A/N: Say yay! An update featuring a huge, vital, riveting (possibly slightly exaggerated) plot reveal of one of the boys' Animagus forms! Ending out with pure aww those gosh-darn kids fluff enough to max out your sugar intake for the day. ^_^
Creature fics are fun, great fun; I've loved reading quite a few. But they're also fun to poke fun of... hee hee hee.
Performance Anxiety (of the Bioluminescent Kind)
"Right." Ron flopped down in the remaining space on the floor of the Shrieking Shack and looked around at the other three expectantly. "So someone having trouble?"
Neville stared fixedly at the floor as he mumbled, "I can't flash."
Four plus years' regular and applied education had not made Ron consistently quicker on the uptake. "Huh?"
"He's got the form down," Draco explained, with only the slightest trace of envy, which was admirable considering his own ongoing difficulties with pulling together the entirety of his animal parts. "Perfect firefly. Except he doesn't light up."
"I've been researching what I could. Not that there's a lot of detailed specifics on normal animals here," Harry volunteered. "But it was actually pretty easy to find out, it's going to be fixing it that might be tricky. That's why I figured all of us together have the best chance of solving it."
The other three gave him their full attention. Neville looked nervous.
"You see, real fireflies glow... to attract a mate."
There was a moment of silence.
Ron broke it by sniggering.
"Mating," Draco said, with a perfectly straight face. Neville winced and turned red. "So we have to get Nev an, er... mate?"
Neville turned even redder and uttered a sound that strongly resembled a whimper.
"I was thinking maybe he should just start chasing after girls," Harry contradicted with a disassociated expression that meant his creativity was in full gear and his empathy had been temporarily disconnected entirely. "Although some species flash to attract prey instead—"
Ron broke into sniggers again. "Big bad Neville Longbottom stalking the halls after curfew to feed on little firsties..." He dissolved into full laughter.
"Shut up," Neville whimpered through clenched teeth. "Does it have to matter if I can't glow?"
"But we already worked it out. Sure that'd help you with spying on stuff, but then how could you signal?" Harry entreated, leaning forward in his cross-legged position. "I'll even teach you Morse code—"
"What's Morse code?" Draco asked warily, suspecting another muggle invention.
"Sounds like too much work," Ron opined, recovering enough to be able to speak coherently but still grinning unrepentantly. "Look, it's really not that bad, Nev. Just pick a girl and start pining."
"But—" Neville protested weakly.
"We'll help," Ron assured him, slinging an arm over his shoulder. Neville twitched involuntarily. "Come on, there must be some bird you've noticed already. It's the quiet ones who have the dirtiest fantasies, right?"
"I do not!" Neville blurted, so horrified that he momentarily lost the ability to speak further.
"Love potion. Private and practical. I can get you one from Professor Snape," Draco suggested, as though nothing could be more natural.
Neville reddened again slightly and shook his head.
"Magazines?" Ron suggested, a little too helpfully to really consider how likely Neville was to accept such a thing. "With all my older brothers—"
Neville whimpered and stared at the floor again as though it would conveniently open up and swallow him whole.
"Love potion!" Harry burst out, looking inspired. Ron and Draco immediately automatically tensed for whatever he would say next.
"Look, I'll just figure it out myself, okay?" Neville cried, shaking off Ron's arm and making a motion to get to his feet.
"Pheromones," Harry clarified as if he hadn't even heard, turning unfocused eyes, shining irresistibly, on the Hufflepuff. Neville hesitated, then stayed for just another moment, just as Draco and Ron always did also. "Or hormones, or—I'll research it. We can concoct like a scentless cologne or something, that'll be like a hot girl being there without a hot girl being there!"
Ron and Draco exchanged glances, both blank. More muggle madness? Just plain madness? Or yet another utterly illogical half-explained leap of intuition that they wouldn't understand even after it had inexplicably worked?
"Oh... kay?" Neville agreed tentatively.
Harry beamed. "You'll still probably have to learn how to do it on your own though. Luna said she's willing to snog you a couple times if that'll help."
"You've told her about our secret illegal lessons?" Ron demanded, righteously incensed since they had all four sworn to keep it just between them.
Draco opened his mouth to agree but then paused. It behooved a Slytherin never to agree with a Gryffindor if possible, no matter how sort-of-well they had come to get along, so he switched to the part of reasonable advocate instead. "Did you tell her?"
Neville, now looking slightly colorless and glazed-eyed, fixed his gaze on Harry imploringly.
"Of course not. We swore," Harry said piously. "But she has good ideas a lot, so I told her there was some weird magical accident somewhere back in Neville's family that had to do with crossbreeding magical creatures and it turns out he's got just a trace of who-knows-what blood and the long story short is now that he's maturing he's having a little trouble getting his, well, interest in girls jump-started."
"You told her I'm part animal?" Neville choked, aghast.
Ron turned away and doubled up, clapping one hand over his mouth but still shaking and snorting helplessly. Draco wore a well-bred suppressed expression that was understood to cover condescension but also applied to controlling amusement.
"It's Luna. She was totally fine with it," Harry said, looking slightly bewildered, evidently yet failing to grasp that what was fine with one person was not necessarily fine with another. "She won't tell anybody, she never does—" He turned his head to look to Draco for support.
But Neville was beyond hearing. Ron had to right himself with remarkable rapidity and lunge for the overwrought Hufflepuff's robe with a shout of, "It's not that bad Nev, don't go for the window—!"
Year Five: Career advice meeting
(Word count: 200)
When Draco heard about Professor Moody's year-long captivity, his first reaction was pure envy. Why couldn't I have thought of that? It's a portable flat, he'd point out. Luxurious, private, secure. He could generously gift Harry a house elf to take care of all his errands while he dreamed up harebrained projects, so he'd never have to come out...
"Conquer the earth with an army of flying monkeys," Harry's voice said promptly through the door behind him.
It would make everything so much easier.
"Now, Mr. Potter... something I can put in your record," Flitwick's chirped. Couldn't he sound reproving? Or at least less tickled? Draco scowled. He could still lock Harry in a trunk anyway. Why not? He probably wouldn't actually mind. They could probably even keep him from noticing... it was for his own good.
"Honestly, I dunno what I want to spend my life doing," Harry admitted, still cheerful. "As long as I'm as happy as I am now, I don't really care. Everything's so great here, you know? The magic, the castle, my friends..."
Draco whimpered, silently, and since the corridor was currently empty let himself slump against the wall. He could. He should... but he couldn't.
Year One: Summer vacation
(Word count: 300)
"He's got an AXE!" screamed the wayward hiker, hurling himself down on worn wood. "DUCK!"
"Help! He's almost got me!" shrieked the hapless camper, flinging himself around obstacles with great vigor and short steps.
"Up the mountain! It's our only hope!" panted the wayward hiker. Two sets of bare feet thumped onto an eiderdown summit and froze, straining to catch any sign of pursuit with baited breath.
From the distant shadows downhill a golden rectangle suddenly clicked into existence, outlining a plump apparition that asked cheerfully, "Having fun, boys? Either of you want a cookie?"
"Mrs. Weasley! You can't give us cookies, we're in the middle of the Black Forest!" yelped the wayward hiker.
"You'll lead the hermit right to us! Out, Mum!" squawked the hapless camper.
Mrs. Weasley, no stranger to the games invented by rambunctious boys given her six sons, considered for a second before setting the plate of cookies down by the door. "Well, if you happen to notice a little squirrel busy hoarding something, maybe you should pay attention."
"Could be the hermit's stash?" consulted the hapless camper with his fellow as the apparition drew back whence it came.
"Maybe we can steal it," determined the wayward hiker. "It'll be dangerous..."
Mrs. Weasley smiled as she closed the door, and went off to tell the rest of her children not to disturb them.
Which of course led to two certain Weasleys slinking out of bed several hours later, with mischief astir and malice aforethought. Their brother's knob twisted silently, the door ghosted from its frame... two indignant cries cut off as the door swung shut.
The next morning at the breakfast table saw Mrs. Weasley clucking her tongue at the sulking twins as she served Harry birthday pancakes. Ron suggested, smugly, that maybe they'd stumbled into a booby-trapped mine shaft.