Harry Potter and the Return to Hogwarts, 8th Year

Chapter Thirty-Nine – The Animal Within

"Who here can tell me what this potion is right here?" asked Slughorn with a childish smile on his face. In the cauldron next to him bubbled, what looked like, thick mud. Harry knew right away what it was but Hermione's hand flew into the air faster than Slughorn could finish his question. "Yes, Ms. Granger?" He asked happily.

"It's polyjuice potion." She said with a small smirk.

"Very good. Now can you tell me what it's uses are?" Slughorn challenged.

"Polyjuice Potionis a very complicated potion that allows the drinker to assume the form of someone else. While it can account for both age and gender, Polyjuice Potion cannot be used for a human to take an animal form or for a half-breed to assume human form." Hermione answered as if she were a talking text book.

"Very good." Slughorn expressed with a huge smile. "Twenty points to Gryffindor. We are going to begin brewing the potion but don't expect to be finished today everyone. That would be madness and probably not a very good potion to drink. You see polyjuice potion takes the better part of a month to brew correctly. However when we are done we are going to transforming into anyone of your choice. You wont be able to leave the classroom I'm afraid but it should be something to look forward too."

Harry didn't feel all that well as the day continued. The classes themselves were enjoyable but his nightmare about Sirius was getting to him. It felt more like a vision than a nightmare to Harry, but how could it have been. There was no doubt that Sirius was dead. He had walked with Harry to face Voldemort with Harry's parents and Professor Lupin.

Ginny became worried when Harry wasn't eating at Lunch or Dinner. She did the coaching at quidditch practice because Harry couldn't seem to bring his attention to the team. When they got back into the common room Ginny lead up the stairs to his dormitory. "Harry Potter. Are you going to tell me what's wrong or not?" She asked angrily.

"No." Harry said blatantly. Ginny's mouth opened wide with shock before she narrowed her eyes.

"Oh really?" she asked making Harry a little afraid.

"Just been having some dreams. Nothing important." Harry tried passing off. Ginny's expression showed no sign of giving up. "I saw Sirius die but it didn't feel like a dream. It was like one of my visions." Ginny's expression washed away immediately and was replaced with one of guilt.

"I'm sorry Harry-" She started before Harry interrupted shaking his head.

"Don't be. It wasn't fair for me to keep it from you. We need to be more open with each other." Harry said followed by a weak smile. Ginny leaned forward and kissed him deeply. They slid closer together, still kissing. Seconds turned into minutes before a familiar clearing of the throat brought them to a stop. They looked to find a rather flustered looking Ron and a grinning Hermione.

"Is it true?" Hermione asked loudly before Ron tapped her on the shoulder.

"Not so loud, Hermione." He said with a tone that Harry recognized to be slightly angry.

"What?" asked Ginny who was sharing the same worried look as Harry.

"Hagrid's just told us." Hermione whispered excitedly.

"Only he didn't mean to tell us." Ron scowled.

"What?" Ginny asked again growing more impatient.

"Are you...er...preggers?" Hermione asked growing red in the face. Harry and Ginny were silent as they turned and looked at each other.

"Hagrid." Harry said putting his face in his hands.

"How could you tell Hagrid before you told me?" asked Ron angrily.

"We didn't tell Hagrid." Ginny declared defensively. "He noticed that I'm starting to show." Ron went red in the face and his anger seemed to die off for the most part.

"Oh." He replied scratching his head.

"How far along?" asked Hermione.

"Well we only...did it the once." Ginny said awkwardly.

"I can't listen to this." Ron said before heading up the stairs to his dorm. Hermione shook her head before motioning for Ginny to continue.

"It was in the summer. Madam Pomfrey thinks that I'm about three months."

"That sounds about right." Harry said doing the math in his head.

"Is that why you aren't playing quidditch?" Hermione asked.

"Yeah." Ginny replied a little depressed. "I'll play if we lose one of our Chasers though." She added.

"When are you gonna tell mum?" asked Ron.

"We're going to the burrow for the weekend." Harry said. Ginny shot him a surprised look before swallowing hard.

"We are?" She asked worried.

"Yes." Harry answered.

"Wicked." Ginny said sarcastically. Hermione giggled to herself.

"It can't be that bad." Hermione said reassuringly before both Ginny and Ron looked at her like she was an escapee from St. Mungos. "Or it can." She corrected.

Harry was the first one in Charms class the next day. He sat, reading the book of healing magic, waiting for class to begin. The seats were almost all full when Ginny arrived with an excited look on her face. She sat down next to Harry and leaned close to whisper "Hermione says she's ready to cast the animagus spell and that the potion should be ready by this evening." A grin spread across his face as Ginny pulled away.

"Okay. Does Neville know?" Harry asked.

"Yes. He's canceled his afternoon lesson to go and get Luna." Ginny replied as Professor Flitwick climbed up to his pulpit.

"Hello class." He squeaked excitedly. "Today we are going to start our section on the fidelius charm...Mr. Potter where is Weasley and Granger?" Harry held back a smirk as he thought of an excuse.

"A bit under the weather professor. Change of the seasons and all." He said convincingly.

"Right. Got a bit of the sniffles myself." Flitwick replied. "Anyway has anyone heard of the fidelius charm?" Harry didn't raise his hand, although he knew the answer. Ginny shot her hand up and Flitwick called on her.

"The Fidelius Charm takes a secret and puts it into a single persons soul. Only they can share the secret and unless they willingly share the information with you it's impossible to find out." said Ginny.

"Very good. Ten points to Gryffindor." Flitwick said before continuing on about the charm.

"You've been around Hermione too much." Harry said with a chuckle.

"I read too." Ginny laughed back.

"Wish I would have known that before I fell in love." Harry joked.

"Wouldn't have mattered. Even the great Harry Potter can't resist me." Ginny teased back.

"What is the person who the holds the secret called Mr. Potter?" Flitwick asked noticing that Harry wasn't paying attention.

"The secret-keeper." Harry replied quickly. Flitwick mumbled a bit before continuing.

"So where are we meeting after dinner?" Harry asked quietly.

"The room of requirements. Where else?"

"Moaning Myrtle's lavatory?" Harry asked earning a stern look from Ginny.

"I haven't been there since my first year."

"Er...sorry."

After dinner Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione headed up to the Room of Requirements where Neville and Luna were waiting for them. Harry felt safe knowing that Neville was able to manipulate the Room of Requirements to make it impossible to be interrupted. Luna was saying hi to everyone while Hermione was drawing a six pointed star on the ground along with some other magic script.

"Alright everyone. Stand on one of the points." she said pointing to the star. Everyone followed her directions and waited for her as she rummaged through her bottomless bag. "Everyone gets a vial. One by one we will drink and in the middle of the star your spirit animal will appear. When everyone's shape is revealed then I'll cast the spell." she added handing everyone a vial.

"I'll go first to make sure it's safe." Said Neville with a sheepish grin. Luna punched him lightly on the shoulder.

"So brave." She joked. Neville tipped his vial back and drank it in one swallow. A blue mist rose from his chest and floated to the center of the star. It turned inside itself until the shape of a ram remained butting its head.

"Wicked." Neville grinned.

"I'll go next." Luna chimed in. She drank and the same mist floated out to the center of the star forming a hare. She laughed as the animal hopped around.

"My turn." Ron demanded draining the potion. The mist formed a terrier, panting away playfully in the center of the star. Hermione drank her potion and an owl formed from the blue mist.

"I thought your patronus was an otter?" Ron asked confused.

"It is Ron. In rare cases the animagus form differs from the patronus. There have been two known cases where people have had more than one form." Hermione instructed.

"Oh." Ron replied blushing.

"I believe that it's my turn." Ginny said before drinking her potion. A beautiful blue horse formed from the mist, rearing on its hind legs it shifted into a doe.

"Merlins beard." Neville shouted. Ginny turned red in the face as her smile spread from ear to ear. Harry also blushed knowing why the second form was possible. "Alright Harry. It's your turn."

"Bottoms up." Harry said drinking. The blue mist slowly drifted into the center of the star and spun around violently and turning to a deep shade of red. The mist exploded into a phoenix and soared around the room before shifting into a stag as it landed. The stag continued running before shifting into a great black dog. Hermione about fell over as the dog dissipated.

"Er...Harry?" She spoke finally finding her voice.

"Yeah?" Harry asked astounded.

"Did that just happen?"

"Yeah." He replied. Hermione stood staring vaguely lost in thought when Harry cleared his throat. "Hermione?"

"Yeah?" She asked.

"Should you cast the spell?"

"Oh...right." She replied shaking her head. "phasmatis bestia verus vultus exorior." She repeated as she performed a vary complex wand motion. The symbols on the floor began to glow bright blue as everyone fell to their knees and blacked out.

They awoke several hours later in a daze. Harry rubbed his head where it must have broken his fall. He put on his glasses to see everyone else rubbing in a similar manner. "Is everyone alright?" Harry asked pulling out his wand.

"Just sore." Ron replied rubbing his neck.

"Poena aufero" Harry said waving his wand. Everyone straightened out, their pain removed. "Healing spells." Harry said grinning.

"How do we change?" asked Ron.

"Meditation." Hermione replied sitting down on her corner of the star. The rest did the same looking to Hermione for guidance. "Close your eyes and focus on the animal you saw. When you can feel its heart beat try to match it to yours. Then you will be the animal. Once you change the first time you can do it anytime you want." She said very text book like.

"What if you have more than one animal?" asked Ginny. Harry nodded also wondering.

"I suppose you'll have to do it with each animal." Hermione replied not sure. Everyone closed their eyes and focused. Harry thought about which animal to become first and remembered that Ginny had a patronus for him and decided to focus on the stag. He watched in his head as his stag ran through a forest with a doe. The sun shining down on their soft coats of fur. Then he felt it. A second pulse beating in his mind. With each beat a surge of energy ran through his veins. He focused on slowing down to the same rhythm as his heart. When the two beat together he opened his eyes to find himself staring a doe. He thought it odd, but at the same time warming, that the doe was very attractive to him.

"Beautiful." he said. The doe looked away as if embarrassed.

"You're not bad yourself." Ginny joked back. Eventually all of the others shifted into their forms.

"Congratulations." Hermione spoke from her owl shape. "We are now all outlaws."