Title: Child of Quetzalcoatl
Pairings: None at present
Setting: Sixth year. Book-compliant up until then.
Plot: On his sixteenth birthday Harry undergoes some startling changes, and new knowledge is brought to light. James Potter is not his father; Harry is not even human, but something he never imagined. Meanwhile, the Otherworld is fading, and the old magics are draining from the world. Harry enters his sixth year with carefully-guarded secrets, changing loyalties, and the emergence of his Slytherin side…
This chapter is dedicated to Merrymow, as I wrote it purely because they kept PMing me about when the next update was coming. Yes, this story is still on hold though, because I'm not working on it actively. There might, perhaps, nonetheless eventually be another chapter. Sorry this one is so short.
Edited for error. Thanks LADYUNICORN1121956 for pointing it out.
Please note this is a work of fiction, and I do not mean any particular offence to Christians or Christianity. I am sure that the Vatican doesn't have wizards working for it or anything else. Moreover, I doubt the old Celtic gods are plotting Christianity's downfall.
CHILD OF QUETZALCOATL
Severus Snape was in his classroom a week later, grading the first years essays with malicious relish, when an angular green-eyed face peered around the edge of the doorframe.
"Hi," Potter said cheerfully. The rest of him came around the doorframe and into the room in order to walk forward and perch itself on the bench closest to Severus. The Potions Master blanched, but Potter didn't seem to notice as he settled himself into a more comfortable position before looking up again.
It had been three days since the beginning of term, three days in which Severus had been growing increasingly paranoid. Every time he'd seen Potter, it rang through his sly gaze and every one of his actions: I know what happened. Yet Potter hadn't said a word.
Harry had been slyly amused by Snape's well-concealed, but steadily growing anxiety. To tell the truth he had simply been trying to decide how best to broach the subject of his newfound divinity, but once Snape apparently decided that the delay came from sinister motives he kept silent purely for the entertainment. But he figured that he'd tormented the man long enough now, so he'd waited until no one was around and snuck into the dungeons to have the overdue conversation. Amusing though it might be to attend his first potions class of the year tomorrow with Snape still on tenterhooks, he thought that would be rather cruel.
Potter looked up and fixed large green eyes on him, a smirk on his face.
"Where to start?" he mused. Severus's stomach clenched with dread. "Well, I guess thanks would be a good start."
Severus blinked. What?
Potter tipped his head on one side, an owlish look on his face.
"I'm sure that if my mum had known, she would have appreciated your actions," the boy said softly. He blinked once. "It was brave of you."
As Severus tried to assimilate the fact that Potter actually seemed to be grateful to him rather than taking the opportunity to avenge past wrongs, the teen shifted in sudden annoyance and with an exasperated huff bent over almost double. There was a faint whoosh of air.
"Wings," Potter said in explanation. "Uncomfortable things."
"Wings?" Severus repeated.
"Yep," Potter confirmed. His head came up proudly. "I'm the child of Quetzalcoatl. As far as I can work out, I'm part snake, with a pinch of bird."
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose at this ridiculous statement and pulled himself together.
"Mr Potter," he said sharply, "would you care to start at the beginning?"
Potter just grinned.
"Recovered, have you?" Before Snape could respond indignantly, he continued, "I think I should show you exactly what I am. I should be able to suppress the illusion for a few moments without damaging it…"
Potter's face took on a look of concentration, and an instant later Severus saw him as he really was.
Pure, primitive terror took hold.
Severus's chair toppled as he went scrabbling backwards against the wall, heart almost thumping out of his chest as fear poured adrenalin into his body, no conscious thought present, only awareness of what was in front of him.
"Honestly," the predator said, a hiss of annoyance entering its tone, "It's not that bad."
The great golden wings stretched out left and right so that they draped across the benches, folded against the creature's back as it got to its feet, apparently unaware that every inch of it, from the glaring snake-like eyes to the fluid languid way it moved to the discreet fangs now bared in irritation, screamed 'ruthless killer.'
In the time it took for Severus to blink, Harry Potter returned, arms crossed and a scowl on his face.
With a deep breath Severus sank down the wall to sit on the floor, frantic heartbeat easing.
"Is it really that frightening?" Potter's voice asked curiously. Severus kept his eyes closed.
"You entire appearance screams 'predator'," Snape managed to summon up some acidity to inject into his voice as he explained as though to a small child, "The sight of you has the effect that a large adder no doubt has on a small and defenceless mouse."
"Oh." Pause. "I hadn't considered that. Are you alright?"
Severus opened his eyes to glare, only to see the boy looking genuinely concerned. He swallowed the acerbic retort that had risen to his lips.
"I'm fine, you menace." Potter grinned, not at all insulted; if anything, he looked pleased. "What precisely are you, Potter?"
"Lord of the Snakes, and God of something in my own right, although I don't yet know what." A whimsical smile. "Quidditch, perhaps."
According to the girls of Hogwarts, there were several gods within the school: Hermione Granger, Study Goddess; Morag McDougall, Divination Goddess; Harry Potter, Quidditch God; and Draco Malfoy, Sex God. (Severus really didn't want to know what had earned his godson that moniker.)
Severus was surprised that Potter had heard about his 'title', though. Seeling the mild curiosity on the Potion's Master's face, the boy explained,
"Good ears." He grinned evilly. "You wouldn't believe some of the things I overhear now. Excellent blackmail material, really. Is Dumbledore's animagus form really a goat?"
"Indeed it is. I have it on good authority that he is at least partly responsible for his brother's conviction for the violation of the 1965 Ban on experimental Breeding."
"Oh? What authority?"
Potter laughed. Severus sobered, though.
"What do you intend to do now that you are aware of your heritage?"
Potter met his eyes, his own serious.
"Restore the power of the Old Gods through an alliance with Voldemrot and the systematic education and indoctrination of the younger students at Hogwarts."
Severus somehow managed to choke on nothing but air. Recovering from his coughing fit he stared at Potter, appalled.
"Very much so," the godling agreed. "I'm going to under a lot of attack this year. I daren't think what will happen once the Vatican find out what I'm trying to do."
Potter sighed patiently.
"Historically the Vatican has been one of, if not the, largest power bases in the world, professor. Within its boundaries people have been assassinated, laws have been written, the path of the world decided."
He wrinkled his nose.
"Never underestimate the power of organised religion. Even today in the age of rationalism and secularism, millions faithfully obey their every proclamation. On a more practical basis, they also have a contingent of wizards working for them and a large, secret cache of dark objects."
Severus frowned at this political and rather jaded view of the Vatican. Potter was probably right. He let it pass.
"Are they really such a threat to you?" he asked.
Potter's mouth twisted wryly.
"Unfortunately, yes. The powers of the gods come from belief, and who believes in us now? The only reason I didn't vanish like the others the moment I came into my birthright is that I'm half-mortal. Which, ironically, makes it possible for me to be killed."
He shrugged self-deprecatingly.
"So to sum up: the lack of belief means I have little power as a god, while my mortal blood makes me vulnerable to death. Not only will the Vatican work this out and do their best to exploit it, but I'll also have the Ministry, Dumbledore, and half of wizarding society after me."
"Is it really necessary for you to ally yourself with the Dark Lord?"
"Yes," Potter said simply. "He believes, and if turned to more productive channels could be a tremendous force for change, and not merely destruction. He was quite respected before he turned to torturing and murdering indiscriminately, you know."
Severus did know, and scowled. But before he could say anything, Potter's head turned sharply towards the door.
"Company!" he hissed, not quite in Parseltongue, and sitting back on the bench his shape suddenly dwindled.
As Dumbledore entered, Severus blinked at the large bird-like creature sitting on one of the benches.
"Severus…" Dumbledore noticed the bird, "…Severus, why is there a Serpentine Phoenix in your classroom?"
"I have no idea, headmaster," Snape replied, at his snarkiest.
Potter had become a swan-sized bird-like creature with a body covered in glittering green feathers, its head, wings, and long feathered tail glittering gold. Instead of a beak it had a scaly snout, lined with needle-like teeth, and its eyes, currently regarding them both with an evil expression, resembled those of a snake.
"I simply returned after a short break from grading papers to find the infernal creature sitting there. What is that thing?"
Dumbledore moved as though to pat the creature; its mouth opened further, giving him a better view of its teeth, and Dumbledore aborted the movement.
Severus hid a smirk.
"As to that, my boy, no one is quite sure. They are generally known as a Serpentine Phoenix, for their reptilian features and superficial resemblance to a Phoenix. They are extremely rare and supposedly quite magical. They are not birds, however, but an extremely-ancient ancestor that somehow evolved down a different path. It is currently believed that the modern Phoenix, which shares several unique features with the Serpentine Phoenix, is a direct evolutionary descendant of it. No one has been able to study both Phoenixes and Serpentine Phoenixes in great enough detail to prove this, however."
Looking at the creature's sharp teeth and the hooked claws at the end of each wing, Severus thought that comparing it to a phoenix was rather like comparing some sort of primitive lion to a housecat. The resemblance was there, but they were an entirely different sort of animal.
"Setting aside the question of how the thing got into my classroom, headmaster, what did you come to speak to me about?"
Dumbledore cleared his throat.
"Well, Severus, I understand that you plan to accept those who received an 'Outstanding' on their O.W.L.s into your sixth year N.E.W.T. class?"
"Considering that I have only been doing so for the last sixteen years I don't see why," Snape replied with awful sarcasm.
The serpentine phoenix made a sort of hissing, choking noise.
"Of course, of course. Severus, my boy, are you aware that young Mr Potter achieved an 'Outstanding' grade on his Potions O.W.L.?"
Severus was forced to prevent himself looking incredulously at the serpentine phoenix.
"Indeed." Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling. "I trust you'll accept him into your class?"
This time Severus did glance at the serpentine phoenix. It was preening its wing feathers with its teeth and regarding him with one wicked green eye. There was a wordless understanding.
Severus spluttered at Dumbledore for effect.
"Potter!... in my class!…"
"Now Severus," stern expression over the glasses, "we must be fair to young Harry."
Severus grumbled under his breath, but spat,
"Excellent," and Dumbledore took his leave.
A moment later Potter was sprawled on the bench again, hissing with laughter. Severus glared mildly at him.
"I'm sorry, but the look on your face as you said you'd only been doing so for sixteen years-!"
"Anyway, listen, I'd better go, Ron and Hermione will be wondering where I've gone. I'll talk to you about this in more detail some other time. But the main thing I want to know, is, are you on my side? Think about it, please. I'll get back to you."
Giving him a friendly nod, Potter left the room.