Welcome to chapter nine of Chimera Rising. There are a couple of points I wanted to cover that should make the reading a bit easier.

Lycoris Black will be referred to by whoever she is impersonating. That not only makes it clear who she is impersonating, but it makes it easy when looking at the scene from the perspective of other characters. I tried to think of a better way but couldn't manage it. Dealing with a shape shifter is confusing.

Lycoris will refer to Harry by his real name when she is in her natural form or when thinking to herself. Harry will be Hadrian or Hyperion depending on whether Arcturus has re-named him yet (around age 10). To all outsiders, he is Harry. Sirius will only call him Harry.

I am using a few Native American tales in the story and referencing the source as best I can. In many cases, the stories are all over the internet and in multiple books. So, if it is a direct quote, I'll reference the source. If it is a summary of several sites, I'll give the original tribal source as best I can determine. I do believe in giving credit where it is due, but sometimes that is a challenge when your main source is the internet and the writings are numerous and scattered.

Parseltongue is designated in italics with § symbol before and after.

For example:"§Parseltongue looks like this§."

Special thanks to this story's Beta reader, 'Just William' for your help and excellent feedback.

Chimera Rising—

"Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom."

~ Aristotle

Chapter 9: Follow Your Heart


Outskirts of Seattle

Meda's Community

July 28, 1986

Meda had done much to restore Harry's mental health. He was now a nearly six-year-old boy who seemed to be very loving and kind. She frequently wondered how such a gentle child could come from a family full of Skinwalkers. Of course, the same could be said of Sirius. While Sirius might be a dangerous wizard who was beginning to collect championship titles on the North American Duelling circuit, when he was around Harry, he was a gentle and loving dog.

Today, Yanaha came to her in a panic. Harry had apparently been teased by some of the other children and he took their jokes far more seriously than the other children had intended. Apparently, it was just good-natured joking around with a bit of rough housing. He stormed off and Yanaha went to find him, but she could only find his clothes. Harry had disappeared. Fearing the worst, she came and found Meda.

Meda considered the events from Harry's perspective. To Yanaha, it was normal boyish behaviour. Meda felt certain that, to Harry, it would remind him of the Dursley's. Within fifteen minutes, the entire community was out looking for Harry. Sirius had been especially distraught, and 'Dan' looked both terrified and murderous. Meda was very thankful for the wording of the oaths she had forced on the Skinwalker. She occasionally forgot just how dangerous it could be.

After an hour, they had found no trace of the boy. Sirius was in a state of near panic and Meda could see Mai trying to calm the man. That's when she noticed the small Coyote following Sirius. It was keeping a safe distance, but it was intent on the man.

Meda placed a hand on Sirius' arm. "Sirius, stay calm." She then discretely gestured to the little Coyote and asked, "Tell me, have you ever seen that Coyote pup before?"

Sirius now had Mai gently rubbing his back. He was close to having a panic attack. Meda couldn't help but notice how effective Mai was at calming the man. In many ways, he was as damaged by his experiences as her little Harry had been.

Sirius glanced at the Coyote and shrugged, "It's just Little-bit. He comes around from time to time. He's a sweet little pup."

Meda considered his words and nodded. "How long has he been around?" seeing the man grow irritated, she added, "This is important."

Sirius ran his hand thorough his hair, "I don't know… maybe a year."

"Coyotes don't stay pups for a year." Meda pulled a biscuit out from her robe and unwrapped it. Turning to the coyote, she said, "Come here little pup. Come on and have a biscuit. It's peanut butter…" She knew who loved peanut butter biscuits.

The Coyote looked around and hesitantly crept forward. It kept its eye on the biscuit.

With the difficulty that comes with age, Meda sat on the ground and was soon scratching the Coyote pup behind the ears. "Now, you want to tell me why you ran away? Why do you want to be a Coyote?" The pup made a huff and turned to leave, but Meda grabbed him by the scruff and plopped him in her lap. Meda pointed to the lightning bold marking over his right eye. Sirius and Mai gasped in shock as they understood. This was no wild Coyote pup.

Meda said, "Stay with me little coyote. Now look at how upset your god father is. Look at Mai and Yanaha. Your other grandmother is ready to tear us all apart for losing you." She said the last bit as a joke, but she wasn't joking. "You don't want that, do you?"

The pup just looked down. It made a huffy sound and a small bark. It was now official; the Coyote was angry and hurt. It tried to leave again, but Meda wouldn't let him. She held him in a loving embrace and refused to relinquish him. The little puppy soon just leaned in and let her scratch behind his ears.

"Do you know what happens in three days? You turn six years old. There will be cake and ice cream and maybe even hot dogs and chips. Not to mention all kind of games. But you need to be a boy for that, not a Coyote."

The pup looked up at her and stared. It then looked at Sirius and Mai. Slowly, it turned into Harry. Given that he was naked as a jaybird, Meda wrapped her shawl around him. She made a mental note to train him in transforming his clothes.

"Now, what's this I hear about you getting mad and running away? You know, those boys were just playing with you. Yanaha says they were just joking around and acting like boys." Realising that wasn't working, she changed tactics, "Have you ever seen a litter of Coyote pups? They snip and snap and snipe at each other. They do it constantly, but they're just playing."

Harry thought about this. "So, they teased me because they like me? It just felt like what Dudley would do." After a moment, Harry added, "I guess the other boys were teasing each other, too." Meda could see Harry thinking intently on this.

Meda smiled. "Yes, little one. Teasing and bullying are similar, but different. Sometimes it's hard to know the difference. But if you think they are just joking around… it's probably teasing. If they want to make you sad, it's bullying. Does that help?"

Harry thought about it a minute or so, "I guess. I wish they would just be just be nice."

Meda shrugged, "I know. But clowns will be clowns." That got a smile. "Now, why'd you go and turn into a Coyote? And if you get sad or confused you know you can always talk to me. Or Mai. Even that crazy godfather of yours." She made a point not to mention his other grandmother. That crazy bitch might just give him a knife and send him out to 'even the score'.

Harry shrugged. "Because, being a Coyote makes life easier. And five-year-old Ravens can't fly." The first part was expected. The second was not an answer she had been expecting. He seemed to have missed the whole 'talking to us' point of view.

"I see…" She wondered when this would all start, but she didn't expect it this soon. He was still so young. "Now, why don't you go back, put some clothes on, and play with the others. If they tease you, try to tease them back. If they bully you, just leave."

"Okay Nana." Harry transformed back into a Coyote and headed back to his house. Sirius changed into a dog and followed intently. Leaping about with his tail wagging. Mai gave an exasperated laugh and followed the zany pair. How that silly man had kept quiet during Meda's time with Harry was beyond her. No telling what those two rascals would get up to now.

Meda just smiled. Thank goodness 5-year-old Ravens can't fly. Changes were coming.

Chimera Rising 9—

Yosemite National Park

August 8, 1994


The group arrived in Yosemite and set up camp. They toured the giant sequoias and hiked around 'Half Dome'. They did a bit of beginner rock climbing and both Harry and Yanaha helped all the group get to the top of the 'beginner climb' at 'El Capitan'. Hermione struggled past a fear of heights, but she made it. Her success seemed to really mean a lot for her in terms of confidence. Once at the top, they enjoyed some of the most amazing scenery in America.

At one point, Harry came across a California King Snake eating a slightly smaller Rattlesnake and called the others to watch. The Snake became a bit nervous, but Harry spoke to it and assure the snake that it was safe. He thanked the snake for removing the Rattlesnake and was rewarded for his manners when the King Snake looked back and addressed him.

"§Greetings Speaker. Please ask your companions to stay back. I do not like being surrounded. §"

"§Certainly. Be safe, devourer of Rattlesnakes§." Harry motioned for the others to move back. Ginny had been watching anxiously, but she didn't join in the discussion.

As the snake slowly moved away, he looked back and made eye contact with Harry. They locked eyes… Harry now knew what it meant to be a King Snake. To hunt other Snakes and prey. To wait in ambush. How thrilling it was to strike with blinding speed. The power of constriction and the thrill of the hunt. Other Snakes were the best meals, no pesky arms, or legs to deal with, you just had to clamp down on their jaws. Constrict around them until they stop moving and become food. The same applied to Rats and Frogs and so many others.

"§Farewell, speaker. Be safe… my brother. §"

Most of the others thought it was creepy, but Harry was taken aback. He had just related to and somewhat bonded to a Snake. Not like a familiar bond, more of a one-time connection. They now knew each other. They understood each other on a very personal level. He staggered a moment and sat on a rock. Yanaha came over to check on him, but he waved her off. After a moment, he stood up and the hike began again.

The second night at camp, Neville asked to go first. "So, I've already shared this with Harry, but I've never shared it with anyone else. Well, not anyone in school. Some of you know I live with my Gran. But what you may not know is… my parents weren't killed, they were… hurt badly. Now they can't take care of me."

Harry placed his hand on Neville's shoulder when the teen seemed to pause for an extended period. Neville jumped at the contact, but then gave a small smile and nodded.

He cleared his throat and continued, "So, thirteen years ago, after the war ended, some of the Death Eaters thought You-Know-Who was still alive. They thought that maybe my parents knew where he was. Four of them attacked my parents and tortured them until their minds broke. I visit them at St. Mungo's, but they don't really seem to recognise me. Sometimes I think my mum might know who I am… But after a few minutes, any look of recognition fades away."

"My Gran thinks I'm a disappointment. She won't say it, but I know she does. She gave me my dad's wand, but I can't seem to make it work right. Most of the other Gryffindor's whisper about me being a squib. Malfoy flat out says it. I'm good at Herbology, but not Potions. The teacher seems to enjoy heckling me when I'm making my potions… He does it to all the Gryffindor's, but he seems to enjoy doing it to me the most."

"You know, I think it's kind of weird that there are three Gryffindor students on this trip who all have issues fitting in. I feel like, maybe we found each other. Plus, a fun Ravenclaw and a cool Slytherin…" He added the last part with a smile. "For the first time since I started, I'm actually looking forward to school starting up again. Harry, I only wish you could come too. This has been an amazing trip and I never thought I could do half the things I'm doing. Or have this many people I enjoy being around. People who like me, too."

The stick was passed around and Neville received a great deal of positive reinforcement. When it reached Harry, he paused for a moment. "Neville, I've been considering becoming a transfer student after completing my OWLs. Hogwarts is a distinct possibility. After spending the last few weeks with you guys, it's probably the most likely site. You guys really are the best. And for the record, I have my parent's wands and they don't work that great for me either. You should get a new fitting."

Dan took the stick and said, "Nice job Neville. And I agree, you need your own wand. A different wand doesn't mean you're any less capable than your dad, but you are a different person… We'll talk to Albus." Looking about at the campers, he clapped his hands together and said, "We're going to break our trip on Thursday, not Friday. So, plan to pack up the day after tomorrow. Normally we do a Sweat Lodge Ceremony at the end, but I seriously doubt Hogwarts has one on site. So, we'll do our smoke lodge on Friday, meet with the councillor, then on Saturday, we'll head out. If the weather's good, we can stop at Niagara Falls. On Sunday, we'll take the New York international Portkey site back to Scotland." The campers all seemed happy about heading home.

Yanaha broke out marshmallows, chocolate bars, and Graham Crackers. Within fifteen minutes, they were feasting on s'mores. After they all enjoyed a sticky chocolate treat, they called it a night. Harry and Neville got caught by Yanaha trying to sneak out, so they ended up with double duty on chores in the morning. They were caught sneaking back in. Harry wanted to show Neville the sunrise. The last day was a blast as they enjoyed a scenic zip-line after a short hike. This was the last park in the US that they would see, and they all wanted to enjoy it. That night, Tracey volunteered to start the sharing.

"So, what most of you know is that I'm in Slytherin. The sorting hat said I was a driven and ambitious witch. It warned me that there would be hurdles to overcome as I'm a 'half-blood', but the rewards would be there if I were willing to stick it out. It also said I had a lot of Gryffindor traits, but it thought Slytherin was the best fit. It all started great. The sorting, the cheering, my best friend Daphne was sorted into Slytherin... Everything just seemed perfect."

"But it only took a couple of days before I realised how differently I was treated than most others in the house. Within a week I knew I was a second-class member of the house. My mum was a Muggle-born, so that makes me a half-blood. I decided to push myself and excel so no one would judge me by my genealogy, but even that didn't work out. I've always been athletic, and I'm a particularly good flyer… but I couldn't even get a try-out for the Quidditch team. Apparently, being a half-blood is enough to disqualify me. My grades are good, but it didn't matter."

"Last year, a repeat seventh year student named Marcus Flint offered to work with me to get on the team. He said he just wanted to help a promising player get a shot. Well, he wanted more than he let on. When I refused to meet his… demands… He just went around and told everyone I did. Suddenly, I wasn't just a half-blood, I was a filthy half-blood whore. Daphne tried to help, but she's more of a standoffish ice queen… She didn't know how to shut this down any more than I did."

"Pansy, Draco Malfoy's girlfriend, suddenly offered to help. She said she knew Flint was lying and could shut the rumours down, but her aid had its own price. Daphne and I had to become part of her 'entourage'. Daphne gave her status and I gave her a bit of 'muscle' as a good duellist. So, we follow her around and do her bidding. Well, I do her bidding. Daphne gets preferential treatment and Pansy knows not to push her."

"Marcus finally graduated after a couple attempts at getting his NEWTs, but the damage was done. Pansy has no say or influence with the upper year Slytherins. Professor Snape is stepping in this year, so hopefully things will be better. For the record, I really don't see how blood status makes any difference in performance."

Hermione was stunned. Not just because Tracey had it pretty bad in Slytherin, but because you'd never know it from the way that house pulls together. You'd think they were all best friends. First Luna and now Tracey… maybe Gryffindor isn't all that bad after all.

The stick was passed around and support was given. Harry didn't have as much to say because he couldn't relate as well. It was outside of his personal experiences. Dan realised Harry was just unable to relate to people outside of his own experiences. For the thousandth time this year, he cursed the Dursleys.

When Dan got the stick, he said, "Tracey, you are a victim of small minds and large egos. From what I know of Slytherin house, that's almost the norm. Stay strong and look them all in the eye. Be honest and clear and make sure everyone knows that the Flint boy is a liar. It will reflect far worse on him than on you." After a moment, he added, "Be careful of that Pansy person. She doesn't have your best interests in mind."

Harry noted that Dan rarely gave advice, leaving that for Mai at Constellation Ranch. But then, Dan was really Lycoris, a grandmother who probably knew more about Slytherin house than most. Harry slowly realised Tracey had held something back. It was in her body language. Well, maybe it would come out with Mai. She was good with these kinds of issues.

That night, Neville and Harry were winding down. Harry had gone through his Tarot cards and done a half dozen readings… just for fun. He was getting the hang of it, but he needed eye contact to give appropriate interpretations. He may be able to steer and guide people if they bought into the divination crap. With a bit of unease, he realised a person could use this trick to guide people to making better life choices or to do what he needed them to. The first would be good, the second may be necessary… But did he really want to do that?

Harry knew he was on a path to eventually return to Great Britain, assume the head of the Black family, and bring justice to the Death Eaters that escaped justice. All his training over years was geared up for this. But was it all just talk? Could he bring himself to harm so many people? Even if they deserved it? He wanted to say 'yes'. But…

"Harry?" Neville shocked Harry out of his introspection.

"Yeah, Nev?"

"What's the deal with the Sweat Lodge Ceremony?"

"Oh, boy. Well, we basically sit in a heated and steamy domed hut for a few hours. There are four parts to the ritual as you purify yourself. Each of the four parts represents spiritual challenge. Sometimes, you'll have visions and get to know yourself. I've had quite a few. Honestly, like so many things, you get out of it what you put into it. But there's no harm in saying you're not ready. Dan always gives everyone an out." After a moment, Harry added, "And the guys and girls go through it at different times."

"Is it safe?"

"It is with an experienced leader. Someone whose been trained to recognise dangerous levels of dehydration and other potential health risks. You are in a fevered state, so a trained medical person is critical. Honestly, we're all young and healthy, so it's a little different than if middle aged participants were involved. But no one should attempt it without a trained leader. Safety is important."

"What kind of visions do you see?"

"Well, most people see… what they need to see to overcome personal challenges. My first lodge experience involved my spirit animal. It helped me understand myself. Yours may be entirely different. But it's a very personal experience. Some people talk about it and some people don't. I've had one experience I will never share with anyone, but most I can share with people I trust."

"Will you tell me about your animal spirit? Was it a Lion or a Panther?"

"Nope. It was a Coyote. The ultimate survivor." Harry saw an opportunity here. "Hey Nev, you wanna see something?"


Neville looked over at his first real friend. He was surprised beyond measure when Harry slowly transformed into a Coyote. Then Harry slowly transformed back. For a few moments, Neville was too stunned to talk.

"Harry. My god… You're an Animagus. Did the Sweat Lodge do that?" Neville's eyes were bulging, and his mouth was hanging open.

"No, but I guess it could be a first step if you wanted to be an Animagus. You may meet the animal that you most relate to during the ceremony. Just don't be afraid to accept it if it surprises you."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, who would want to be something like a Cockroach, right? But then you realise how durable they are. They're survivors just like the Coyote, damn near impossible to kill off. But most people only see mammals or some form of higher animals. The insect types represent extremes. But, extremes tell us a lot about ourselves."

"I guess I understand." But he really didn't. Neville was still thrown off about Harry's coyote form.

"My only advice never be ashamed of your animal guide. Never pull away. It's a guide to help us understand ourselves and to be the best we can be. Most people think they want a cool one, like a Leopard. But even Leopards have quirks and flaws. The Leopard fathers abandon the mothers of their children. They're also solitary by nature… Not something I'd want to be. The marine animals are the oddest. You know fish and stuff. I say that, but I've only ever met people with marine mammals for guides, they're fun. But I can't imagine what a person with a Shark guide would be like.

"What do you mean, wouldn't they be pretty tough?"

"I suppose but think of the baggage. They'd probably be relentless, like… all the time. You know – keep swimming and eating or die. No rest or breaks. If a Shark stops swimming, it stops breathing. They might just pursue some singular objective with no other interests or drives. Of course, I could be way off. I've never met one before."

"I guess that would be pretty bad." Neville was thinking about his own possible animal guide.

Harry continued, "Peter Pettigrew was a Rat Animagus. A lot of people would think that's bad… but rats are usually extremely loyal and considerate. Pretty smart, too. They tend to be especially loyal to their family. Pettigrew went bad somewhere along the way. He's probably haunted by what he did, it's just so against the nature of the Rat. I hope he's suffering, but if I ever get my hands on him…" After a painful pause, Harry added, "Sorry Nev, I think about him a lot. He may be the only person I really and truly hate. Besides You-Know-Who, of course."

"I think about Bellatrix Lestrange, too. She's suffering in Azkaban, but I really wish… she would just die."

"I get it, Nev. I really do." After a minute, Harry asked, "Do you mind not telling anyone about my Animagus form? I'll probably tell a few people at some point, but not yet."

"You can trust me, Harry." Then a minute later, "Is that why you have that 'Wile E Coyote' shirt?"

Harry laughed, "Yeah, Sirius is always giving me stuff like that. He has no filter. And for the record, Coyotes are significantly faster than Road Runners. By a wide margin. They just need to avoid anvils." Harry laughed at his own little proclamation.

Neville laughed with Harry, then quietly said, "Good night Harry. And thanks… for everything."

"Good night Neville."

Harry reflected on his decision to share his Coyote form with Neville. His Animagus form was really no secret. He had changed forms in his sleep a couple of times at school, so the staff and a few people at Ilvermorny already knew about it. Anyone who researched him would learn of it and he really wanted Neville's trust. Dan and Sirius both advised in favour of sharing the form with a few people. He'd had to register it when they went to Great Britain, but he wouldn't share more than his Coyote form.

Dan was in his quarters considering the group he had been working with. He was impressed with how much the group had changed. Neville looked the most different. The hiking and physical activity had thinned him down. The increased confidence had resulted in him standing taller. He almost looked like a different person. Ginevra had regained her spirit and confidence. Hermione was openly joking around and seemed at ease with the others. Yanaha had done excellent work with the young lady. Luna had stopped eating mushrooms and seemed more grounded in reality… but she was still a bit different. She was 'zany' in an artistic way. She was still one to notice odd details and was not to be taken lightly. Then there was Tracey Davis.

Tracey's problems seemed to be less severe compared to the others. They were also problems of her own making. Still, they had had other campers with similar stories… but the way she had shared seemed forced. Less sincere than the others. She was holding back and hiding something… that made Dan nervous. Hyperion had picked up on it as well, but he seemed to ignore his instincts here. He was attracted to her. That headstrong, foolish boy. Well, apparently Hyperion needed to learn some lessons the hard way. Luna seemed to have picked up on Tracey's deception as well and was subtly avoiding her.

The next day, they packed up and took the portkey back to Constellation Ranch.

Chimera Rising 9—

Constellation Ranch

August 11, 1994


The group returned to the ranch and unpacked. There would be no more camping as they had hotel reservations in Buffalo NY, and they'd be staying in the dorms at Hogwarts afterward. After unpacking and settling into their bunks, they each went to a councillor meeting with Mai where they discussed their issues and problems. It was helpful, especially to those who had shared their own experiences with the group.

After the sessions, Dan and Mai talked about the Sweat Lodge Ceremony planned for the following day. They explained each of the steps and what to expect. They stressed that it was an optional activity, and anyone could leave at any time if they felt the need. The girls would go first, then the boys. The girls would go at dawn and the boys would go at dusk. Everyone was to wear clothes appropriate for sweating. Basically, swim wear and a loose t-shirt.

The entire group was then summoned to the main lodge cafeteria for dinner. Upon entering, the group noticed balloons and streamers all around the room. There was a massive banner draped across the back of the room that read "Happy Birthday Ginny". Suddenly a group of red heads stood up from behind a table and yelled out "Surprise!" Today was Ginny Weasleys birthday and the young lady was ecstatic that it had not been forgotten. She ran over and hugged her family. The whole Weasley clan was there, and there was enough food to feed an army.

Ginny eagerly shared her experiences with her parents. She discussed the different parks and the animals they had seen. She talked about how much she enjoyed camping and hiking in such beautiful areas. She even shared how close she had gotten to the other campers. Her entire family was amazed to hear her stories. As nice as her descriptions were, the best part was hearing her talk so clearly and naturally. Their daughter was full of energy and confidence. Both of her parents had been so very worried, but now they could only admire the amazing changes in their youngest child.

There were plenty of gifts from family and friends. Ginny was officially thirteen years old and this was a big birthday. Ron was surprised to see Ginny had become so close to Tracey – a Slytherin… but he kept his comments to himself. After a bit, Harry, Ron, and Neville settled in for a game of snap. The twins soon joined them. The other girls all stayed near Ginny and poked fun at the boys.

The party eventually ended and the Weasleys headed back to England. Given the time difference, they would pick up seven hours, they were beyond exhausted. Ginny thanked everyone and admitted that this was one of the best birthdays ever. Harry took her aside and gave her a small 'dream catcher' he had made. It was an exquisite piece and he showed her how it could trap and hold mana. By hanging it over her bed, it would filter the mana around her and purify it. The purification would have a very subtle effect on any mana sensitive individual, like a witch or a wizard, giving happier dreams. He promised to show her how to cleanse it while they were at Hogwarts.

Soon enough, the day was over, and the night had begun. Tomorrow morning, the smoke lodge ceremonies would begin. They were all eager and excited. Ginny was so glad she had spent the summer at this camp. It had really been life altering. The girls all left with Ginny while Neville and Harry made their way to their room.


The next morning, the girls began their ceremony. Harry and Neville hiked around the Ranch and did a few chores. It was low key for a Friday. The girls all completed the Sweat Lodge Ceremony and went to shower, cool off, and re-hydrate. Harry warned Neville not to ask about it, they would share if they wanted to. Most probably wouldn't. It was a personal thing.

Eventually, he and Neville went to have their ceremony. Harry had done this before, but it was all new to Neville. Dan beat the drums while Mai managed the heating stones used to create steam. She also led the meditation.

At the high point of the ceremony, Harry looked over at Neville and saw his friend was deep in his meditations. Looking at the stones in the centre of the room, he saw a rather long Snake moving toward him. It was about 4 feet long and had black and cream patterns to it. Harry recognised it as a California King Snake. It slithered over and raised itself up.

Harry made eye contact with it and realised this was the same Snake from the hike in Yosemite. But how? They were now so far away. As he stared at the Snake and maintained eye contact, it slowly became a mist and dissipated into the steam. Steam that he breathed in deeply. It was a vision-Snake. He had expected to meet his Coyote or his Raven, but not the Snake. He remembered how he felt when they met on the path, like he knew everything about him. Closing his eyes, he took that imprint of the Snake and placed it in his mindscape.

After the ceremony ended, he and Neville left the lodge and drank plenty of water. They then sat a bit until they cooled off and fully rehydrated. Once Dan gave them his approval, they left to take showers and get dressed. After getting cleaned up, they went to speak with Mai about their experiences. Neville looked a little confused and maybe a bit disappointed. Harry hoped he didn't have a Dung Beetle for a spirit animal.

Harry was waiting for Mai when he saw his grandmother Meda approaching. He stood up and hugged her. He hadn't seen her for a few weeks, and he missed her terribly.

"Hi Nana, How's life?

"I'm good, little Coyote. The real question is, how is your life?"

Harry thought a moment, "Well, I'm making new friends. I'll see the quidditch cup in Scotland this year. I'm a little nervous about going back, but other than that, I'm alright."

"How was your Sweat Lodge Ceremony? Did you learn anything?"

"Maybe. I saw a Snake. It was a California King Snake. It looked identical to one I saw on a hike." Harry was thinking intently on that encounter. Thinking about the minor bonding he had experienced.

"Tell me about this Snake."

"Well, when I met it in Yosemite, it had just finished eating a juvenile Rattlesnake. I watched it finish its meal, then I thanked it for keeping the trail safe. I know the Snake was just eating, but it seemed like the polite thing to do. As it left, we made eye contact and… I made a connection. Like with Ravens and Coyotes."

Meda considered this intently.

Looking at Harry, she said, "This is a powerful sign, little one. The Rattlesnake represents anger, frustration, and violence. The King Snake literally hugs it to death."

Harry considered what she was telling him. "So, I'm supposed to devourer the angry and vicious people? Or do I just hug them?" He was perplexed and a bit too sarcastic for his own good. Meda never promoted violence.

She shook her head. "You still have much to learn, little coyote. The Rattlesnake and the King Snake are both inside you. You need to learn to forgive. I know your other grandmother may disagree… but the message is clear. The Rattlesnake is devoured, and the King Snake rises triumphant. You need to isolate your anger and you're your hatred. Then you need to let it go."

Harry thought about it. "Like the two Wolves?" Harry remembered the story well.

Yes… and no. When are visions ever that clear? No, I think you have a more specific need." Thinking a moment, she shook her head. "You'll know when the time is right, then you will become one with the King Snake. The spirit world likes you, little one. It gives you exactly what you need. Listen to it and learn from it. Then you will move forward in your development. Nobody ever built a totem pole with only two animals."

Harry just nodded. He never completely understood Meda when she got like this. But he almost always understood her words better after the fact. Sometimes years after she said them. He really couldn't think of who to forgive except for Peter Pettigrew. That wasn't happening.

Meda shrugged her shoulders. "No more Snake talk. Tell me about your plans for across the ocean. I have never been that far away, and I need you to tell me all about it."

Harry spent the next hour talking about Great Britain. He confessed to wanting to see justice done for those who caused so much pain, but he also just wanted to see Hogwarts. He had read both of his parent's journals and now he wanted to see it from his own perspective. The castle, the forest, the mountain, and the lake. Weekends at Hogsmeade, the Three Broomsticks, all of it.

Meda just smiled and said, "Follow your heart, little Coyote. Wander to the four corners of the earth but know that your heart will always lead you home once you're done wandering."

Chimera Rising 9—

Niagara Falls

Saturday Afternoon

August 13, 1994

The group had a large breakfast at the Ranch, then took a portkey to the falls. They travelled to the Canadian side. The afternoon was spent with the campers enraptured in the size and breath-taking power of the falls. It was so powerful they could feel it rumbling through their chests. The falls fell with so much force, the mist it threw up created rainbows far above the top of the falls. The mana of the site churned and roared as no less than four major ley lines merged with the same force as the falls. It was truly one of the most amazing places on earth.

The teens dispersed and just took in the site. About an hour after arrival, Harry spotted Tracey leaning over the rail and looking at the falls. They had about an hour and a half before they had to cross the border and head for the hotel. Just enough time to introduce her to the gardens. He had noticed a few peculiar things about Tracey, she seemed to be holding something back. In the end, he decided to just ignore his instincts, rationalising that we all have secrets. And he wanted to get to know her better.

Tracey smiled as she saw Harry approaching. She had been drinking in the falls and the majesty of the entire setting. Reflecting on the trip, she realised how much she had enjoyed it. Harry was amazing and a very charismatic teen. No doubt he would give Draco a run for his money if he came to Hogwarts. The two were so different and oddly similar at the same time. She wondered how Harry would be sorted if he did transfer. Slytherin seemed a good fit, especially since he was a Black and a Parselmouth. But… he was also a bit of a rebel. He had a cunning side, but it was tempered by his do-gooder personality.

Harry approached the girl, "Hi Tracey."

"Hello Harry, what's on your mind?" She really liked the boy. The fact that he was the most natural flier she had ever seen made him even more interesting. Add in his fame and fortune… Yeah, she liked him, and he seemed interested too. Her interest dovetailed nicely with her primary reason for being here. That he seemed to be interested in her as well made it even easier.

"I thought I might take you through the gardens. Everyone focuses on the falls, but the gardens are gorgeous too." With wince he added, "Not as breath-taking, but certainly more diverse."

"Lead on, Mr. Black!" She was playing this up, enjoying the moment.

Harry took her through the woods and showed her the different gardens. They really were gorgeous. There were even muggle photographers all about, taking close pictures of the flowers. It was an idyllic setting. At one point, he took her hand and led her to a different area with an even better view.

They found themselves inches apart and she was certain he was about to move in for a kiss, but he didn't.

"Tracey… I'm a teen councillor. I can't…" But she could tell he wanted to. Badly. She realised she had an opening.

"I tell you what, Harry. Let's pick this back up at the Quidditch cup. We both have an invitation to watch with the Greengrass family. You won't be a counsellor and I won't be one of your campers." She could play the long game. This would fit into her plans nicely. And she really did like him… Maybe this could go somewhere.


Later that afternoon, they piled into a van and crossed the border from Canada back to the US. They then proceeded to ride to the Buffalo Marriott. After checking in and unpacking, the whole crew then went to the Anchor Bar. It was the legendary birthplace of spicy chicken wings known as "Buffalo Wings." There was a thirty-minute wait, but it was so worth it.

Dan had already reserved a room near the back and had bags with Black Anchor Bar t-shirts and Baseball caps for each kid. There was live music and lots of goofing off. Harry and Neville ordered a bucket of the 'Suicidal Extreme Heat' wings and decided to see who could eat the most without drinking or eating anything else. The winner got a huge hat shaped like a chicken wing. *

The girls quickly decided to get in on the competition and a second bucket was ordered. To everyone's surprise, Hermione won. She had apparently travelled extensively and was used to extremely spicy food. She said they were hot but compared to some of the food she ate in India… mild. She wore the chicken wing hat with pride. Photos were taken and everyone cheered and clapped. Soon, ice cream was served to cool off the blazing mouths of the young and the reckless.

Returning to the hotel, there were two kids assigned to each room with a stern warning about sneaking out. Dan placed charms on the doors that Harry knew were near fool proof. Opening the door or somehow taking the wards down would result in Dan being alerted. Dan had shown Harry a few ways to create a mana loop that would allow wards of this nature to be bypassed and opened without triggering the ward, but he'd keep that to himself. That was a different set of skills.

The next day, the group had a large breakfast in the Marriott dining room. After which, they went to see the falls on the US side. It seemed less spectacular, but it was still amazing. They went through a small aquarium and saw a nice assortment of fish and marine animals. By far, the Penguins were the biggest hit. At 11:30, they gathered up and headed to the Buffalo International Portkey Departure site.

Gathering, they activated the portkey and experienced the pull on their navel common with portkey travel. The sensation of spinning lasted longer than anyone would like, finally depositing them all in the London arrival location. It was now approximately 5PM London time. Soon enough, they were all 'processed' through wizarding bureaucracy and given a domestic portkey. Many of the employees at the arrival point crowded around and made an embarrassing fuss around Harry. The other campers felt bad for him.

The domestic portkey was soon used, and it had the same navel pull, but the spinning sensation lasted far less time. When it ended, the whole crew was in the courtyard of a grand castle. Standing in front of them was Albus Dumbledore in bright yellow robes. At either side of him were four other teachers. Harry recognised Professor McGonagall. Also present was a shorter overweight woman with a kind face, a short man who looked to be half goblin, and a larger man with lank and greasy black hair. Harry immediately knew them from his parent's journals. These were the current heads of house at Hogwarts.

Dumbledore held out his hands and said, "Greetings campers and adventurers! Welcome to Hogwarts." Harry noticed the Headmaster's eyes were twinkling.

Chimera Rising 9—


The Davis Residence

Somewhere in England

Tracey Davis' Room

June 22, 1994

Tracey Davis received an owl from the school. Reading it, she was surprised to learn that she had received a request for a meeting from her head of house. By the subtle wording, it was clear to Tracey that this was to be a confidential meeting. Professor Snape had never requested a meeting during the summer break. To say this was unusual was putting it mildly. Considering that she was a student and he was a professor, the meeting would have to be concealed, but what could he want? As she watched, the ink faded away, leaving no trace of the original request. Sneaky Bastard.

The request was for Tracey was to inconspicuously meet Professor Snape at 'Potage's Cauldron Shop'. Once there, she would go to the back and peruse the silver-plated cauldrons. Seeing her professor, she would request his advice on fourth year cauldrons. The date for the meeting was June 25, Saturday, at eleven in the morning. She knew her mum loved to shop, but hated cauldrons and potions ingredients. Giving her the slip wouldn't be difficult. She would just ask to go to the cauldron shop while her mum shopped for robes. Still, it felt odd and she didn't want to go completely alone. She needed an accomplice.

Tracey prided herself on being a cunning witch. She knew where to find her accomplice. She floo called Daphne and shared the content of the request with her. Daphne agreed it seemed like a strange request. She also agreed Tracey shouldn't go alone… just in case. Professor Snape didn't seem like a perv, but he was a bit creepy. And after the whole Flint fiasco… you could never be too sure. Plans were made to meet up an hour before the arranged meeting time. Daphne would give her space but linger near. With a little luck, Astoria wouldn't want to go. Otherwise, they'd have to ditch her.

Tracey finalised the plan and put it into action. "Mum, I need to meet Daphne in the Alley on Saturday morning. Do you mind if I use the floo?"

Her mother enthusiastically responded, "Diagon Alley? That sounds like fun. I'll take you there, sweetie. Maybe we can get you a new set of robes…"

Tracey just smiled. All according to plan.


Potages Cauldron Shop

Diagon Alley

June 25, 1994

That Saturday morning, Tracey and her mother had left for Diagon Alley. They met up with Daphne and her mother and sister outside Florean Fortescue's. Astoria was an ice cream addict so they could give her the slip if they moved quickly enough. Assessing the opportunity, the two hurried off together with promises of meeting at Madame Malkin's in an hour and a half. Tracey saw Astoria looking alarmed at them rushing off without her, then deciding to finish off her triple scoop bowl of ice cream.

Arriving five minutes early, Daphne took up a position near the door while Tracey went to the back to look at silver lined cauldrons. Soon enough, she heard her professor clear his throat.

"Miss Davis, perhaps I can assist you with your purchase?"

"Thank you, sir. Your assistance would be most welcome." She then heard her head of house whisper 'Muffliato' and wave his hand. She knew he was capable of silent casting; he did that so she would understand they had privacy. Very Slytherin of him.

Professor Snape looked over at her in a slightly praising manner. She had seen this look a few times when she had brewed a potion perfectly. "My compliments on your resourcefulness this year. Miss Parkinson has a great deal of leverage with many of the families due to her own father's influence."

Tracey knew what he meant. That disgusting Bastard Flint and his rumours.

Professor Snape continued. "Unfortunately, she has little influence among the older students. How do you plan to silence their… disgusting innuendos?"

Tracey was becoming a bit nervous. What was his angle? "I just planned to avoid them, sir." She glanced back but didn't see Daphne.

"Please, Miss Davis. I have no intention of harming you in the least. Your friend either." Considering the encounter, a moment, he added, "You did well to bring Miss Greengrass. Very… Slytherin of you." There it was mild praise once more. All delivered in that monotonous deadpan tone he had perfected.

Tracey wasn't sure what to say, "Thank you sir. One can never be too careful."

"Yes…" He pointed to a few cauldrons just in case they were being watched. "I can offer you the silence of the senior class men. In time, the attention of the younger years will move on. Then, Miss Parkinson will have no hold on you."

Tracey considered the situation. He wanted something. Something he was waiting for her to inquire about.

"That would be appreciated, sir. What would you request… in exchange?" He was a Slytherin. Part of her also realised he was a teacher and should have stepped in before now. No strings attached. It was, after all, his job. But this was Slytherin house… everything had a price. He was teaching her a lesson. Still…

"There is a camp I wish you to go to. Attend the camp and collect information for me."

Tracey was following. However, this was her summer she was giving up. "Sir, what information am I collecting?" Something just seemed unusual about this.

"I want you to learn all you can about a boy who helps out at the camp. What he's like… what he does well and what he struggles with. Collect memories and share them with me. If you can accomplish this… to my satisfaction… I will end your problems regarding Flint's vile rumours. Ending both the taunts of the older students as well as your dependency on Miss Parkinson." He just sweetened the pot a bit. He was alluding that he would address the younger years as well.

Tracey nodded, "What's the boy's name, sir?" She didn't want to make an enemy of someone dangerous.

"Harry Potter." As he pronounced the name, he pointed at a few other cauldrons.

Tracey did a double take. The-boy-who-lived? The one who was abused and left Great Britain altogether? This was worth more than a simple case of rumour squelching.

"Sir, I can do this, but I'd also like a spot on the Slytherin Quidditch team…" Was she overplaying her hand? "Perhaps you could help?" Was this too forward?

Severus Snape laughed softly. "Very good, Miss Davis. I'll agree to get you an… unbiased try-out, but the rest is up to you. I'll also grant you a minor favour at some point in the future." Seeing Tracey furrow her brow, he added, "Trust me, Miss Davis… that is a very valuable offering." He had a soft spot for the young Half-Blood. She suffered in many ways the same way he had. All those years ago.

Tracey made up her mind, "I'll do it, sir."

He nodded, "Excellent. I will be sharing concerns with your parents on your treatment this past year. You will be honest and open with them. The camp is designed to help heal students who have experienced trauma. You will, as the Muggles say… play it up."

"I see…"

"Good. I will reach out within the week." Looking directly at this young lady, he added, "Do not disappoint me, Miss Davis."


Tracey met back up with Daphne who admitted she hadn't even seen Professor Snape enter. Likely he was disillusioned. They walked and whispered. She shared the details of her encounter along with the promises Professor Snape had made. Tracey noticed Daphne seemed concerned.

"Daff, this is a great opportunity. I can finally get out from under Pansy. The rumours will stop, and I can try out for the Quidditch team. Why do you seem… unhappy about it?"

Daphne looked around a moment, then whispered, "Tracey, you're talking about the boy-who-lived. A man, rumoured to have been a marked Death Eater, suddenly wants you to spy on Harry Potter. A boy who was abused and mistreated as a child… It just seems like you're crossing a line here." Looking over at her friend, she said, "I don't like it."

Tracey thought about it. "Well, I don't like it either… but my life has been hell this past year. I need an 'out', Daff. Pansy made things bearable, but she treats me like Draco treats Crabbe and Goyle." When Daphne didn't say anything, she added, "Look, I'm not going to hurt the boy, I'll just take notes on what he's like."

Daphne gave a slight nod, but Tracey could tell she didn't like it. "If you're sure…"

Tracey took a deep cleansing breath and said, "I don't want to go through another year like last year."

"Okay, Tracey. I'm with you no matter what, but don't sell your soul in this… deception. Don't do anything you'll regret." Daphne knew last year had been tough on her friend. She just hoped this didn't all blow up in her face.

"Trust me, Daff. My heart is as pure as snow." With a grin she added, "And almost as chill…"

Daphne smiled, "And they call me the Ice Queen." Her smile didn't quite reach her eyes.

Suddenly, they heard a young voice call out, "Daphne!"

Looking up, they saw Astoria running toward them… there goes the party.

Chimera Rising 9—


I did not detail out the Sweat Lodge Ceremony for a few reasons. Primarily, it can be dangerous. This is not something that should ever be tried independently or with an inexperienced leader. In addition, while there are instances where non-Native Americans have adopted the ceremony, I don't want to miss-state a process that may be culturally important to Native Americans. In short, I don't know enough about the ceremony to accurately write about it. If I did, it would take an awfully long time to detail the specifics well enough to give it the respect it deserves. That could mean at least one chapter, possibly two that don't really advance the plot. Finally, assuming I was able and inclined to give the detail, I wouldn't do it. Why? Because some fool might try to replicate it and hurt themselves. If you are interested, there are numerous descriptions online, but be aware that they don't all align.

*I absolutely love the Anchor Bar. If you are ever in Buffalo, it is a must-see destination. I encourage anyone enjoying this story to read their webpage. The huge chicken wing hat is a real novelty. I've also had their Suicidal hot wings and they are ridiculously hot. I've had hotter, but these were as hot as I could stand without ruining the meal. Just hot enough to make you question your sanity and why you ordered them this way. Good fun. The blue cheese helped tremendously.

The warm and fuzzy chapters are almost over now. Hogwarts will begin the grittier part of the story. Looking forward to writing the next few chapters, but I need to switch gears back to the Dance of Death for a bit.