Harry had always been a survivor. As a child growing up with his relatives he had learned to keep it all in; the hurt, the feelings of being worthless. And the aching pain of being alone.
He had never lost hope, though.
He had always dreamed of the day someone would come to his cupboard and take him away. But that dream had died with Sirius.
Even after that, he had held out hope. Not in the dream of a family who cared for him, but in the belief that he wasn't alone. A hope borne from his faith in his friends and that they were all the family he needed.
But the war was terrible and every bond was tested. The loyalty between classmates, family and friends became strained when everything went to hell.
The Ministry refused to believe in Voldemort's resurrection and fell easily to the Death Eaters. Without Dumbledore, Hogwarts fell as well. And he, Ron and Hermione ran. As the world tried to tear them apart, they held on so tightly to each other that it almost hurt.
And Ron left, and that nearly broke them, but he came back and they were a world of three again and they couldn't afford feeling hurt or betrayed or sorry because they were the Golden Trio and together they hunted down the pieces of Voldemort's soul, even as they were hunted themselves.
At seventeen they knew war. All three of them knew it so intimately that it also felt like it had become a part of them. And Harry, who had always been dancing around with Death came to know him too. He had stood before Voldemort willing to die. Wanting to die, because he now knew that that had always been the endgame, from the very moment he was a newly orphaned baby marked by his parent's murderer.
Instead he lived. A survivor once more, but not really because he had died and he knew Death and he knew that throwing away the Resurrection Stone and the Elder Wand couldn't change that, but he did so anyway, trying to purge the scent of Death from his soul.
And the war was over.
People started picking up the pieces, a new Minister rose with Voldemort's fall. The damage was repaired and the dead buried.
Except for him.
Friends and family drew back together as if their previous distrust was nothing more than a bad dream and even Ron and Hermione managed to shake off the pain, the blood and the fear and slowly retook their place in the sunlight.
But even as Hermione encouraged him to come back to Hogwarts with her and take his N.E.W.T.S or Ron asked him to join the Aurors with him, Harry couldn't shake off the shadows. They followed him, clinging to his skin and he couldn't wash them off.
Even standing in the bright sunlight, being awarded the Order of Merlin, First Class, and hailed as a hero, the darkness of the war still seemed to cover him completely. Their words of honour and heroics couldn't silence the screams of those he had witnessed tortured or dying. The expensive clothes couldn't hide the shaking of his limbs from feeling exposed on the stage, too easy a target.
For everyone else the war slowly faded. It became a memory of a few harsh years in their lives. The losses remained, but the horror and sharp sting of grief was soothed by family or lovers as they rebuilt their lives.
For Harry the war with Voldemort was his life. It had always been a part of him: it was the reason he grew up unloved and it haunted his steps every part of the way when he entered the Wizarding World. It had been his life and his death. Beyond that, what else was there?
It was too much.
The memories, the feelings, the nightmares.
He had always been good at keeping his feelings in, but it was just too much. Now that the war was over and their Golden Trio was once again a group of friends instead of a world of three fused together he had to bear these things alone but he couldn't.
The memories wouldn't let him be and his feelings were tearing him apart. He was stuck in the war and in death and it was driving him mad.
It was a remembrance of Sirius that saved him.
His godfather had spent twelve years in his own hell and had managed to survive.
So with Hermione's help he learned. Obsessively he studied the animagus transformation. And though Hermione cautioned him, he didn't give much thought to going slowly so that he could get used to the animal's instincts. It took him no more than three months to fully change into his animal form for the first time.
Harry Potter became a Griffin.
Hermione and Ron where the only two witness to his transformation, and a month later, they were the only ones he told that he was leaving the Wizarding World, and Britain, for a while.
He still felt hunted. And the attention everyone paid him when he went anywhere didn't help. So he left the adoring fans and persistent reporters behind and took a plane to America.
But his pursuers didn't let up. Instead of Death Eaters or Snatchers, there were only shadows following him and they had no trouble keeping up with him.
His animagus form helped a lot. He had read, of course, that one should slowly become accustomed to their animal. It was advisable to start with occasional short transformations. Over time, as the witch or wizard gained more control over their animal instincts they could slowly adapt to spending a longer time in their animagus form.
But Harry was never one to care overly much for the rules.
As a Griffin his memories didn't feel so painfully overwhelming. He could still remember everything, but in his animal form it was so much easier to set everything that made him Harry Potter aside and instead focus on the here and now.
The thrill of flying, the joy of running, the calm of sleeping beneath the stars; he hadn't ever felt this free. Yes, the war still haunted him at times, but not all the time. He could go hours without remembered horrors, he had nights without a single nightmare.
And after all this time it was such a relief.
So Harry actually spent most of his time as a Griffin. Especially when he went to sleep. The extra barrier the mind of a Griffin put between him and his nightmares didn't always work, but it was more than he had before so he could make do.
Harry Potter was, after all, a survivor.
He would survive.
Fury turned, greeting the hesitant support staff with a silent, no-nonsense stare.
"I, uh, found this."
With a sigh the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. took the folder from the twitchy man's limp hands. He mentally asked himself why he couldn't just run his entire Headquarters with agents but had to put up with tech-support, surveillance and scientists as well.
His eye scanned the information and photographs quickly and he raised an eyebrow. "A Griffin?" He asked the nervous man, "I ask you to keep an eye on anything unusual and you give me a mythical creature."
The man swallowed and nodded firmly "Yes, sir."
Well, at least the guy wasn't completely hopeless, at least he stood by his report. "Hmm…" Plans and possibilities came to him and an idea already started to take root in his mind. But he needed more information, first. "Send a team. Observation only. Have them keep their distance but I want them near enough to interfere if this thing becomes a threat."
The man nodded and seemed eager to scamper off, back to his computer screens and the disembodied voices over their Bluetooth.
"Oh, and Mr. Davis…? Do not lose sight of it." The director had already turned back to the screens in front of him, but he could practically hear the man freeze for a moment.
Fury took one more long look at the file the man had given him. This could be just what he needed. A mythical creature roaming the American countryside… It could be significant or an anomaly, but it was just intriguing enough to make one… curious.
Tapping the photograph of the large creature absentmindedly with his fingers he moved his eye back to the photo of Steve Rogers and the files on his screen that he had been studying earlier.
Captain America seemed a bit reluctant to return to fighting the good fight, having awoken to a new time and a vastly different world. The technology and new weaponry still evaded the man out of time, who seemed to have little desire to learn and adapt to his new life. The man was a soldier, yes, and a loyal one, but America was not currently at war. Not overtly, in any case. And the Captain was not exactly subtle enough for S.H.I.E.L.D.'s usual endeavours.
But the man would be a powerful ally and Fury was realistic enough to know that they would never have a shortage of powerful enemies. The debacle in New Mexico and Stark's battles with people that used similar technology to the Iron Man Suit or Arc Reactor against him had shown that clearly enough.
More enemies would crop up. And when they did, they would need someone like the Captain. The man just had to be ready to step up.
And Director Fury was sure that he would. Captain Rogers just needed a little nudge in the right direction.
Maybe this could be that nudge...?
If the man didn't want anything to do with the new technology, well, Fury was sure that a mythical creature could be used to catch the attention of the newly awakened captain.
Yes, this could be a good way to get Steve Rogers back in the game again.
And it was just one animal, it couldn't be that much of a problem, even for a somewhat reluctant soldier. But this creature was a complete unknown that shouldn't even exist... He would have to be careful about it, just in case. After all, Norse Gods weren't supposed to exist either and look at how well that went down; they had ended up depending on an alien with a big hammer for help.
Well, that would never happen again. No, at the very least he would have to make a contingency plan first.
A.N. This will probably be about three chapters long at most. But hey, not a one-shot!
Now I just have to find the image of an emerald-eyed Griffin for my cover. Hmm... I could try drawing one but I kind of suck at that... Ah well. I'll think of something, for now, Captain America will do!
I had fun writing Fury, not as much fun as Thor but I like Fury's badassery. It's one of those guilty writing pleasures, just like writing Thor's archaic speech. Ah, fun times.