"Aww crap!" The mumbled words were highlighted by the dull sound of a body hitting the ground and the tell-tale snapping of twigs and crunching of vegetation that came when one crashed to the ground in the middle of a forest.
The newly arrived girl that had been the originator of all the noise seemed to sink further into the ground, the only sign of life being the one attempt to bang her head in frustration only to meet something harder than grass – the root of a tree that she had managed to miss on her first ill-fated pirouette through the inter-dimensional portal.
She groaned and stiffly brought a hand up to rub the freshly forming bump adorning her forehead.
Bloody Hell. What idiot decided that it would be a good idea for her to jump through that portal thingy again?
Oh yeah. She did.
The only thing worse than actually doing something so incredibly stupid and Gryffindor-ish (interchangeable words in her mind) as that was to realise that you had no one other than yourself to blame, which wasn't half as fun (or satisfying) as being able to curse other people to the bottom of the ninth circle of Hell while you're scrambling about trying to figure out just how in the world you were going to pull yourself out of said mess.
"Nuh-oooo, I just couldn't listen to reason…" She muttered sarcastically and self-depreciatingly under her breath while pulling herself stiffly and haltingly up into a sitting position.
Her eyes flickered around as she continued in the sarcastic drawl, this time obviously repeating and mocking something she herself had said; "No, Hermione. I want to do this. It'll be fine. No need to do more research."
Taking in the trees around her – which made the Forbidden Forest look like a kiddie's play park – she shifted forward a bit to put weight on her hands and managed to kneel on the ground, limbs extremely tense from the 'journey'. Her voice continued in the same mocking tune, "No, Ronald. Hell, after all I've been through it'll be a vacation."
She let out a small grunt of exertion as she put a hand on a near-by trunk and used the leverage to pull herself up on her feet, swaying a little as blood rushed to her head and black spots danced across her vision and she felt light-headed. Here she paused for a second to blink the spots out before continuing, having built up a diatribe and her voice rose to a shout, "After all, WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?!"
The hand on the trunk tightened so fingernails dug into the wood, probably giving her splinters, her brain noted absently.
Blazing emerald eyes slid shut and the girl forced herself to take a few deep breaths, which helped a little with the anger at herself for this oh-so-wonderful idea. Just where the fuck did she come up with shit like this? No, scratch that – just why the fuck did stuff like this inevitably happen to her? Couldn't the universe find a different spittoon?
Oh. Of course not. She was Holly-bloody-Potter after all.
A soft growl ripped from her throat as her general irritation with the current situation – namely being dumped in the middle of a forest with trees that could make Grawp pout with envy – overpowered her and she used a fist to rub her temple, taking some further large breaths in an obviously doomed attempt to control the urge to release her inner-arsonist.
With her luck, the trees would be sentient – well, either that or whatever people that lived around would probably not be very chuffed at finding a few hundred miles of forest go up in smoke.
Ergo, it would be a Bad Idea.
It didn't stop her from mentally sizing up the tree and calculating how fast she could light it on fire and guessing how long it would take to burn down something taller than a full-blooded giant.
It was with great reluctance that she pulled her gaze away from the tree and set about carefully stretching out her muscles, first in her arms and then moving on to her legs – whatever that portal-magic-thingy was, the ride was worse than a portkey-apparation-floo-trip while at the same time worrying about at which point you left your right hand behind.
She would know, and it was not a pleasant experience.
Understatement of the century right there.
She stretched her back out, hearing satisfying cracks before moving down to touch her toes, finally able to move without the risk of tumbling back to the ground.
Holly sighed before reluctantly checking something that she had been desperately trying to ignore up until this point, hoping that if she just pretended it didn't happen that reality would decide to get in line.
But of course that was a feeble hope, one doomed to be proven wrong and stupid and a fool's dream… which it was, as she reached into her super-awesome-disillusioned wand-holster only to pull out what was roughly a third of her wand.
The other two-thirds were still stuck in the not-so-helpful wand-thingy.
She just stared at it, wondering if reality missed the memo or something crazy and evil had put a curse on her that had turned her into some kind of black-hole for misfortune or something. She weakly waved the piece a little, but all she got was a few depressed sparks that dissipated almost immediately and a squeak that for some reason reminded her of something a character in one of Dudley's computer games would issue when it died.
Holly stared at it a little wide-eyed, and her expression could be explained as nothing other than 'weird' as the message that yes, the wand was broken, and no, it didn't look fixable refused to connect with her brain. As if in a dream, she dropped the piece negligently and fumbled to take off the aforementioned wand-holster before tipping it, causing the last two pieces to fall out. She caught them easily and resisted the urge to cry over a piece of broken wood (something that was curiously hard to do) and proceeded to throw away the holster before testing the pieces, one after the other.
The reactions were just as disappointing as the first, which reached her brain in an abstract way – the wand was in three pieces, yes, and now none of them would work. She spotted the glittering golden phoenix-feather hanging out of the middle piece and pulled it out before tossing aside the pieces of wand as so many useless tree-parts.
Her hand was trembling now, she noticed distantly, and made her last wack at having a method of getting access to all that magical education locked up in her brain by waving the feather around.
Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero.
She abruptly sat down, resting the palms of her hands against her eyelids and taking deep breaths (for about the fifth time in as many minutes) and a hysterical laugh bubbled out of her throat.
Of course, in all the Death Eater attacks and all the battles and general impossible situations she had gotten out of without breaking her wand, it would break because of something as stupid as falling over and cracking it on a rock – or tree-piece – almost the second she ended up in a situation that made it impossible to get something to replace said wand – namely trapped in a hostile environment with no idea about landmarks to apparate to. No. Magic.
Well, at least no helpful magic – funnily enough, there were exactly three things she could do in her newly wandless state: the animagus transformation, apparation and start fires.
…None of which the least bit helpful in her present situation.
Oh, but if she had had a freaking flying animagus, now that would have been good in a pinch. Holly had always found it ironic in a petulant way that Hermione – the only one of their Trio that hated flying – was also the only winged animagus; an owl. Of course, they had all snickered over Ron's Weasley-red weasel (it was just too good to pass up), and although she had learnt to love being an ocelot, her Spook just wasn't all that helpful in this situation.
One last moment spent bemoaning her fucked-up luck and life in general, she sucked it up so-to-speak and glanced speculatively at the (useless) subtly glowing golden feather that was threaded through her fingers. It wasn't very large – roughly the size of her pinky finger – and it looked as fresh as if she had just plucked it off Fawkes (which is liable to make him quite angry in an 'I'll fire-flash you over the Great Lake and leave you to the Giant Squid' kind of way) and it was really smooth under her probing fingers – a strange cross between velvet and silk. She was hesitant to throw it away like she had the wood, if only for the sentimental value – after all, her wand had saved her life multiple times over the past six years that she'd known about the wizarding world and been left to fend for herself.
In a spur of the moment decision, she reached under her shirt and pulled out the long and thin dark-brown leather cord that carried a small silver Celtic-styled stag pendant hanging off it and was reinforced by about two-dozen protection spells along with a small set of runes that Hermione had carved into it for her. She worked on it for a second, attaching the feather into the knotted cord that made sure the stag didn't slide around and made use of the sticking-spells already there by just inserting it in there and then pulling on it for a second to test if it was secure – when it didn't fall out, she nodded to herself in satisfaction. That would do it; at least until she got annoyed with it and moved it or she found a better place.
Finished with that, she tucked the cord back under her top before casting her gaze around – and suddenly remembering why she'd been distracting herself with such silly things like not wanting to lose all of her wand.
Let's recap shall we?
Ok, she'd foolishly taken the first inter-dimensional portal outta there with little-to-no planning. She was stuck in a forest with big-ass trees up the wazoo and she'd promptly gotten her wand broken – which meant no magical solutions for her, also the fact that she was now unsure if she'd be able to defend herself properly if some bad-dudes came along. Oh, and lets not forget the original problem of being REVERTED TO A PREPUBESCENT! Dammit, she was shrimp, she doubted her ability to walk all the way out of the forest (especially with no directions) and she hadn't packed all that much food (or any money to speak of really).
The only good thing was that she hadn't lost the charmed bottomless backpack which meant she at least had some basic rations, water, clothes and other such necessities to last her at least about a week. She was just extremely lucky that she hadn't been carrying shrunken luggage because without her wand, it would have been reduced to very realistic doll accessories; in other words, useless.
Thank the gods that, at least, didn't happen.
Holly sighed, stood up and slung the bag over her back.
She considered the benefits and pit-falls of walking as a human versus walking as an ocelot, and decided to change into Spook if only to make travel faster and be able to smell if there were any people around somewhere to maybe track down civilisation (or whatever passed for civilisation in this place). And then she realised that she was yet again procrastinating so quickly shifted before picking a direction at random and trotting off into the forest.
If there was one thing she'd learnt from her life, it was that you had to help yourself and not rely on others – it kept you self-sufficient and generally alive.
Gold-and-black ears twitched in annoyance.
She never caught a fucking break.
It had to be a law of the universe. Somewhere. She wouldn't be surprised if they'd conveniently forgotten to send her the memo about it.
If it wasn't the stupid forest, or the really scary bugs, or the sharp-toothed fish in that murky river a few days back; it was sore paws, muddy fur, over-exposure to sun… well, the list just kept going on and on.
Days and days of walking through the big, scary forest.
And really nothing to show for it except the bug-bites, aching legs, lack of sleep and the ever-present knowledge that when she ran out of human food, she'd have to start hunting and eating as an ocelot as well as travelling.
Killing and eating birds, mice, rabbits, snakes… yuck. Even if as an ocelot they'd taste good and they'd be nutritious, she would get nightmares from remembering eating mice when she shifted back into human. It had happened before (much to her chagrin), particularly in the first few weeks of being an animagus and not quite having good control over her form.
People had taken to watching her carefully around their pets. Of course, Hermione had practically migrated to the owlery, so her problem wasn't too bad in the end. Ron had tricked her into mailing his letters for almost a month before she could get her feathery-half under control. And she was not amused once she managed it. Ron had been found in a cage with a running wheel in the kitchens where the house elves were taking good care of their very first and very beloved kitchen-weasel.
As these experiences might indicate, being an animagus was so much more than just changing shape and having four legs. Your mind kind of 'merged' with your more animalistic side, or you at least became more aware of it while enhancing it – and if you don't find the proper balance between 'human' and 'animal' well… there was a reason not many people risked an animagus transformation. Even as a human she got animal urges, and people had commented on her similarity to a cat many a time.
But yeah… memories. The down-side to a different palate when an animal. Yuck.
So, yeah – she would way prefer to avoid eating mice and the other critters in the forest, which meant getting out of said forest. But she hadn't even smelt anything resembling human since jumping into the portal. She was travelling by night and sleeping by day, mostly because Spook was nocturnal and by extension she liked the night better – it was also better to be alert when all things that go 'bump' in the night were out and hunting, rather than being snuck up on while sleeping.
But gods… all this walking and tenseness and general 'oh crap how will I survive?' stuff was getting to her. Which was probably why, when she heard very-soft footfalls – ones that she would never have been able to hear had she not been an animagus – she made a very stupid mistake.
…If 'mistake' was truly the word to describe it. Holly felt that it would be more fitting to call it a 'monumental cock-up' and leave it at that.
So yes, she was probably half-delusional and delirious. Yes, she was just plain sick of walking around without a clue of what she was doing. And yes, she was still a little bit more than a little miffed about being prepubescent.
But none of those things was any real excuse as to why all proper sense and logic abandoned her in that moment.
She changed from Spook back into her proper (although currently midget-y) form.
Yeah, she still cringed even thinking about it. Of course, that didn't hurt as much as the remembered pain.
She often wondered exactly what her expression must have looked like to her attacker in the moment she realised something sharp and decidedly pointy was hurtling towards her at dizzying speeds.
Of course, she didn't really care after that, because the thing was sticking out of the hand she'd raised on reflex (just gotta love those Seeker reflexes, eh?) pointy-end down. Of course, since it blocked the thing from hitting her throat, and she was going through shock and thus unable to feel what would likely be an extremely painful injury (she could see the tip sticking out the back of her hand, which disturbed her on a whole new level she wasn't sure she could appreciate) she really couldn't complain.
Of course, the next thing she remembered is something that felt like the equivalent of the full force of a charging hippogriff slam into her left side, which sent her crashing heavily into a tree a few metres away.
From there on was a blissful and whole-heartedly welcomed black cloud that settled about her thoughts, dragging her into unconsciousness until she knew no more.
It was a mercy, in the end.
Disclaimer: the originals are not mine.
I hope people enjoy this – I'm writing this primarily for my own enjoyment, and wasn't gonna post it, but I figured that if I like it then maybe someone else would find it interesting.