Disclaimer:

The Harry Potter universe and all the characters in it belong to J. K. Rowling.

Chapter 11 Transfiguration

When Harry rolled out of bed the next morning, he found that he woke up at precisely 5:30 A.M. He woke up consistently at that time for the last few months so this was unsurprising and familiar to him. Not wanting to be weak again, he decided to go for a morning run around the quidditch pitch.

Once Harry donned a pair of shorts, slipped into a plain blue t-shirt, and stuffed his feet into sneakers, he made his way down to the common room. Shivering slightly, he hurried through the common room, climbed out of the hole covered by the portrait of the fat lady, and began to jog towards the quidditch pitch.

As he moved, his mind wandered. 'why do many witches and wizards neglect exercise? I know that magic helps us to heal faster and keeps us healthy to an extent but that's still no substitute for exercise. Being fit has definitely made me feel not as weak after casting a lot of magic.'

Harry turned the last corner and came to a halt in front of the changing rooms. Peeking in, he saw that the room and shower stalls were all empty. He jogged towards the other entrance which opened out into the Quidditch pitch.

Cool air hit him as he stepped out. Momentarily shivering, he unconsciously tried to pull a non-existent coat about him before Harry realized he was in shorts and a t-shirt. Knowing that he would be warmer as he ran, he took off at a sprint. He did 5 laps around the pitch and eventually trotted to a stop in front of the changing rooms.

Once again, Harry sneaked through the changing room, through the hallways, past the common room and up to his dorm. Seeing as how it was only 6:30 A.M, he decided to work on his occlumency. Harry smiled when he instantly slipped into his mindscape and saw his thoughts organized into neat uniform rows and columns. He basked in the presence of his magical core for a few moments before he got to work adding additional layers to his defenses.

An hour later, Harry's eyes snapped open. He saw that it was almost time for breakfast so he grabbed a change of clothes, took a quick shower, and brushed his teeth. Still feeling the sting of his former friend's betrayal, he tiptoed to Ron's bed, pulled back the curtains and sprayed him with a jet of water from his wand.

Ron shot up in bed and began to shiver violently. "Wh'wh'what di'did you d'do tha't for?"

"It's time for breakfast. I didn't want you to miss it. Anyways, you have to admit, you're at least wide awake now," Harry said trying to hide a grin.

"You didn't ha'have t'to wa'ke me up l'like th'that m'mate."

"No but it was amusing watching your reaction."

Ron grumbled for a few more seconds before he climbed out of bed and began his morning routine. When Harry and Ron walked downstairs to the common room, they found Hermione already studying the textbooks for this year.

"Morning boys."

Ron mumbled a greeting while Harry responded cheerfully.

"Morning Hermione."

"What's got you in a good mood?"

"Nothing. Just excited for classes."

Hermione raised an eyebrow.

'Crap! I should have just stuck to a one word answer and then distracted her with something else. Now she's going to be suspicious,' he thought.

"So, what do you think about the sorting hat's song yesterday?" Harry asked.

"Well, I think the sorting hat is correct. If the four houses unite, then we can fight against evil. After all, we have some fairly intelligent students that can contribute to the war."

"You want to let bloody Slytherins join?" Ron asked looking aghast.

"Not all. Only the good ones. We'll make sure to screen them extensively."

'Her prejudice is showing. If she only screens Slytherins, that may make them upset and that could make them not want to join. She really should think about it some more. I expected more from her but you know, it's not so surprising now that I am starting to see the real her,' he thought derisively.

Harry tuned the rest of the conversation out. As they made their way towards the Gryffindor table, they were intercepted by McGonagall.

"Potter; here's your schedule and the headmaster would like a quick word with you."

"Mam, I haven't had breakfast yet Can't I eat something before I go? I don't think it's going to be quick."

Her mouth thinned. "I am sorry but he wishes to see you now. I am sure he will provide you with breakfast. The password is acid pops."

Sighing, he tucked his schedule into his pocket and made his way through long winding corridors which was lined with the occasional moving portrait of lords and ladies who waved at him as he passed. Before long, he found himself in front of the gargoyle.

"Acid pops."

The gargoyle sprang aside revealing a narrow spiral staircase that moved on its own. He stepped onto it and soon found himself at the top. When he was about to knock on the wooden door with the brass knocker, he heard Dumbledore asking him to enter.

Harry entered the room instinctively surveying the portraits of former headmasters, spindly instruments sitting on small tables, Fawkes's perch, the headmaster sitting in his throne-like chair and the smaller seat in front of his desk.

"You wanted to see me sir?"

"Indeed my boy. Please take a seat. Would you like some food? I am guessing you are famished after exercising this morning."

'I shouldn't be surprised that he found out about me exercising. Should I eat whatever he gives me? He might slip something in. It would look suspicious if I didn't accept.'

"I have to admit, I'm a little hungry."

"Splendid!" Dumbledore said with a smile. "Windy."

A house elf wearing a clean blue pillow case appeared beside Dumbledore. "What can Windy does for you sirs?"

"I would like food for myself and Mr. Potter."

She bowed, disappeared, and reappeared a minute later with two trays of food.

Harry surreptitiously cast a few wandless spells when his food appeared. Finding nothing dangerous, he dug in ignoring Dumbledore for the moment. Dumbledore smiled indulgently while he began eating his food. When they were finished, Windy popped back in and took their trays.

Dumbledore sat back in his chair and took on a serious demeanor.

"You gave us quite a scare when you disappeared during the summer."

"Sorry sir. I was going crazy stuck at my relatives house and I wanted to get out and do stuff. Didn't you get my note?" Harry asked with an air of innocence.

"I did, my boy, but it did not give us any clues as to where you were. You had us very worried."

"Sorry sir. My relatives where hurting me and I needed to get away. By the way, what do you mean when you say us?"

"Ah yes. When I mean us, I am referring to the Order of the Phoenix. It is a small organization with very dedicated members who are willing to help combat the evil in our world. You would have found out about this if you did not leave. We had plans to invite you to our headquarters once the blood wards were charged. As for your relatives, they do not seem all that bad but I will personally talk to them and make sure they are still treating you appropriately."

"Thank you sir."

'Stupid fool! He can't even see abuse even if it was staring him in the face!' He thought.

"Tell me, my boy, who are you apprenticed to?"

"Sorry sir but I can't tell you."

"I see. What can you tell me then?"

"Well, my master has taught me a lot in a short time." Anticipating what he was going to ask next Harry quickly said, "You'll see some of what I learnt over time but I can't tell you all the specifics."

"I see. If your master is so restrictive in what he or she will allow you to speak about, then it might be prudent to consider finding a way to safely terminate your contract."

"My master has good reason to restrict what I can speak about but I will consider your advice."

"That is all I ask, my boy. I have taken too much of your time. Let us head down to the great hall together."

A few people took notice of Harry chatting to Dumbledore when they stepped past the open doors but most were preoccupied by their food and friends.

When Harry approached the Gryffindor table, Hermione said, "Don't bother sitting. We're about to head over to transfiguration.

He nodded and pulled out his schedule and skimmed through it.

"Damn. Lots of heavy subjects today. It says that we have transfiguration, then charms, and after lunch, a double period of DADA. Then a free period. Is it the same for you guys?"

"Yep. Just what we need, classes with the bloody Slytherins."

"Ron, just ignore them," Hermione said.

"Not all the classes are with Slytherins," Harry said consolingly. "It won't be too bad."

Ron grumbled but said no more on the matter.

They arrived at the transfiguration classroom early and took seats near the front at Hermione's insistence. A few minutes later, students began to trickle into the room loudly chatting. McGonagall briskly strode into the room soon after and shut the door which gained most of the student's attention.

"Welcome back to Transfiguration. I hope you had a productive summer. This year, we will be working on transfiguring inanimate objects to animals, animals to inanimate objects, and a bit of self-transfiguration."

Excited murmuring filled the room.

"Now, a word of warning."

The chatter instantly ceased.

"If you practice some of these techniques on each other without permission, you will be banned for this class. Do I make myself clear?"

Many students nodded.

"Very good. Today we will be reviewing the first four years of the curriculum. This is not just for your OWLs. This will help you with the upcoming material you will be studying because it is based on previous lessons."

For the first hour, McGonagall reviewed material from previous years. The rest of the time was spent completing a sheet which contained theoretical questions and practical activities.

Harry worked on the theoretical questions and answered them thoroughly. He found that this was comparatively easier than his tests with the Flamels. The practical exercises seemed easy enough so he decided that he would put on a public performance after finishing this portion of the worksheet. So intent on his work, he ignored Ron's attempts at chatting and the curious looks Hermione gave him occasionally.

'Time to cause a scene and give everyone a taste of what I'm capable of!'

Harry raised his hand and McGonagall hurried over to him.

"What can I help you with Mr. Potter?"

"I'm finish mam."

She raised an eyebrow and he handed her his sheet.

"Well, from what I can see so far, your answers are excellent. You won't mind if I ask you to transfigure a few things. I find it surprising you were able to complete everything in small amount of time."

"Not at all," Harry said with a smile.

McGonagall read each practical exercise out and without hesitation, he would perform the task. Harry made sure that he transfigured everything non-verbally and with extraordinary detail. After fifteen minutes of nonstop casting, he had the attention of the majority of the class. This continued for another ten minutes before she called a halt to his casting.

McGonagall surveyed all the objects scattered throughout the table for a moment and smiled. "Well Mr. Potter, that was some very fine transfiguration you did. Take fifty points for Gryffindor. The rest of you, get back to work." Lowering her voice and giving him a warm smile, she said, "Your parents would be proud of you. Please see me after class. I would like to get an assessment of your skill level so I can find work that will challenge you."

Harry nodded and she departed. Since there was still twenty minutes left of class, he decided that this would be a good time to start making new friends. He told Hermione and Ron that he was going to see if anyone needed help. Before they could say anything, he headed towards the Ravenclaws.

Many students were confused at first when Harry wandered over to the Ravenclaws but when he began to provide tips without sounding like he was reciting from a book or lecturing, most of his peers were eager to ask for his help.

Soon the bell rang and students filed out. He saw Ron and Hermione waiting for him and waved for them to go ahead.

"I'll catch up with you guys in a minute. McGonagall wants to talk to me."

As the last of the students trickled out and the door closed, he stood in front of her desk wondering what she had to say.

"How did you become so good? You were doing fairly well in previous years but your casting is remarkable and the detail of your transfiguration has drastically improved."

"I found out recently that there were blocks on my magic which has been broken and I studied a lot of transfiguration this summer. Not sure if you were told but I am in an apprenticeship."

"That explains how you could have improved during the summer but that still does not explain the quality of your work. There would not have been enough time to revise four years of material in great detail and having larger amounts of magic at your disposal does not improve your transfiguration. This branch of magic is about finesse and strong visualization skills."

"Well, I kind of hid my intelligence while I was growing up," Harry said with great reluctance.

"I sense that there is a story to this," McGonagall replied while glancing at the clock. "I have to prepare for my next class. If you are willing, we can finish this discussion tomorrow at 8:30 in the evening at my office."

Harry nodded and wondered how much he should disclose to her as he made his way to charms.

'After all, she hasn't had the best track record when helping me out,' he thought feeling irritated.

A/N: Thank you for all the follows and reviews. In the next chapter, we deal with charms and perhaps an appearance from Crookshanks.