Brother, Defender, Fox
Summary: "'You play a long game, James Potter. If your daughter is as important as she seems, she will need a protector. And what better guard than her own brother?" In which a Transfigured fox!Harry may or may not be the Child-Who-Lived. Set in COS and before The Long Patrol.
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or Redwall.
Author's Note: Each Redwall season is equal to one Earth year. Also, the Redwall universe's inhabitants refer to their world as the Beastlands, and themselves collectively as Beasts.
"You play a long game, Lord Potter." The massive badger's pink eyes narrowed shrewdly as she studied James Fleamont, Lord Potter.
"I'll take that as a compliment, My Lady." James smiled briefly.
Cregga Rose-Eyes nodded. "I cannot claim to understand your position, but I agree that if your daughter is as important as she seems, she will need a protector. And what better guard than her own brother? I will aid you in this, on one condition."
"What condition is that, My Lady?"
"You said you will turn your son into a hare to join my Long Patrol when he is old enough. Turn him into a fox instead. In seasons so long past they are all but myth, foxes guarded this mountain alongside its hares. Nobeast alive knows why that changed, but it is time it was resumed. I will not lie. I HATE vermin. But it may save lives if my hares have a...ready-made negotiator, shall we say, among their ranks.
"You get your son trained and raised in a loving environment—you have my word as the Badger Lady of Salamandastron that that shall be so—and I get my hares aware that not all vermin are barbarous filth from birth."
James thought. The only downside was that, once he performed the ritual to Transfigure Harry James Potter, his two-year-old son could not be returned to a human form. Whatever James chose, that was what Harry would be for the rest of his life.
"It's a good thing Harry prefers foxes to 'bunnies', as he said when he saw our escort. We have a deal, My Lady."
He extended his hand. Cregga's paw swallowed it, and they shook. Fifteen minutes later, the still soundly sleeping Harry was a black-furred, green-eyed fox.
"You and his sister may visit for two days each season," Cregga said as James prepared to leave.
James left the Mountain of the Fire Lizard behind, returning to his daughter Primrose on Earth.
Eleven seasons later (22 August Earth calendar):
Harry Potter was thirteen seasons old today. The young fox was shivering despite the warm salt-scented breeze off the sea and the hot sand under his paws as he waited for his birth family to arrive. Captain Springberry, his foster mother, had told him that his father had a special surprise planned for Harry. Harry, like any child promised something special on their birthday, was much too excited to stay still. He trembled in place as he tried to keep from bouncing.
Finally, he saw his visitor. His father walked up to the entrance, where Harry was waiting with wholly unconcealed eagerness, and were granted entry. Harry waved madly and jumped up and down as James Potter entered the mountain fortress.
"Hiya, Harry!" James said a little breathlessly after accepting a rib-cracking hug from his son. James gently pried Harry loose and backed off to look at him. "You're getting big. Your grandpa Evans' height, I imagine. Nobody from my side's topped five-five in over a century."
Harry wrinkled his muzzle in confusion. "What's a 'century', Dad?"
James was prevented from answering by the arrival of another visitor, a woman wearing a dress and pointy hat with the same complicated pattern on both. The first thing she did when she saw Harry was sneer.
"James Potter, why is yer bairn nekkid?" she asked in a thick Highlander accent.
Harry deciphered the sentence after a moment and corrected her misconception. "We Beasts don't cover our bodies, Ma'am. Never, ever. It's a sin. Jacques changed that aspect to fit human expectations."
The woman did not look pleased. Harry paused, thinking.
"I apologise; I forgot to introduce myself. Hi!" he said with a charming pointy-toothed smile. "I'm Harry James, Heir Potter. What's your name?" he asked, extending a paw.
The woman shook his paw with obvious reluctance. "I am Minerva McGonagall, Deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." Her accent had flattened out considerably, and her voice was icy with disapproval.
Harry's ears drooped slightly at her tone. James noticed. "Corporal Olive, please give my companion the standard tour, if your duties permit."
The elderly buck hare Lady Cregga had long ago assigned as James' liaison and guide on his visits nodded sharply. He, like most of the Long Patrol, adored Harry. "Of course, Master Potter. If you'll follow me, Marm?" he asked the woman.
His tone allowed no refusal as he led McGonagall away, loudly explaining what he was allowed to tell her about the mountain fortress, and, with obvious enjoyment, even more loudly informing her of the consequences of wandering off unescorted.
Harry giggled. "What's the 'special surprise' the Cap'n hinted about?" the younger Potter asked eagerly.
"If I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise, now would it?" James replied.
"Daaaaad...!" Harry whined with good-natured impatience.
"Fine, fine. You've been accepted to Hogwarts. I found a rule that says the heir apparent and the first heir presumptive of a titled family are allowed to attend regardless of blood status or species. Since the Potters are the Earls of Nottingham, we count. You're the heir apparent despite your species change, and Rosie's the heir presumptive."
"I get to go? I get to do my job?"
"Yep! I held Rosie back a year just in case I needed to send you out of the country for you educations; Hogwarts starts a year earlier than most of the Great Schools."
"I get to do my job. I get to protect Rosie..." It was obvious Harry had heard nothing else. Not for the first time, James was afraid he'd made the wrong decision.
Yes, his daughter needed a bodyguard. There were far too many threats to her safety for him to feel comfortable letting her out of his sight outside their house without protection. As the supposed "Girl-Who-Lived," and "Destroyer of You-Know-Who," Primrose Phlox Potter faced danger not just from the dark wizard Voldemort's former minions but also from the general British Wizarding public, who all but worshipped her.
It was James' opinion that his murdered wife, Lily, was the one responsible for the defeat of Voldemort, not one of his children, who'd both been in diapers at the time. And he definitely didn't agree with the way Rosie was treated by the public and the media despite his attempts to control the damage. In spite of his best efforts, she was a self-obsessed little bitch, if he was honest. She had refused to visit Harry for the last several years so that she couldspend time with friends who, in James' opinion, were more like minions. But there was little he could do to control her behaviour. It was their mother's responsibility to raise pureblood Wizarding children, and the father had very little legal say.
Meanwhile, his son had been all but forgotten by everyone except him.
Harry was not supposed to be "forgotten." Harry had trained since he'd been able to hold a stick in his paw to be his sister's bodyguard. Though he didn't know it, Harry was also training to be the surprise "Dark Lord Defeater, Mark 2" (as James' friend Sirius Black had called the plan) if the worst happened—if Voldemort wasn't dead after all and Rosie wasn't the child of prophecy. That training hadn't just been physical. It had also been psychological. And the psychological aspect was what made James doubt his course of action.
Had he pushed too much responsibility and focus onto his son? Merlin forbid, had he damaged his child's growth? The possibility gave James nightmares.
Now, though, he wrenched his mind back to the present and smiled reassuringly. "Yes, you do. When Professor McGonagall gets back from her tour, the three of us and Rosie are going shopping for school supplies on Earth. After that, you'll stay with me and Rosie until it's time to go to Hogwarts, so you can learn more about humans. It's stuff you ned to know to protect her effectively."
Harry nodded. "All r—"
"BEGONE!" James' eyes widened at what cut Harry off. He yanked Harry out of the way just as the Badger Lady Cregga Rose Eyes, in the ruby-eyed grasp of the Bloodwrath and roaring like thunder, chased a small, four-legged wildcat through their former positions and out of the mountain at the point of a tree-sized spear. The Long Patrol's door sentries quickly slammed the massive gates shut, trapping the badger inside. With the object of her rage removed from view, Cregga slowly calmed.
Finally, she set down the spear and leaned against the wall with a paw over her eyes. "Are you and Harry safe, Lord Potter?" she asked.
"Yes, My Lady," James replied shakily. He'd never before been witness to Cregga during a Bloodwrath episode. "We moved in time.
"Is it safe to ask what Professor McGonagall did to incite that level of, ah...displeasure?"
"She entered my personal chambers. Not even the forge chamber; that I could have forgiven as ignorance. But she curled up as a cat on my bed and took a nap like she was the ruler here, not I."
James was furious. "She will never be allowed back in these lands, My Lady. I will personally see to that."
"...Thank you, Lord Potter. Harry, please accompany me to the forge chamber; I have something for you there."
"Yes, My Lady."
Harry left with the massive badger, and soon returned with a beaming smile on his face, a sword in his paw, and what was probably its scabbard belt around his waist. Even to James' completely ignorant eyes, it was a beautiful weapon. It was a short, double-edged blade of pattern-welded steel and a rounded tip, with a heavy pommel for balance. The grip was covered with shark's hide for a slip-proof grasp. James watched as Harry sheathed the blade into its scabbard.
"Nice sword," he said finally. "His birthday present?"
Cregga nodded. "Yes; it is his to wield. I made it in a trance not long before he arrived. It wasn't until today, though, that I realized it was meant for him."
"Isn't it awesome, Dad?" Harry asked. "Nobeast'll mess with Rosie 'round me!"
"No, I imagine not. Say your good-byes, please. We need to leave soon. Professor McGonagall is with Rosie by now."
"All right, Dad." Harry walked off to bid his friends and foster parent farewell. James turned his attention to Cregga.
"Thank you for arming him."
She nodded. "Every warrior needs a weapon, and whatever his role, I have seen that Harry's sword will drip blood on the far fields of Earth."
James shivered at her matter-of-fact tone. He was reminded once again that he was not in a what anyone would consider a safe, modern society. Redwall itself might be safe, but the Abbey enjoyed that safety because countless beings fought and died to preserve its peace, season after season, most of them never known to its residents.
Harry returned then, nodding. "I'm ready, Dad. Bye, My Lady!" he said to Cregga, who nodded.
"Fair weather, soft trails, and light loads on your journey, Harry."
"Thank you, My Lady!"
Harry saluted with a perfectness any drill sergeant would have envied, and then followed James out of the mountain and into a new phase of his life.