His eyes opened slowly, and the small of grass wafted into his nose, awakening him completely. He stood up looking around in confusion, what was he doing here? Who were these people? Hurriedly, he examined them closer, they'd either be predators, or pray, and, looking at the sharp things they held, they were undoubtedly predators, ones he couldn't handle. He turned around, and ran away with all of his strength, they'd kill him, they would definitely kill him. He could feel it in his bones, those humans would definitely kill him. They shouted words at him, running after him, their menacing presence looming after him, like the shadow of death about to release his hounds. There was this one particular girl, who no matter how much he dodged , bobbed and weaved through the under-bush always seemed to her eyes trained on him, her piercing silver eyes following his every move.
He quickly ducked into a hole, hoping that the girls would leave him alone, only to cower even further once he saw a face pop up, a face that spoke of power. He quickly cowered as the woman scowled, pointing an arrow his way, only to stop as another person yelled something at her, he quickly tried to get away while she was distracted, using the opening to scurry between her and another girl, only to stop as he was surrounded by the rest of the group. He looked around, desperately watching his surroundings for something that could provide an opening, so he could escape. He needed to escape. One of the hunters turned to the other, and they seemingly seemed to argue between each other, and he once again used the small opening, this time running into the trees, disappearing into the nature. He continued running, leaping over falling branches, the bushes stinging as their thorns dug into his sides, causing him to wince in pain each time. He faltered, his leg falling into a hole he hadn't seen, but he couldn't stop, or they'd get him.
Seeing a large tree, he quickly climbed it, using the connecting branches to continue his escape, that way he hopefully wouldn't leave tracks for the hunters to follow. The birds flew away once he saw them, that wasn't good, they'd give him away. He needed to get out of this place, they'd no doubt find him. He continued running, now looking for a hole of some sort to burrow and hide in, hopefully they would run past it, thinking he had continued on. His muscles by now were screaming in agony, his bones rattling with every jarring impact of his legs on the branches. He looked back, hoping he wouldn't see the inevitable arrow that would end his life. He was lucky, the hunters seemed to have been taken by surprise at his successful escape, leaving him a small margin of time before they collected their thoughts and chased after him.
He slowed down a bit, almost moaning in delight at the feeling of pure relief his harried muscles sent him. He looked around and once he failed to recognize the area he was in, continued going in the direction he had escaped, the sound of his soft footfalls disappearing into surrounding flora. He trudged forward, now looking for a place to spend the night, as the sun was hanging low above the horizon, it's last rays shining through the foliage, illuminating little. Fate seemed to smile upon him, as one of those rays somehow managed to shine upon a burrow beneath a particularly large tree. He could spend the night there, sheltered from the rain and lightning.
His instincts screamed at him to be careful, reminding him of his previous experience with the hunters, telling him this place wasn't safe. Thus, he softly padded forward, nose twitching as he tried to place the various smells in the area, maybe a dangerous animal had marked this territory as his? That wouldn't do, he was so tired he wouldn't be able to fight back. Failing to recognize any of the scents in the area, he lowered his guard, using his extremities to enlarge the hole enough to be able to fit through. He shimmied in, the earth around him providing him with a cocoon of warmth, his eyes drooping involuntarily as he reviewed the what had happened in the last hours. Waking up to the hunters, trying to escape, managing to escape, thankfully, saving his hide. He'd have to be more careful in the future.
The next morning his eyes opened up slowly, taking in everything around him. His various cuts and bruises from yesterday's escape were still hurting, only now they were dirty from the dirt he had slept in, he'd take care of those later, right now hunger was his main concern, the sharp pangs were actually what woke him. Shifting a bit, he managed to work his way out of the burrow, making sure to mark the tree for future reference, it was a nice hideout, one that could become permanent with a bit of work. He looked around, staring into the trees, maybe they would have some pinecones or nuts? He started looking around, slowly padding his way out of the immediate vicinity, looking for food.
He searched high and low for fruits and nuts, but what he found was much worse, he found the hunters, he had been rummaging around a bush when he tripped, stumbling into a clearing, one that just so happened to be used by the hunters as a camp. They all immediately looked up, alerted by the sounds he had made. Too stunned to move, he was immediately surrounded, rough calloused hands grabbing him and bringing him to another person. He struggled to get away, he really did, his limbs flailing wildly, hitting the hunters on different occasions, eliciting gasps and grunts of pain from the teenagers. The leader looked at him contemptuously, once again pointing him with her finger. Harry struggled even harder, scared of what that could mean, was she going to kill him? Order someone else to do it? Before he could his mind could concoct even more probable scenarios, the woman spoke, her voice muffled and distorted to his ears. The hands unceremoniously dropped him, and he quickly surged forward, trying to use one of the hunters as a springboard so as to jump over them. He was sweating profusely now, sweat dripping into his eyes, blurring the world around him. The wounds he had neglected to treat were stinging him, the sharp pains reminding him he was alive, reminding him what he was fighting for. His muscles tensed, ready to contract and put his plan in motion, only for a bright flash to fill the clearing, a silver gray of light originating from the woman's finger striking him in the middle of the chest.
Harry's eyes snapped open, his mouth opening in a desperate attempt to take deep bulging breaths. His mind spun, catching up to everything that had happened. He had become a squirrel. Not just physically, but rather Artemis had pointed her finger at him, and with just a smidge of godly power from her, he had genuinely believed he was a squirrel, with squirrel instincts and squirrel fears. He had forgotten everything about magic, about hogwarts and his parents and his ex-friends. He had forgotten about Zoe and the poor little recruits who would come in at night and snuggle with him if they had nightmares about the hellhounds, he had forgotten absolutely everything, becoming a slave to instincts that weren't his.
He gasped even more, legs and eyes trembling in fear once he raised his head to behold the goddess before him. He had known she was powerful, he had actually seen her take down a battalion of lamia's by herself, her bow spitting arrows at a rate that would put guns to shame, yet even so, he had never thought that with just a wave of her hand, she could have erased his entire self of being, leaving him an ordinary squirrel. The power she held was absolutely terrifying, even more so than wands. While wizards could do that too, it was possible to fight through an obliviate (they had a lot of problems do to muggles remembering acts of magic they had seen. It was that way in fact that comic books had originated, as muggles remembered things they weren't supposed to see. Stan Lee was the cousin of a muggleborn in america, who had seen acts of magic and been obliviated, his mind fought through it, turning those into visions he could comprehend, mutants and people with superpowers, hence the origins of Marvel). Artemis however, would have no problems with that, her godly power completely suppressing the minds of the mortals it was used upon, and only someone of her level would be able to rescind it, of which 12 beings, to his knowledge, currently existed. None of which would actively go against her just for him.
He struggled to his knees, eying the goddess before him warily, she had turned him into an animal before, she might due so again. Artemis in turn, looked at him, her eyes openly displaying amusement at his consternation. Jasmine meanwhile, had slowly started walking forward, her eyes softening a bit as she eyes his kneeling form. She offered him her hand, trying to make him stand up, only to blanch and step back when Artemis coughed, the sound reverberating through the clearing. Jasmine hurried back to her space in line, the hunters slowly coming into formation behind their patron goddess.
Artemis stepped forward, walking around the kneeling Harry, her eyes roaming, settling on looking at him straight in the eye. She scoffed a bit, and harry, despite the life threatening situation he was in, marvelled at how even her scoffing sounded beautiful, her melodious voice making the grunt sound like it belonged in one of Mozart's symphonies.
"According to little Jasmine here you are Harry Potter yes? The mortal who stopped that vile male Voldemort?" She questioned, her eyebrow raising along with the question. Stumped a bit with the unexpected inquiry, harry fumbled for an answer, stammering out a yes.
"I must thank you, his followers were some of the most disgusting males to ever walk the earth. If it weren't for the ancient laws i would have destroyed the ground they walked on for daring to defile as much such innocence as they did. No doubt they are suffering in the fields of punishment for their actions. But tell me something mortal, mayhaps you know who I am?"
Her scathing voice smoothed a bit at the end, though it still contained a hard edge of steal that sent shivers of fear down his spine. In his animal form he hadn't noticed, but the sheer presence of Artemis was making him sweat. He had to actually force himself not to grovel at her feet, and now, as he kneeled before her, he wondered at the audacity men like orion must have had to not only disrespect the goddess, but actually think themselves at her level, no, she was much more powerful than any mortal had a chance of being.
"Y-yes my lady Artemis, thank you for your graciousness my lady" He stuttered, making sure to thank her for her own gratitude, it was unheard of for a man-hating goddess such as herself to thank one. With this thought feelings of both pride and joy blooming across him, an involuntary, yet no less real, smile gracing his face.
"Ahh, how wonderfully odd, one of hecate's experiments knowing of our godly world. It seems however, that you at least you know your place. Now tell me, why were you amongst my henters?" At this her eyes darkened, transmitting visions of bears mauling humans, of space-shuttles malfunctioning and exploding, vaporizing the bodies of those within, all due to their audacity of trying to step on one of the physical manifestations of her domain. Harry shivered, the visiones assaulting his very senses, bypassing all of his occlumency barriers, managing to make him feel the bears claws ripping him to shreds, the suffocating realm of space, as well as the hopelessness of the astronauts as they plummeted to their deaths, the scorching heat of the explosions burning his very soul.
Harry gasped, trying with all of his might to resist the visions present within her eyes, only to come out powerless against the might of the olympian before him. She seemed to notice his inability to move, much less speak, due to the visions, and looked away, but not before a smirk dotted her teenage face. Harry once again found himself taking deep gulping breaths, trying with all of his might to stabilize his beating heart. He quickly gathered his thoughts, hoping she wouldn't read them, if she found out he was the seropard she'd definitely kill him, something he didn't want happening any time soon. He tried to think of a way out of this dangerous situation, and soon came up with a plan, one that would hopefully leave her convinced he intended to do good.
"It was the Serpopard My Lady" He mumbled, hoping that the fact that he knew about the animal that had been with them for a while would add some credence to his tale.
"How would he have told you, you male" She spat, obviously believing him to be lying "Chares can not speak" Harry quickly sent a prayer to hestia, the one olympian he knew would most likely be at his side in this situation (he now viewed The hunt as a pseudo-family, and as the goddess of that domain, she would hate for him to fight with them)
"I ssspeak the noble tongue my lady" Harry hissed, eliciting a small amount of gasps from the hunt as they viewed the male hiss much like they had seen Chares and Artemis hiss at one another.
"Ahh, how sstrange, a ssspeaker. Ssso long ssincee I lasst ssaw one. Maybe Medussa? Anywaysss, thiss makess it sso much easssier" She continued, the amusement once again entered her eyes. Harry sighed thankfully, his plan had worked. It wasn't possible for a mortal to lie in parseltongue, as it was a language for animals and created by Artemiss in conjunction to Hecate, it was an embodied form of magic, and thus impossible to lie with, one couldn't lie to magic. Now, as long as Artemis didn't explicitly ask him if he was Chares, then he'd be able to talk his way out of this scenario.
"My Lady, i promisss i meant no harm to your hunterss, once i thought they may be in trouble, i came asss quickly ass posssible"
Artemiss eyed the mortal before her curiously, she could detect no hidden intent from him, only a subservience and desire to please she found uncommon within the male populace. He wasn't lying either, though it was truly a surprise he could speak the language of snakes, he must have been exceptionally gifted for hecate to allow him to do so, maybe on of her favoured? She'd have to stop by and ask her, it wouldn't be good for her to kill one of Hecate's wards, though thankfully, she had no inclination to do so as of now, the male before her had managed to not anger her, quite the feat for someone of his gender.
"Yesss, i can sssee that. Very well Harry Potter, as thankss for avenging the poor girlsss whosse innocence was befouled by those filthy maless, i shall let you assk onee ssmall blessing, and not neuter you were you ssstandd" the amusement danced in her eyes as she watched harry's face drain of blood, he was probably unaware that she had planned on doing so, he wouldn't have been the first male she neutered as punishment for daring to look at her eyes when speaking to her, acting as if they were equals. She wouldn't grant the blessing if it was too much, but she was curious to see what the male before her would choose. A gasp arose from the rest of the hunters standing behind their patron, as Jasmine (being the daughter of hecate she too could speak parseltongue) finished translating the conversation for them, and quite a few glares from the more extreme hunters were aimed his way. If glares could kill he would undoubtedly be facing the three ghost judges by now.
Harry meanwhile, was having a massive internal war inside of himself. First of all, he was completely terrified, he had been so close to losing an essential part of himself, and he hadn't even noticed it. On the other hand, he was elated, a blessing from artemis would be incredibly beneficial in not just his day to day human life, but also in helping the hunt in his Chares form, something he planned on continuing to do. He couldn't ask for her to bless his magic, that was an extremely large favour, as not only would it automatically make him the most powerful wizard alive (his spells, due to the divinity within them, would practically bypass all forms of shielding (maybe that was why one couldn't block the three unforgivables? The some of the gods may have blessed these particular curses, Hades for the AK, Algea, goddess of pain, for the curicatus, and Psyche, goddess of the mind. The divinity present within those shields would allow them to bypass any magical one). It was just too big of a blessing, and thus didn't fall within the parameters, plus, Artemis's opinion of him would probably fall, something he definitely didn't want happening.
No, he had to ask for something that would not only help him, but also earn him a small amount of respect from the goddess? What were her domains? The hunt, the moon, and chastity. Possible blessings related to the moon; see at night (he could already do that pretty well as Chares, and some of that passed onto his human form, meaning that while it was a boon on his abilities, it was minimal and thus not what he would ask. Chastity; he couldn't really think of anything that wouldn't either label him a creep, get him killed on the spot, or be useful in any scenario, thus, that was out too. No, it would be the hunt, but what? He already had heightened senses as a Serpopard, he could taste the air for tracking, his claws and teeth were sharp and deadly, his paralytic venom deadly useful, the basilisk venom within his blood enhancing it to even loftier heights, allowing him to bring down mythical creatures such as hellhounds, something that shouldn't have been possible for a non-magical animal such as a Serpopard. No, those were efficient enough as is, what was he currently bad at? What could he improve? Stealth. Yes, his large form as a serpopard was actually a huge downsize, something he would have to improve, and this blessing could fix that, perfect.
"My lady, I am a hit wizzardd" Harry hissed, trying to frame the blessing so it wasn't such a big request "As such I need to hunt down evil wizzardsss ssuch ass Voldemort. For my blesssing I would love to be ablee to track my enemiesss sssilently" Harry concluded, and to his everlasting relief, he saw a small glimmer of approval within the goddesses silver eyes. He had been afraid it would be too much.
Artemis was pleased at the mortals request. Not only was it a rather small boon, the male before her wasn't that large, adn as one of those hit wizards, he can't be clumsy, thus, the ability to track his enemies silently wouldn't be too much of a boon for him, it was still perfectly within her capabilities, yet still very useful. It was rather thought out too if the time he had been quiet was any indication. She approved, giving a small nod.
A silver light enveloped Harry, seeping into his flesh, leaving him gasping at the feeling, it felt like someone had poured honey all over him, the goopy feeling leaving him closing and opening his hands into fists, trying to see if his fingers would stick to his palms as the feeling seemed to suggest they would. They didn't.
With that complete, Artemis seemed to tire with his presence, telling him to leave before she went back on her promise and actually neutered him, saving the world from another perverted male (at least according to her). Thus, with that, Harry quickly apparated out of the clearing, aiming one last look of gratitude towards Jasmine. She had saved his life twice within the last two days, he would be sure to somehow thank her properly with his Chares form. He quickly turned around once more, having found himself in the middle of the wizarding district.
The rain had finally stopped pouring sometime during his conversation in the clearing, and the wizards and witches seemed to be taking full advantage of the small time lapse between rains (the sky was still incredibly cloudy and gloomy, the air so humid it seemed clothes would become wet just from being outside, it would most likely rain again soon), every one of them bustling between shops, the kids jumping in puddles and earning themselves scolds from their parents for splashing water on innocent bystanders. Harry quickly entered a bakery, buying some delicious buttery cakes he had tried the last time he was here, placing them all within a large bag. He quickly apparated away once he paid, and as soon as he found himself in an abandoned dingy alley, he transformed into his Chares form, grabbing the handle of the bag with his mouth, taking care that his razor sharp fangs did not cut into the bag. The smell and the taste of the air surrounding the bag were almost too much, causing him to involuntarily salivate, his taste buds imagining the feast within. But, he held himself back, fighting against the instincts of the Serpopard, telling himself that no matter how hungry he was, he still had to properly thank Jasmine, and he still hadn't met a girl alive that could say no to sweets or baked goods.
Chares bounded into the park, and quickly rubbed himself against the sentries of the Hunts Camp, making sure they knew he was there, wouldn't do to get himself shot now would he? They laughed a bit at his playfulness, before giving the signal for his entrance, a sharp whistle and three hoots. He waited for a second before continuing, eyeing his surroundings as carefully as he always did when entering the camp, as the first time he had done so a girl had forgotten about their new mascot and shot him. Once he was within sight, he quickly ran over to jasmine, dropping the bag of assorted baked and sweet goods before her, rubbing himself against her and purring.
Zoe wandered over, looked at the bag and picked up one cupcake, nibbling on the frosting with a contented sigh. She started telling him about what had happened, of a human male named Harry who appeared before their camp, telling them he would help, only to be turned into a squirrel and run away as soon as Artemis came. Jasmine exchanged glances with him, stiffling a chuckle at the irony of Zoe telling him the story, earning herself a confused glance from Zoe, who continued with the story, now rubbing his ears. He was now a puddle of fur and muscles on the ground, enjoying the sensation immensely.
He was safe, he was home.
It's incredible to see how much you all enjoy my story, as I have received PMs and reviews telling me to continue So thank you all for the support. I'm sorry it took a bit longer than expected, I had a bunch of quizzes this week, an engineering degree is no joke. I hope this chapter meets your standards. I hope you enjoyed the ending, I thought it was a bit poetic and enjoyed writing that final sentence, kind of rounds up the introduction Arc. Soon we come across Percy jackson and the lightning thief if you couldn't deduce from all of the rain and Olympian conferences. I already have an idea of the direction this story will take in relation to the first PJ book, but please be sure to PM or review if you have ideas too, as i appreciate them. For those waiting to see the Harry = Chares reaction, well, you'll just have to wait a bit more ;). I did include a Neuter joke as a 'Guest' reviewed, so you have him to thank for that. But well, hope you enjoyed it. Please be sure to fav/follow or Review with constructive criticism.