"Ready Harry?" James asked, gripping his son's shoulder as they stood outside the doors to the Great Hall. Harry could hear the laughter of students and the sounds of dishes and utensils clanging together as the Leaving Feast was in full swing.
"As I'll ever be I suppose. Looking forward to getting back, but not looking forward to all the questions that I'm going to be asked."
James chuckled and Harry looked up at his Father questioningly. "Oh I don't think you'll have to worry about that."
"Well, your loving sister may, or may not, have strongly hinted that anyone in Gryffindor annoying or harassing you with questions, will be hexed and pranked thoroughly from now until the end of the year. Then rest of your house then may, or may not, have spread the word to the rest of the school."
Harry's grin nearly split in face in half it was so wide. "I love her, I really do."
"Figured that would be your reaction. You ready to greet the masses now?"
James pushed on one of the doors and it swung inward gently, revealing the rest of Hogwarts, who all had stopped what they had been doing, to stare at the door. Harry's mind flashed back to the sorting ceremony and the nervousness he had felt with all those eyes on him. All thoughts of nerves, and prophecies, and dead professors fled from his head, at the call of his friends and siblings. "Harry!"
Harry grinned again, and tossing a smile at his Father, ran to greet his friends, listening to the clapping of most of the student body, celebrating his recovery and return.
Harry was almost knocked to the floor by the force of Neville and Kestrel's combined hug. They kept him on his feet and dragged him back to the Gryffindor table, where he was greeted by his friends, and the only question he heard was 'How are you feeling?' Apparently Kestrel's threat was holding strong.
"You're just in time, mate." Ron said as he piled more food onto his plate. "Dumbledore's just about to announce the results of the House Cup."
"The Cup! What happened with Quidditch?" Harry turned to look at Neville, who managed to keep his face neutral for all of five seconds, a massive grin spread across his face, a grin that Harry matched. "Great job, Nev!"
Before Neville could answer back, Dumbledore stood from his chair behind the table and approached the dais. "Another year gone! I apologize for troubling you with an old man's wheezing waffle, before we get to partake in the special desserts that have been prepared just for tonight. What a year it has been, I hope your heads are fuller than they were when you arrived. Not to worry though, you have all summer to get them empty again for next year."
"Now as I understand it, the House Cup needs awarding and the points stand thus: in fourth place is Gryffindor with 312 points, Hufflepuff with 352, Ravenclaw with 426, and finally Slytherin at 472."
Slytherin House cheered loudly, stomping their feet and banging their goblets on the table, filling the Great Hall with noise. The rest of the school scowled disappointedly as Slytherin looked like it was going to win for the fifth year in a row.
"Yes, well done Slytherin," said Dumbledore. "However, recent events must be taken into account."
The hall fell silent as every pair of eyes turned to stare at Dumbledore, blue eyes twinkling out from behind his glasses.
"I have a few last minute points to hand out. Let's see…"
"First to Mr. Ronald Weasley," Ron's face went an odd purple colour in his embarrassment at being singled out, resembling a red topped eggplant, instead of a boy. "For the best game of chess Hogwarts has seen in many years, I award Gryffindor 50 points."
Gryffindor's cheers made the windows of the Hall shake and rattle in their frames. They could hear Percy, further up the table, "My brother; my youngest brother. Beat McGonagall's giant chess set!"
Dumbledore waited for silence to descend once again before continuing. "Second, to Ms. Ginerva Weasley and Ms. Kestrel Black, for the use of logic and not panicking in a crisis, I award each 25 points."
It was Kestrel's and Ginny's turns to blush then, Kestrel's hair matching the red of her face. Fred and George ruffled their younger sister's hair affectionately, then did the same to Kestrel, causing both girls to laugh and pelt the older twins with spoonfuls of peas and corn. The riot at Gryffindor table was becoming something else as they were now a hundred points up.
"Third – to Mr. Harry Potter," the room deathly quiet and all eyes turned to Harry. "For pure nerve and outstanding courage in the face of grave danger, I award Gryffindor 60 points."
The roar that accompanied that announcement was deafening, and Harry disappeared under a pile of his ecstatic housemates. Those that could add while celebrating were realizing that they were now tied with Slytherin at 472 points.
Dumbledore held up his hand and the room slowly fell silent. "Lastly, Mr. Neville Longbottom, for doing what needed to be done, even if it wasn't what he thought he should do, I award Gryffindor 15 points."
The Great Hall exploded with noise, the cheering of Gryffindor table filled the room to the rafters with their celebrating and cheering, and with a wave of his wand and wicked grin, James, who was sitting at the Head Table between McGonagall and Flitwick, changed the banners along the wall from green and silver to scarlet and gold.
Even Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw joined in on the merriment. The only house not cheering was Slytherin. The older twins and Ginny we re-enacting the chant from the Welcome Feast, though instead of 'We got Potter,' it was 'We won the cup, we won the Cup.'"
At the head table, Professor Snape was begrudgingly shaking McGonagall's hand, a tight smile on his face. The three sibling could see him glaring at them out of the corner of their eyes as they celebrated along with the rest of their House. "Looks like he still hates us." Neville said as the plates in front of them filled with giant slices of chocolate cake.
"So back to normal then?" Kes commented as she reached for a fork.
Exam marks came out a few days later and the three siblings were more than happy with their marks, having passed with A or better, Ginny's marks were equally as good, though she got all E's and O's. Even Ron was happy with his marks, surprised that he had done so well, but knew that is was probably because he wanted to keep up with his friends. He knew at least his Mother would be pleased. Hermione was the best student in their year, which came as no surprise to anyone.
Kestrel and Ginny looked up after going over their test scores, glancing around to make sure it was just the four of them. "Well brother's mine, we have some good news."
"Oh, what's that?" Neville asked closing the Herbology text he had been reading.
"Do you remember the Marauder Journal we received at Christmas? The one with the Animagus Revealer potion in it?"
"Yes." Harry said eagerly, practically bouncing in his seat.
"We may have, while you were recovering in the Hospital Wing, got the ingredients we needed and brewed it up. It takes a week to brew, and it'll be ready after supper tonight." Ginny said a proud grin on her face.
"So…" Kestrel leaned back in her seat, crossing her arms behind her head, a cheeky grin on her face. "Who wants to meet their inner wild side?"
So after supper that night found the four friends in an abandoned toilet on the first floor. Harry and Neville were wondering why no one used this particular loo, when the ghost of a young girl swooped down at them from the top of the sinks, startling them both.
"Who are you!? Have you come to make fun of me, too?" The ghost's voice was high and kind of screechy, making Harry want to rub his ears to get the ringing out.
"It's okay Myrtle, they're with us." Kestrel said kindly, gesturing at the two confused wizard's. "These are my brother's Harry and Neville." She pointed at each one in turn.
"So you're not here to make fun of me like other boys do?"
Neville shook his head, "Of course not. We wouldn't do that, right Harry?"
"Exactly. There are much more deserving targets of our special brand of humour."
"So, you're saying I'm not good enough for you to pay attention to!"
"What? No! That's not what I'm saying at all." Harry said, trying to backtrack, to see how he could have offended the young ghost.
"No! I get it. Who cares about poor, insignificant, undeserving, Moaning Myrtle?" She let loose a wail, flew at Neville and Harry, who threw their arms up, unsuccessfully trying to defend themselves as Myrtle flew through their bodies, then looped around and dove into one of the toilets.
"No, she's just hormonal I think. She –"
"Nope!" Neville and Harry both cut her off. Neville continued when it looked like Kestrel would continue. "We really don't need to hear any more, thank you, Kes. Very much."
"Fine, be insensitive, male, chauvinistic pigs then." Ginny flipped her mane of red hair over her shoulder, flouncing over to a table that was set up against the far wall of the loo, next to the wall of the last stall. She pulled 4 cups she had knicked from the Great Hall and spooned equal amounts of the potion into each of them.
She handed one to each of the siblings, taking the last one for herself. "Now I remember from the Journal, that you go into a kind of trance after you drink the potion, and it's in the trance that you see your form."
"So pull up some stone, kiddies." Kestrel dropped down gracefully into a cross legged position, leaning her back against the pillar of sinks, Harry sat down next to her, and Neville and Ginny sat down with their backs to one another, holding each other up.
"Right," Harry raised his glass, and his friends joined him. "Bottoms up."
The four Gryffindor's tossed back the potion, set the cups aside, and waited for it to take effect. Before any of them could even question whether or not it was working, they dropped off into potion induced sleep one by one.
The ground fell away beneath him, as he rose up higher and higher into a cloudless blue sky. He banked to the left, gazing at the mossy, rolling green hills of the Irish countryside sliding away beneath him as he soared through the air. A loch appeared below and he descended sharply, wings held tightly to his body. He spread his wings wide, just before he was to hit the ground, stopping his controlled fall instantly, landing gently on the green grass the edged the loch. He walked closer to the edge of the water, picking his way carefully forward, making sure his razor shop talons didn't get stuck in the marshy soil.
He reached the water's edge and took a quick drink of the clear water, before settling back and gazing at his reflection for a few moments. His head was a dark grey-blue, almost black in colour, capped over his head and down the sides, much like sideburns, under his eyes going down passed his beak to his neck and chest was cream, and his chest – what he could see in the water – was banded horizontally the same colour as his head. A quick spread and flexing of his wings revealed the same cream and dark branding on the underside, and the top was as dark as the rest of him. His eyes were black, and above his right eye was a faint white mark, the same shape as the scar that marred his own forehead.
He flexed his wings again, letting out a hunting scream, as he beat his powerful wings, lifting himself into the air, continuing on his previous journey.
Bright sunlight filtered through the thick canopy, scattering light on the forest floor, throwing everything into eerie shadows. A young piglet snuffled in the foliage, seeking out tasty grubs and tubers to munch on, its speckled coat helping it blend in the scattered lit clearing.
Bright gold, intense eyes peered out from between the fronds of a giant magnolia plant, its large fragrant red flowers hiding the scent of the beast, prowling from the shadows. She stalked forward on wide, silent feet, her own dappled coat helping her blend into the clearing, just as easily as her prey in front of her was.
The piglets head shot up, and before it had a chance to even fathom fleeing, the small jungle cat pounced, razor sharp claws extended for the kill. The swine squealed once, shrilly, then fell eerily silent as powerful jaws clamped around its neck, silencing it forever.
Large paws, with claws that extended well passed his feet, crunched the fallen autumn leaves beneath the massive beast that they supported. He could hear the rushing and roaring of a nearby river through a copse of trees and bushes, and his stomach gurgled and growled with hunger. He lumbered through the bush, leaves and branches crunching and snapping under his bulk, the dark brown fur of his feet stood out starkly against the bright colours of the fallen leaves.
He breached the tree line and the sound of the river crashed over him. The wet smell of stone, earth, and fur overtaking his senses. The river was teeming with madly leaping fish, as they made their way to their spawning grounds. Bears stood on rocks and lined the banks, massive paws and powerful jaws, snagging and snapping fish left and right. Gorging themselves in preparation for hibernation.
He approached the bank, his immense paws sinking into the mud at the water's edge. He went perfectly still as he stared at the churning water, waiting patiently for his chance to strike and join in on the feast.
A cloudless night sky, a new moon, with only the stars providing light, the sound of a brook gently gurgling, and the musk of prey. All of these things were taken in as she gazed down at the valley below, amber eyes not missing a single detail, furred ears flicking back and forth, and nostrils flaring taking in the scents and sounds of the world around her.
A lone howl sounded from further down in the valley, her ears snapped forward and her posture went from relaxed, but watchful, to full alert. Another howl rose up, signalling prey found, and the rest of the pack took up the call. 'You are heard, help is coming.' She leapt down from her perch, making her way down the valley slope at a swift trot. Other figures joined her on her decent; her pack, her family, joining her in the hunt to come.
The four friends slowly came out of their potion induced dreams, shaking their heads to rid themselves of the cob-webby feeling that clouded their thoughts. Neville was the first to recover and slowly climbed to his feet, using the pewter sink next to him to pull himself up. He squinted at the oddly shaped knob, but his mind was still too foggy to even attempt to figure out what the shape was. He reached over and gave Ginny a hand up. She rubbed her temples a pained look on her face. "You okay Gin?"
"Yes, fine, just a bit of a headache is all. It's already passing."
"It must be a side-effect of the potion." Kestrel grumbled as she and Harry helped each other stand. "I have one as well."
"So what did everyone see?" Harry asked eagerly once they had cleaned up any evidence of a potion having been brewed and were safely on their way back to the Tower. "I'm some type of falcon I think, I'll have to look through the Library to find out the exact species."
Kestrel grinned proudly, bouncing on the balls of her feet as the ascended the last staircase before the Tower, "I'm a wolf."
"Bear. Brown or Grizzly, I'm not positive which though."
They turned to look at Ginny who still looked confused. "I'm some type of small predatory cat I think. If I described it to you Kes, do you think you could draw it?"
"I should be able to, yes."
"Brilliant, I can send it to Charlie and he should be able to identify it for me, if I can't find it out on my own. Would after dinner tonight work for you?"
Kestrel nodded as Harry gave the password to the Fat Lady, "Victory."
The Hogwarts Steam engine's whistle screamed as it pulled into King's Cross station. Kestrel was folding their warning letters - which explained that students were expressly forbidden from preforming magic over the summer holidays - into paper birds and charming them to fly.
"Don't you Kes me, Neville Longbottom, we aren't at home yet, the train is considered a part of Hogwarts. So technically I am still at Hogwarts, and therefore until I step off this train I am allowed to do magic." She stabbed her wand at him, an impish grin on her face, Neville's hair slowly started to stand on end.
He shot her an annoyed glance as he drew is own wand and tapped his head, hair instantly dropping back into place. "Mature, Black."
"I'm eleven mate, it's expected for me to be immature."
"She's got you there, Nev."
Neville sighed at the antics of his siblings and turned a pained expression towards Ginny. "Don't look at me for help Longbottom, you've met the twins."
Whatever Neville was going to say, was drowned out by a final wail of the Steam Engines whistle, and the locomotive lurched to a stop. They helped each one another get their trunks down from the overhead rack and waited for the sea of students departing the train to slow.
They met Tonks on the way out, whose hair was currently a bright Easter egg blue. She'd passed her NEWT's with the marks she needed to get into the Auror Academy. "Wotcher munchkins!"
"Wotcher Tonks! You getting a lift back with us or is Aunt Andy or Uncle Ted getting you?"
"With you guys according to the Owl mum sent this morning."
"Excellent!" Kes bounced out of the train in happiness, her trunk bouncing along behind her. Tonks was by far her favourite cousin and once she reached her OWL year she had less time to spend with her younger cousins, devoting herself to her studies in the hopes of getting into the Academy.
Before anything else could be said there was a raucous shout from deep within the crowd, followed by several shouts of annoyance. The five all turned as one to see what the disturbance was, and burst into laughter when a giant shaggy black wolfhound came barrelling out of the crowd, making its way to them, barking joyously in greeting.
The three siblings both dropped their trunks and ran to greet Padfoot, whom Neville and Kes hadn't seen since the Quirrell-mort incident, and Harry hadn't seen since Christmas holidays. The laughed as Padfoot bounded around them in circles. Between one leap and the next he changed from giant dog to man, and swept the three of them into a hug. He released them suddenly and treated Tonks to the same exuberant greeting.
He ruffled her blue hair and dropped an arm around her shoulder, "I hear congratulations are in order, little cousin. The Auror Academy, brilliant!"
"Party at Longbottom Manor to celebrate your success. Your parents will be joining us once they're done at work."
Sirius and Tonks went about shrinking the three siblings luggage, while they said their good-byes to Ginny and their friends. "Harry will probably be grounded for at least half of the summer, because of the Invisibilty Cloak thing." Harry sighed in defeat and Kes patted his shoulder in sympathy. "But we'll write and let you know when Harry has his freedom again and we should get together over the summer."
Ginny nodded eagerly. "Yes, please. As much as I love The Burrow, there's only so much there that a witch can entertain herself with."
Ginny's attention was drawn away when her Mother called for her. She had a hand on Ron's shoulder and seemed to be scolding the Twins over one thing or another.
"Well that looks like it's my cue. You better write," she wagged a finger under her friend's noses, a teasing grin on her face. "Or else."
"Or else what, Weasley?"
"You'll just have to wait and see, won't you."
Are you enjoying my ongoing story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, BeccaPreinerWrite a Review