Disclaimer: I own none of the rights to any Harry Potter material. I make no money from this story. It is solely for enjoyment purposes.

Beyond Familiar

Chapter 2: The Consequences of Magic

Albus Dumbledore would have to say that he was feeling particularly content at the moment. While being the Headmaster of a school in the middle of summer was usually pleasant, it is even better when you have something to look forward to. Professor Dumbledore was presently sitting at his desk daydreaming about events that should take place in exactly one year. Young Harry Potter would be reintroduced to the magical world after growing up with his aunt and uncle and just over a month later Dumbledore would get to find out what kind of wizard James and Lily's son had turned out to be. While no headmaster should have favorites amongst his pupils Dumbledore couldn't deny that he had been especially fond of James Potter and Lily Evans. Dumbledore was in the middle of reminiscing over their time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry when he blanched as he noticed a series of piercing sounds that he had hoped never to hear at the same time; all emanating from some of the many silvery instruments that he had lining the walls of his office.

Dumbledore knew the importance of Harry Potter better than anyone, as well as how much danger he could be in at any given moment due to that same importance. It was for these reasons that Dumbledore personally established the methods for protecting Harry, as well as some methods for monitoring him at his relatives' home. The methods of monitoring Harry decorated Dumbledore's office in the form of whirling and spinning silver objects. Each one had its own individual purpose, but the four that were currently glowing and emitting a high pitch whistling were sufficient to terrify Dumbledore. The only thing worse would be if they stopped spinning and whistling altogether. Just as he finished silencing the instruments he heard a panicked voice emanating from a head that appeared in his fireplace. "Dumbledore, we need your help. It's about Harry Potter. Something has happened but we can't get through the wards without your help. The aurors report that they can hear screaming coming from the boy's house." "I'll be there in momentarily Cornelius." Dumbledore replied as he tapped a goblet on his desk with his wand and muttered "Portus" before grasping it and vanishing from his office.

A short time later Albus Dumbledore found himself sitting in the middle of what once a lovely garden, contemplating how today had turned into one of the worst of his very long life. He was also left to wonder how he could have been so wrong in believing that the Dursley's home was the best place for Harry Potter to be. He had justified it at the time with his reasoning that the blood based wards would be powerful enough to protect Harry from outside dangers. He had never considered that Harry would need protection inside the wards, and from his own family at that! The testament to his failure was being cleaned up by the members of the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad that walked around him. Despite the rapid improvement of the garden's appearance nothing could purge his memory of the scene he and the aurors had arrived to several hours earlier.

As Dumbledore and the aurors arrived on Privet Drive it had been simple to find the site where the accidental magic had occurred. All of the windows of the surrounding houses that faced number four had been shattered. Number four itself looked as though it had been through a hurricane. The back garden was the most drastically affected though. Everything appeared as though a small bomb had gone off a few feet from the corner of the house. While there were no scorch marks, it seemed as though everything in the yard had been forced away from the focal point of the blast. It was about ten feet from that point that the group of wizards found the source of the screaming. Petunia Dursley was kneeling next to the slightly battered body of her husband, who was upon his back with glazed, empty eyes. After some time spent carefully probing for information with the aid of truth serum the situation became clear. It seemed that a concussive blast between Harry and Mr. Dursley had launched Vernon ten feet back and had caused his heart to stop. It was determined that while the blast would not have been comfortable due to his close proximity, it shouldn't have been fatal either. The final ruling on the matter was that Vernon Dursley would have survived if not for his overwhelming bulk already putting too much strain on his heart. Not to mention the circumstances that caused the violent magical reaction that placed Mr. Potter's actions firmly under the category of self-defense. While the Accidental Magic Reversal Squad began cleanup and damage control Dumbledore began to explain to the Ministry of Magic officials what he knew of the unaccounted for Boy-Who-Lived.

Dumbledore's instruments regarding Harry Potter were very precise in their functions and those that were set off on July 31st were no exception. His instruments were only able to provide five facts about young Mr. Potter. He knew that magic had been performed on a large scale at the Dursley's home. He knew that the boy had been seriously hurt as was also made clear by the traces of blood on the back wall of the Dursley's house where Harry had been slammed by the blast. That was without delving into the injuries he had already sustained at the hands of his family that Mrs. Dursley exposed while under the truth serum's effects. Despite the severity of the injuries, the continued functioning of the instruments that monitored Harry showed that he still lived. Dumbledore also knew that Harry had left the house by his own choice and without assistance. Yet he was also aware that his previous methods of tracking Mr. Potter no longer functioned.

Dumbledore readily passed on all of this information to the Ministry officials that were present. There was only one conclusion to be made from this information: they were stuck. They knew he was alive, yet they also knew he was injured, probably magically drained, alone, and unable to be found by any magical means. The most confusing of all became apparent when an auror named Kingsley had the idea of using a post owl to send a message to Harry. This brilliant idea sought to take advantage of the unique magic that imbues post owls to invariably find their designated recipient. However, when the owl refused to take a letter to Mr. Potter the letter changed to a greyish color with writing appearing below Harry's name, "no such person exists". With no leads and a headache inducing problem, the Ministry settled on sending out teams of aurors to discreetly check medical facilities for boys that fit Harry's description as described by Mrs. Dursley. The description was made necessary by the lack of any photos of young Mr. Potter. The house actually held no evidence of any child but Dudley existing in the house until the officials noticed the small pallet in the cupboard under the stairs and discovered the purpose of the miniscule space. That Petunia Dursley would treat her nephew in such a way left Dumbledore wondering what other great mistakes he might have made in his life that he was not yet aware of.

After stressing the need for discretion in the search, the remaining Ministry personnel returned to their offices in a much more subdued manner than they had left in. Nobody in the ministry noticed the small beetle that that flew off of the returning party of Ministry officials. This normally wouldn't be a problem except that the beetle was, at that moment, thinking of all the uproar that would be caused by the next article written under the words "By Rita Skeeter".

The article that appeared in the Daily Prophet a few days later, under the title "Boy-Who Lived: Tormented and Missing", shocked the magical world to its core. It recounted all of the facts surrounding Harry Potter's tenth birthday as well as the details of his disappearance and the Ministry's inability to find him. It further elaborated on the treatment of Harry Potter as he grew up in his relative's home. The facts of his treatment were reported to have been exposed by Mrs. Dursley while she was being questioned under the effects of truth serum in the Dursley's back garden. The article ended with a request that the magical community demand justice for their missing hero.

While inquiries were being made into who revealed the events of July 31st, the magical community was irate over the treatment of the young hero of the last war. Not only had the Boy-Who-Lived been sent to live with his relatives that hated magic, but he had been left there and suffered frequent abuse. Who had seen to his accommodations? Why had nobody checked up on him to ensure he was being cared for? Why can't the Ministry find a ten year old underage wizard that who likely injured and alone? These questions filled howlers that assailed the Ministry for weeks as the entirety of magical Britain continued to vent its collective rage. Due to the exposure of the Dursley's cruelty it was decided that their house should retain basic magical protections for their safety from an enraged magical population. This however, did not prevent the individuals that were sent to set the wards from leaving some unpleasant gifts behind them.

Those that were employed by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement (DMLE) were often thought of being tightly wound or highly serious. While this was largely true, they were also the best at circumventing the law due to their detailed knowledge of its loopholes. It was for this reason that the head of the DMLE, Amelia Bones, just happened to select the most prodigious pranksters from the auror ranks to go to Privet Drive to see to the wards. The grim smiles that were on their faces when they returned gave an idea of their success. While they were not permitted to harm the Dursleys directly, they were still allowed enough leeway to make their lives just a bit more difficult. While it wouldn't change how the Potter's child had been treated, it certainly would make them feel just a bit better for having helped balance the scales a little.

The search for Harry Potter was the focus of the entire Ministry of Magic up until the beginning of the new school year at Hogwarts. After the chaos that was associated with transporting a few hundred underage witches and wizards across England, the search began to take a back seat to other tasks. After the utter lack of results during a month long search for an underage wizard the enthusiasm of those still involved soon waned. By the end of September, the only sign of the search was the occasional poster with a vague sketch of Harry Potter, based on Petunia Dursley's description, which listed him as a lost child.

It was around this time that Hermione Granger could be found enjoying her new book on a shady bench under an oak in the park near her home in Kent. The little clearing she sat in was surrounded by dense woods and allowed for perfect solitude and peaceful reading. Her parents had been called in to the office for an emergency appointment (she would never see the appeal of sports), and told her they would have to postpone their trip to Diagon Alley. Ever since Minerva McGonagall had visited three days earlier on her eleventh birthday to explain about Hermione being a witch, she had been itching to get her hands on some book from the magical market to learn all she could about the new world that was now open to her. However, with her parents occupied, Hermione decided to finish reading her copy of The Count of Monte Cristo that her parents had bought for her birthday. It was as she was reading of Fernand's fate that Hermione heard footsteps approaching and looked up, only to behold a most unwelcome sight.

Cole Wright and Hugo Anderson were classic examples of playground bullies. They would single out the most isolated prey available and make themselves feel better by tormenting their victim. They didn't have much going for themselves in the way of academics, so their preferred targets were those that excelled where they failed. As a student who shared their class, and did extremely well, this put Hermione at the top of their list of targets, as she was often alone with only books for company.

As the duo approached, Hermione considered her odds of escape if she tried to run or find help but she quickly reconsidered when she remembered the reason why the clearing was so perfect when seeking solitude. The clearing only had one path in and out as the surrounding trees were too dense to navigate quickly and the thick foliage served to make all the sounds of the outside world fade away. She had never considered the way that the clearing could serve as a trap rather than a private sanctuary. The two boys had apparently had also sought the privacy of the clearing based on the presence of a lighter and cigs sticking out of Hugo's pockets, but they had obviously decided from the looks on their faces, that Hermione would be a better source of entertainment. "Hello bookworm," greeted Cole "what have you got there?" "Nothing Cole, it's a birthday present" replied Hermione, hurriedly trying to hide her book. Before she could get it tucked away Hugo had snatched it from her grasp. "Ooh, what a surprise Cole, another book for the know-it-all." Cole seemed to think for a moment before taking the book, "You know, I think that having all these books is unhealthy. They must get awfully heavy; we should help make them easier to carry." As Cole said this, both Hugo and Hermione began to stare at him as though he'd lost his mind. Seeing their confused looks, Cole suddenly put on an evil smile before grasping a large number of the book's pages and tearing them out. "NO!" cried Hermione as Cole continued tearing apart the book to the sound of Hugo's laughing encouragement. "Stop! That was from my parents!" pleaded Hermione as she tried to take it from Cole, only for Hugo to shove her roughly to the ground. As she hit the ground she turned to glare at the boys with eyes filled with rage. Suddenly the air seemed to crackle for a moment before a brief flash lit the clearing and a voice shouted in pain. When Hermione's vision cleared she could see her book on the ground while Cole stood moaning over his now red and puffy hands. They looked as though they had been stung by a large number of insects.

Hugo stared blankly at Cole's hands for a few moments before turning to Hermione. "What did you do?" he asked, somewhere between confusion and anger. "I don't know," mumbled Hermione who did actually have an idea of what she did, if not how she did it. Unfortunately, Hermione was never a good liar and Hugo was able to see through her as soon as the words left her mouth. "You're going to tell me what you did and you're going to fix it or we'll do worse to you" he growled as he began to stalk threateningly towards Hermione with clenched fists. Hermione was frozen with terror, she didn't know what she should do, she didn't know how to fix Cole's hands and she didn't want to think of what they'd do to her if they learned she was a witch. Professor McGonagall had told her of the laws that forbid telling muggles, or non-magical people, about the magical world. Professor McGonagall assured Hermione that their secrecy was partially for their own protection, as some muggles reacted violently when they learned about magic. The sad look on her face as she said this told Hermione that she didn't want to know about the results of such reactions.

Hermione knew she wouldn't be able to run away from the approaching bully and didn't have any idea how to get out of the mess she found herself in. "TELL ME, YOU FREAK!" roared Hugo. As the last words left his lips a sudden menacing hiss filled the air causing everyone in the clearing to jump. The origin of the threatening sound revealed itself as a three foot long snake came out from under the bench Hermione had been sitting on earlier, before the arrival of the two bullies.

The snake was midnight black with dark green stripes cutting horizontally across its back every few inches. The angry hissing made its intentions obvious to anyone who was blind enough not to see the unbridled rage that filled its emerald green eyes. Were it not for the nearly palpable malice that exuded from it, Hermione thought that the strangely colored snake would be quite a gorgeous sight. Of course, this observation was slightly marred by the fact that said snake was now between her and the only way out of the little clearing, without taking the two bullies into account who also blocked the path. As it approached the two boys, the snake seemed to get angrier and hiss more loudly. The boys on the other hand, seemed to grow paler as the snake slithered closer while they remained petrified with fear. All at once they seemed to regain control of their senses and their bodies and fled out of the clearing at a dead run without looking back.

As the boys ran the snake stopped its pursuit and turned back towards the clearing. Hermione, fearing for her life, tried to get away from the snake in the only way that occurred to her by climbing on top of the bench that she so often used as her sanctuary from the world. The snake seemed to consider her for a moment before slowly approaching the bench. It wasn't acting aggressively, as it had towards the boys. Rather it seemed hesitant to approach her as though she may attack it. As it lay not even five feet from her, Hermione was able to look at the snake in closer detail. It was indeed a gorgeous specimen for its coloring and eyes that seemed to slow despite having lost their previous fire. However, the beauty was slightly marred by the number of scars that were visible down its length. The most prominent mark on the snake was the small green mark on its head that was shaped like a lightning bolt. All of these thoughts seemed to pass through Hermione's head in the blink of an eye as she watched the snake stop to regard her on top of the bench. After considering her for a moment the snake suddenly seemed to notice the pages that had been scattered by the boys as a breeze passed through the clearing.

As the breeze passed, the snake seemed to look at her questioningly before it began moving around the clearing. Just as Hermione started contemplating making a break for it, she suddenly noticed what the snake was doing. It wasn't just moving around the clearing in a random pattern as she had believed; it was gathering the loose pages of her book! She looked on in wonder as the snake made its way back to the cover, only to set down all of the torn out pages and place the cover on top as if to hold them down. Having finished its task, the snake made its way over to the bench. Hermione tensed as it approached but it simply went underneath the bench and into the darker shade provided there. Hermione slowly began to still her hammering heart as she stood on the bench. As she wondered if it was safe to come down she began to reason out what she had seen of the snake so far. "Okay," she thought to herself, "One, it came out spitting mad when Hugo was threatening me." She did have to admit that there could have been other reasons though. It could have just been upset with all the noise, though it hadn't seemed angry towards her. "Two, it gathered up all of the pages of my book and put them away." That was weird no matter how you looked at it. "Three, It hasn't tried to hurt me even though it could probably reach me if it wanted to and it even left me a way out of here." That was when a fourth bit of reasoning hit her like a ton of bricks. "Four, you're a witch and should expect strange somewhat magical things to happen every once in a while." With this last thought pushing her ahead, Hermione gathered up her courage and carefully peeked below the bench.

Of course the first thing out of her mouth made her question her sanity but the part of her mind that was learning to accept magic as real made her do it anyway. "Can you understand me?" whispered Hermione. Having actually voiced her question she immediately had to suppress the urge to smack her own forehead for being foolish. Because of this thought process going on, Hermione almost missed the nearly imperceptible nod the snake gave her. Bolstered by this response she decided on her next question. "If I come down will you try to hurt me?" Now she officially felt stupid. If it was able to understand her, and if the snake was going to hurt her, it would hardly let her know. At this question the snake seemed to give a shocked expression, and shook its head vehemently. The transparent honestly of this answer set Hermione's mind at ease. Hardly believing that she was going to trust one of the most symbolically untrustworthy creatures with her life, Hermione slowly got down from the bench and retrieved her brutalized book. Having gotten her book back, she briefly considered leaving the clearing before going back to the snake. Instead of sticking her head under the bench with the snake again she stopped a couple of feet away to keep from scaring it.

Cautiously, Hermione softly called out, "Excuse me, um, Mr. Snake, if you don't mind, would you come out here for a moment please? It's just that, well, I've never really talked to a snake before and I'd like to learn more about you if I can." After waiting a few moments for a response, she began to wonder if she should leave to avoid bothering her serpentine savior if he didn't want to talk. Just as Hermione decided that she would leave and started to get up, a movement from under the bench made her wait. Slowly the large snake made its way out from under the bench to stare at Hermione with its head cocked in a way that clearly said "I'm here, now what?" "First off, I'd like to thank you for helping with those two boys earlier." At this the snake seemed to tense for a moment before shaking its head and wagging the tip of its tail at her in such a way that seemed to tell her not to worry about it. "No matter how you feel about it, I thought I should at least say thank you. I also wanted to know if you talk to other people or if it was just me. This time the gesture was impossible to misunderstand as the snake's tail pointed unwaveringly at her chest. "So, you know what I am," Hermione whispered, "you know that I'm a, a witch?" At this the snake hesitated a moment before carefully dipping its head in the affirmative. "Can all snakes understand people?" This received an immediate no. "Well, can you understand all people or only me?" The wide sweeping arc the snake made with its tail made it clear that he understood others as well. The snake really seemed to be getting more comfortable with the conversation and almost seemed to be enjoying itself. Suddenly the snake seemed to look a little bit afraid, as though something suddenly occurred to it. "What's wrong?" asked Hermione before looking around and, seeing nothing, looked back to the snake. It slowly pointed its tail at her, then at itself, and carefully pointed its tail in several random directions before slowly opening and closing its mouth without showing many teeth before quickly shaking its head with a look that seemed to be pleading. Hermione immediately grasped what her new little friend was trying to say. "Of course I won't tell anyone about you, they'd probably think I was crazy anyway." She assured the snake, to its apparent relief that it showed by lowering its head and letting its forked tongue out in a long hiss. Hermione suddenly realized a problem with their conversation, if you call it that.

"I just realized my poor manners, I'm Hermione Granger. Do you have a name?" The snake seemed to consider for a moment before it slowly shook its head with a slightly pained expression. "Would you mind if I help come up with one? I don't know if you want me to call you Mr. Snake all the time." After a series of short hisses that Hermione took to be laughter the snake tilted its head side to side in a way that gave a strange impression of a shrug. "Okay, first I need to know, um," she began awkwardly, while her face became flushed. "Are you a boy snake?" she finished in a rush. After another round of hissing laughter the snake moved its head in a circular motion that clearly indicated eye rolling and finally nodded. Hermione turned a deeper shade of scarlet at the snake's very human-like response to her embarrassing question. "Well I had to know, didn't I?" she retorted angrily. The snake responded by hissing its strange laughter again and waving his tail in a pacifying gesture or motioning her to go on. After letting out her breath in an angry huff, she spent several minutes pondering every name of every snake she had ever read about while the snake waited patiently. After she gave up on trying to think of individual snake names the answer suddenly came to her. Hermione decided to explain her reasoning before presenting the snake with her idea. "Okay, so a Naga seems like a person with snake-like attributes okay?" The snake cautiously nodded his head in understanding. "Well I was thinking that that seems kind of backwards with you. You seem like a snake that has human attributes instead of the other way around. You look like a snake but you act almost human, so I thought we might switch the name around to match." At this the snake slowly picked its head up in obvious curiosity. "So, I came up with Agahn. It's sort of like turning the word Naga around. What do you think?" asked Hermione nervously. The snake seemed to consider the name for a few minutes before coming to a decision. Seeing as how the snake was deciding on its name, Hermione waited patiently for the snake to pass judgment on her choice. Very slowly, the snake looked Hermione in the eye before giving a deliberate nod and a pleased sounding hiss. "Agahn it is then." Hermione said with a wide smile towards her new friend.

A/N: Well, I have to say I'm more than pleased with the response so far. I've already got someone I have to earnestly thank for their review. Man of Constant Sorrow helped settle an argument I've been having with myself since I posted the first chapter. This is mostly so I don't break any rules without fully intending to. I'm still not planning on adding any sexual content in this story at any point unless it's to say: it happened (don't ever expect detailed sex scenes from me). Even if I go far enough to say "they had sex", it wont be any time in the early Hogwarts years. That would just be weird. However, that said, I have been convinced to up the rating to "M" to allow a little bit more freedom of motion within the story. Honestly I'm not much of one for blood and gore, so don't worry about that becoming a problem, but I don't know how tight the guidelines really are and I don't like dealing with the censorship police. The story quality won't be going into the gutter because of this change it's just another part of having cover-my-butt syndrome. I'm going to wait a few days before changing the rating in case someone goes back to look for the story by using the ratings for search parameters but it should be changed within the next few days.

I also went above and beyond what I intended to include in this chapter but I really am not one for reading a 1500 word chapter and that was the alternative. Now then, on to questions that will be cropping up soon. I am NOT going to be Dumbledore bashing left and right but I will not hesitate to point out where he has been a dunce. Also, as a heads up, the same goes for Ron in regards to him being a prat. For those that want all the Dursleys dead: Sorry, I'm not that evil. On that note, I have to express my gratitude to pfkman23 for such great insight into writing a chapter like chapter 1. Also, as you may have noticed in this chapter that I will be granting your wish for the Dursleys. It won't be all at once, but it will give us all a good laugh. (I already scared my dog senseless with an hour straight of laughter while I jotted down some ideas) If it seemed a bit over the top with the reasoning behind Agahn's name, it was only because I wanted everyone to hear his name as I do while I imagine the future conversations. I personally hate it when five people read the same book and there are five different ways that people say every character's name and insist that their way is the only right way to say it. If you want an example, try reading the Wheel of Time books. On a final self critical note, I welcome any of the grammar police who wish to give me a digital slap to the back of the head and point out my errors. I think spellcheck gives up on me after a while.

I think posting "read and review" at the end of every chapter is another silly practice people have developed, so I will say this once. Reviews make writing a little more rewarding as it shows that other people are really reading what you do and see what your work has the potential to become. To those of you that review, you're wonderful. To those of you that don't, don't sweat it, but just know that people appreciate it if you put the effort in to post a review.

Now, for those of you that read this far into my rambling, I think you guys are going to like the next chapter as it's going to reveal more about what makes Agahn special, other than that which everyone should be able to guess. For those that are waiting for some Dursley suffering, I hope you're content with this chapter for the moment, as I'm not sure that I'll get to where I want with the next chapter. Once again, it's not about the number of words, though I try (and obviously fail) to keep a similar number of words per chapter; it's more about story organization. I will try to keep to my goal of one chapter per week but if the next chapter isn't up on time I would suggest looking at my profile for any delays. I will NOT leave you guys wondering why I didn't post.