Insert standard legal disclaimer here. Mr. Hollywood, Mr. Writer's Layer, I'd rather not lose everything and be kicked to the curb. I don't own these characters nor will I get one red cent from their use. Currently, Harry Potter, Ranma ½, and Sailor Moon are being borrowed. More to come. Probably.
Chapter One: Pear Shaped
July 31st, 1996
A small line of smoke drifted up from a hut on the edge of a valley in the Bayankala mountain range in the Qinghai province of China.
It was a crisp, clear morning. It was the kind of morning where you could see clear across to the other side of the valley floor, clear enough that you could see every one of the hundreds of natural pools littering the valley floor. You could even count each and every bamboo pole jutting out of those natural springs, assuming you didn't lose count due to the somewhat heated argument being carried on by a rather portly local man and a young woman. The man appeared to be in his forties and wore a Maoist outfit. Not unusual for this part of the world. The woman looked to be in her twenties, she was quite buxom and wore some loose tangs under her rather unusual red hair; well, the hair was unusual for these parts at least. Did you notice her hair? No? Stop looking at her tits. Perhaps her dad was a western serviceman... that or she had fallen in one of the pools at some point in the past. Why would falling into a natural spring that have anything to bust size? Well just this once it does, but never mind that now.
About one hundred meters into the field of springs on the valley floor, something truly odd happened.
And with that noise, a very irate and overwhelmed boy appeared in the grass between two springs. He was crouching low with that thousand yard stare in his eyes and he didn't seem to notice that his situation just went from Very Bad to Maybe Just As Bad. That could happen when you consider that intent is one of the key factors in magic. One could say that intent was the main factor in all incidents of accidental magic. Even non-magical people have been known to tap into this force when their need, their intent, was great enough. For one who could repel a large cloud of dementors and still have power to spare, well, intent can trump long held rules and beliefs about the limits of magic.
This boy -sorry, young man- had intent like nobody's business. His whole life had just gone to shite in a serious way. It didn't even register in his mind that he had just apparated about thirteen thousand kilometers and eight time zones.
He doesn't know how to apparate, you say? That didn't stop him from apparating onto the school roof when he was being chased by that bully of a cousin some years before. You could even say he shot himself into the future considering he went from eleven PM-ish to seven AM-ish and he went from the night before his birthday to the morning of his birthday. Now, control was sadly lacking or he may have gone somewhere full of happiness and sunshine. Lacking that, he may have popped into a warehouse full of military grade ordinance, grabbed some, and popped right back where he had come from to Settle Things.
'Happy sodding Birthday.' The teen thought to himself. 'Not bad enough that my godfather fell through the Veil less than two months ago. Not bad enough that I have a bloody prophecy written about me and He-Who-Shits-On-My-Future. Not bad enough that I have to go back to my uncle's house and get unending abuse heaped onto me for another month. Noooooooooo...'
His ruminations hid the fact that the ground under him wasn't very stable. A small twist of his tape covered trainer on the exposed soil began a small shift in balance. He moved towards one of the pools without really noticing. Just as his balance changed the arguing pair buy the hut took notice of the newcomer.
'The-Headmaster-Which-Is-Infallible has just given me a reason to think that, yes, I can in fact sink deeper into depression than I ever ha-' The boy would have loved to continue angsting but he was interrupted.
"Yamero! Ugokuna!" Barked out the redhead.
At the same time, her companion called out in a different language, "Mr. Customer! Very bad you fall in spring!"
Now, hearing these words shouted from a hundred meters away didn't really upset the teen, but it did cause him to look up. His footing shifted again.
"Where am SHITE!"
- SPLASH -
"Oh, too bad. He fall in Spring-Of-Drowned-I'm-Not-Sure-Who-She-Was." The portly man commented in Japanese as he and his companion waited for the boy to come back up for air.
"That one's new to me. How old, then?" The redhead inquired. Both seemed to settle on English as it was clear that Mr. Customer spoke it right before he went for a swim.
"Just last year. I thinking she from Nippon like you but she have yellow hair and blue eyes. She have school ID with her for Tsukino Usagi but she wearing silly dress and not looking just same and I not thinking ID really hers. Amazons paying much gold for her headband and ear rings. They say it very magical."
Floating at the bottom of the pool, the poor teen had just rebooted his brain to the point of wanting to get back out. Feet digging into the mud at the bottom, he gave a kick and managed to get back to the surface. With a few kicks, the edge of the pool was in reach. A hand reached out, five fingers dug into the rich soil. A second hand came up but as there was something in it, those fingers could not find purchase. He was about to drop the 'root' he seemed to have picked up from the pool bottom when he looked at it. He noticed how un-rootlike and how girly and shiny it looked. Maybe it was worth something? Better just to hold on to it, whatever it was, in recompense for the dunking he just endured.
He moved to stick the shiny rod into his belt like one would a toy sword when he noticed that his clothes were not just big and wet. No. They were now so big on his frame that his shoulders nearly slid through the neck hole of his hand-me-down-from-a-beached-whale t-shirt. And the water was cold too. He's never felt quite so tingly up top before. And come to think of it, down below doesn't feel quite... right... 'ohhh no no no no no...'
He wasn't a he anymore. The bits were all wrong for that now. He was a she. She didn't have short black hair anymore. Her hair was now very long and very blonde.
"Been there, done that. No t-shirts on sale to show for it. I'll go get her." The young woman called to her companion before leaping, yes leaping, from her point of origin.
Her leap was superhuman, crossing dozens of meters before she came to rest on the top of a bamboo pole and leapt away again. She hit two bamboo pole tops on her trip before landing gently next to the blonde haired blue eyed girl who seems to have checked out for now. A slender arm wrapped around the Blonde-Who-Lived and held on tight as the redhead leapt back the way she came with Miss Harry Potter in tow.
Both girls soon appeared in front of the man.
"Oh, where you find that!" The guide was both excited at the fact that Miss Potter had pulled another magical item from the new pool and sad that clearly she was going to keep it.
It was time for the speech.
"Mr. Customer, so sorry I not welcoming you proper to Pools of Sorrow, we call them Jusenkyo. That in China. Much magic here, and each pool have own tragic story. You fall in pool, you get curse."
No response from the new girl just yet.
"You fall in Spring-Of-Drowned-I'm-Not-Sure-Who-She-Was. We still working on name for this one. One year ago a girl fall from sky and drown in pool. Now, whoever fall in pool take form of girl when hit with cold water. Simple undo curse though. Just hit with hot water. We show you."
Still no response.
The redhead stepped in front of Mr.- or rather Miss Customer and waited for the man to get some hot water. It only took a minute… hot water was always a useful resource out in the middle of nowhere surrounded by cursed pools. One splash later and there was a bigger fit looking black haired boy where the girl was.
He still looked pretty dazed by his experience. Not that they blamed him one bit. They'd seen it all before.
"Ow! That's hot you prat!" Finally!
"You're welcome! Welcome to China. I'm Ranma and this here is the Jusenkyo Guide. Still won't tell me his name, go figure. What's your name? Come to think of it, how did you get into the valley without us seeing your approach?"
"Errrrrr..." 'I can't go around telling muggles how I got here. Then again, are they muggles? And where am I? HEY, he said these springs are cursed. Maybe they're not muggles...' "Ranma? You wouldn't happen to believe in.. er.. magic, would you?" 'China?'
"Hello? Aquatransexual here. Just add water and -POOF- titties! Just like you now for that matter. Hell yes magic is real. Gods only know how much my life has been messed with due to curses and magic doodads. Let me tell you, water will actually travel uphill to get to you now. You remember logic? Forget it. Doesn't exist for you anymore."
Ranma seemed to be speaking from experience, and it didn't hurt that Harry already agreed with him on the magic-logic schism. Harry tried his best to pay attention as he worried over his predicament.
'I'm in China? Really?' Okay, so they know about magic. I should still say as little as possible. No matter... They don't need to know that I'll be killing a Dark Lord in the next few years.' Harry, by focusing on the crushing weight of being told that he is a custom made Dark Lord Exterminator, was actually escaping the other crushing weights of Tragic Death and Magic Sex Change. Oh, and why he really blind apparated one third of the circumference of the frickin' planet in the first place. That-Reason-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named. "Well, my name is Harry Potter. I'm from England and I kind of used magic to get here. You see, I'm a wizard, and I can... kind of... move by magic. Sort of dissapear and reappear somewhere else if I do it right. Not that I know how I got here, exactly. Where am I again?"
Ranma looked a little closer at Harry. He tilted his head, squinted and really focused. His eyes seemed to look at and around Harry. He looked at the treasure Harry pulled out of the water and then down by Harry's waist. That last glance, Harry noted, was right at where his holly and phoenix feather wand rested in a pocket.
"China. You're in China. You're really close to Tibet but pretty far from Beijing or the coast. Mind tellin' me why you chose to use your magic to come here?"
"Well I didn't really. Choose to, that is. I was really upset and absolutely had to get away from where I was. I kind of thought 'anywhere but here' you see." Harry really didn't want to say more about that. He put his hand on the... wand? scepter? In his belt. A vision of soft, round orbs flitted through his mind, but not in a good way. He wasn't supposed to see them from that angle or feel them from the inside like that. "That really happened right? I'll turn into a girl again?"
"I'm sorry to say, but yes, Harry. I won't be splashin' you on purpose, but you may want to get used to bein' blonde soon. I denied my girl side for years and it brought nuthin' but misery to do so. These days I can hardly tell the difference, 'cept in a fight or when dealing with other people. Oh, and bath time. Oh, there's that time of the... look Harry. There's some things you gotta know 'bout bein' a girl part time, but we can save that for latter. You look a bit worn down."
Come to think of it, Harry was a bit knackered. His body still thought it was the middle of the night. 'Perhaps a nap to noon or so. Then... well shite. Where to go now? These two are nice enough, but China? I can't stay here.' Harry started to yawn.
"Look Mr. Customer, you go rest now. In hut, you find two bed. You use smaller one. It no use now my daughter go to Xining for school. She want go to big city. I say, 'You promise not join amazons, you can go to city.' Anyway, you rest now, I wake you for lunch, yes?"
"Yes please. You've been a great help. I'll just have a kip then. I've just got to settle down a bit and maybe things will start to make sense after some sleep." With a quick nod to both the Guide and to Ranma, Harry went into the hut, found the right bed, and got some rest. The other two switched languages and seemed to restart their earlier discussion at twice the speed of their English conversation. They occasionally spared a glance back to the hut. Shortly before lunch was to be prepared, the two made a pact. The other locals… particularly the amazons… were not to know anything about anything. Even if that shiny girlish stick could fetch a high price to the amazons, they were more trouble than they were worth. That and nobody wants an angry wizard.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was not a happy Chief Warlock sitting in his office at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. No, his efforts towards the Greater Good were being held back by a petulant child. A child that clearly needed to be reined in further still. It would seem that having the Dursleys as his caretakers clearly wasn't enough. Telling Severus that the boy was spoiled and needed some softening up before he'd be ready for their plan to work wasn't enough. Having the Weasley boy keep all hope of romance away from young Harry and monopolizing his friendship along with Miss Granger wasn't enough. To be honest, Miss Granger wasn't part of the plan, but she was the one lifeline the Headmaster had been willing to let Mr. Potter keep. She kept him alive and in line when it wasn't convenient for Albus to do it himself. She was also very devoted to authority figures, and while that tool Fudge had shaken her beliefs, she still held the opinion that the Headmaster's discharge didn't stink.
'No let him keep Miss Granger as a friend for now. Though he'll have to say goodby to his broom... and his friends from that club of theirs. Oh, and goodbye to Hedwig. Perhaps if Severus needed some potion ingredients from a snowy owl... yes. That would be a fitting gift to apologize for running out on his duties.'
July 30th, 1996
Harry read, for the umpteenth time, through the parchment that the Headmaster's phoenix had delivered just one hour previous. He knew what day it was; tomorrow was his birthday. Surely rotting in Durskaban for a whole month with no-one to talk to and nothing productive to do was penance enough for his sins. His friends had contacted him... sort of... but the lack of useful information about what Voldemort was up to or how he could use this supposed power-he-knows-not was turning Harry into a total Emo. This letter from Dumbledore was his one ray of hope. Maybe he would actually get out of here tonight. Maybe he would have a decent night's sleep with no dreams of death and torture. Harry would much rather spend the rest of the summer at the Burrow. At this point, even Malfoy Manor was starting to look like a good option.
Letter reading number umpteen plus one:
Harry, My Boy, I trust that you have been able to recover from your recent ordeals and are now ready to plan for the future. I shall be visiting you this evening. Please be ready for travel.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore Headmaster, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorcerer, Chief Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confederation of Wizards
Uncle Vernon had grabbed Harry's trunk as soon as they had arrived and locked it in the cupboard under the stairs during a heated rant about freaks and propriety. There were no bruises involved but he had a face full of uncle spittle by the end of it. Had he bothered to wipe it off then that act of defiance would have invited the pounding. Harry informed his uncle of the Headmaster's message only to be told that his freak stuff would be released when Harry left for good and not one second before.
Harry had been waiting impatiently through the evening meal. It was a meal he prepared not that he would be allowed to taste any of it. For whatever hateful reason his aunt and uncle were trying to starve the freakishness out of him yet again. He waited impatiently through cleaning the dishes, alone, and then waited impatiently as the Dursleys went to bed in turn. He could hear Vernon muttering about freaks not delivering on promises as the enormous man walked through the upstairs hall.
Harry had almost fallen asleep when he heard a knock at the door.
'Please God, don't let it end like this.' Even Harry was not pleased that he would have visitors at this time of night, so he silently opened his mouth to yell along with his uncle's response.
"Freak! You will see who is at the door and then you will watch as I crush your freak things and burn them one at a time!"
If Dumbledore weren't the Leader of the Light, Harry would swear that the Headmaster must have done this to him on purpose.
He stumbled down the stairs as quickly as his sleep addled mind would allow. Opening the door, he saw Headmaster Dumbledore standing there on the porch, wearing his usual tacky robes and a smile. 'No one should be that happy at this time of night.' thought Harry. 'Let's see him smile when uncle Vernon gives him a proper greeting.'
"Harry, my boy. I trust you are ready to go?" The Headmaster looked to Harry's feet for signs of a trunk only to be disappointed.
There was a bit more excitement after that, Harry was sure of it, but the dull ache of a head wound mixing with the slight tingle of recently cast healing magic seemed to dull his memories. 'Did Vernon hit me?'
Harry looked down at his open trunk sitting by his feet, wand in hand. His feet were on the front porch at the moment. He placed his wand in his pocket and closed the trunk. He looked to the Headmaster, ready to ask about how they got outside.
Twinkling eyes bored into his own."A delightful man, your uncle. He cares about you very much."
Yes well… maybe his uncle wasn't such a bad bloke after all. The Headmaster could be trusted about such things, right? Harry desperately wanted to please the Headmaster. He would know what to do. He was the grandfather that Harry never knew.
As the Headmaster turned away to summon his familiar, Harry's thought process ground to a halt. 'Wait, what?' Harry turned his back to Albus and sat on his trunk. He had to get his head clear.
"Headmaster, where are we going?" Please say the Burrow, pretty please with snitches on top.
"We have urgent business to attend to. Now is the time to fully embrace the power Voldemort knows not. Surely you must be eager to strike a blow against Voldemort after the school year you just experienced, yes?"
"Of course, sir."
"We will go to Professor Snape's home, which is where you will be spending the rest of your summer."
Fawkes appeared about thirty yards off in a puff of flames and began to circle the two wizards.
'Snape's home? Now? How am I supposed to embrace love in the greasy git's home. How am I supposed to live through to sunrise for that matter?' "Sir, I don't understand. How am I to embrace that power with the one man who hates me more than Voldemort?"
"He doesn't hate you Harry. Far from it in fact. I dare say that he sees some of your mother in you."
'I dare say you are mentally handicapped.' Harry knelt forward and stared at the ground. He didn't want to open himself up to legilimency… if that is indeed what had clouded his mind just a minute before.
"You see, Harry, I have taken it upon myself as your Magical Guardian to prepare a betrothal contract. It will be through marriage that you learn to love and finally bring Voldemort to heel."
"Married! You picked my wife for me?" Through his shock, Harry briefly wondered which witch had been chosen by the Headmaster for this sacrifice. If it were Ginny or even Hermione then maybe this could work. Or Susan... even Luna… but wasn't dating and courtship and free will supposed to be part of marriage? This contract better not be for Pansy Parkinson.
"Not quite, Harry. I believe Tom has been intimate with Mrs. Lestrange, perhaps with the wives of a few of his more loyal followers as well." The old man paused and scratched at his beard for a moment. "As the prophesy states, Harry, we are to employ the power he knows not meaning that love between a man and a woman may not qualify. You, Harry, are to bond with Severus. You shall take his name as the subordinate member of the union. We have been brewing a rare and rather remarkable potion which will allow you to bear an heir to the Snape line. Yes, I'm quite sure that Tom has done nothing remotely like this." Fawkes landed on the Headmasters shoulder. "Now Harry, come to me so that we can move you to your new home. There we can finalize the contract and provide you with the potions necessary to ease your transition. Do this, young man, and I assure you that your parents' deaths will soon be avenged."
That was the sound of the Boy-Who-Lived snapping. Depression flooded his frame. Anger poured through every artery and vein. Intent. The overwhelming intent to just go. To go far, far away. Chanting 'anywhere but slytherin' had worked once before and now his very soul rebelled against the sheer horror of becoming Mrs. Harry Snape.
Headmaster Dumbledore noticed that Harry had gone still. This was not a good thing in his estimation. No, this had to be dealt with before the boy could think for himself. He began to close the distance between the two wizards and force the issue when, with a soft -pop-, his mark had up and left.
"Not happy. I'm not happy at all." 'Bugger, how could Harry refuse his destiny?
"Mr. Potter, I am afraid that I cannot allow you to run from your destiny, from your husband-to-be." The Headmaster began to put ink to paper, writing a letter and also filling each line with enchantment after charm after compulsion. "Yes. That should do it. Hmmmm... Mr. Potter, you will do this for the Greater Good, and I am confident that, in time, you will thank me for my efforts. Everyone does, in time." He stood, drying the ink with a simple wandless charm, and made the note ready for transport.