Author's Note: Here we go with a little more. I really hope you guys like, and feel free to leave any questions on anything you're confused about, or even if there's something you'd like to see happen. I'd like to think I'm somewhat lenient in that aspect, so please feel free to let me know! :)
Settings: The only thing that people need to know for this story is that it incorporates, from His Dark Materials, the concept of daemons and all of the social etiquette that follows. (For those who don't know, daemons are spiritual manifestations of a person's soul- their other half, if you will, -that walks beside that person instead of residing in their bodies. Daemons take on the forms of animal wildlife, but are just as intelligent and independently willed as much as their humans are, with their own personalities and dispositions.)
Other than that, (and Harry and Hermione meeting earlier than normal), the world of Harry Potter is relatively the same. For now, anyway.
Disclaimer: Neither Harry Potter, nor His Dark Materials, belong to me. I use them only for entertainment purposes. I promise to return them in mint condition when I'm done.
"Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold; happiness dwells in the soul..." ~Democritus
"This is a little different for us," Liron says, his voice holding just a small amount of awe. Hermione shoves her hands deeper into her pants' pockets and tries to resist the urge to shrug. She doesn't reply to him. It wasn't her idea to come to the zoo- she'd been steadfast in her decision to head to the local library, what with it being such a nice, sunny day outside.
There, she could be in her real element, burying herself within pages of books and hiding among the silent shelves.
Not here, in such a public, open place with a multitude of children and their families wondering around from one animal cage to another.
Sometimes Hermione wonders how she manages to let her parents convince her that these little "adventures" will help her shape up into a "well rounded" individual. In the end, however, the fact remains her parents have finally taken a day off work just to spend with her, so she isn't one to complain too much, even if she has to spend it around goggling eyed children and bored animals sleeping behind caged walls.
"Cheer up, 'Mione Moe," Hermione's father, Matthew, pipes up from behind his brooding daughter. "It's so nice out- you should turn that frown upside down!" He chuckles at his own joke, and his Labrador daemon, Talia, rolls her eyes at the chuckling man.
"We need to find you some new jokes, Matthew," Talia implores her human, and Hermione cannot help her lips twitching into a grin at Talia.
The daemon gives Hermione a conspiratorial wink, and Hermione smiles wider.
Matthew shushes Talia, before he reaches out and ruffles Hermione's already frazzled hair. She ducks her head down to escape his touch.
"Daaaadd," Hermione pleads, but her affection for him is apparent when Liron- who is wearing the form of a seagull today and strolling alongside Talia–stretches out a wing and brushes it against the dog daemon's side. The yellow fur is soft and warm beneath Liron's feathers, and Talia lets out an appreciative whine at the contact.
She lowers her large head down and rolls a hearty lick across the back of Liron's feathery neck.
Hermione turns her face away as she can feel the rush of her dad's affection for her through his daemon's contact with Liron, a heavy breath escaping her as the warmth dances across her skin and spreads inside of her. Instead, she turns her focus across the walkway, in the direction of the large, colorful sign designing the tunnel entrance.
Serpent Underground the sign reads, and on the sides of the tunnel entrance are cardboard cutouts of snakes wrapping around the walls. As Hermione wonders what kinds of snakes they have, she can hear her mother's chuckling a ways behind her.
"Settle down, Matt," she says and Xavier, her goose daemon, hums in agreement. When Hermione glances back at her parents, she can see Xavier being cradled in her mom's arms, but his long neck is stretched out in Talia's direction. Talia is trailing by her father's legs, but her face is turned to Xavier, and her long tail wags unabashedly in excitement.
She even bounds forward for a moment, balancing on her back paws, to give a caressing lick to Xavier's beak. A hot flush mars her mother's cheeks, just as her father winks at Lucille coyly. Xavier's elegant feathers ruffle, and he lets out a low, throaty whine and shifts in his human's hold. He jerks his head at Talia, most likely in effort to return the affection, but the dog daemon bounds away playfully with a smug bark, moving to Matthew's other side.
Hermione tries to keep the blush off her face at the open, unashamed affection her parents are showing each other, and turns away. She is only glad that neither her mother nor father has touched one another's daemons in front of her- she isn't sure if she'd be able to live through the mortification of having to see something so blatant- so intimate it is almost religiously sacred -being displayed where she can witness it.
I hope me and Liron are never so… publicly affectionate with our special person like that, Hermione thinks, feeling her cheeks flare again at the mere thought. I'm not sure if I'd even want to hold hands in front of other people!
Something warm settles on the top of Hermione's head, and when she lifts her eyes, she can see Liron's seagull face peering down at her.
"Hello," he says cheerfully, and Hermione rolls her eyes.
"Mom? Dad? Can we go there next?" Hermione asks, pointing at the large tunnel entrance. Anything to tear her away from her current train of thoughts. Liron bobs his head down for a moment.
"Snakes?" he inquires, and ruffles his feathers. Hermione nods decisively.
"Snakes," she tells him.
"If that's what you want, honey," Lucille says with a shrug, and as one the family make their way to the tunnel.
As soon as they enter, everything is darkened because the pathway slopes down, doing underground. The path is segregated by directions arrows painted onto the cement, a set of green arrows for going into the tunnel, and a set of red arrows pointing in the direction of leaving the tunnel. Soft lanterns align the walls to help the people moving in and out see, but it is a soft, ambient glow more than anything else.
Hermione also notices that it is already a little warmer in the tunnel that is outside.
Snakes are cold blooded, she remembers belatedly, moving with her parents down three different set of stairs. When they finally reach the bottom, even over the crowd of people gathering at different display cases or children running down the pathways, Hermione can see a long set of display windows on either side of the tunnel, stretching out further than she can see.
They have a lot of snakes, Hermione thinks, and moves to the nearest display window. Liron pushes off of her head and shifts into a bat midair. He then swoops around her neck, before planting himself on the small ledge outside the display window's sill, his wings folding neatly against his side. He presses his nose up against the thick glass, smashing it almost comically, and Hermione giggles whenever he breathes out and his breath fogs up the glass.
"Liron," she laughs, and then shakes her head when Liron turns to stick his tongue out at her, before smashing his nose back up against the window. Sometimes she knows her daemon can be quite hopeless when he wants to be.
"Oh, my. The snake is beautiful," Xavier says appreciatively from Lucille's arms, and Hermione, her dad and mom all nod in agreement. The snake in question, a python, is twisted along a thick tree branch, and appears to be sleeping. The python is quite long and has a thick body, which Hermione knows is full of muscles.
"You think that snake is prettier than me?" Talia teases, and Xavier slips out of Lucille's arms to flutter to the ground next to the dog daemon.
"Of course not," Xavier declares back, and nuzzles Talia with his neck. "What is an animal compared to you, my one and only?"
Hermione laughs when Matthew sticks his tongue out at Lucille for Xavier's cheesy lines, and Lucille blows Matthew a kiss before fluttering her eyelashes theatrically.
"Eww. Get a room," a rude voice speaks up, and all three of the Grangers turn to see who it is. A young boy, clearly overweight, is standing there with his arms across his chest, tapping his foot impatiently. His platinum blonde hair sticks to his head from sweat and baby blue eyes peer out from beneath a furrowed, golden brow.
"I came to see the snakes, not you," he sneers, and Hermione frowns.
"There are plenty of snakes," she says without thinking. She waves her hand breezily. "Go find them somewhere else,"
Liron lets out a half-choke, half-gasp at her boldness, and even her parents turn to her in semi-astonishment. Hermione glances at them, before back to the blonde kid who just glowers at her.
"Well, there are," she huffs, starting to feel a little self-conscious at her earlier declaration. Maybe she should have stayed silent. "We can be here if we want to, and you shouldn't be so rude." She folds her arms around her herself, and when the blonde boy's daemon, a pudgy bull dog, moves forward and growls menacingly at her, she takes a step back on instinct.
She is immediately reminded of the girls from the park almost a week ago, and shivers.
The bull dog daemon edges closer to her, while the boy looks smug. Liron, however, suddenly swoops over her head and lands at her feet, shifting into a small beagle. He raises his furry tail, and lowers his head in a clear sign of challenge.
A small growl emanates from him, and its Hermione's turn to be surprised- Liron is rarely aggressive.
"That's enough," Matthew starts seriously, but whatever else he is about to say is cut off when the bulldog leaps at Liron, tangling them into a ball of wriggling forms. Hermione lets out a hiss when she feels a sharp pain at her neck- the bulldog daemon having nipped Liron.
A deeper, more menacing growl comes from Talia, and Xavier's feathers ruffle until he looks twice his size, his wings arched out over his head in a clear sign of warning. Passersby are starting to stare, and a few adults hurriedly grab their children and move them away from the scene.
But no one has any chance to do anything when another boy's voice chimes up, "Leave 'em alone, Dudley."
Turning her head, Hermione sees a scrawny looking boy with ivory skin and unruly black hair hurry over to them from another display case. He's wearing a pair of black glasses that have tape holding them together at the bridge, and a shirt and jeans that look to be a bit big on him.
But what draws her attention the most are the startling green eyes behind the glasses, so bright and a shade of emerald she isn't sure could be possible for a human. His eyes flicker to her for only a moment, before they turn to the blonde boy, and narrow into a hard, disdainful look.
The blonde boy, Dudley, curls his lip at the scrawny kid, before turning away.
"This place is lame anyway," he sulks, and walks off as if nothing has happened, his daemon hurrying to trail after him. Silence settles, and the boy wipes at the back of his neck, ducking his head sheepishly.
Hermione can see that his pale cheeks are tinged a light pink, and she immediately finds herself offering him a small, shaky smile. Liron, still in his beagle form, moves closer to Hermione's side, and looks at the boy inquiringly. Hermione knows what Liron is looking for, and apparently so does the boy.
He offers her a hesitant smile of his own, before his eyes fall to Liron. He pets his shirt, and Hermione watches as it suddenly moves, before a small, furry head pops out of the collar of his shirt. A twin set of emerald eyes gaze around from the squirrel daemon's face, before lowering and zooming in on Liron.
As soon as the two daemons set eyes on each other, Liron's tail immediately starts wagging. The boy's daemon wriggles herself free from his shirt and shifts into a small robin, flying into the air. Liron settles on his back paws, following her intently with his eyes, before shifting into a canary and lifting to fly after her, letting out a shrill chirp.
She chirps back at him, and Hermione can sense Liron's bubbling happiness warming inside her own chest.
Hermione, for her part, just stares wide eyed and mystified at her daemon's sudden enthusiasm. It's quite unlike him to take an instant liking to any daemon, and while not frightening, it's a little… different than she's used to.
The boy blinks, looking confused as well with his own daemon's behavior, before shaking his head with a soft sigh. Behind her, Hermione can hear her mother let out a ghost of chuckle and her father grunt, but doesn't take her eyes off of the black haired boy to see her parents' faces.
"I'm… um, sorry about my cousin," the boy offers, stepping a little closer. His eyes shifts to his daemon, who is fluttering around in a circle with Liron, both daemons coming dangerously close to touching one another but parting at the last moment. They are both chirping and fluttering their wings in such a state of excitement that both Hermione and the boy blush at the display.
There is nothing inappropriate about it, of course, but it is a bit unsettling at how the daemons are playing with each other, almost sizing the other up. Especially since neither Hermione nor the boy actually know each other.
"He's kind of a major git, and I don't think he can help it," the boy continues, and they tear their eyes away from their daemons.
Hermione giggles nervously at him, and when he sees this, he ducks his head again. But Hermione can see his lips twist into a small, almost imperceptible smile.
She immediately feels a little better about the situation, knowing he is as shy and unsure as she feels.
"I'm Hermione. Hermione Granger," she offers after a moment, and the boy jerks his head up to look at her fully. Hermione jerks her head in Liron's direction. "That's Liron."
The boy doesn't say anything for a moment, before his lips twist into an open smile and he nods.
"Harry Potter," the boy offers softly. "That's Amynta, and apparently she's in a good mood today,"
Hermione rolls her eyes.
"Well, she and Liron, I suppose. It must be contagious or something," She only says the last part as it pops up into her head, but when Harry lets out a genuine laugh, she feels extremely accomplished.
Maybe it... might not just be me and Liron after all, Hermione thinks fleetingly, biting her lower lip and trying to keep a blush from overwhelming her cheeks.
As soon as Harry smiles again at her, however, before turning his eyes over to their daemons, she loses the battle and her cheeks become inflamed.
She can only be extremely grateful Harry is too distracted to notice.
NOTE: Yeah... I'm thinking of stopping it here, if only so the next chapter can completely focus on their interactions at the zoo. And, in my mind, at least, I imagine I'll probably end the story a little after that.
But the reviewers have asked for a continuation, and I'm toying with the strong possibility of writing out a full-length Harry Potter story set in this 'Verse. If I do, just remember that the characters' daemons are just as important, so their going to get as much screen time as the human characters. M'kay?
... Erm, if anyone wants to read a full-length story, I mean.