A/N: And now for something completely different!
This is the very first time I've written something that isn't a romance at heart. I've written things that don't seem like romances, that have enough elements covering everything up that you can't tell it's a love story until the very end, but never anything like this. I'm super nervous about publishing it because you all know me as Drarry-Wonder (imagine me in a Superman pose with a cloak streaming out behind me with a picture of the two kissing), and this isn't Drarry.
But you should still give it a shot, because I think it's a pretty awesome story. It has its crack-y moments and its serious moments and its fluffy moments (just not romantic fluff) and, well, I think it's a pretty interesting story. It spawns from a prompt NetherArum gave me that I had a dream about that turned into this story.
I'm going to be publishing this on a MWF basis, and I'd ask you give it until Friday to decide whether or not you're going to stick it out. But if not, that's totally cool, and know that once this guy is done (thirteen chapters, I think, plus an epilogue, divided into three times a week is about a month and a half) there's going to be more Drarry goodness. Lots and lots of it.
So, enjoy! I hope!
Harry had a secret.
That was okay, everyone had secrets.
His was a little worse than most, though.
Most people, even by wizard standards, didn't turn into a monster every so often. Werewolves aside, of course. There was literature on werewolves, though, and the Wolfsbane potion. As far as Harry could tell, he was the first of a new species.
It didn't start right away, that was the weird thing. There was a two year gap from the time of the bite to the first symptoms, and then it was only that he had a penchant for chicken, the rawer the better. This was during the Tri-Wizard tournament, and his friends just assumed he was eating strangely because he was stressed out. Harry didn't disagree with them, although even then he suspected something strange might be happening.
The summer before fifth year, which he spent most of at Grimmauld Place with the Order, he noticed spiders scuttling away from him. This time Harry thought it innocuous; he assumed the spiders were just getting wise to their imminent demise. Hermione commented once or twice that spiders weren't known for running away, but Ron was so delighted he practically glued himself to Harry's side.
Several strange things happened over the course of sixth year. For one, he kept waking up to find his pillow had partially dissolved. At first he did a lot of yelling at his roommates, insisting they were pranking him, but the denials were so confused and vehement Harry had to admit they probably weren't behind it. And really, there were too many other things to worry about, so he mostly just ignored it.
The other thing was—and he really didn't know how to explain this—his skin seemed to be sort of…hardening. The first obvious incident was when Ron poked him angrily only to break his finger against his skin. He yelled the whole way to the infirmary, claiming Harry had invented some sort of new protection spell and it wasn't bloody fair because he hadn't been warned. Once Madame Pomfrey fixed him up he was much less angry and much more interested, despite Harry's claims that he hadn't done anything and it must have been Ron's delicate disposition that caused the injury, which Ron protested vehemently. Hermione observed all of this uncharacteristically quietly.
The year he was hunting Horcruxes he had mostly forgotten these few, strange occurrences. Everything else took precedence. Yes, there were no spiders, despite staying almost exclusively living in the woods. He was able to capture forest creatures as easily as Hermione could cook a can of beans, and after the first time he ate a raw squirrel and Hermione started a conversation he didn't want to have, he kept his new diet to himself. Especially because when he bit into them they seemed to dissolve before he could even start to chew. The tradeoff was that his pillows remained intact. His skin continued to harden, but that was easy enough to hide.
The official line between this-is-strange-but-I-have-other-things-to-focus-on and I'm-no-longer-entirely-human came the summer after defeating Voldemort and before his eighth year at Hogwarts. He'd been itchy for weeks, and his strengthened skin had taken to flaking off when he scratched, which led to disgusting messes all over the couch and, especially his bed. It escalated until he was doing laundry every day just to keep his bed from disappearing underneath a pile of oddly scale-shaped skin flakes.
Then, quite suddenly, the itching stopped. It was replaced by a loose sort of feeling. Harry felt like he should be panicking, but instead he calmly stripped down, lay down on the floor so he could use the carpet for traction, and slowly wriggled out of himself, leaving a Harry-shaped skin behind. Then he redressed, took the thing out back and burned it.
He spent the rest of the day going through the extensive library in Grimmauld Place looking for anything even vaguely related to his condition. He found plenty of books on dark creatures, and plenty on dark humanoid creatures—vampires, hags, werewolves, etc. There were none on his particular brand of were. Nor did he have anyone to talk to about it, not without becoming the worst sort of pariah, the sort that enticed mobs of angry villagers wielding torches and pitchforks.
And, well, it wasn't like he had actually changed or anything. He might not be entirely human, but he did retain his human form, and didn't morph out of that. As long as that was the case—and as long as the eye-bit didn't kick in—he thought he'd be okay.
Until the second week of school.
Everything had been going so well, too. The castle had been completely repaired, he was doing well in classes, his friendships had only deepened from what they had been through, and there were significantly fewer Slytherins. That last bit was sort of ironic, but it made his life easier. Malfoy was still around, but he was no longer difficult and antagonistic, and in fact avoided Harry at all costs. Defense Against the Dark Arts wasn't starting up until October, when Snape would be released from St. Mungo's and declared fully recovered from Nagini's attack, so he enjoyed a month without being constantly degraded.
It was actually an interesting question, how Snape would treat him now that Harry knew what he knew.
But all of this was ruined late one Tuesday night. Harry was woken by a sudden, inescapable urge to go for a walk. He felt like he almost knew where he was going but not quite, so he threw on his invisibility cloak and sneaked out, letting his feet guide him.
It wasn't until he was standing in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom that he understood.
Speaking Parseltongue had never been easier, and Harry didn't even hear Myrtle yelling about who was there and how could they open the secret door if they were invisible. Harry walked through the underground passageways, then jogged, and finally broke out into an all-out sprint until he reached the Chamber of Secrets. He whipped off his cloak and looked around frantically, not knowing what he needed to do to trigger the transformation, only that it had to happen here, at least the first time.
He smiled to himself. The first time. That was an exciting thought.
Then the change started, and it wasn't nearly as romantic as Harry had been hoping. In fact it was excruciatingly painful, as his bones stretched, his skin tightening and hardening even further, his body lengthening, his face changing and his glasses falling off because he no longer had ears to hold them up. He screamed in pain, then his screams were replaced by hisses of agony, and then it was over and oh, he felt good.
Seven years after he had been bitten, Harry was finally, undeniably, beautifully, a were-Basilisk.
He laughed at the word. He'd need to think of something more creative and less ridiculous.
He spent the night slithering throughout the plumbing. Unlike a werewolf he retained his mental faculties, and as wonderful as this was, he didn't want to kill anyone, or even petrify them. There had been too much blood spilt during the war, he wasn't going to cause any more.
He was back in his bed, quite human, by the time his roommates woke up. He was also completely exhausted, and both Ron and Hermione spent the day worrying over him, convinced he hadn't slept due to memories of the war. Harry couldn't blame them; that was a far more reasonable explanation than turning into a Basilisk and roaming the pipes all night.
Harry was quite upset to find out that he had no control over when he was going to transform. Spending the night in the Chamber of Secrets didn't do it, and only resulted in him falling asleep on the grimy floor and being late to class the next morning. Talking to himself in Parseltongue, demanding himself to change, did nothing. There wasn't any rhyme and reason to it; one night he'd be completely normal, the next he'd spend the night as a Basilisk. It was very frustrating.
The first accident was due to this lack of control. He was in bed, asleep, and then he was changing, and breaking through the enchantments he'd placed on his curtains just in case of this very scenario. He tried to be quiet, but Dean woke up, and saw him. It was a little known fact that he wore contacts, and apparently the lack of proper eyesight was enough that he was only petrified instead of killed.
That night, not even the joy of being a snake was enough to shake the guilt, and when Dean was found in the morning and the inevitable panic broke out, Harry spent the day in his room, miserable, unable to leave his bed. Everyone assumed he was upset due to the memories of an enchanted Ginny and Tom Riddle's diary, and he was more than happy to let it go at that.
Professor Sprout once again had all her classes working with Mandrakes.
The second accident was a week later, when he was on his way to the Chamber. Even when he wasn't transforming, he found it comforting and as much like home as Gryffindor Tower. This time it was Myrtle, again, and Harry had to think up a way for her to be found without casting any suspicion on himself, since her bathroom was so infrequently visited. He ended up breaking a sink and letting the place flood, swishing the water underneath the door with his tail.
With only a week between what were assumed to be attacks, safety measures were immediately put into place. The six o'clock curfew, being escorted from lesson to lesson, Quidditch postponed, the buddy system, it was all back. Harry felt awful, nearly breaking down entirely as Professor McGonagall gave a nearly identical speech to the one from second year. Despite having broken up over the summer, it was Ginny who offered the most comfort, holding his hand and leaning her head on his shoulder after Professor McGonagall left and the common room descended into utter silence.
From that day on, Harry spent as much time as he could in the Chamber of Secrets, in case of another premature transformation. He nearly had a heart attack when Ron and Hermione appeared one night, but they didn't seem at all surprised to find him there. Harry remained in constant fear that night, but he stayed human, and they left in time for breakfast without incident.
Snape returned, and Harry once again had someone to focus his hatred on. He had expected Snape to treat him differently, given what he had seen in the Pensieve, but he was even worse than before. Harry would have been grateful for the distraction, even if said distraction was being tormented, if he weren't so worried his Basilisk self would attack Snape in revenge. As a result he went out of his way to be nice to Snape, to try to improve their relationship, but that only made Snape angrier and more hateful.
Harry continued to transform randomly, but it wasn't fun anymore. He spent his time as a Basilisk curled up in the Chamber of Secrets with his head tucked into his coils. When he dared to venture out he stayed confined to the pipes and spent the entire time listening for footsteps, of which there were a lot, due to nightly patrols. Every time he heard someone he stilled and closed his eyes until they passed, even though there were pipes and walls between him and any potential victims.
The accidents stopped. Hogwarts relaxed. The school's safety measures were withdrawn with the exception of the buddy system. Harry was more miserable than ever, confusing everyone. Hermione seemed to have forgotten all his strange behaviors in the years leading up to this and had no suspicions. There were no longer any spiders in the castle to avoid him, and Ron seemed to forget that the species had ever existed. The Mandrakes were slowly maturing. Everyone but Harry was in high spirits.
Spending his nights in the Chamber was miserable. He'd smuggled some blankets and a pillow, but they hardly took the edge off. It was cold and dank and contained a dead Basilisk slowly rotting along one wall that refused to be transfigured into something less depressing.
He wanted was the thrill back. He wanted to race through the school. He wanted to love his other body. He wanted to be invincible.
Instead he spent half his fortune on a phoenix, in case he bit someone. It was delivered anonymously to Headmistress McGonagall's office. He had to consciously prevent himself from visiting the petrified several times a day lest he seem suspicious. He convinced Slughorn to sign a note letting him into the restricted section of the library under the pretense of an intense love of potions. He spent hours and hours pouring over anything and everything that looked as if it might be helpful.
Being a new species had lost its charm.
The third accident was by far the worst.
Harry let himself out of the Chamber and onto the grounds, assuming he wouldn't run into anyone in the middle of the night. For the first time he felt free again, felt the excitement flood through him. He loved the feel of the cold grass against his scales, marveled how the moonlight reflected off him and, best of all, sped around as quickly as he could, just for the joy of it.
He was paying no attention to his surroundings, and he didn't realize he was by the greenhouses until much too late. Not only that, but he was so high on adrenaline he forgot what he was, so when he heard Hagrid's voice he jumped at the chance to see his friend. He slithered around to the front of greenhouse three, where Hagrid was trying to convince Professor Sprout that he could grow the mandrakes to record sizes, despite her insistence that it wouldn't do anything other than create a need for daily repotting.
They saw him through the frosted glass and were petrified.
This time Harry did break down, becoming hysterical when Professor McGonagall made the announcement. He had to be escorted to the infirmary and given several bars of chocolate as well as a calming draught. He was forced to stay in the infirmary for a full hour to make sure he didn't require more of the potion, which was incredibly stupid, given all the curtains drawn around the petrified.
He had another breakdown when he realized Professor Sprout was no longer capable of growing the mandrakes. This had been announced already, but it didn't register until a very pale and resigned Neville said that he needed to leave dinner to go down to the greenhouses to check on the mandrake's progress. Professor McGonagall herself escorted him, while Ron and Hermione brought Harry back to the infirmary for another round of chocolate and calming droughts.
Harry locked himself in the Chamber of Secrets that night. He put up protections spells, jinxes on all the exits, transfigured rocks to the size of boulders and blocked any passages out. He did transform that night, and spent the entire time buried in his coils, eyes squeezed closed.
The next day Hermione caught him before he had a chance to shower off the grime of the Chamber. He panicked when she pulled him aside, and nearly had a heart attack when she asked if that was where he had been. He started to deny it, but she interrupted him with a tight hug and, in a croaky, tear-filled voice told him there was nothing more to be learned from the Chamber and he was only making himself miserable. Harry cried with her, feeling even guiltier that his tears were those of relief rather than for Hagrid and the others. He hadn't been caught. He was safe. And Neville was proving to be more than competent with the mandrakes, though they still wouldn't be ready for many, many months, so everything was going to be okay. He might have to spend the rest of his life in seclusion, but he hadn't killed anyone, and he would never make the mistake of leaving the Chamber again.