Disclaimer: if i'd written Harry Potter, I would have written it so that the Death Eaters actually lost the first blood war. You see, after Voldemort disappears, the wealthiest Death Eaters turn around and claim Imperious, remember? And then get away with it, right?

Now ponder this:

Ten years later, who is amongst the chief advisors to the minister?

Who sits on the Hogwarts Board of Governors?

Who has such a stranglehold on the Slytherin families that his son, a blatant Gryffindor if ever there was one, manages to become the Prince of Slytherin despite a known Parseltongue being in the school at the exact same time?

Who commands so many votes in the Wizengamot that the opposition has to literally raid his political supporter's houses to defeat a bill legalising racial discrimination?

Lucius Malfoy, the winner of the first Blood war and very probably the one to almost win the second Blood War for Voldemort, is who.

If I'd written Harry Potter, I would have written it so that Voldemort's chief financial officer actually had something to gain out of Tommy-boy making a comeback. I would have written it so that the inner circle not in prison wanted him back.

They had the government, controlled business operations and had a stranglehold on the funding of law enforcement and education as a result. They'd won. Voldemort lost them everything they'd spent a decade and a half consolidating towards the very vision they'd rallied around Voldie-boy for.

If I'd written Harry Potter, they would have lost and actually had a reason to follow Voldemort after his resurrection. But JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. I didn't, and never will. Nor do I own any licence dealing with Harry Potter or any works referenced, alluded to or highlighted herein.

And, when I look at how utterly non-sensical Voldemort acted, wasting his time playing mindgames with pensioners and teenagers rather than moving in for a swift, merciless kill, I am glad I didn't write him. For if that is, in fact, one of the brightest minds and most terrible menaces wizarding society ever faced, I would hate to see what would have happened if the magical world had come across, say, the Cray brothers...

A/N: Yes, another response to one of Whitetigerwolf's challenges. This one deals with Harry and Hermione becoming Cat Boy and Cat Girl. They also happen to be the Adam and Eve for an entirely new species to boot, given that no catpeople exist in HP canon, at least not in my rusty memory. So they get to try and survive British Wizarding Society without being sold off or killed before graduation. Joy. Oh, and no bashing in this one, though Ron will be an idiot at times. Dumbledore's motivation is to actually protect Harry, he's just very bad at it. If you want a basis for what the two look like, Google Merle Vision of Escaflowne for a looksie. Like that, but slightly taller. Oh, and since they're predators, they will mature quicker than their peers, though not by much. By the time the Goblet of Fire rolls around, Harry will be at the same stage of development as the other 17 year olds he'll be competing against. They will also be smarter and a lot faster than humans, though they won't have the urge to hunt people unless they smell like a big, giant rat (hint, hint). Oh, and the Goblins will be sympathetic despite repeated attempts by the Goblins of talking the two into selling the runt of their litter to Gringotts to see if Catperson is edible or not. So the deck is even: Dumbles, Hogwarts and Gringotts on their side, wizarding Britain on the other.

It was strange, the things you tend to think about, waking up after being involved in an accident. The mind doesn't immediately focus on what happened, opting to perform what amounted to an instinct-driven self-diagnosis upon regaining conscience. Hands, Feet, Eyes, Ears and various other orifices and appendages, they all tingle or twitch, almost as if they're sending a signal to your brain saying 'Here, boss!'. For those that have experience with waking up like this, the routine becomes second nature to them after the third or fourth time their body goes through this process.

For those unfortunate souls, waking up injured sometimes meant waking up in a familiar area with little to no distractions available, knowing full well that they would be spending time recovering there. A daunting prospect, which people tend to remark upon when waking up in such a place. It's almost deliberate, some would say, the way everything seems to be geared to making your stay... unpleasant, as it were.

And if they say it loud enough, the nurse would turn to them and remark that why yes, the whole thing is quite deliberate, thank you very much. The ulterior motive of making recovery unpleasant is, after all, to convince the injured that chancing an injury again would, ultimately, prove even more unpleasant. Thereby curing them of their need to inflict danger upon themselves. It all makes perfect sense in the mind of the nurse. Preventative medicine, she says it's called. Works wonders, she says.

Not that it's any help to those who seem chronically afflicted by bad luck and happenstance. Those few unfortunates whose fate it is to walk into an empty room and need a stretcher to get out. Those to whom walking is an exciting experience fraught with danger and mystery. Those unfortunate few to whom the mere act of breathing is somehow interpreted by fate as an invitation to cause mayhem in otherwise quite normal lives. Few, if any, of these unfortunates seek out danger. They only wish for peace, quiet and a nice big library in which to pass the time until the inevitable excitement comes about and attempts to kill them yet again.

It is quite frustrating. All that adventure, and all you want is to snuggle into a little corner of your room in your favourite chair, a cup of nice tea in one hand and a book in another. And others admire you for your adventures. It's downright embarrassing. All that hero-worship / villainisation, all the fans, the fame, the money, all of it wasted on you. Not to mention that it plays hell with your schedule, having to fight for your life. It really puts a crimp on actually living, fighting for your life does. And others admire and envy you for it. Barmy, the lot of them. Maybe letting them deal with strange creatures wanting to devour you on a regular basis would change their minds. Though these are people that hero worship pre-teens without really questioning why. Barmy.

And then there are, of course, the inevitable little accidents that constitute the bread and butter of 'adventuring', or conditional suicide as it is known to the mental health professionals. The conditional part stems from your luck, where facing normally fatal situations merely results in one type of severe trauma or another. Getting hit by mysterious afflictions, pushed down stairs, losing control of your line segment aircraft whilst pulling a 3-gee turn twenty metres above the ground, being shot by the psycho who just murdered your parents, being starved by your relatives, having to kill one of your teachers because he had ascended to a whole new level of schizophrenia... They all leave their little marks, you know. No way are you going to sit through yet another detonation occurring less than twenty feet away from you and still emerge unscathed, oh no. Of course you wake up in the infirmary or the hospital again. And of course you discover that, to your dismay, there is no such thing as 'frequent bruiser' points that would allow you to bring in some form of distraction to be entertained by while you wait for your friends to turn up. It wouldn't be the sensible thing to do, after all. Heavens, they just might encourage the little blighters! Never mind those who never have a genuine choice in the matter!

So yes, these and many other tidbits constitute the thoughts of one of the infirmary's more troublesome patients. There is always a person who is so intimately acquainted with the local medical emergency facilities that their knowledge of trauma treatment equals that of a second year medical intern, who knows all the staff by name and can actually read medical files, jargon, admin papers and all without suffering from bouts of terminal confusion. They are the worst of patients, refusing to be cured of their seemingly boundless capacity for discovering new and exciting ways to earn themselves a trip to the trauma ward. They also grow up and make the best of doctors, if only due to their voluminous experience in medical treatments.

On the stuntman circuit, this used to be Evel Knievel. At Hogwarts, this description fits Harry Potter to a T. How else would you describe someone who jacks a flying car... and lands in the only tree that fights back? Or someone who encounters a Cerberus outside of Hades and/or Greece? Hades used to be the prison of the Greek Magical Republic before the Romans razed the place to the ground and is still the only country where Cerberi can be licensed as both pets & familiars. It's illegal for an individual to own a Cerberus anywhere else, given that a rare infectious disease has been known to jump from Cerberi to humans and cause men to get a magically induced period during the full moon.
Yet somehow, Harry Potter managed to almost get eaten by one. And get clubbed by a troll. And fall off his broom, which was being jinxed by his schizophrenic defence professor at the time. He'd almost choked on that snitch too. And then he faced an undead... thing that was fast enough, strong enough and powerful enough to take down fully grown unicorns, a horse with a goddamn spike growing out of its forehead, a spike meant to kill the exact type of being that killed several unicorns despite this . A thing that he'd faced because he had helped smuggle a baby dragon out of his school and got caught sneaking around after hours. And then he had, almost inevitably, ended up trying to prevent the theft of a stone that was literally a magnet to any dark wizard or witch worth his/her salt. By stealing it himself. And then burning his professor to death using his bare hands after said schizo tried to choke the life out of him.

He'd then woken up in the infirmary and was talked to in a mysterious manner by someone who should, by rights, be given a social services contact number and told to start applying for a pension instead of being put in charge of running a school. Sure, he was powerful, but he was just so... damn... cryptic. If that's how he taught his students, then it's a wonder anyone got through his class. And that had been the end of his first year at Hogwarts. And then the whole car crash thing happened. Oh well, only five and a half more years of this, and Harry could finally do magic outside of school. Then he could go and antagonise the Dursleys a bit. And go to Azkaban, which sounds like some fancypants Atlantean language or other for magic prison, for baiting muggles. He would probably get sent there for life if he said they'd been asking for it all along. Yippee.

He'd often wondered how long it would take him to get to know Madame Pomphrey well enough to have his own bed with a few decorations around it. He woke up to the sight of a potted plastic plant adorning the bedside table. This was both an encouraging and slightly worrying sign. On the one hand, it would probably only take him another few months' worth of 'schooling' before Poppy allowed him to keep a large book ready for himself. In the other hand, he would probably be granted this boon thanks to yet another horrendous and life-threatening episode in the sitcom that was his life.

He sighed tiredly, propped himself up and looked around what he could see of the hospital ward. As he was looking around, there was that recurrent nagging feeling that he was missing something important. He ignored it for now, waiting for his brain to give the 'all clear' when his appendages finished reporting in.

Several things stood out to him. One, there was frost on the windows, meaning that he hadn't been out long enough for the weather to change. Two, the part of the ward he found himself in was closed off from the rest for some odd reason. Three, the smell of disinfectant he'd come to associate with the infirmary was really heavy to day. Had someone else been sick recently? Not that this would be the first time that had happened during his post-womping Willow stay. He still remembered how Fred Weasley had invented and tried out a rainbow-belching soda, only to find that his addition of Iridescent vinewood shavings to get the orange coloured belch made the emission more... liquid. That had been an unpleasant yet hilarious half-hour to watch. Why, it almost made him forget about the professor he'd immolated the previous year or the carjacking he'd been an accessory to. And four... was weird. He could not only hear all the thousand and one things going on in the infirmary, he could feel the very vibrations that sound made as it travelled through the atmosphere. And then there was that odd discomfort he felt around where he knew his tailbone to be. Wait, what's that? That soft and fuzzy feeling sure as hell didn't fit the description of any underpants he owned or knew about. There was also the matter of something... odd... running between his buttcheeks and down to his knees.

And that's when the nagging feeling finally resolved itself.

He had fully expected something to be in pain or missing when he'd woken up. He'd known what to look out for, thanks to Lockhart and his Amazing Bone-Vanishing Skills and the dozens of 'incidents' he'd been on the wrong end of in first year. Having your toe regrown because Neville used cauldrons whose shrapnel became sharper the farther away from the blast area it travelled meant that when you woke up in the infirmary and your body told you something, you listened. And what his brain was being told, it'd initially refused to believe because it was just ridiculous. There weren't less bits reporting in. There were more bits reporting in than there should be. It was baffling. He was sure he didn't feel different. He was warmer than normal, yeah, but he was wearing pyjamas. Wait, was he? Poppy normally only supplied Pyjamas to people after they woke up and had a talk about what happened. When Harry normally woke up, it was to find himself wearing a hospital gown that was open at the back. He lifted the sheet. What the fuck?

He didn't remember being quite that hairy when he'd woken up in his own bed the last time.

His torso, legs and arms all seemed to be covered by a thick layer of... well... carpet. It was plush, soft to the touch, there was lots of it, but it smelled of damp socks. And the colour scheme left something to be desired. Black and brown stripes on a tan-coloured background? What did Malfoy do this time? Discover their little plan and switch his skin for the discards from a discount rug store? He wouldn't put it past the little ponce. Always up to something, the little bastard... Malfoy! That's how he'd gotten here. He, Ron and Hermione had brewed Polyjuice potion so that they could go and find out whether or not Draco was the Heir of Slytherin! Then what had happened? The last thing he remembered was putting on the right clothes and downing the potion. Then the taste of the potion. Then pain, unimaginable amounts of pain. And Darkness, of course.

He felt weird, is what he felt like right now. He couldn't see where his friends were, he refused to get out of bed to open the curtains and ask what was going on and he didn't think that an attempt at sleep would succeed at this point. He could, however, smell Hermione close by. He didn't know how he recognised her smell, but underneath another layer of that blasted damp sock smell lay the distinctive signature aroma he dimly recognised as belonging to his oldest female friend. She had to be real close for him to smell her, though. But he couldn't see her. What if she'd used the invisibility cloak to come and see him? How had she gotten it? And why hadn't she shown herself yet? Not that he really cared, he just needed to see a friendly face right now. Friendly faces were always more likely to actually tell him something useful.

"Hermione? Hermione, are you there?"

"H-harry? Is that you?" That was not what he'd been expecting. From the location of her voice, she was two beds to his immediate left, a left blocked off by the curtain. So how exactly was he able to smell her as if she was in bed with him? Ultimately though, it mattered little to him. She sounded scared about something. Something told him he needed to find out what it was, and fast.

He got out of bed and promptly lost his balance. "Ow! Coming, Hermione. Wait a second..." Standing up, he realised that he'd fallen over because he now had a tail. His tail had, apparently, tangled with the sheets, meaning that when he'd unconsciously pulled on it to get it loose, he'd overbalanced. He looked at it. It wasn't prehensile as such, so he couldn't just leave it sitting around his waist as he wandered, but it did adjust itself to stabilise him as he pushed himself off the ground. Shrugging, he pulled the curtain aside and laid eyes on the rest of the ward. At least he still had hands and feet.

He walked in on the hospital ward experiencing its midday rush. Both that Creevey kid and Justin were plonked onto beds close to the back, their creepy thousand yard stares and unmoving frames driving shivers up and down the spines of those that looked at them. The Creevey kid was being poked and prodded by a gaggle of mediwitches on loan from St. Mungo's, probably the most attention that kid would receive from the fairer sex for, like, ever. Mrs. Norris was currently adorning a window sill straddling the two beds, the beady eyes seeming to radiate malevolence even with the magical stasis some crazy piece of magic had imposed on her.

And Justin was covered in Hufflepuff graffiti. That just screamed desperate to Harry. It said 'We're the house of the loyal! Go and look at the ads we tattooed all across our helpless housemate's entire body as proof of our legendary loyalty!Ooh, and hard work! We do hard work too, except when it comes to finding the real culprit in a crime!'. Harry'd heard lots of claims about how the wizarding world's justice system made up for the drawbacks of its social state. However, he'd also heard that the 'puffs had more than their fair share of alumni working in said system.

And based on what he was seeing from the 'puffs, From Pomona Sprout down to the loneliest ickle Hufflepuff firstie... Needless to say, he would be retaining a lawyer or two in the near future. Making sure one was a Snake and the other a 'Claw. There was no way he was letting a 'puff determine whether or not he deserves freedom, ever. Especially not after seeing just how they treated house-mates that were at their mercy.

At least the Slytherins were consistent. If a snake hated you badly enough, soon every Snake was out to get you. If you got on well with them, you had powerful allies for life. And if you were a Snake and were threatened by something not related to the Dark Arts, they'd close ranks around you and swim through a river of blood for you. 'Puffs didn't know the first thing about loyalty and give it away easily.

It takes a Snake to appreciate, truly appreciate, just what loyalty means and how precious it is. Slimy, yes. Snakelike (shudder), yes. Bad, sometimes. Evil? Nah. Well, maybe Malfoy, but that's it. They also played hardball when it came to earning that loyalty, often forcing issues others disagree with as 'proof of their commitment to Salazar's house'. And hard-won loyalty lasts so much longer than the kind the Gryffs or the 'Puffs had. Ravenclaws didn't care. Their definition of trust was that it was a standard measure of predictability in an entity you had dealings with. It was a probability measurement on how likely/unlikely a person was to fulfil certain obligations imposed upon them, given a set of tangible and intangible outcomes at the end of it. Unpredictable equalled untrustworthy to 'claws. No-one wanted to find out how a 'claw defined loyalty.

He'd gathered, from the one time he had asked, that it had to do with homoscedastic decision-making, where individuals would affect the decisions bias of others until their decisions reflected each other in statistically significant ways, with equal variance, equal biases and equal probabilities of choosing A over B, in the best-case scenario. When he'd asked for someone to clarify, he'd been told that loyalty had to be accounted for in the prisoner's dilemma, and that many 'claws were trying to fathom the decision theory behind loyalty so that they could account for it in their models.

They were just saying that loyal people would either make the same decisions as the friends they are loyal to or alter their decisions so that both themselves and their loyal friends/family benefit from the arrangement. When he'd asked about where the emotions were in this, the older 'claw had laughed at him and told him to stick with troll fighting for now. The headache he'd sported after that had had, thankfully, nothing to do with dearly departed Quirinus for once.

There were days he yearned for a re-sorting, where he could tell the Hat that he understood some of it now and that he would gladly go to Slytherin, thank you very much. They were in need of a good Seeker these days...

His eyes continued scanning the large room. The ward was empty for now. There was no doubt that the peace and quiet wouldn't last beyond the train approaching Hogsmeade for the spring semester. But now, now he, Hermione and the batallion of medical researchers poking and prodding unsuspecting petrification victims had the ward all to themselves. Which was just as well as Harry walked over to his bushy-haired friend and gasped. Hermione had turned into a cat girl. Her hair was a combination of bushy blonde and brown curls starting on the side of her neck and running downwards. He could tell that her face was covered in some kind of short, transparent fur while her facial structure was far sharper and more angular than it had been the last time he'd seen her. If it weren't for the expression of pure shock she was carrying, he would've said that she was recognisable, but now looked downright dangerous. Then again, the razor sharp teeth helped accentuate the look somewhat. Little teenager no longer, a carnivore was she. There was also the fact that her body had gotten a lot longer since their untimely arrival. He could see her legs extending beyond the bed when she fidgeted, to the point where she could probably touch the ground if she decided to bend her knee rather than lie straight. Come to think of it, he'd gotten a bit of a growth spurt as well... And her ears! They were long, and pointy!

"Harry! What happened to you?"