Chapter One – The Change
In ten minutes Harry James Potter would be turning eighteen years old, though after everything he had been through he felt a lot older than his years and it frustrated him no end that he was still being treated like a child. Since his defeat of Voldemort on the 2nd May where they had all suffered great emotional turmoil resulting from the death of so many loved ones it had been decided by his so called guardians and those that cared about him, without his consent that Harry remain at the Burrow at least until his birthday.
It was still surrounded by protective enchantments, wards and although it was not as overflowing with people as it usually would have been with the vast numbers of the Wesley family it was still brimming with people who loved and cared for him, wanting nothing more than to protect him and he couldn't exactly deny them that.
Harry had of course disagreed with the decision. He had wanted to move straight into Grimmauld Place, which was legally his along with a few other properties that Sirius had owned and start on with the rest of his life. The others however had had other ideas for him. They had claimed he needed time to adjust after the battle and to the fact that he no longer had part of Tom Riddle's soul leaching off him. They had also told him that he needed to be around people that cared for him and not stuck in the Black family residence alone as he came to terms with everything that had happened during the war.
Harry could have accepted all of these reasons if he hadn't had a gut instinct telling him that there was something else to it. After the previous year he had learnt to trust his gut and despite his efforts to get them to tell him they had said nothing more on the subject. He could of course have walked out whenever he wanted, as a wizard he was already of age but he knew that doing so would hurt his adoptive family more than he would ever wish to hurt them after everything they had been through, so he stayed. However he had hardly spoken to any of them in the three months that they had been here. He had needed the time to think.
Instead Harry had spent his time in the garden, relishing the feel of the sun on his face, warming his skin as he had read through as many school texts as he could. Seeing as he had missed his seventh and final year at Hogwarts and therefore hadn't taken his N.E.W.T's, he at least wanted to learn the material, even if he didn't have the grades to show for it.
Five minutes. He was going to be eighteen in just five minutes time. He had survived and now he was free to live his life as he wanted to. His guardians had only decreed that he needed to stay with them until his birthday, which meant they wouldn't be upset if he chose to leave. Harry wasn't about to storm out, bags packed the minute the clock struck midnight but perhaps the day after, when the planned celebrations were over he would be making his excuses and leaving. He needed some time and also some space away from everyone. He loved the Weasley's and Hermione dearly but he craved solitude. He needed time to grieve for everything he had lost. Even for the fraction of Voldemort's soul as it had been a part of him for so long and now it was gone.
Harry needed to scream, to cry, to let out all of his bottled up emotions and he couldn't do that here, not even behind the silencing charms he erected every night before he went to sleep so they wouldn't hear his nightmares. He couldn't break down in front of the protective, watchful eyes of Molly Weasley who hadn't stopped watching him the entire summer. It was almost as if she were waiting for something to happen and he didn't know what it was.
The bedroom suddenly seemed stiflingly hot to Harry, a sensation that came over him unexpectedly. He had been staying in the twin's old room. George hadn't been able to set foot in here since the death of Fred and had been sleeping at his joke shop in Diagon alley. Harry had been reluctant at first to stay here but he had quickly come to terms with it when he had realised that it meant he didn't have to share with Ron anymore. It also meant he didn't have to answer any prying questions when he just didn't feel like it in regards to his nightmares, which he didn't feel like talking about to anyone.
The heat of the summer months was already sweltering but Harry felt as if he couldn't breathe the heat was getting to him so much, as if it had suddenly kicked up a notch, it was as if it were radiating from his skin rather than the air around him. He needed to escape the confines of the house, he needed to be outside and to breathe in the fresh air. That was the only thought that was racing through his mind, the need to be outside in the open, to be able to see the sky, to drink in the cool night air.
He descended down the stairs as quickly and as quietly as possible so not to wake the other occupants of the house. He wrenched open the back door and hadn't gone more than four metres from the building before collapsing on soft green grass, gasping for breath. His fists clenched in the grass beneath him, nails digging into the soft earth as he struggled to catch his breath.
It felt as if his throat was constricting as he attempted to draw breath, as if his lungs were refusing the oxygen freely given to them. His skin felt as if it were on fire and burning, the cool night air doing very little to lessen the inferno his body had become. He wanted it to stop, there was too much pain. He didn't know what was happening to him but if this was how he was going to die then so be it, he would welcome it even.
Harry unexpectedly found himself to be grateful that he was wearing boxer shorts as he felt concerned eyes watching him silently as he gasped at the air around him, trying to force oxygen into his body. He had been so tempted to sleep starker's this evening in the blistering heat but out of respect for the Weasley family he had reframed something he couldn't have been happier about now.
Despite the curious and worried eyes watching his every more no one said anything nor did they attempt to approach him or to help. He was glad of this because he felt that if anyone had tried to touch him then he would have screamed. He felt his stomach twist and turn violently inside of him, his organs all felt as if they were shifting in ways they weren't supposed to. Something was wrong, this feeling was inhuman and Harry couldn't understand why no one was helping him, why they all stood back and doing nothing. They were supposed to be his friends, his family.
His ears felt as if they were being pulled away from his head, his skin giving off the sensation that insects were crawling all over him. His eyes were burning in his sockets and his hair felt as if it were being torn violently from his head. The agony too much to hold in any longer and he tried to scream but no sound came out, his throat feeling as if it had been engulfed by flame.
"What's happening to him mum?" Ginny asked her mother quietly as she clutched desperately to her as a piercing scream finally tore from Harry's throat.
"It's his creature inheritance," Molly told her daughter sadly. "No one knew if it would actually happen to the poor child. We all doubted that he would have the active gene required for the change to happen. He's been through so much already."
"Change?" Hermione questioned feeling a little panicked as she watched her best friend in excruciating pain, unable to do anything to help him. "Change into what exactly?"
"Creature inheritance triggers at eighteen," Ron said sounding a little stunned at what was happening, he'd of course been told of its possibilities before now. "If there is any creature blood in your family and you carry the active gene then it makes itself known when you turn eighteen, it's the reason you come of age as a wizard at seventeen and not eighteen."
Most pure blood families and some half-blood ones too held some form of creature blood in their family tree somewhere but it was rare to find the active gene to trigger any changes and it became rarer the further down the generations it spread. Ron had been told all about it because many generations ago there had been some dragon blood injected into the Weasley family but that had been over a century ago and so far no one had discovered any inheritance. The only notion of a love of dragons in their family from Charlie who absolutely worshipped them but even he hadn't come into the inheritance at eighteen. The only Wesley child yet to turn eighteen was Ginny and Molly was hoping that it skipped over her daughter as it had skipped over all of her sons. She didn't think she would be able to cope seeing her youngest child in the throes of agony the way Harry was now.
"But I thought that his mother was muggle-born, that his entire family were muggles?" Ginny asked, confused. She knew the drill, she, like Ron, had been told of the possibility of it happening. All the right ingredients had to be there, the active gene, the powerful magic and the strong magical bloodline.
"But his father, the Potter line, they're old purebloods, just like the Weasley's," Hermione said knowingly. "The name might have changed but the strong magic is still there. I think I can trace Harry's paternal line all the way back to the Peverell brothers because of the invisibility cloak and not to mention he is a direct descendent of Godric Gryffindor too."
"What's be turning into?" Ginny asked as Harry's arms and legs collapsed out from underneath him and he fell with a thump to the grass, still writhing in agony as the change took over his entire body. It hurt her to see him like that, the man she loved even though they weren't together and hadn't been since the war. It didn't change how she felt about him though.
"With his parents dead and their friends all gone as well no one knew. It's why we had to keep him here until his birthday, so if this happened he wouldn't have to go through it alone. He wouldn't have known anything about it or that it was even a possibility," Arthur said, he sounded sad and dejected that Harry, who he thought of as a son, had to go through yet more upheaval in his life. The poor child had already been through too much at such a young age, it wasn't fair to ask any more of him.
"He's in so much pain," Ginny said, heartbroken. "Isn't there anything we can do for him?" She asked the group desperately. The five of them just looked at each other helplessly, not knowing what they could do to help Harry as he whimpered, twitching on the ground, his eyes squeezed tightly closed. He looked as if someone was casting the cruciatus curse upon him, his body tensed up and silently screaming with tears leaking from his eyes.
"No," Molly said, becoming just as upset as her only daughter over the suffering Harry was currently going through, her love for the teenager maternal whereas Ginny's love for the saviour was so much more. "We just have to let the change take effect."
"He's in so much pain!" Hermione said, clearly in distress as Ron wound his arms around her in an attempt to sooth the sobbing witch.
"There is nothing we can do for him," Arthur said, "You lot go back to bed and get some sleep. I'll stay with him. Once the change is complete I'll make sure to put him back into bed," He said assuredly, trying to remain calm for the sake of everyone else who was clearly distraught at what was happening to Harry.
"But …" Ginny said, wanting to protest, she didn't want to leave Harry but her father gave her a stern glare. It was late and he was in no mood to argue.
"It's his party tomorrow, you won't be in any fit state to celebrate with him if you don't sleep tonight," Molly said kindly, putting an arm around her daughter and began to guide her inside, Ron ushering Hermione in the same direction after them. Arthur meanwhile watched his family retreat indoors before conjuring up an armchair and settled himself into it to watch over Harry until he was stable enough to move back into the house.
He owed this young man his life. Harry was his eighth child in every way but blood and had become an irreplaceable part of the family. He hated not knowing the full extent of what was happening to the poor child, especially after everything that had already happened to him. He sighed, knowing that the papers would have a field day with this news if they ever got their hands on it. That was something Harry really didn't need, not after only just having defeated the Dark Lord at the beginning of May. The poor child had been through enough, he deserved a rest bite from it all but that seemed as if it wasn't going to happen anytime soon.
Harry blinked, the sunlight streaming through his windows was glaringly bright and giving him a headache. He automatically reached for his glasses without thinking, trying to figure out why he felt so disorientated. His body was aching all over as if he had played a week long Quidditch match in a blizzard without taking a break to rest.
He became even more discombobulated when, upon pushing his glasses on to his nose, he discovered that he no longer seemed to need them. He then spent the next ten minutes taking his glasses on and off, trying to figure out what the hell had happened and why his eye sight had spontaneously righted itself.
Looking down at his glasses in his hands, he noticed that his eyesight must be really fucked up now because his skin looked different too but only slightly. He couldn't quite explain it, it was the same lightly tanned golden brown it always was over the summer months when he spent the majority of his time outdoors. However it now seemed to glow, almost shimmering with a golden sheen in the sunlight. It had never done that before he was certain and he had seen a great deal many astounding things. This was something else entirely.
"What the fuck…" Harry asked himself quietly, unable to take his eyes away from the lightly shimmering skin. As he dropped his glasses back on the nightstand and stood up he realised that his entire body felt different to him. Looking down at himself he saw that overnight somehow he seemed to have bulked up ever so slightly. His muscles were more defined than they had been the previous day. He had always been a little too skinny for his age but the muscle he had suddenly gained seemed to have taken care of that.
It took him several moments to comprehend this and then he caught his reflection in the mirror and he back tracked to square one again. His hair had become thicker and a little longer, now brushing against the top of his shoulders and completely covering his ears, though he grimaced at the fact that it still looked as wind swept as it ever had.
His eyes, if it were possible, were an even brighter shade of emerald green than he had thought, though that could have been because he had never seen them clearly without the round wire rimmed glasses before. His eyelashes were fuller and thicker and his facial features having a more feminine edge to them, his skin flawless and practically glowing.
The only thing that hadn't changed at all was the ugly red lightening scar that screamed out his identity but it was at least now partially hidden by the growth of his hair. If it hadn't have been there then Harry would have questioned if it was really him he was seeing in the mirror. He had seriously considered for a moment if he had woken up in someone else's body.
Glaring at his changed reflection in the mirror he fought to remember the night before. He could clearly and easily recall lying in bed, watching the minutes tick down to midnight and his eighteenth birthday. He could even remember going downstairs to get some fresh air but nothing else after he had stepped foot outside and taken his first breath of the cool air. Frustrated with himself he ran his hand through his messy raven hair and startled with he saw that his ears had changed as well.
Drawing back his hair to get a closer look he saw that they seemed to have stretched so that rather than being rounded like a normal ear should have been they had become pointed as if someone had taken hold of them and pulled until his skin had broken under the strain and allowed itself to be moulded into points. He dropped his hair back down in disgust, now he really was a freak. Flattening his hair around over his ears he looked longingly out of the window, wanting an escape.
He had a sudden overwhelming urge to be outside. He wanted to fly, to feel the crisp morning air in his hair as he flew on his firebolt. He needed to be outside, he yearned for it as if nothing else mattered more. The only stumbling block was Molly Weasley, who would never let him go out flying without eating breakfast first. He considered this thoughtfully as he pulled on too big jeans and one of Dudley's old t-shirts, deciding that now the war was over he would have to buy himself some decent clothes, something that actually fit him.
It was still early, just before seven he was sure. For some reason he could identify that Molly was the only one currently awake. He knew this without even leaving his room to check, yet another thing he couldn't explain to add to the list this morning. He also knew that she was worrying about something but he couldn't decipher what.
Pulling on his trainers he looked once again out of the window and grinned as an idea came into his head. Grabbing his firebolt from the corner of the room he flung open the window and took a deep breath, filling his lungs with the morning breeze as it floated into the room. A rush of adrenaline surging through him as gripped his broom tightly in one hand as he climbed up onto the window sill and jumped. Catching the wooden shaft of his firebolt between his legs and urging it forward he was off.
His senses went into overload, his eyes picking up colours he could never even have imagined existed. The scent of the air too had changed. He could smell the pine scent of the trees and the freshness of the water in the stream at the bottom of the Weasley's garden. He felt exhilarated as if somehow everything out here was connected to him, driving him, fuelling his beating heart. He would never get enough of this feeling.
He had missed flying. He hadn't realised exactly how much this was true until this moment. This was the first time he had been able to go out on his broom since the war had ended and it felt freeing. He was free. There was no longer a crazy madman hell bent on killing him, he had no horcruxes to destroy, he no longer had to worry about the people he loved dying, all the weight had been lifted off his shoulders and if felt amazing.
Ginny stumbled into the kitchen first, still half asleep, dumping herself into a chair at the kitchen table with a yawn as she poured herself a large mug of coffee. Molly frowned at her only daughter as she proceeded to add cream and sugar.
"I hope you intend on eating something as well as drinking that?" She asked somewhat disapprovingly.
"Yes Mum," Ginny replied as she also tipped some cereal into a bowl to appease her mother. "Have you seen Harry this morning yet?" She asked, desperate to see him, especially after the previous night and the change he had undertaken. She wanted to know what creature blood had been in his family, she wanted to see what he had become. She was curious as to whether he had wings or fangs or a tail.
"He jumped out of his bedroom window this morning and went flying," She said, her tone still highly disapproving. She didn't like any of her children, biological or adopted, jumping out of windows. She would be having stern words with Harry when he finally came inside, birthday or not.
"Sounds like Harry," Ginny said fondly as she started to eat.
"What sounds like Harry?" Hermione asked as she and Ron came into the kitchen hand in hand, depositing themselves at the table as well.
"He jumped out of the window on his broom to go flying this morning," Ginny said sipping at her coffee.
"That does sound like Harry," Hermione agreed as she too helped herself to coffee much to the exasperation of Molly who highly disapproved of the teenagers dependency on coffee in the morning. Ron only grunted his response, mornings were not his favourite time of the day with or without coffee.
"What sounds like me?" Harry asked as he strolled through the kitchen door, broom in hand after having painstakingly ensured that his hair was flattened around his ears as best as possible so to hide them from view. His cheeks were slightly flushed from the flying and despite his best efforts his hair still looked wind swept. His brilliantly green eyes had an exhilarated look to them as the four occupants of the room all turned to look at him.
Both Hermione and Ginny couldn't help but stare at him wide eyes, mouths agape. Harry Potter was no longer a scrawny, awkward teenager, overnight he had become a man and a fine hunk of one at that. Having bulked out slightly more, even beneath his too large clothes, they could tell that he had gained muscle mass. He still looked like himself but so much hotter. It was all the younger women could do not to drool over him he looked that good. Even Ron had to sit up and take note when he realise his girlfriend was ogling someone other than him. His baby sister also joining her in appreciating his best friend with their wandering eyes.
"Harry … you look …" Hermione began, trying to find the words but failing miserably as she didn't want to upset Ron.
"Gorgeous," Ginny finished for her. Harry just looked at the two of them as if they had lost their marbles. He knew that he looked slightly different but he hadn't been expecting this kind of reaction. He hadn't thought that any of the changes he'd noticed this morning, apart from perhaps his ears, were that huge and especially not big enough to cause this much fuss.
"Harry dear, you aren't wearing your glasses," Molly said casting a warning glance towards the two girls, "Did you break them again?"
"Umm … no, not exactly," Harry responded, feeling overly scrutinised all of a sudden. "I woke up this morning and I didn't seem to need them anymore," He explained a little shyly.
"Harry dear," Molly said patiently, taking his broom from him and putting it to one side, while motioning for him to take a seat. "What do you remember about last night?" She asked him once Harry was sat at the table, the others all staring at him. He tried not to focus on their obvious gawking which made him feel extremely uncomfortable.
"Not a lot," Harry admitted, "Only waking up feeling very hot, coming downstairs because I wanted to get some fresh air to cool down. I can remember going outside but nothing after that."
Molly sighed, realising that this was going to be a difficult conversation. She wanted to send the other three out of the room but she didn't know what use it would do, they'd all seen what had happened the night before. They all needed to know so that they could help Harry go through this. Harry was likely to tell them everything later on anyway so she didn't even bother trying to send them upstairs. "What do you know about creature inheritance Harry?" She asked him kindly, not wanting to scare the young man before she could properly explain things to him. She knew that usually they would learn about such things in their final year at Hogwarts but then Harry hadn't exactly had a conventional year last year and now it was too late and left up to her.
"Nothing," Harry said shaking his head in confusion, "What is it?"
"Your parents should have been the ones … I mean to say they should have told someone but I suppose they didn't have the time … oh dear, this is going to be very difficult," Molly said feeling a little flustered, wishing that her husband hadn't been called into work so early this morning. He could have helped to explain everything a little better.
"I don't understand," Harry said feeling very muddled as Molly practically tripped over her words as she tried to get them out.
"Last night, when you turned eighteen you came into, what wizards call your creature inheritance. This means that if you have the blood of a magical creature somewhere in your blood line and you carry the active gene then you become half wizard, half whatever creature is in your family," Molly explained, fearing that she probably wasn't doing the best job at explaining all this to the clueless Harry.
"What am I?" Harry asked rather calmly as it sank in.
"Excuse me?" Molly asked, a little confused by the question.
"If I'm some kind of half wizard, half creature, what am I?" He clarified. Every part of him was buzzing as he thought about all the changes he had gone through overnight. Another thing about his life that he hadn't known about until the last minute, his parents should have told him but they had died leaving him alone and clueless about who he was. It wasn't exactly shaping up to be his best birthday to date, though thinking about it bitterly, it certainly wasn't the worst by far.
"We don't know yet," Hermione perked up, "Not many magical creatures cross breed with humans, I'm looking into for you though. I know how much you need answers," She told him.
"What are my options here?" Harry asked her, feeling a little overwhelmed. The only thing he could remember about the night before was feeling as if he were going to die. He had embraced that feeling, accepting it. However he wasn't about to tell any of those gathered before him now about that. They didn't know that he would have welcomed death if it had come for him and done so gratefully.
"Well …" She began, "Werewolf and Vampire obviously though it can't be either of them because otherwise we would have seen the characteristics earlier, there would have been signs. That leaves Veela, Dragon and Elven. Those at least are the most common and even then the numbers are tiny from the information I've managed to gather. There is maybe a handful in every generation combined. Though they say that high stress situations can trigger the active gene when it was dormant which means there might be a few more witches and wizards coming into their inheritance this year than is normal." No one needed it to be clarified that it was because of the war.
"How long have you known about this?" Harry asked her, glaring distrustfully at his friend. She seemed to know far too much for his liking, as if she had known way in advance of this happening to him.
"No one did, not until last night," Molly said coming to Hermione's defence. "That was why we wanted to keep you here until your birthday, just in case. No one thought it was possible, that it was even a possibility but we had to be sure."
"So you've only known since last night?" Harry asked to clarify and they all nodded, "Did you sleep at all last night Mione or did you just read?" Harry asked her directly and got her answer from her flushed cheeks.
"And she kept me awake with all her excited muttering too," Ron said in a huff.
"Are you okay with this?" Ginny asked, amazed at how calm he was being. If it had been her she wouldn't have been able to deal half as well and she had advanced warning that it might happen. Then again Harry Potter wasn't exactly normal, he had a higher level of tolerance for this kind of thing happening to him.
"It's not like I have a choice," Harry said with a shrug, "It's happened and I can't change that now. I'd like to know what I am but I'm sure Hermione will find out, she's too curious not to. I can't change who I am if this is what was meant to happen." Then as an afterthought he added "But I would like to go shopping today."
Ron groaned audibly over Hermione and Ginny's excited smiles, they did so love to go shopping. "Good thing you won't be going then Ronald," Molly said as she got up to start cooking some bacon for them to eat so the youngest members of her family weren't solely running on caffeine for the morning. "You're going to stay here and help set up for the party later."
"You sure you don't want us to stay and help too?" Harry asked, offering just to be polite as it was his party after all, he felt a little bad swanning off to go shopping with the girls when everyone else would be working hard to get the party organised for this evening.
"No, no, it's your birthday dear and you've had a bit of a shock. You and the girls go and enjoy yourselves, just make sure you're back before five," Molly said kindly.
"Yes Molly," Harry and Hermione said fondly, they would always pretend that her coddling irritated them but they wouldn't change it for anything. It always felt nice to have someone fuss over you and mother you.
"Yes Mum," Ginny said before turning to Hermione and Harry excitedly to discuss what they were going to buy.