Wow, so it's been a while, and while I'd like to blame school...I can't because this late update has more to do with the story getting to a hard part then anything else. This next chapter might be a bit late as well, due to that same factor. But then it should pick up again. Anyway, please, enjoy this chapter.
Oh, and I'd also like to point out that if you are reading this on a wide screen and all the paragraphs are a single line long...I suggest shrinking the window and viewing it the way the story was *meant* to be read. Just a thought.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter, nor do I own Avatar...I just like to play with them a bit.
Chapter 4: Lost Pup
Teddy Lupin was a smart little boy. Mione said he got that from his dad, just like he got his magic hair from his mum. So it was not at all suprising that the cleaver child knew something was up with his guardian.
No, in fact, it was quite obvious to the little boy that something big had happened and he was determined to find out what.
Mione had been at work more often then usual lately, and when she was home she always had her nose in a book.
Now, Teddy didn't mind the reading, and he, himself, was fond of a good book or two every once in a while, but that had been before.
Before, when Hermione had paid attention to him, played with him.
He knew she wasn't doing it on purpose and whatever she was working on must be important; normally that wouldn't bother him. After all, he'd been living with Mione for four years now and he knew Hermione had a habit of getting a little caught up in things (mainly work or research).
What he did find interesting was the shouting match he'd heard her have with who he thought might be Ron Weasley.
Teddy had never met the man, not that he remembered anyway, but he did know that they had been a couple a loooong time ago-before Harry disappeared.
Surprisingly, Teddy did remember harry.
But that wasn't the point, the point was that Hermione had been in a big fight with that Weasley guy last night and she had been very upset afterwords. Teddy wasn't sure exactly what they had been talking about, but he had heard Harry's name being thrown around-a lot- and he knew that this new mystery of Mione's must have something to do with his missing godfather.
Teddy had decided, in true Gryffindor form, that whatever was going on he would definitely be a part of it. Especially if it meant getting Harry back and Mione to stop crying.
His plan for infiltration would be effective immediately. Starting tonight, he would begin keeping track of his guardians every move, so he too would be ready when the time came.
Harry loved flying. In fact, his earliest memory -turned dream- consisted of cutting through England's star studded night sky on his godfather's giant motorcycle.
Harry was also a natural on a broom-something he'd been told repeatedly since starting Hogwarts at the wee age of 11- and loved the simple thrill of free-falling after a small speck of gold racing towards the emerald pitch.
It was this addiction to the freedom granted from a broom that led him to his-very successful- career in professional quidditch.
But this...this was no controlled dive from the seat of his extremely reliable firebolt. This was a terrifying plummet to his DOOM.
His heart must have been left behind on that cliff because his stomach had taken up residence in it's sudden vacancy. His eyes were squeezed shut-a combination of rushing air and outright panic, to be sure- but his mouth somehow managed to hang open allowing for a terrified (and frightfully girly) shriek to escape his lips.
Then he was plunged into the icy waters of a conveniently placed river. Of course he wasn't thinking it was quite so convenient at the time, especially when his gasp at the unexpected change in temperature resulted in him inhaling dirty water instead of the life-giving air he was used to.
Everything was very confusing and he was continually buffeted against any and all rocks lounging along the riverbed. He was in all kinds of pain and the fact that he couldn't tell which way was up only heightened his overall panic.
He was just beginning to see spots when a strong hand latched onto his wrist and dragged him to the surface where he had a brief moment of sputtering before his lungs were fit to draw in the much-needed air.
Unfortunately it was only a momentary reprieve. The current was strong and Harry was already growing weak and sluggish with cold. His magic was going haywire, trying to keep him warm and breathing and he knew it would wait until he wasn't in immediate danger to try healing his ankle. But his magic wasn't used to the atmosphere or the body, and as much as it liked this new form it was draining away alarmingly fast
Jake fought to get them both to safety, Harry wasn't much help, but he was sure they were going to make it.
Until the current slammed them into a pile of driftwood and Harry was torn from the larger avatar's grasp.
With a desperate, frightened cry of "Jake!", Harry clawed at anything and everything in an attempt to slow his momentum long enough for Jake to reach him, but just as Harry felt the brush of his friend's fingers on his, he was swept out of reach. He quickly lost sight of the big Na'vi as the waves pulled him under again and he was forced to turn his attention to more important problems...like his once again burning need to breath.
Harry wasn't sure how long he fought the river before the current slowed and he was able to drag himself from the freezing water and onto the muddy sand of the bank.
He didn't move far before collapsing, gasping for breath and half sobbing as he trembled on the edge of the river.
Harry was exhausted; physically, emotionally, and magically exhausted, and all he really wanted to do was sleep.
He wasn't sure how long he remained lying there, and he didn't even think of moving before his breathing steadied and his pitiful sobs had calmed. He thought he might have even lost consciousness at one point because when he opened his eyes it was dark out and everything was glowing.
That was definitely not what he had been expecting, and he wasn't altogether sure it wasn't some sort of fever induced hallucination. Hallucination or not Harry was too drained to truly appreciate the exotic beauty of the display.
With a pained groan Harry pushed himself into a sitting position. He was still damp, his clothes were soaked through and torn almost past recognition. The cold garments weren't helping any to drive off the bone deep chill that had settled in.
With painstaking slowness he began divesting himself of clothes. It wouldn't do him any good to stay wrapped in the soggy cloth and it was likely inviting hypothermia (if he didn't already have it). He paused after taking off his shirt, cringing internally at the 'bra' Grace had forced him to wear while in this form. Why he had to where the godforsaken thing he hadn't a clue, it wasn't like he had all that much of a bust. In fact, if he wasn't missing a certain aspect down below Harry could almost convince himself that everything was normal.
Sighing he turned his mind back to his predicament when his leg gave an insistently painful throb.
He used his shirt to wipe the blood and dirt from his injured leg, wincing at the torn flesh and throbbing pain that accompanied the wound.
With a heavy sigh the young Na'vi stumbled to her feet and staggered towards the waiting forest. He needed to find someplace safe and preferably warm to rest. Hopefully Jake would find him before too long and take him back to base.
He was coughing by the time he reached the trees and he collapsed against the nearest one when the world started tilting alarmingly around him.
With a soft moan he closed his eyes and tried to focus on his breathing. It was difficult to ignore the pulsating pain in his leg and the mounting headache making itself known. He was hot even as he shivered from the cold.
He couldn't stay there for long. He needed to find someplace to hide. His mind was foggy but he knew it would be dangerous to sit out in the open like this, especially with the scent of fresh blood in the air. There was no telling what other animals might be out there just waiting to get a taste of him.
Watching his young friend be swallowed by the river was one of the more painful moments of the ex-marine's life. He wanted nothing more then to dive in after the boy-turned girl, but he knew that wasn't a very reasonable thing to do.
Tearing his eyes away from the spot Harry had disappeared, Jake dragged his sorry carcass out of the muddy water and onto dry land. He didn't go far from the river, stopping at the nearest tree, he leaned against it, resting his forehead against the rough bark.
Closing his eyes he thought about what to do.
Sure, they boy was a weird little brat, but Jake had become inexplicably fond of the guy. He couldn't just leave him out there. Besides, Jake owed Harry his life; if it wasn't for him Jake would be monster chow by now.
Growling in frustration Jake lashed out, pounding his fist against the tree supporting him.
It didn't help much, and now his hand stung.
Slinging himself away from the tree he turned to watch the raging falls for a moment as he thought. There wasn't much to think about. He had to find Harry, and the best way to do that would be to follow the river and hope the smaller Na'vi washed up somewhere along the way.
He would find him, Jake swore to himself, and harry would be fine.
That decided, Jake spun around and started down the bank, keeping a sharp eye on the rushing water.
It wasn't long until he realized he would need to change tactics. The water was obviously moving too fast for him to catch up to his small friend very quickly and sunlight was fading fast.
Bearing his teeth at the sky, Jake headed towards the trees. Moments later he froze, ears twitching back as his heart rate sped up.
He paused for a moment, scanning the treeline for any signs of life, ears perked as he strained to hear. He thought at first it had been Harry calling out to him or trying in some small way to draw his attention, but when nothing further happened he brushed it off as his imagination and continued his scanning of the churning water.
Moments later he froze again, the tiny pink hairs at the end of his braid curling and his hackles rising. His ears flattened to his skull and his tail twisted close to his body.
Something was watching him; hunting him.
Jake swallowed thickly, his mind racing as his eyes scanned his surroundings for threats. Nothing stuck out, but he wasn't in a position to take such things for granted. He was on a strange planet, separated from his group with no way of defending himself. His first thoughts should have been on locating a weapon, he shouldn't have let his concern for the younger man overpower that first rule. He would be no good to Harry if he were dead.
Finding Harry would just have to wait.
Ears pressed flat in irritation, as well as unease, Jake continued his trek into the forest skirting the river. He made sure not to wander in too deep, keeping one eye on the river and one eye open for possible weapons.
It didn't take him very long to find a reasonably sturdy candidate-even weight distribution and the beginnings of a point on one end. He took a moment to begin stripping the wood clean of imperfections before zeroing in on the tip.
He made quick work of it, and soon had himself a crude, but undeniably pointy-ended, spear.
Once again suitably armed, Jake straightened to his considerable height and glanced around the surrounding trees once more.
The feeling of being watched remained, just as cool and impersonal as before with just a touch of hostility. It made his teeth tingle and the hairs on the tip of his tail to bristle uncomfortably. Shaking his head in what could possibly be considered a physical attempt to dislodge those disturbing thoughts, Jake redoubled his search for Harry.
Hours passed and the sun relinquished his throne in the sky yet still there was no sign of Harry.
Long slinking shadows crawl over the ground to tickle the black pit that was once a bright river. And Jake had once again put his search on hold. A new threat had made itself known with the sinking of the sun.
Something was hunting him. It felt different from the earlier cold impersonal eyes tracking him, and he had spotted flashes of sleek forms gliding among the trees and glinting iridescent orbs glaring hungrily from out of the darkness. Yowls and yips rent the air from all around making him jump and twist as he tried to see what was stalking him.
Straining his eyes in the darkness he couldn't see anything. Cursing he striped off his shirt, which was mostly dry by this point, and flipped his spear point down. A few quick strokes and the blunt end of the stick was swathed with the remnants of Jake's shirt, which he then proceeded to dip into a thick stinky sap leaking down the trunk of a nearby tree.
Fishing through his survival kit revealed a small stash of water proof matches which he quickly set to work. Sending up a silent thanks to whatever God was listening Jake lights the torch, extraordinarily pleased when it lights like a marshmallow over a campfire.
Nothing moves, only the irradically dancing shadows, and Jake slowly starts creeping through the trees, his eyes scanning the surrounding foliage.
There was something there, slinking alongside him just outside of the range of his torch light. A flash of glowing green eyes jerks Jake's attention to his other side and a rustling has him scanning the branches above his head with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
These creatures couldn't be in the trees too…could they? No, surely not.
Glinting green eyes and a cry not unlike mocking laughter rose in air as if in answer to his silent question, even as a sleek form dropped out of the tree directly above him.
Cursing Jake catches it on his stick, it's jaws snapping inches from his face and putrid breath fanning over his skin. Small, clawed back paws dug into his chest and sides as it fought to overpower him.
Jake's face scrunches up in disgust, his teeth flashing in the flickering light of the torch. He mustered his strength and wrenched his spear to the side, sending the wolf-ish creature back into the possessive shadows it had come from; a thin trail of his blood arching in the air behind it as he ripped it away from him.
Jake didn't wait a second longer, he took off through the trees, brushing his torch in front of him to warn off any of the beasts. It kept his way in front of him fairly clear, but it wasn't any help for the fangs nipping at his heels or the claws grappling at his feet.
Outrunning these monstrous hounds through unfamiliar terrain in the dark was not one of Jake's better moments. He couldn't see more then three feet in front of him at any given moment and had no idea how many of these creatures were after him. To be perfectly honest Jake wasn't at all sure he even knew how to fight the things.
For all he knew they had some sort of impenetrable skin and there was no telling what kind of poisons resided in their claws and/or teeth.
All in all, this was a very bad situation, and getting worse by the minute. The very forest seems to be against him, running him up against the steep bank of a small stream. And steep it was, all Jake could really see was the glint of black liquid at an indeterminable distance below.
Jake had only one option, cross.
He did so by way of a conveniently fallen log stretching out over the yawning crevice, hopefully this would also slow his pursuers down.
He should have known better.
Upon reaching the other side Jake came to a sudden halt, his eyes sweeping over the sea of glinting green spheres laughing at him in the darkness.
Retreating wasn't an option he quickly discovered, since the log was now overrun by the grinning creatures.
They stalk forward slowly, the ones on the land in front of him weaving around and brushing against each other; a pack.
Jake now had a very good view of the creatures...and he wished he didn't. They were like something from out of a nightmare and had he been from the magical world he might have likened them to the thestrals.
They were hound like, as he had suspected earlier, with six long legs and strange hand-like paws. Long black teeth were set in a gaping, snarling maw of white gums, and their hard shining black skin was stretched over an emancipated skeletal frame.
There were too many of them and Jake doubted he would be coming out of this uninjured, if he managed to survive at all.
Then again, it wasn't just his life hanging in the balance on this; Harry was still out there, lost and alone and it was his job to get him to safety.
Baring his teeth in what was quickly becoming a habitual reaction, Jake snarled at the creatures surrounding him, "Come on, I don't the time to waste on you, so let's get this done already."
The creatures seemed to take this to heart, one brave soul breaking free of the pack and launching towards him in a blur of shadow.
Jake pivots, his spear coming up to hit the creature in the gut, tossing it to the side as he had with the first one.
This seemed to trigger another attack, this one from his left and slightly behind him now.
Jake's tail lashes through the air as he spins around, his torch arching through the air to clonk this one over the head and sending it into the hard packed earth.
Two more break rank and make their move and that seemed to be some sort of cue as all of a sudden he was swarmed by the creatures, teeth gnashing at his wrist as one take's a hold of the spear in it's teeth, trying to cut him off from his weapon.
Jake dug his elbow into one of the hounds going after his neck from behind, and ducked under another monster flying at his face
Teeth sank into his arms, legs and shoulder and claws tear into his sides painfully. The creatures don't stay within reach long, taking their blood out of him before retreating to let another body through for their turn.
It was over, he was sure of it, there were just too many of them, and he all he had was a primitive spear/torch and his knife. There was no possible way he could survive this attack; he was dog chow...which was rather ironic and something he never thought he'd say since the k-9 species had long since died out back on earth.
Then a miracle happened. Well, not a miracle, per say, it was actually an arrow. It came out of nowhere, lodging itself in the wolf currently trying for a second (or was it on to thirds by now) helping of Jake's bloody side.
Jake stares at the dead wolf for a moment, not quite comprehending what had just happened, then raised his eyes just in time to see the vision appear. She dropped into the clearing like an avenging angel, all long limbs and fiery eyes set in a stony, but beautiful face-for a blue skinned alien, Jake was quick to remind himself-.
She moved like a panther, with a fluid predatory grace and an uncanny skill and accuracy. She felled two more of the hounds with her arrows before leaping headlong into battle, pulling a long knife out of Heavens knew where.
All Jake could do was stand there and gape in stunned silence, eyes tracking this stunning creature as she danced through the torchlight slaying all that came in her path.
He was brought out of his staring when one of the hounds turned on him again. He really should have seen that coming, but, really, who could blame him for being a little...distracted...at the moment.
Keeping half his attention on the girl, and the other half on the actual fight was not something he was used to doing, and try as he might he just couldn't bring himself to completely immerse himself in the fight. His eyes kept seeking out the exquisite amazon fighting along side him.
A long wail rent the air followed by several low snarls as the pack slunk back into the shadows, tails tucked firmly between their legs and sending hateful glares at the Na'vi and Jake over their bony little shoulders.
The blue woman chases after the retreating hounds a few paces, yelling back at them through the darkness. Jake watches breathless as she stands listening to the beasts fading yelps before turning around.
Jake let's his eyes trail over her body as she moves towards him, her exotic features displayed in harsh lines by the flickering light of the torch. Her body was long and thin, and the play of light and shadows cast enchanting designs on her dark skin.
Moments later and said light was gone and Jake was left gaping at her silhouette completely baffled, "No wait..." He heard his own voice say, as if his late protest could really effect her resolve to put out the flames. It obviously didn't and he dove forward to try to salvage the torch only to pause and blink, realizing he could still see.
More then that, the entire night seemed to have come alive with the extinguishing of the light. It was like magic, everything was glowing and he could practically hear the hum of contentment spreading through the forest leaves as they ignite in a brilliant display of blue and green designs.
Jake bends down slowly, drawing his spear from what had seemed like a deep chasm just moments before, but now was a gentle stream lapping at his toes like a playful puppy.
It was beautiful, and he had almost missed it.
Soft whimpering from behind him pulls him back around to face his rescuer. She was knelt in the dirt next to one of the dying wolves, one hand was hovering over the creature as if she wanted to pet the thing but was hesitant to cause it more pain.
Jake could hear her speaking softly as she pulled her knife from it's chest, and drew it across the thing's throat, cutting it off mid-cry.
She stays a moment longer before moving on to another fallen animal, Jake following uncertainly. He wants to thank her, it was only right since she saved him, but would she even understand him?
He doubted it, but that wasn't about to stop him. "Look," He started, keeping his voice soft so as not to startle her, "um, I know you probably don't understand this, but...thanks."
He paused to look at her face, her eyes were closed as she leaned over another dying beast, "Thank you." He persisted, despite her incomprehension, "I owe you."
She didn't seem to hear him, moving onto another of the hell-hounds, Jake followed her eyes to the thing. He felt his ears flick back and quickly looked away, that animal didn't look nearly so bad in this new surreal light, in fact it looked kinda small...
He shook his head lightly and started talking again, more to himself this time then anything, "I would have been screwed if you hadn't come along, those little things pack quite the punch-" He cut off when she rises and walks off without so much as looking at Jake.
Jake stands looking around uncertainly, running a hand through his hair in agitation. As much as this girl intrigued him, he had to find Harry. That was his first priority, so, turning in the completely opposite direction she'd headed, he renewed his search, a little more weary of what else could pop out at him from the darkness. "Harry!" He yelled, wondering if he should be calling out at all, but unsure how else he was supposed to locate the boy.
He continued on in this fashion for a while before he got the feeling of eyes on him again, and he froze, glancing around as his ears flicked nervously.
He stumbled back as the girl from before dropped in front of him out of the trees above where she had obviously been keeping an eye on him.
"Whoa." He murmured, caught off guard by her abrupt reappearance. She was leaning towards him, her face uncomfortably close to his own. Jake's chin was tilted up and away from her as he looked down into her large inquisitive golden eyes.
When she doesn't say anything, just continues looking, he shifts uncomfortably, "Can-Can I help you?" And wasn't that the stupidest thing he'd ever said.
Her eyes narrowed, telling him she thought so as well, "What you do in forest? Why you here?" Her tone was sharp and accusatory.
Jake sighed and stepped away from her, for someone so skinny she was a little intimidating, "It's not like I want to be here. We got lost, separated from our group."
This wasn't the answer she was looking for, and she looked around in confusion, "We? There is only you, stomping through trees, make problems." She gestured behind him angrily, "They did not need to die." That was hissed at him, and he found himself staring at alarmingly pointy teeth.
Problems. Yeah, those wolves definitely counted as a problem, but it was hardly his fault. He told her so, "Look, they attacked me. How does that make me the bad guy?"
She hissed at him, "You are like a baby, making noise, don't know what to do. You should not come here, all of you! You only come and make problems. Only."
Jake steps away from her slowly, any other day he might have challenged her on that, but he really couldn't waste time on this, he'd wasted enough already. He really hoped Harry was alright.
"Look, I'm sorry alright. I didn't mean to cause you trouble, but I have to look for my friend." Her ears perked up at this and she looked at him curiously now.
"Yes h-she," He corrected himself at the last minute, "got swept down the river earlier this morning."
The alien's eyes flicked in the direction the river was, her tail twitching behind her, "She lost?"
Jake sighed, "Yes, we were being chased by one of those giant black..." He floundered, unsure what to call that thing, "cat," He finally settled on, "it chased us over a cliff and we got separated there."
He paused, debating with himself for a moment, did he really want to ask for help? It was the reasonable thing to do, she would know the forest. If anyone could find Harry, it was her.
"Would, would you help me?" She took a step back, her ears arching back to lay against her skull, she was going to say no. "Please, she's still so young, and she doesn't have any protection. I don't even know if she made it out of the river or not. Please, help me." He hated begging, but if it helped him find Harry then he would do it.
At that moment a strange floating...bug...drifted towards him and tried to land on his arm. He batted at it in irritation, his attention still focused on the girl. The stupid thing wouldn't take no for an answer, though, and tried to land on him again.
So he swatted at it a second time, only to have his hand snatched up by the girl. Jake froze, staring at their connected hands. He didn't stare long because another of the annoying bugs came out of nowhere and tried to land on his other arm. Jake tried to brush it off with his other hand, only to have the girl capture that one as well, making a shushing sound at him.
Jake gave her a dirty look, but remained obediently still. More of the strange white feathery bugs floated towards him and the girl released his hand and stepped away, her golden eyes wide with what looked like awe.
Jake thought he might have missed something, and glanced down at his arms. While he'd been caught up in staring at the exotic beauty the insects had amassed until all you could see of Jake's upper torso was a great wall of white fluff with hints of indigo peaking through.
Now Jake was a little afraid to move, unsure of what would happen if he disturbed the creatures. Were they poisonous? If so being stung or bitten by so many could be potentially fatal.
He wasn't willing to risk it, and so, stood perfectly still hoping they would grow bored with him and go away.
What felt like hours later a light breeze dusted through the forest and, just like that, the insects were gone; swept away in a feathery cloud of white.
Jake turned around to watch, his earlier trepidation replaced by an awe suspiciously similar to that of the native girl's.
They stood like that for a long moment, Jake watching the dispersing cloud and the Na'vi watching Jake.
"What were those things?" He asked, glancing over his shoulder to look at her.
"Atchirina." The woman answered, her voice gentle, almost reverent, "It is sign. From Eywa."
At this Jake turned completely around to face her. He still had no idea what an Atchirina was, much less an Eywa, but he did know what a sign was. "So you'll help me find Harry?" He asked hopefully. His search would go much quicker with someone like her on his side.
The girl continued to watch him with impossibly wide lemon hued eyes before she nodded her head slowly, once. Jake beamed at her, "Thank you." He gushed, relief evident in his voice, "I'm Jake Sully." He introduced, silently hoping she'd reciprocate.
She continued to stare at him for a long moment, her expression blank, before turning and disappearing into the thick of the forest, calling out a "Come Shzaksoolie." over her shoulder.
As they walked- Jake stumbling along behind the elegant prowl of his Na'vi guide- the young man described what had happened to the best of his ability. He assumed, at first, that she was taking him back to the river so they could pick up Harry's trail.
It was soon evident that this was not the case, instead she was leading him deeper into the forest, away from where Harry was sure to be waiting.
"Hey," He called, slightly upset as he grabbed the native's arm, pulling her to a stop. "Where are we going? There's no way Harry could have made it this far from the river."
The blue skinned woman bared a fang at him in irritation, wrenching her arm from his grasp, "Forest very big. Hunter camp near, they help."
This made sense, and, in Jake's opinion, the more the merrier. So he let her go, following silently now, or as silently as his bumbling feet would Carry him.
That thought brought a happy smile to his lips, and an excited tingle racing down his spine (something that happened every time he thought about walking on his own). He didn't say anything else for the rest of the hike, his thoughts turning internal. 'Soon,' he promised himself, 'We'll find Harry soon.'
Okay, one thing I'd like to get out of the way real quick, I know Atchirina are seeds, not insects, but Jake doesn't know that, and that is what matters.
So, tell me what you think, I love all your reviews and look forward to every single one.
Oh, and next chapter is where it get's real fun...Tsu'tey joins our little circus.