment."
The Ravenclaw hung between his two captors. He wasn't stupid; either way would end up with him dead, and probably in pieces. But if he stayed, the other Death Eaters would do everything they could to prolong the torment. "I'll go through the portal," he answered boldly. If the choice was between torture and a quicker, just as messy, death, he'd take the death.
Straight backed and proud, Mark stared at the swirling green of the portal. Voldemort had already returned his wand, speaking mockingly about how he should fight well. Without a single glance back, he stepped through.
On the other side, he wavered, caught by surprise. There was land under him, but based on what he could see, it was probably just a small, floating island. He looked around, and smiled at what he saw. "So it is my fate to meet the Grim…"
When Mark's almost unmarked body was sent back through the portal, he was still smiling.
Voldemort raised an eyebrow. He'd thought the boy would be ripped apart, like his other Death Eaters had been. "Interesting."
Danny stared at the ceiling. Madame Pomfrey had decided to keep him overnight and in the hours since the lights went out in the Hospital Wing he'd gotten very familiar with the ceiling. Finally, he sighed and sat up. It didn't look like he'd be getting any sleep tonight. He would have liked to do something productive, but not even his night vision was good enough to read and write without some light. And he had no way to turn the lights on…
Danny looked down at his hands and sighed. If he was forgetting the simple fact that he could make his own light, maybe he needed sleep more than he'd thought. But something about the environment of the Hospital Wing just made it impossible for him to sleep.
Leaning over, Danny snagged the strap of his school bag and pulled it up, wondering if Hermione had bothered to take out the Anatomy of Your Animagus Form book or not. His eyes turned green and began to glow brightly as he looked. It made colors look a little strange, but he'd need his wand if the book was still there. Besides, the glowing eyes were better than having a glowing ball of light hanging over his shoulder.
Danny found the book he was looking for near the bottom of the bag, and grinned as he pulled it out. Soon, he was flipping to the section he was currently working on: animal ears while he was still mostly human.
With that done, Danny set the book in front of him, took a deep breath, and began to meditate. McGonagall had told him that he wasn't allowed to skip the meditation part until he got the ears exactly right. Take deep breaths, ignore the fact that he was probably beginning to float, and imagine his ears changing. See how they are now, and see how you want them to be…
The image floated through his mind, of his ears darkening, lengthening, and moving upwards. He imagined the way the internal parts of his ears were changing as well, and soon, he was dropping out of meditation once more. Literally dropping, as he came down the last three inches or so.
With a quick flick of his wand, Danny performed the diagnostic charm Professor McGonagall had taught him. It was a relatively simple one, and made especially for those learning the animagus transformation. The diagram of his ears was still red. Danny sighed and turned his ears back before he bent to study the diagram, wondering what he'd messed up this time.
After what must have been the 50th or so mistake, Danny had asked McGonagall why the charm didn't show where the problem was. She'd smiled wryly and pointed out that most people would be so focused on fixing the mistake, that they'd miss something else. Besides, many details were small enough that if only the mistakes were lit up in red, someone could easily miss them and think they'd gotten it right.
Danny had to admit, as he went over the two diagrams with a fine-toothed comb, occasionally tapping his wand to make certain parts bigger, that she was probably right. Finally, he found the tiny, misshapen bone that was probably throwing him off this time. He didn't have a clue why it was important, and didn't particularly care. For now, he was ready to try again.
Danny set the diagnostic result aside and settled into meditation once more. Another thing Professor McGonagall had told him was to fix his mistakes one at a time. It was far too easy to mess up when you were trying to juggle three or four delicate details all at once.
Nearly an hour and at least ten tries later, Danny sat staring at his diagnostic result. It was green. He even blinked his eyes back to normal and used lumos to be sure he wasn't just imagining things. Nope, still green. "I finally got it right?" He threw his arms up in the air and hissed out a loud Yessss!
Now all he had to do was keep the ears for a few minutes so his magic could 'learn' the right form, and then go back and forth three or four times to make sure it stuck, using the diagnostic charm each time. Danny set the latest one on top of his small stack and wondered what he should do now. He could study, but he didn't really feel like it, and besides the four of them had gotten quite a bit done that afternoon.
Danny sighed and rolled off of the bed, passing through his books without disturbing a single page. He walked over to the nearest window and stared out, his hands forming an ecto-blast almost without thinking about it. He kneaded and rolled it in his hands like play dough until it was a smooth and featureless ball. Then he flattened it and started again.
It was something that he'd started soon after Clockwork started training him. The ghost had told him it was a good exercise in control, and ever since he'd found himself doing it when he was alone and bored or just needed to do something with his hands.
After about five minutes or so of this, Danny sighed and let his ears return to normal. That part he'd been able to do for a while now. It wasn't like he hadn't gotten enough practice in doing it, after all.
Danny went back and climbed into the bed once more, and did a quick back-and-forth three times, using the diagnostic charm to make sure he'd gotten it right. Once he was done, he stuck his diagnostic results in the book, put the book back in his bag, the bag on the floor, and curled up in the bed once more. 'Maybe this time I'll actually sleep.'
Without really thinking about it, Danny changed his ears back to the form he'd been trying to achieve for so long. Listening to the breathing of the few others who were being kept overnight, Danny finally drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, Madame Pomfrey came into the ward, intending to check her patients. None of her wards had gone off, and Harry Potter wasn't currently in her care, but she knew better than to assume that everything was fine until she checked personally.
One badly broken arm on a certain Hufflepuff third year girl, which she'd wanted to keep an eye on, and a boy who'd come down with a bad cold, his friend who had also caught it before they were willing to come to her…
Madame Pomfrey blinked when she got to a certain confusing transfer student. She'd just found out the day before that he was half human, though he was certainly Muggleborn, but that wasn't what had her staring. No, that was because ofthe large, furry black ears that had replaced his normal, human one. With a sigh, she performed two different diagnostic charms.
'Well, Minerva should be pleased that he finally managed to get the ears right. She mentioned that he was having trouble with it.' She shook her head. 'But what was he thinking, sleeping partially transformed?'
"You should be glad that such a small relative change hasn't drained your energy dangerously, Mr. Fenton. Even so, I'm going to give you an energy-replenishing potion with your breakfast, and you will drink it."
"Yes, Madame Pomfrey," Danny answered sleepily. She glanced up and watched him stretch and yawn in an oddly canine way, his ears flattening back in the process. Then he shook his head hard enough to cause his ears to flap before they shrank and turned back into human ears. "How'd you know I was awake?"
Madame Pomfrey snorted. "Diagnostic charm." She shook her head and went to her office to order breakfast for her patients and find the potions they'd need.
I was just poking through reviews for this chapter, and several people guessed Danny's animagus form! Congratulations Blue Wolf Moon, Mad Scientist 007, starr1097, magdilen, Danni Lea, Tegan Shade, Firehedgehog, Forgottem Memories, Biisaiyowaq, Chuni Luni, and Wragziez. Sorry if I missed someone, but I only counted the ones that said the right animal, not just those who guessed it among several. If you want to find out before the next chapter or whenever I actually say it, you'll have to look for yourself. ; P
AN: Yes, I know it's been forever. Sorry, but I got a bit sidetracked. Hopefully the next chapter won't take so long. If you want to kill me, just remember that there is more to the story. I have a fair idea what the ending is like, but getting there is another story entirely. Sorry.