Disclaimer: Harry Potter and co. are property of J. K. Rowling. I make no claim on them or their world, nor do I gain anything material by the writing of this fanfiction. I do, however, get enjoyment from writing it, and I don't think you can sue for that. ; )
Special Thanks to: Saffron, for beta reading this monster. Thank you!
--Latin translations at the end of the page
A Father's Sin
Chapter 1---The Glamorous Glamourie
"Ah yes, more turning buttons into beetles and other such nonsense we'll probably never use," Ron grumbled as he, Harry, and Hermione waited for Transfiguration to begin. Professor McGonagall had not yet arrived, though most of the class was already seated and chattering impatiently.
"Unless you happen to want a beetle," Harry muttered. Ron laughed shortly before leaning forward onto the dark wood of the table, casting a forlorn gaze toward McGonagall's vacant desk.
"Y'know, I really don't like this class. I mean, Potions is without a doubt the worst, but at least I can do some of the stuff in there," Ron grumbled, jabbing angrily at the wand that lay on the desk in front of him. It moved an inch or two, before rolling back toward Ron and off the edge of the table, forcing him to grudgingly fetch it from the floor.
"That's just because you don't practice, Ron," said Hermione, casting him a pointed glare. "It's really quite simple once you get the hang of it."
Ron only grumbled something about a 'bloody genius' under his breath and crossed his arms. The subject was closed when the classroom doors burst open and a flustered McGonagall rushed into the room. Instantly the class grew quiet, all watching in curiosity as their teacher arrived late for the first time. McGonagall's cheeks were slightly flushed as she straightened the papers on her desk, finally clearing her throat when she found one in particular.
"I apologize for arriving late for your first day of class, children. I had some rather urgent business to attend to." She looked up and straightened her glasses, eyeing Ron, Hermione, and Harry with a particularly stern gaze. "Now, to the lesson. Class for the next few days is going to be a bit different than usual. We will be working with a form of illusion rather than actual transformation." At this statement, Ron began clapping silently under the table, and Harry had to cover his mouth with his hand to hide his smile.
"We'll be working with Glamourie, an illusionary type of Transfiguration magic. In other words, the transfiguration doesn't actually occur, it only appears to," she continued, and Ron's face fell to the table with a loud 'thump.' Hermione's face had lit up the instant she'd heard the word 'Glamourie,' and was now sitting erect in her chair, hanging on McGonagall's every word.
"I would like to do a demonstration before I begin today's lecture. Mr. Weasley, if you'd be kind enough to assist me please?" inquired McGonagall, and Ron instantly paled. His chair scraped back from the table and Harry and Hermione both watched with slight smiles as he trudged up to stand beside the Professor. "Thank you, Mr. Weasley. Now all I need you to do is stand there and be still, all right?" she said, removing her wand from her pocket.
"Yes, ma'am," Ron answered, staring rather helplessly at the floor. McGonagall raised her wand and touched it to the top of Ron's head.
"Persona Veritas!" she intoned, and the class gasped as Ron's hair instantly turned a brilliant shade of green. Ron, however, appeared to be clueless. He was looking up and feeling his hair with his hands, but it was too short for him to actually see what she'd done.
"Now class," McGonagall continued. "As I've said before, Mr. Weasley's hair is not actually green," (Ron gasped and gaped at McGonagall), "we merely think it has changed. Think of it this way...imagine that whenever you're looking at someone, you're seeing them through a window. When Glamourie is in use, the window is changed, and to you it appears that the person has changed as well. However, on the other side of the glass, everything is exactly the same as before. Is that much understood?" she asked, while most of the class nodded, a few (mainly Neville Longbottom, who was currently gaping dumbly) were raising their hands with questions.
"Well, don't worry about it if you don't understand yet. We'll be discussing it for the next few days, and you'll be able to try a few spells of your own," she said, and the class shifted uneasily between dread and curiosity. After Ron's hair was returned to its usual brilliant shade of red, the rest of the class passed by in absolute boredom as McGonagall droned on about the history and significance of 'Glamourie.' Harry was one of the many that sorely wished she'd just teach them the spell and be done with it.
Harry was bored. It was a Friday evening, only their second day of school, and he, Hermione, and Ron were stuck wasting it on Potions homework. Snape had been relentless, assigning more work in one day than any other teacher did in a month. It was supposedly to prepare them for their OWLs, but Harry doubted it. Knowing Snape, it was probably just a good excuse to deduct points for late homework. And so, here they were, in the library, determined not to give Snape the satisfaction.
Ron and Harry were seated at one of the library tables, a half-dozen books spread between them among scattered scrolls, ink jars, and parchments. Ron had nearly fallen asleep from boredom atop one mighty tome, and Harry was struggling against a similar fate. Hermione, however, was wide awake and perusing the nearby bookshelves for something useful.
"Have you found anything yet, Hermione?" Harry asked, yawning loudly. She gave him a disdainful look, then returned to running her finger along the row of musty spines.
"No, some of these books are out of order," she replied, grimacing as her finger traced several such ignorantly placed tomes. Hermione was struggling with mounting frustration when a tiny book caught her attention. It was small and blue, wedged suspiciously beneath two enormous books on famous alchemists. Curious, she pried it carefully off the shelf and turned it over in her hands, blowing the light sheen of dust from the cover. There was no visible writing on the outside, only a faded picture of a wolf and a lion battling a snake. The book creaked softly as she carefully opened it, and she immediately gasped in surprise.
"Hermione…!" Ron whined. "What's taking so long?" Hermione turned and walked back to the table, composing her face into an expression of frustration. She plopped down in the chair next to Harry and dropped the book onto the table, flipping open to a random page.
"It's no use. It would take forever to find the book in that mess…honestly, you wouldn't think this place even had a librarian with the way these books are organized…." she grumbled, then her expression changed to one of slight excitement as she glanced at the book in front of her. "I did find this, though. I think I'll check it out to read this weekend."
"What is it?" Harry asked, glancing up from his page of messy notes. He actually didn't mind the work very much. In all truth, he thought Potions was pretty interesting, and according to Hermione he would have been doing pretty well in class if Snape didn't have such a bias. Snape was the reason Harry hated Potions class…and no matter how interesting the potion, that simple fact would remain.
"I'm not sure…it looks like a book of old prophecies of some sort. Let me see…." she replied, then began flipping through the pages. "They appear to be organized by year…Hey, here's one for this year. It mentions a unification….and something called the 'Serpent's Children,' rising up from shadow…." Hermione furrowed her brows in thought and read some more, leaving her companions to stare at her in curiosity.
"Well? What does it mean?" Ron asked, and Hermione looked up guiltily.
"I don't know. I've always heard that prophecies were never that reliable…and they're always cryptic."
"You mentioned a serpent, right? What if it has something to do with Voldemort?" Harry asked, his quill lying forgotten atop half-finished notes. Ron flinched at the name, but Hermione merely shrugged.
"It could be, but we can't be sure. Either way, I think I'll hang on to this book for a bit, just in case," she said, then shifted the book aside in favour of the larger tome beneath it. "Now…since we seem to be off the subject of homework anyway, how have you two been doing with the you-know-what?" Hermione said, tapping her finger against the book in front of her. Harry and Ron were all too familiar with the book; they'd each spent the past summer practicing some of the techniques within it. Hermione had discovered it just prior to the end of the previous school year, and it had instantly launched them into their newest venture into the realm of (sort of) forbidden magic. They'd decided to become Animagi.
"Um…all right, I guess. It's hard to tell since we weren't really allowed to do anything but the mental part away from school," Ron said, shrugging his shoulders dejectedly. His eyes were wide open and interested now and all vestiges of boredom had disappeared at the first mention of Animagi. Harry adjusted his glasses slightly and rolled up the parchment in front of him before replying.
"Same here, we'd have to try it out to know for sure. Does the book say how we're supposed to tell if we're making progress?" Harry asked, and Hermione nodded.
"I think I've been doing well with the concentration part too, but as you said, we'll have to try it out. The book says that we should first be able to achieve some sort of partial transformation, like a hand or a patch of skin…something like that. If we can't manage that, it means we need to work on the concentration more before proceeding, otherwise it'd be too dangerous. Do you two want to meet in the common room tonight and try it out?" she asked, though it was more of a command than a question.
"Sure, then we can see if we sprout fur or feathers!" Ron said, now wide awake with excitement.
"I bet you're a bird, featherbrain," Hermione muttered, and Harry shook his head in dismay at the two.
"Why don't we finish this tomorrow? That way we can get concentrate on Animagi tonight and finish our homework in the morning," Harry suggested, already beginning to pack away his scrolls and books.
"All right, let's go…it's nearly dinner anyway," Hermione said, and Ron couldn't help but grin widely as they packed away their books.
The halls were quiet and empty as they headed back from dinner toward Gryffindor Tower, and the trio's footsteps echoed loudly through the vacant hallway. All three were brimming in vibrant anticipation for the night ahead, as they had waited an entire summer to see the results of their silent efforts. After Hermione had discovered the book, it had been Harry's idea that they study to become Animagi; It was partially because of his father, and partially because it could prove an advantage to them if Voldemort decided to attack (or Filch caught them in the halls at night). After the easy escape Peter Pettigrew had made, it seemed like something worthy of learning.
"Do you hear something?" Harry asked suddenly, and they stopped, listening intently. Sure enough, muffled voices were drifting from a nearby classroom, the tone animated and angry.
"It sounds like something's going on…" Ron whispered, and the three drifted closer to the wall, listening quietly. They instantly recognized Dumbledore's voice drifting through the thin, wooden door. After a moment, Snape's voice replied to it, and a moment later a third, vaguely familiar voice joined in.
"I warned you that this would happen!" Snape yelled angrily, and Harry could nearly see the man crossing his arms and throwing someone a deadly glare.
"Yes, and who would I be to believe your word, Professor Snape? Especially considering your rather shady past?" the other voice said, and recognition instantly dawned on Harry. The last time he'd heard that voice had been in the hospital wing, after the death of Cedric Diggory. It was Cornelius Fudge.
"You'd do well to take my words seriously, Fudge--if you had listened to me before, they'd all be dead now! But you foolishly chose to believe your Aurors had killed them all---" Snape hissed, and the sound of a chair scooting backward sounded from the room.
"Calm down, Severus," Dumbledore's voice sounded, "it was good of him to warn us of their rising at all. The remaining Serpent's Children will no doubt be joining their master before long, and we can only dread that inevitable occurrence." The three Gryffindors pulled away from the wall, gaping at each other in silence.
"That's what the book said…" Harry whispered, and Hermione nodded glumly, casting an unconscious look toward the book bag at her side. "Let's get back to the common room…." he added, and the three dashed quickly toward the tower, all slightly ashen-faced from their discovery. When they arrived in the common room, they fled to a vacant corner and Hermione immediately tore the book from her bag.
"Does this mean what I think it means?" Ron asked, staring at the book with a vaguely fearful expression on his face.
"What's that?" Harry asked, as Hermione busied herself searching for the correct page.
"That we're getting mixed up in another battle between good and evil, which will probably mean that either one or all of us will end up in the hospital wing," Ron said, and Harry scratched the back of his neck nervously, casting a glance over at Hermione was tracing her finger down a familiar page of the book.
"I found it…" she said, and the two boys watched her expectantly, "Basically it says that the Serpent's Children will rise and rejoin their master. Then it says something about their 'lost' brother being found, and about a Wolf joining with a Lion to fight the Serpent. It doesn't say who wins, though." Hermione looked disappointed as she passed the book over to the two boys. Harry looked at it for a moment and then leaned back, sighing and rubbing his temple.
"You're right, Hermione. This stuff is cryptic," Harry said, leaning his elbow against the arm of his chair.
"What's all this about wolves and lions? I don't get it," Ron muttered, jabbing his finger angrily at the offending line of text.
"I don't know, Ron. It could be literal, or it could be something completely different. For all I know, the wolf could be Remus Lupin," Hermione said, and slammed the book shut loud enough to draw looks from the other occupants of the room. She glanced around guiltily before turning back to her friends.
"Although, it would be a pretty fair guess to assume that this 'master' is Voldemort," Harry said, his gaze stern and vaguely unnerving as he stared at the tiny book. Hermione shifted nervously, something about Harry's gaze had always made her stomach churn in unease, especially when it was as concentrated as it was now.
"How many times do I have to ask you not to say that name?!" Ron fumed, his hands attached firmly to his hips. Harry's gaze instantly transformed into an apologetic one, and he slumped back in his chair, casting and idle glance toward the dwindling number of people in the room.
"Sorry, Ron. Are we still on for you-know-what, tonight?" Harry asked, and both his companions nodded vigorously. It would be another hour at least before they had the room to themselves, but it would be more than worth the wait.
The hour passed by quickly, with the last few Gryffindors fleeing upstairs sometime near ten o'clock. Harry, Ron, and Hermione gathered in front of the low-burning fireplace the instant the coast was clear, and sat down in the crimson armchairs, facing each other anxiously. Hermione laid the open Animagus book on the table between them, flipping to a certain yellowed page near the front of the book.
"So…what now?" Harry asked, sitting slumped tiredly between the cushions of his chair, though his eyes were bright and alert.
"We do what we've been doing all summer, while mentally focusing on the words 'verto fera.' It says we should feel a sort of tingling sensation, though only fairly weak at this stage. We stop when something physically happens, and then focus on the words 'verto humanis' to return to normal," Hermione said, her finger tracing over the instructions in the book. Ron gaped at her in confusion, but Harry only nodded.
"What words were those again?" Ron asked, scratching the back of his head. Hermione looked irritated, but she repeated them again.
"First, 'Verto Fera,' and then 'Verto Humanis.' Got it?" she asked, and Ron nodded, though his expression proved that he indeed hadn't.
"All right, here goes," Harry said, and all at once the three closed their eyes and concentrated. Completely clearing his mind had once been the hardest thing Harry had ever attempted to do in his life. Every time he'd tried at first over the summer, errant thoughts had intruded and broken his concentration. However, after an entire summer of sitting silently in the dark, practicing for hours on end, he was fairly certain that he was pretty good at it now. He also liked to think that it was partially due to his father, too.
Once his mind was completely blank and void, he focused on the words: Verto Fera. He envisioned them written in scrolling letters across the inside of his eyelids, imagined he heard them breathed into his ear, and thought of nothing but those two, magical words. After perhaps about a minute, something began to happen. At first, it was only a mild tingling in his right hand and up his arm, but then the odd sensation of shifting flesh and bone accompanied it soon after. It ceased before the feeling passed his elbow, and Harry quickly snapped open his eyes and stared at what had once been his hand. Across from him, Ron and Hermione still had their eyes tightly shut.
His hand was no longer a hand. Harry inspected it curiously, mentally smashing down the slight sensation of fear that rose at the sight of the alien limb reacting to his commands. The hand had transformed into a large paw, coated with thick, black fur up to his elbow. Sharp, white claws shone in the firelight, and Harry dared to touch the soft pads beneath the fingers (or were they toes?). The fur was surprisingly soft, and Harry found himself wondering what he'd turn into if he ever completely mastered becoming an Animagus.
"Harry!" Hermione said in surprise, and he looked up to see her smiling at him in excitement, staring at the paw with keen interest. "You did it!" she squealed. Harry wondered briefly if she'd expected him to fail completely.
"Looks like you did, too, Hermione," he said, sighting the light brown fur that coated the backs of her hands. She smiled briefly, turning her hands over in the firelight.
"Did what?" Ron asked, finally opening his eyes. Hermione instantly grinned at him, and Harry smiled lightly at his friend's surprise. Ron's eyes were now golden in colour. "What is it? I think I failed," Ron said, staring at his own completely human hands.
"Ron, you did it too! Your eyes are amber!" Hermione explained, and Ron's frown instantly transformed into an excited smile.
"Really? I did it? Wicked!" he exclaimed, and then caught sight of the paw Harry had rested on the arm of his chair. "Wow, Harry…you really did it," he said, and Harry shrugged, flexing his transformed fingers slightly. It was a really strange sensation.
"All right, let's see if we can change back now. It should be no trouble," Hermione said, and again the three closed their eyes. Harry repeated the same scenario as before, though envisioning the words 'Verto Humanis' instead of the former. Again the tingling sensation came, followed by that slightly nauseating sensation of retracting fur and shifting bone. Harry sincerely hoped that the feeling would disappear with practice. He opened his eyes when the sensation stopped, silently glad to be staring at his own pale, long-fingered hand yet again.
"Whoa…that feels really weird," Ron said, blinking his now human-coloured eyes. Hermione nodded, absently massaging the backs of her hands.
"Wait till muscles and bones start moving around," Harry said, grimacing slightly. Ron frowned, his mouth twisted in a way that suggested that was the one aspect of it he was not looking forward too.
"Don't worry, the book says the sensation lessens with practice. Once we've done it enough, we won't even have to clear our minds in order to transform. We'll be able to do it instantly, just like Sirius," Hermione said, smiling as she once again traced her finger over text in the book.
"So how do we improve?" Harry asked, and Hermione's face went blank as she traced more text, her eyes flicking silently back and forth.
"We practice the same as we have been, doing what we did tonight as much as possible. The only difference is that instead of focusing purely on the words, we have to envision the transformation as it's happened so far. You, Harry, would imagine your hand becoming a paw. I would concentrate on the fur on the backs of my hands, and Ron would imagine his eyes becoming amber. As we get better, we'll transform more fully, and must add to what we envision happening each time," she said, nodding to herself in satisfaction.
"Well, that doesn't sound too bad," Ron said, tapping his chin thoughtfully.
"Let's meet here every night that we can to practice," Harry said, and the other two nodded. Hermione picked up her book and shut it with a plume of dust. She yawned loudly, and then Ron yawned too, casting an accusing glare at Hermione. "Maybe we should go to bed. I'll see you too in the morning, all right?" Harry said, and the two looked at him thankfully.
"Sounds good…I'm exhausted suddenly. Maybe this Animagus stuff takes more out of us than we think," Ron said, and Harry thought he was probably right. Hermione then said goodnight to them both and headed off to her dormitory, leaving Harry and Ron to venture up the stairs to their own room. They both changed quickly into their pyjamas, but only Ron went to bed, falling to sleep the instant his head hit the pillow. Harry--who had something else in mind--instead ventured to the trunk at the end of his bed.
He opened it silently, reaching a hand into the dark contents to retrieve the revered object Hagrid had given him for his most recent birthday. Once his fingers closed on it, he gripped it firmly and removed it from the trunk before closing the lid. He carried it back to his bed and set it on the bedside table before sitting down on his bed. It was a figurine, a Muggle one that didn't dance around like the many that decorated Dumbledore's office. It was a lily made of crystal, and once upon a time it had belonged to his mother. Hagrid had said he'd found it on a shelf next to Harry's crib the night he delivered him to the Dursley's, and had kept it to give to him one day. Harry had never treasured anything so much in his life, aside from his father's Invisibility Cloak. It was his only memento of his mother, just as the cloak was of his father. However, there was one subtle difference between the two that made him revere the lily just a tiny bit more. Reaching a hand out toward the object, he stroked a leaf briefly, and closed his eyes as the familiar sensation washed over him. Then he saw her, in his mind.
Every time he did it, it was different; new sensations and memories of his mother's. This time, it was of her wandering through the Potter home, pausing to run her hands along a bookshelf, smiling as her fingers traced the assortment of titles. Then, it was her sitting next to his father on a park bench on a bright summer evening, a stroller sitting next to them. Harry smiled at the memory, allowing his fingers to wander over one of the lily's petals. A different memory surfaced then, one that made Harry frown in confusion. It began in a different house, with an image of his mother and father saying goodbye in a front doorway. Briefly, Harry saw the name 'Evans' carved on the door front. It appeared to be a memory from before they were living together, though apparently not by much as they still looked the same as before. The door closed, and his mother wandered further into the house. She paused by a high-backed chair to inspect the lacy white wedding gown that hung across its back, a pleasured smile crossing her lips. Then something happened that caused Harry to jerk in surprise. A pair of black-robed figures dashed toward her from a dark doorway, the silver masks on their faces reflecting the bright candlelight. His mother didn't even have a chance to scream before they had her, one grabbing her about the throat and the other casting a spell to immobilize her. Her eyes were wide and terrified in the last moment that Harry saw her, for then the three simply disappeared, and Harry jerked away from the figurine with a gasp.
They had been Death Eaters, Harry was sure of it. And they'd kidnapped his mother- far before the incident that took her life. Harry had never heard anyone mentioning anything of the sort. Apparently she'd been rescued, since she'd married his father afterward. But what had happened? Did she escape? Did Dumbledore or an Auror rescue her? Harry sank back on his bed in confusion, drawing up the covers as he turned to stare at the crystal flower. To Harry, it seemed as if every answer brought nothing but more questions, and every small victory nothing but greater battles.
Translations: (not in proper Latin, of course)
persona veritas disguise truth
Verto Feratransform animal
verto humanistransform human
----------End Chapter 1-----