I had an idea the other night while watching the Goblet of Fire.
Nagini is said to be Voldemort's familiar, so I thought then; why not make the rest of the wizards have familiars too?
But most importantly, what familiar would suit better our little hero?
So, that's what this story is based on.
It was magnificent outside, the trees, the birds, the crystal clear blue sky… everything seemed to be pulsing with life. Christmas was only two weeks away, but surprisingly enough, nature was particularly pleasant today, even if it was pouring only the day before.
It might had to do with the fact that not even nature could bring herself to destroy the all too joyful mood that seemed to be wrapping the entire castle in its folds.
And just for today, it had nothing to do with school break being just around the corner.
Quite on the contrary actually. If possible, that little fact was all but forgotten today.
For today, was the day of the Summoning Ritual. The day that each and every one of the sixth year students would be getting their lifelong familiar, a being that would assist them in every way possible and would stay loyal to its master no matter the situation.
It was with great anticipation that this day was awaited by every single sixth year at Hogwarts. Its residents, not only the pupils, but ghosts, teachers, house elves, portraits and generally every being of the castle, couldn't help but share the students' excitement.
The seventh years, having already gone through this ceremony themselves in their previous year, could only sympathize with their fellow wizards and witches, knowing all too well the anxiety, nervousness and seer bliss the others must be experiencing, having felt those emotions to their core.
The atmosphere was so overwhelmingly high, that the younger students couldn't help but be affected as well.
Well, the fact that all classes had been canceled in the light of today's events might have been an additional reason.
Of course, be that as it may, a single student wasn't meant to be at peace not even today.
The Summoning Ritual was the least of Harry's concerns at the moment. His thoughts were riling, swirling around in his head and making his brain go fuzzy. When Dumbledore had told him on the start of the year that they would be having lessons together, Harry had never anticipated the subject of those lessons.
Which was none other than Lord Voldemort himself, or rather, Tom Riddle as he was known back in his early years.
Harry would have never imagined, not even in his wildest dreams, that the Headmaster would be showing him memories of Voldemort's past, not even as means to getting to know the dark wizard's traits.
So far, he had only learnt of the man's origins, who his parents were and what kind of family he descended from. All in all, Harry found it reasonable that Voldemort could not even begin to decipher the meaning of the word love. He hadn't even been conceived out of love, his existence was only due to a potion that his mother had been administering to his father.
Tom Riddle Sr. was a pathetic excuse of a human being in Harry's opinion. Just because he was a Muggle, and just like every Muggle afraid of the unknown and unexplainable, he wasted no chance to abandon his wife upon learning of her nature. And his unborn child no less.
Truly pathetic, not even capable of taking responsibility of his actions.
Not that his mother could for that matter.
Merope Gaunt could only be described as a miserable woman, starved for love and the slightest bit of affection, making her desperate to escape that hell hole she called home.
But she was just as irresponsible as her husband. After being abandoned by the man she loved, it was as if she lost all desire to remain alive, as if her life was completely and utterly meaningless without him. She had even preferred death over her own child.
It made Harry sad, no matter how hard he tried not to be, telling himself that this was his parents' murderer they were talking about. It made his mind and thoughts wander far away from his reach, to the point that he had no control whatsoever over them.
Would Voldemort have been different if he had been raised by at least one of his parents?
But that only confirmed his suspicions that Voldemort was never meant to be loved. His past was all the proof they needed. That man had not only been born out of a mistake, but his soul had never experienced the slightest bit of real affection since his parents had never put love into his conception.
That fake feeling created by the love potion didn't even count.
And quite obviously from his past experiences so far, Harry wasn't meant to have a single peaceful year, whether it was here at Hogwarts or back to the Dursleys.
His eyes darted around, taking in the groups of students, talking excitingly and laughing like they had no care in the world. Oh, how he longed to be like them, carefree like them.
But it didn't matter now. The moment that scar was permanently imprinted onto his forehead, his fate had been sealed.
But enough of those misery filled thoughts. Emerald eyes staring right ahead as he made his way down the Grand Staircase, he allowed the gravity of today's meaning sink down.
He was going to get a familiar.
He couldn't help the grin that spread over his face at that thought. Sirius would be so proud if he got a dog. A wolf would do as well, it would be just like Lupin. He didn't know his dad's familiar, what kind of animal it had been and all that. He didn't know his mother's either…
If only he had considered asking Sirius about it while he still could, and Lupin was totally out of the question. Too many painful memories and he definitely didn't wish to cause the man any more pain.
A dismissive shake of the head in his attempt to shoo every unwanted thought away sent multiple strands of pitch black hair flying at every direction. But just as he reached the bottom of the stairs, every musing of that kind was chased away by all the sensations that literally overwhelmed him.
All sixth years were gathered outside the closed doors of the Great Hall, but for the first time, the students didn't stick with their respective housemates.
They were scattered all over the place, for once not caring about Houses and rivalries, none of them able to suppress their joy. Well, at least most of them. The all too noble House of Slytherin never ceased to be an exception to the rule.
But Harry didn't even bother to hide his amusement at the way the pure-bloods kept fidgeting and playing with the hems of their robes. It really amazed him how bound they were to their perfect ways, always appearing nonchalant even when they were giddy from excitement on the inside.
They never changed.
Arms were suddenly wrapped around him from behind, catching Harry off guard and nearly making him jump out of his skin. He spun around, only to be embraced properly this time, his own hands coming up around the person once he recognized their identity.
"Hello to you too, Hermione."
As if that was her cue, the girl instantly drew away, a wide smile breaking onto her features as she gazed at him. "Isn't this amazing, Harry? We're finally getting our very own familiars!"
Harry scrunched up his face into a mock hurt expression. "And here I thought that hug was because you missed me."
Hermione huffed and punched him playfully in the shoulder, emitting a laugh from him. A flash of red caught Harry's attention and he looked up just as the third and final member of their group came to a halt next to them.
"I swear she's more worked up about this ritual thing than she is with homework." Ron muttered quietly, leaning purposely closer to Harry as if telling a secret but his eyes never strayed from Hermione's.
Catching up to his friend's intention, Harry leaned close as well, "Better not let McGonagall see this. She would be most disappointed with her brilliant lioness."
"Knock it off, you two!" Hermione finally exclaimed, reaching out to smack her best friends in the head, earning identical chuckles in return as Harry and Ron took a few steps back to avoid her hands.
"So," Harry started after a moment, a smile still playing at his lips, "anything important I missed?"
Ron seemed to ponder over it, a frown twisting at his lips. "McGonagall gathered us in the common room, said some rubbish about the importance of today's Ritual."
Hermione flushed, her cheeks puffing up into a huff as she pointed an accusing finger at Ron, "That was actually important, Ronald! We didn't know half the stuff she talked about."
Ron however gave her an indifferent shrug. "Who cares whether or not the animal they summon breathes fire or slithers in the ground? The point is to just summon something."
"Of course it matters! Wouldn't you be proud if you got a creature with an actual ability rather than something common?" Hermione shot back, arms resting on her hips in emphasis.
"Wait… what?" Harry asked, completely flabbergasted by the whole turn of their conversation.
Hermione sighed exasperatedly, but if the way she was glaring at Ron was any indication, Harry had a feeling that he wasn't the target of her frustration. She crossed her arms, before stubbornly turning her back to Ron to address Harry. "She told us about the… categories, I guess you can call it, that the familiars are sorted into."
"Categories…" Harry repeated with a frown, staring between her and Ron as if they were crazy.
"Basically, the more dangerous the familiar is, the stronger the wizard." Hermione explained, brown eyes connecting with emerald in search of some understanding in them.
Dangerous. That word kept repeating in Harry's mind like a mantra. Dangerous… meaning, possessing some kind of ability capable to cause harm. To cause harm…
'Shit!'Harry cursed mentally, his thoughts going back to their previous musings, concerning a certain dark wizard. "Voldemort's familiar is a viper." he grumbled before cursing out loud. A few of their housemates gave him weird looks but wisely chose not to comment upon it, instead going back to their own business.
"Bloody hell," muttered Ron, "that explains it." Hermione nodded, her features scrunched up into a worried expression. Why hadn't they thought of the most obvious?
"Of course he wouldn't summon a 'common' familiar." Harry said just as quietly with sarcasm lapping at his voice, feet beginning to pace around the other two without his notice, "Nagini is not just any viper. She's enormous, much larger than any snake, with the exception of a basilisk of course, and much more poisonous."
"You kidding? The healers at St. Mungo's said that if we were another minute late, dad wouldn't have made it for sure." Ron said with a scowl, lips curling into an angry sneer.
"That thing isn't only poisonous. From what Harry had said, her jaws can actually rip out human flesh." Hermione's words caused involuntary shivers to course through their bodies, their skin crawling just from the image of it. A single glance was exchanged between them and their silent agreement was voiced. That subject was not to be discussed, in the near future at least.
Their heads whipped to the side with a start at the creaking sound, and it wasn't just them. All students fell quiet in an instant, waiting for the huge double doors of the Great Hall to open completely.
From there on, they were to do as instructed. One by one, each House was to step inside, where the Headmaster and their assigned Head of House would be waiting. Professor Snape and Madam Pomfrey would be present as well, in case of… an emergency. The specific Ritual after all, was strictly forbidden to proceed without supervision.
The students were to go inside one at a time. After the Ritual was completed, they would be exiting the Great Hall by the entrance that was normally used only by the teaching staff.
Gryffindor was assigned to go first, a fact that had displeased the Slytherins quite dearly for that matter.
Each Head of House had instructed their pupils earlier that morning according to the order with which they would enter.
Hermione and Ron were supposed to enter before him, something that had agitated Harry a little at first, and with the new revelation of the meaning behind the animals they would get, that agitation had only worsened.
One by one, each student went in, and all Harry could do was wait and watch as the doors closed behind his two best friends separately, only able to wish them luck, loathing the fact that no one would wish it for him.
After all, he was the last on the list, with Neville as the next to last.
Professor McGonagall had assured him that this was only a matter of precaution. Already aware of his past, Harry didn't blame them for being worried about the kind of familiar he would summon. He was way too unpredictable, a little fact that all teachers had learnt by now.
Neville's turn soon came, the ritual itself surprisingly enough lasting only for a couple of minutes. Harry was then the last to remain of his House but before the doors closed he was totally caught off guard by the softly whispered, "Good luck, Harry."
"Oh, you too!" he hurried to reply, just in time for Neville's from to disappear behind the doors. A small smile tugged at the corners of his lips, Neville's words having a soothing effect that he had never expected.
After last year's eventful face off with the Dark Lord's forces, the three of them had grown closer with not only Neville but Luna as well. Those two had been the only ones willing enough to stick with him when he needed help the most, aside from Ron and Hermione. They had even risked their lives when they knew the danger and possible trap they were walking into.
As if guided by his train of thought, his eyes traveled up and down the swarms of students that had once again huddled together to ease their anticipation, seeking out one specific Ravenclaw witch and spotting her not long after, sitting on her own just behind her housemates.
Emerald eyes narrowed. They were passing past her as if she was completely nonexistent, they didn't even bother to look at her. Harry was totally baffled by this. Such a stark contrast with his own housemates. No matter the time and place, the Gryffindors would always greet each other or talk even if it was about the silliest of stuff. But then again, hadn't he done the same? He wasn't even aware of the girl's existence before his fifth year.
His mind went back, recalling the way he had been upset just because there wouldn't be anyone from his own House to keep him company, someone to help his agitated nerves. Luna was amongst her entire House and yet it was as if she wasn't.
He was already making his way over to her without even considering it twice.
The blonde witch lifted her head when he joined her, mimicking her position and leaning his own back against the wall. He had never expected the smile that graced her features to be so warm.
"Hey, Harry." she said in her usual soft toned voice that the raven haired teen had grown so accustomed to.
Stray locks of golden hair brushed softly against his cheek as the person in question shook her head. "Nervous wouldn't be my specific choice of word. I know I'll get a familiar that suits better with my soul. That's why there's nothing to be nervous about."
Harry's perplexed blink of the eyes was involuntary. "Your soul?" It was a pretty much common occurrence for the girl to talk about incomprehensible things that most people had never heard of. Was this another one of those things?
Luna tilted her head to the side and gave him a funny look, as if he was the one talking nonsense here, "Didn't you know, Harry? It's said that the familiars we summon are destined for us, suiting only the wizard or witch that summons them according to that person's soul and persona."
Black eyebrows creased into a well deserved frown. The whirls in his mind were moving furiously, trying to piece together the puzzle that was Luna's words. "So… the meanest a wizard is, the more dangerous animal he gets?" His thoughts had wandered back to his supposed nemesis on their own accord.
Luna's lips curled into a small frown, eyes staring somewhere out in the distance while she seemed to ponder over it. And Harry found himself strangely attached to the words she was going to say, waiting her response with an uneasy feeling growing in his gut.
When her attention was once again focused on him, Harry let out a breath he hadn't been aware he was holding. The minutes were flying by with a speed he now found himself despising.
"If a person is mean just on the outside so as not to be seen as weak, I highly doubt it. But if one's soul really is black, then they will probably summon a creature with a heart just as black." Luna's gentle smile was back in place, but this time it offered little to no comfort to Harry.
As if on cue, the double doors of the Great Hall opened yet again, signaling that Neville's time was over and that Harry was next. Mind and pulse still racing, the last of the lions stepped away from the wall. He would have wished Luna good luck but he remembered that according to her this ritual was irrelevant with luck and so, with a quick 'I'll see you later' and a small wave he made his way inside, only vaguely hearing the girl's response of, "I hope you'll like your match, Harry."
His head hurt from the information he had get in a single evening. Thoughts about evil Dark Lords, murderous snakes and predestined familiars made absolutely no sense to him anymore.
He did know one thing though…
This Ritual would decide the course his fate would take from then on.
Newborn panic began clawing at his insides, making his stomach clench in a vey much unpleasant way. What if the familiar he got wasn't the one he was hoping for?
What if he got something that wasn't approved of?
Hermione had said that if the familiar possessed an ability, whether it was a killing or defensive one, it would only be a sign of the sorcerer's potential.
But according to Luna, the familiar would represent the nature of his soul, depending on the animal he would get.
What was he supposed to believe?
He could feel the first rounds of a headache and he thought for a moment if he could ask Madam Pomfrey for a pain reliever potion. It wouldn't do to proceed with the Ritual if he couldn't focus his full attention on it.
The doors closed behind him with a loud slamming sound and he couldn't help that feeling of a trapped animal that shot up his spine, making him shudder. He instructed himself to keep breathing, saying over and over again in his mind that this was just him being paranoid, that it was going to end with the perfect familiar following him out of this room.
Damn… he had never been good with convincing himself.
END OF CHAPTER ONE
I hope you liked the first chapter of my new story, and if you did I'm waiting for your response.
I've been toying with the concept of familiars in my mind for a while now, so I decided to put it down on paper.
What do you think then? Was it any good?