A/N: This story was originally written in 2013 for the Animagus Challenge on Sink Into Your Eyes. I just realized recently that I never posted it here, so for those who have not seen it before I hope you enjoy it! - MD
Harry Potter sighed as he sat cross legged on his unmade bed in the smallest bedroom of Number 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging. Hedwig was out hunting tonight so he was all alone in his room. He was bored again today because he had nothing to do in the prison that was his aunt and uncle's house. It had all started some two weeks prior when Mad-Eye Moody and several other Order of the Phoenix members had met him at King's Cross Station and proceeded to "have a little chat" with the Dursleys to ensure that Harry would be treated better this summer.
Since then, his relatives had not yelled at him or forced him to do the endless chores around the house which they had in the past. They just pretended that he wasn't there, for the most part. While he would have once considered this a wonderful state of affairs, after a few days he had actually begun to almost miss those long lists of chores. At least that would have given him something to do, something to pass his time while he waited to be rescued and returned to the world where he really belonged.
It gave him too much time to think about the stupid mistake he had made at the end of the year that led him and five of his friends into a trap in the Department of Mysteries last month. It had only been dumb luck that none of them had been killed in the resulting battle with Voldemort and his followers. As it was, several of his friends had been seriously hurt and Sirius…
No! He couldn't dwell on those thoughts if he was going to accomplish his goal this evening.
Harry had spent the last Christmas with his Godfather at Grimmauld Place after Mr. Weasley had been attacked. Those were the memories he wanted to concentrate on. Harry thought back to that day.
They had all finished the wonderful holiday feast prepared by Mrs. Weasley and everyone had retired to various rooms around the gloomy old house to relax, talk and play games. Sirius had pulled Harry up to his old room while the others were occupied.
"I've got one more present for you today, kiddo!" Sirius had said with a conspiratorial grin.
He then handed him a worn old book titled The Animagus Transformation by Madame Pollyanna Species and a stack of parchment tied together with twine.
"The book is obvious," his godfather told him. "The parchment contains the notes I made on how James and I worked out our own transformations while we were at school. I figure between the two of them you should have a real leg up on your own transformation!"
"Sirius!" he exclaimed, trying to keep his voice down, "this is… its brilliant! This has to be the best Christmas present ever!"
Sirius looked pleased at the reception his gift produced, but he did have a few words of caution. "I'm glad you like it Harry. I rather thought this was something you might like to do. Just remember it took your father and me years to achieve our transformations. Now, you've got an advantage in not having to search for the information in the Restricted Section of the library before you can even start, but I still expect this will still take months, if not longer, of hard work and dedication."
"I understand, Sirius," Harry replied, his eyes gleaming with excitement, "but I really want to do it, no matter how long it takes. Thanks."
The two wizards hugged each other after which Harry snuck back to the room he shared with Ron to hide the book and notes in his trunk before rejoining the other young people in the parlour where they played Exploding Snap until Mrs. Weasley told them it was time to go to bed for the night.
Harry spent much of the rest of the holidays secretly reading everything he had been given whenever he could get away from his friends. Transfiguration had never been his best subject but he was so motivated to understand the magic involved in the Animagus transformation that he studied diligently and questioned Sirius when he could without raising suspicion, until he finally thought he understood at least the basics.
Just before Harry returned to school he and Sirius had a whispered conversation in the upstairs hallway about how to proceed with his efforts.
"Now, you know the first step in both the book and the notes is to master the specialized meditation that will allow you to visualize your Animagus form," Sirius said. "This part is safe enough for you to practice on your own, although it may take months of hard work before you even catch a glimpse of your animal form."
Harry nodded in understanding. This part of the process, at least, he felt he fully understood.
"Now, I don't really expect you to reach that point before the end of the school year," Sirius cautioned his godson, "but if you do I want to stress not to try and continue on with practicing the actual transformation without someone there that knows how to change you back if you aren't able to do it yourself!" He chuckled and then told Harry, "While I was practicing back at school before we had even progressed to total transformations I got stuck as a half wizard and half dog. Even with James there I was almost unable to change back because he was laughing so hard he couldn't pronounce the Reversal Spell!"
After the two of them finished laughing, Sirius had clapped him on the shoulder and said, "If you do manage to find your Animagus form by this summer, I'll figure out some way for us to get together during the hols so you can practice."
So, saying goodbye to Sirius and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Harry had returned to school with the book and notes hidden in the bottom of his trunk and a determination to work hard at his goal of becoming an Animagus. Over the next few months he would practice his meditation almost every night, usually with the curtains on his bed drawn after Ron and his dorm mates were asleep.
After events at the Department of Mysteries, Harry had actually spent more and more time on his meditation. He found it helped push away the guilt and anger he was feeling by that time. He had finally gotten to the point just before school ended where he thought he saw a vague image of something four footed when he was deep in his trance. These visions were brief, however, and he had still not quite made out what sort of animal it was.
Just before he had left King's Cross Station with the Dursely's, Remus had pulled Harry aside for a quick word.
"Harry," he said with a sad smile, "Sirius told me about the... 'present' he gave you at Christmas. I was thinking that when you feel you're ready to start on the actual partial transformations, perhaps you should talk to Minerva McGonagall? I know from listening to Sirius and your father that it can be dangerous to practice on your own. I know the Reversal Spell, but she's the only other Animagus I know of, so she'd be a much better source of guidance for you. I'm sure she'd be delighted to help you work on becoming an Animagus yourself." Finishing, Remus had wished him a pleasant summer before departing with the rest of the Order members.
Harry had dismissed this idea almost at once, however. It wasn't that he didn't trust his Head of House. He agreed she would probably be delighted to help him work on becoming an Animagus. He suspected he might even be able to convince her to keep it a secret at least as long as Voldemort was around. He really wanted to do this on his own, though. It was the last thing that he and Sirius had shared together and he did not want to involve anyone else if he could help it.
After returning to the Dursleys' and spending the first day sulking in his bedroom, Harry had pulled out the book and notes and resumed his meditations. With nothing else to do he spent hours each day at his task and was soon rewarded with a clear image of his animal! His first impulse had been to immediately write to Remus and tell him what it was, but then he stopped and reconsidered. After the events of the last year he realized he could no longer be totally confident of the confidentiality of any owl post, even one carried by Hedwig. There was also the subject of his Animagus form itself. He was afraid that Remus would be taking the mickey out of him once he found out what sort of animal Harry was! No, on second thought, Harry decided to wait until later that summer when he saw Remus in person to tell him.
This left Harry in a bit of a quandary, however. What would he do now to pass the time? He reread the book and notes once again and carefully memorized the next step in the process, the practicing of partial transformations. Sirius had warned him not to do this on his own, however, so at first he just read and re-read, making sure he totally understood the process. After a whole two days, though, he has overcome with boredom and impatience so he decided to forge ahead. What was the worst that could happen!
It took him almost another week before he managed to change one of his hands, but things seemed to go quickly after that first breakthrough. Now he could change various parts of his body almost at will. He had an old cracked hand mirror he had dug out of the dust bin in the bathroom to check himself during these transformations to make sure he got the parts he couldn't see correct, and to make sure he didn't forget to change anything back before leaving his room to use the loo or forage for food down in the kitchen.
Transforming parts of himself for the last week had been exciting at first, but now he was becoming bored again and was eager to move on. It might be weeks yet before Professor Dumbledore decided he could leave Privet Drive and he just felt he could not wait any longer. After reading one more time through Sirius' notes on performing the total transformation, Harry set the parchment down beside himself on the bed and rested his hands lightly on his knees.
"Well," he said, "here goes!"
Taking a deep breath he closed his eyes and quickly pulled forth the image of his animal from deep in his mind. He carefully considered each individual part of the animal. His legs, his body, and his head. His eyes and ears. His long tail, sharp claws and needle-like teeth…
Suddenly, he experienced a swooping feeling in his stomach and a moment of disorientation. When this cleared, Harry opened his eyes and looked around. His head was closer to the bed than it had been and the worn old furniture in the room seemed to loom up around him. The colours of things seemed muted, but at the same time details were clearer than he remembered. He looked down at himself with delight, turning and twisting to see as much of himself as he could. Remembering the mirror sitting across the room on his desk he jumped off the bed and walked quickly over to his goal. Looking up at the towering desk, he crouched down and leapt up onto the desktop. Still a bit unsure of his new body he had to scramble with his back feet to make it all the way, but in a moment he was there. He looked down at the mirror laying next to Hedwig's empty cage with delight as he was greeted by the sight of a lean black tomcat with bright green eyes staring back at him! Looking closely he thought he saw a small imperfection in the fur over his right eye that would correspond to the scar on his forehead.
Harry meowed loudly in excitement before realizing what he had done and looking quickly over his shoulder towards the door to his room. He picked up his ears and listened intently, but didn't hear anything from his relatives. Looking at the old alarm clock on the small table by his bed he realized it was well after midnight and they must be sound asleep.
Looking back at the mirror Harry bared his teeth in a very un-feline grin before jumping off the desk and prowling around the room. He felt swift and sure of himself, strong and confident. He practiced leaping up and down off the bed, the desk and even the wardrobe as he gained experience with his new body.
Jumping back onto the desk he stalked over to the open window and looked out over the darkened street. Wonderful scents of flowers, grass, and other growing things that he had never noticed before filled his nostrils. Looking out into the night he realized he could see almost as well as in daylight once his eyes adjusted to the gloom. Pricking his ears up he could hear the quiet sounds of Little Whinging at night that he knew he would never have heard as a human; a lone car passing in the distance, the soft rustling of leaves in the gentle breeze, the small sounds of the night animals going about their business in the safely of the darkness.
This was wonderful! It was like a whole new world had opened up to the young wizard. His first impulse was to climb out of his window and leap to the ground and explore this exciting night scene. He was actually crouched on the windowsill ready to jump when he finally he came to his senses. If he left like this he wasn't sure how he could get back to his room and if anything happened to him no one would know to look for one more cat among all the others one could find in any Muggle neighbourhood. No, it was late and he'd accomplished more than enough for now.
With a feeling of deep satisfaction he jumped smugly down off the desk and then back up onto the bed. Settling himself into a relaxed pose with his long tail wrapped about his paws, he closed his eyes willed himself back into his normal, human form.
There was no swooping feeling in his stomach this time and no sense of disorientation, either. Opening his eyes and looking down at himself he saw he was still a cat. Taking a moment to calm himself once more he closed his eyes and concentrated. He focused harder and harder on the image of his normal appearance, the size and shape of each part of his body while waiting for the feelings that heralded the transformation. Still nothing!
Harry opened his eyes and looked down at himself again with growing dismay. Sweet Merlin, he was stuck!