Chapter Two: Turn Around Bright Eyes

July 31st, 1996, Lunchtime

Harry Potter woke up to the smell of simple food. He could tell that there was fish involved but there was no trace of any seasonings that he could identify. Clearly this was not the Dursley's house. What else could could he determine without opening his eyes? He was in an unfamiliar bed and he had morning wood. That first bit was disturbing and that second bit was... not something he cared to deal with right now. What else could he determine without opening his eyes? Was that the sound of birds chirping? That was certainly not something that he heard much of on Privet Drive. Not locked away inside, anyway.

Maybe it was just a dream. Maybe he was waking up in another magical household like the Weasley's home. Well, no use in putting it off any longer. He opened his eyes.

'Crap, China. Not a dream.'

He got up, ran his fingers through his hair, and glanced about for a water closet.

'Crap, rural China. How does one use the loo here?'

He walked past a male Ranma, who seemed to be tending to lunch over a simple stove, and stepped outside. Outside into a light drizzle. She stopped. She briefly considered holding it in until becoming male again but apparently she couldn't hold water as well as he could. And just what did you pinch shut as a girl anyway? And this outfit just didn't cut it outside of 4 Privet Drive. Harry looked around for a clue as to how it was done out in the middle of nowhere, Qinghai, China. The guide seemed to divine the witch's need and pointed to a trail off to the side of the hut.

Fine, whatever. 'I may look like a prissy princess but I've dealt with worse.'

Ten minutes later, Miss Potter returned to the hut shivering from the cool rain. Her skin was pale and as her shirt was not hiding anything.

'Um, no. I have not dealt with worse. I have only dealt with Just-As-Bad-In-Another-Way. I was really looking and I still don't know where the urine came out from.'

Some Gryffindor, too afraid to touch his... her own bits. Purely for scientific purposes, really.

"Umm, Ranma?" Harry called out.

"Sumimasen." Ranma was a bit preoccupied with the last dish. Harry clearly didn't know enough Chinese to get by unless he was ordering take-away for the Dursleys.

"Mandarin or Cantonese?"

"Ara? Er.. Sorry?"

"My mistake. Are you speaking in Mandarin or Cantonese. I'm afraid I don't know much about the area." Harry was surethat if he focused on the whole 'I'm in China' issue, then he – she – could pretend her other problems didn't exist. For a little while, at least.

"Neither. That was Japanese. I'm from Nippon, what you call Japan."

"Oh, sorry."

"When you hear me and the guide, that will likely be some Mandarin, plus some local dialects mixed in for fun. The locals are really a diverse lot."

And with that, lunch was served. Harry hadn't eaten with chopsticks before, but he'd seen it on telly once or twice, so with a little help he figured it out. Harry was actually impressed with the food. Local fish fresh from the nearby stream, rice, vegetables, water. That was it. She felt... good. 'Oh! I should ask about clothes.'

"Ranma?"

"Yes?"

"I don't suppose you could lend me a change of clothes? What I came in with just isn't working what with the curse and me being in China and all of that." She held out the collar of her shirt temporarily pulling the fabric off her... nipples... and hiding them from view. Dropping the collar, a small but noticeable amount of cleavage made itself known. The nipples showed up again too.

"Sure! I got a set that should be just about your-"

-FWOOOSH-

Fawkes had arrived.

Not only that, but Fawkes just flamed in from nowhere just behind the guide's head in full view of Harry and Ranma. Harry jumped up in surprise. Ranma jumped up in righteous furry.

"Twice Damned Phoenixes! Burn in the Hell of the Horny Dragon!"

And with that proclamation, he whipped both hands out causing a pair of clear pressure waves to shoot through the air between him and the magical bird. Both hit the unfortunate familiar and cleanly quadrisected the immortal avian. Fawkes burst into flame, burning through the parchment he had been carrying, and left six to eight feathers which floated down to the floor of the hut.

"H- how?" Harry stammered.

Ranma looked between his young guest and the red-gold feathers fluttering to the ground.

"That's a Saotome Family martial arts technique. Very high end of course. I use my ki to form vacuum blades in the air. Those things are crazy sharp."

The advanced martial arts technique might as well have been magic for all Harry knew, but damned if it wasn't effective.

"Score! You should pick up those feathers, Ranma. Phoenix feathers make for good wand cores. My wand actually has a feather core from that same phoenix you just chopped into bits. See?" With that, Harry pulled the wand out of her pocket and showed her new new friends the wand that has saved her life on more than one occasion.

Harry eventually did ask Ranma about his adverse reaction to immortal birds. Seems the martial artist has bad memories involving a group of phoenix people and their God-king. Seems they were real pricks... drowned Ranma's girlfriend (implied, not stated) even though the girl seemed to recover. Then the bastards tried to kill the same girl again. Ranma changed the subject before they got too far down that path.


In his office in a tower at Hogwarts, Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, who loved his many titles even more than he loved his potion laced candies, sat and brooded. On a perch off to the side, his much diminished familiar stared in his direction as Albus stared right back at him.

"Yes, but I don't see him in your memory, Fawkes. You are sure he was there?"

Said phoenix still didn't have the strength to sing, let alone bark single note answers. He just continued to stare.

"Well it would serve the boy right if Tom went and found him first. Maybe Harry will pull off yet another miraculous escape? Merlin knows he can't win outright until I have all the pieces in place."

The bird seemed to drop it's shoulders and look away.

"I'm very sorry Fawkes. I would have thought that Asians would have given you a better reception than that."

More silence from the bird.

"Well, you'll be feeling better soon. What say you go flash over to Miss Chang when she comes back to Hogwarts and dump her into Black Lake when nobody's looking?"

Fawkes actually seemed to like the idea. Phoenixes may be beings of the Light, but they've been known to be spiteful before and have long memories.


The rain stopped. Excellent.

A male Harry Potter stepped out of the hut wearing a slightly worn white tang and black drawstring pant outfit finished out with his repaired trainers. Ranma had gotten bored inside and took Harry's shoes for some Anything Goes Leatherwork practice. They still looked ratty but they were now quite comfy and the soles were first rate. And the tape was pulled free too. The shoes looked like real shoes.

"Say, Ranma, where can I learn that wandless ki magic fighting you pulled against the phoenix? I've got a bit of a Dark Wizard problem back home." 'I really hope that is something I can learn before going back. Almost nobody does anything wandless back home and I can imagine what an advantage that would be in a fight.'

"So sorry to disappoint, but that was not magic. I channeled my ki into a physical attack. And before you ask, ki is... well many things but for now we will simply call it life force."

"Is ki your soul then?"

"Well, your soul may be made of ki I suppose, but you can generate ki and release it. We all do it all the time, but I am not building and breaking my soul in doing so."

Harry had a light bulb go off over his head. That was followed closely by a second one related to the odds that when a pureblood English wizard has an idea, a lumos was probably cast over his head. But back to the first idea. "You're a martial artist then. You're not a wizard at all?"

"Bingo! Magic loves to piss in my ricebowl, but I've never had active control over the stuff. Now, after all my run-ins with magic, I can feel the stuff from a distance. Almost smell it really. The pools are bathed in it. You stand out. Your wand has some soaked into the wood grain. And that sparkly toy you pulled out of the water... well that thing just screams power even more than the pools themselves."

Harry pulled the object in question back out of his belt where he'd held it like a toy sword. It was a rod, or maybe a scepter, longer than any wand he's seen to date. It was vaguely sword like, if a three to five year old girl were allowed to design one. At least his holly and phoenix feather cored wand looked manly enough. Well, a wizard would think his wand was manly. A muggle would see it and still think him a poof for even having a wand no matter how finely crafted it was. The scepter had a jewel and wing theme to it with lots of pink and gold bits. The wings pointed up and away from the cross guard and the cross guard curved down to connect back to the pommel. Instead of a blade, there was a sparkly crystal shaft. A separate jewel setting sat where the sword point would be. Well, a little girl would think this a fearsome weapon indeed but Malfoy would only risk his death of laughter.

But then, Ranma did say it screams power.

Harry pulled out a matchstick, set it on the table, and then reviewed his very first transfiguration lesson with Professor McGonagall. 'No. No change at all. How about a fire spell?'

-fwoosh-

'Ahhhh... transfiguration is a no, but charms could work.' He walked outside to the edge of the forest, followed by Ranma. He saw a tree stump twenty meters away.

"Reducto!"

Magic did launch itself at the tree stump, but it wasn't nearly what his own wand could do to the same target.

"Oh well, better clean my mess." One last jab at the stump. "Reparo."

Well damn! The stump went and grew a whole new tree! Okay, so maybe the stump probably belonged to a monster of a tree back in the day, but a twelve foot sapling is nothing to laugh at.

"This thing really could come in handy some day. I'll have to play with it some more later. But we got off track, Ranma, my point was going to be that maybe you could train me up a bit. I know I'm not going to be a black belt any time soon, but surely anyone who can cut up a fire-bird without touching it has advice worth listening to."

"I doubt you would want to go through what I've been through to get where I am, Harry."

Harry couldn't hold back a snort after that one. He saw Ranma arch an eyebrow in challenge. "You don't know how many times I've thought that about the prats that want my life."

"Can you see a game of 'my scar's bigger than your scar' coming?"

Harry nodded back.

"Game on then... Okay, when I was four or five, Baka Oyagi, or Idiot Dad to you, took me away from my mother and began a ten year training trip. By the end of it I nearly forgot I had a Mom."

"Yeah? Well, when I was just a babe in diapers, a Dark Lord killed my Dad, killed Mum as I watched and then bounced a killing curse off my head."

"I'm not near done, Harry. Next, our training trip skipped all of the 'soft' dojos. If it wasn't over the top, lethal, immoral, illegal or all of the above, Oyaji didn't bother with such weak luxury. If I couldn't beat him in a dinner time battle, I didn't eat."

"I spent from one to eleven in the cupboard under my uncle's staircase being worked like a slave by him, my equally hateful aunt and their spoiled son. Prats hated magic, hated my parents and hated me." 'Beat that.'

"Growing bigger wasn't enough either, Oyaji cheated like others breathe. And there's how we got the food in the first place. He taught me a game where I took food from strangers. If they caught and beat me, then I lost that round and he punished me. If I got away then I won."

"Are you eleven years old yet?" Harry felt a guilty pleasure in knowing that someone else had a suck ass childhood. It wasn't just him.

"Nope." 'I'm just getting' started kid.' "Well I'll keep this part short. Between six and sixteen, while beating me flat pretty much every day, Oyaji manages to incur great debt in my name, I get no long term friends, he collects not less than a dozen marriage contracts in my name, get us both wanted by authorities in at least 5 countries and enrages several noble clans and Yakuza families. You'd like and example, right?"

Another nod.

"Let me teach you about the Neko-ken. When I was six, Oyaji used this wonderful training technique in which the student, that's me, gets tied up in foods that cats would like and chucked bodily into a pit full of starving cats. It's supposed to unlock this ultimate warrior inside you or something. Didn't work the first time. Or the next few either. Finally, I snap one of those times getting all mauled and eaten, and sorta... become a cat. On the plus side, when I go cat, it's like a super boost of speed and I can cut through steel like it was paper. But that don't beat the negatives. I got a bad fear of cats, and when I do use the technique, I got zero control of my actions. All instinct. Damn. I feel bad just rememberin' that." Maybe this wasn't such a fun game after all.

Harry's turn. "I'm it then? Right. I first learned I was a wizard just after my eleventh birthday. I was invited to attend a school of magic, the same one my parents went to. 'But wait', I say. 'I thought my parents were jobless freaks who died while driving drunk one night.' 'No,' the half-giant sent to get me replies, 'you're parents were killed by a Dark Lord. They were magical and all around good people.' Not only that, but seeing as how the Dark Tosser's spell bounced off me and got him instead, the Magical World worships me like I was royalty. Well, the ones that weren't dark families anyway. But as you seem to know, Ranma, Fate is a fickle bitch. The leader of the light decides that I'll be safe from retribution if I live with family because of special magics from Mums' blood and sacrifice. Not that it protects me from my magic hating relatives. Anyway, despite being a really famous eleven year old, I almost die at least three times during that first year of school. It's the last one which is the worst. A professor tries to kill me, but I end up killing him instead. Sadly that's not the first time I kill, though usually it's evil beasties and not people, even if they are dark bastards."

Ranma couldn't leave the 'kill somebody' card unplayed, even if this game was too heavy to continue much longer. Looks like it was time to add a bit more to his earlier story about why he hated phoenixes.

"Saffron was the God-King of Phoenix Mountain. Ruler of the Phoenix tribe, half bird, half man and all trouble. I didn't want to kill anyone. Really. He just, he killed the girl I loved. Well that's not completely true. She was close enough to dead that I couldn't tell the difference. I cut him up like I did that flaming chicken earlier. Akane, that's her name... Akane comes back to the land of the living. Yay me. Then Saffron does too. Turns out he's got enough phoenix in him that the whole dying and getting reborn thing happens to him like clockwork."

Harry doesn't recognize the names, but the feeling is something he knows from his own past. "We both won the lottery for happy childhoods, didn't we?"

"You got that right. Okoay! Enough of this depressing male bonding crap for now! Lunch! And then... Jusenkyo curses. Not in general, just gonna teach you bout you're hot sexy girl bod. You are going to learn more about girls than any man should ever know. Even doctors. And then there's the water part of the curse, can't forget that."

"Aguamenti." Harry called, sparkle stick in hand.

The shaft of water hit Ranma dead on. Instant redhead sexpot.

"Very funny Harry. But don't think you'll escape my wrath."

Harry didn't like the look in Ranma's eyes. A good shield spell may come in handy.

"Protego!" Harry smiled.

Ranma snorts.

"It took you almost a whole second to do that. Two seconds if you count raising the stick. I'm not impressed Mister Wizard." Ranma began to draw some ki into her open palm. In less time than it took for Harry to cast his shield, a baseball sized glowing blue orb shot from her hand past Harry to strike a tree about ten feet behind him.

"Ha! Your aim could use some work."

"Not so, kid."

It was then that all of the water shaken free from the branches above thundered down onto the two of them. The protego failed to stop the brief torrent just as Ranma expected. All hail Jusenkyo.

The soaked blonde looked over to her red headed companion and said, "Right, what's for lunch then?"

Lunch was more fish, rice and veggies. No complaints there. Compared to the Dursley's house, this was a gourmet buffet of the highest order. And Ranma could really pack it in too. Harry didn't believe the 'growing girl' line even if those puppy dog eyes were formidable.

As nobody felt like continuing the angst fest so soon after lunch, Ranma began to fill Harry in on the joys of womanhood. Luckily, Harry's Weird-Shit-O-Meter spiked so long ago that feminine hygiene didn't freak him out nearly as much as it did Ranma back in the day. Sure, it was icky, but he'd get used to it. A boy his age needed some exposure to girl-germs anyway. As lunch comes to a close, Ranma ends his 'girls are not icky when they are you' speech, he closes with a parting shot at PMS.

"Really, after living with the curse for about seven years now, the only part of the curse that still feels like a curse is my monthly visitor."

Above Harry's head, a glowing light bulb and a lumos'd wand fight for dominance. "I know a Curse Breaker with loads of experience dealing with things like mummies and pyramids and the like. I could ask him to check up on this Valley and see if he can figure Jusenkyo out. Bill's supposed to be good at his job."

There was a bitter edge to Ranma's smile. "The greatest lesson I have learned since Jusenkyo is that you cannot escape the magic of the curse. Accept that you are now part girl, Harry."

Ranma's blue-gray eyes began to bore into Harry's curse altered crystal blue eyes.

She half whispered the rest, "I can't prove it, not yet anyway, but I have come to believe that Jusenkyo's purpose is to provide balance to those who lack it. I was raised to believe that girls were weak, taught that they were to be subservient to men. I was gonna make my father proud and be a man-among-men. Then we got to Jusenkyo. I went from being almost good enough for Father to being an eternal failure not even good enough to return to Mother."

The bitterness disappeared but a flat, defeated look took it's place.

"I learned the hard way, spent years looking for every cure I heard even the smallest rumor about. I saw magics you could never imagine even more powerful than that rainbow sparkly toy you got there. But it never worked. No cure ever worked for me. If I used the cure it failed. If a cure was guaranteed to work it was snatched from my fingers by the barest of margins. Worse, I could have been cured once, but had to blow the damn cure to pieces to keep Akane from joining me on the boy side of things. Karma can be an evil bitch at times."

Ranma looked to Harry for any visible reaction.

"Sorry, I'm not makin' much sense, am I?" The cursed redhead asked.

Harry thought about it for a minute. What could she come up with in her life that was balanced?

The blonde responded. "My life is seriously out of balance. Even if you forget that I'm nearly miserable enough to just up and kill myself on a bad night, I've got no control over my life and no idea about girls and love and all of that. So I pop myself clear across the biggest land mass on our planet to the very spot you think forces people into balance. And what do you know? I fall in to a magic pool which gives me boobies. It gives me good reason to learn about girls and also gives me a shiny magic stick of power. Oh, and I meet you, someone who has been cursed long enough to keep me from melting under the sheer weirdness. You make sure I don't run off into the wilderness thinking I'll never get my wedding tackle back. Even being here is helping keep my mind off other things... damn. Just reminded my self what was so bad I had to come here in the first place. Bad Harry."

Ranma knew how to get your mind off of things better than anyone alive. Intense physical training.

"Enough of this shit!" She got up, chest bouncing and capturing Harry's attention for a moment. Luckily, Ranma looked away and didn't see the slip. "Let's burn off lunch before I get my mother's hips!" A quick wink to Harry and Ranma was off like a bullet. Harry thought she was fit... for all of three minutes. Two hours later she was hacking out a lung and nearly dead on her feet. She stumbled up to Ranma who finally stopped zipping around like a deranged cricket. As Harry put her hands on her knees, Ranma grabbed Harry firmly about the waist, picked the younger girl up and tossed her into a pool of water.

"Oh, fu-"

-Sploooosshhh-

Harry came out of his shock shortly after righting himself in the pool. No knee length blonde hair. No bouncy top or mysterious lower bits. He was in a hot water spring. Nice.

"I find," Ranma started as she dropped into the pool and became a he, "that the best way to end a short hike in the woods is to relax in a hot spring. Wouldn't you agree?"

'Thank any God listening.' Mused Harry as he started to recover from his manic sprinting and the abrupt stop. "I was beginning to worry that I'd be a girl most of the time I was here in the valley.'

Later, there was a filling dinner followed by more story time. Both Harry and Ranma were careful to stay on topic, dragons, without going too dark. Harry elected to ignore the Basilisk due to it's being a bloody great snake and therefore not a dragon. The Hungarian Horntail was good enough to match Ranma's Orochi episode. Ranma was even impressed by the nonviolent victory. Maybe infusing ki into an object, like a broom, could give him a way to fly around. Something to think about after his current project.

Lord Voldemort tried to fill Harry's dreams with pain and misery that night. Maybe if he had been 10,000 km closer and had tried eight hours earlier he could have gotten somewhere. Oh, well. At least he had minions to punish.

End Chapter

REV 7/2012