And here is the next chapter! I was quite hoping to put Howl in this one, but I don't believe he'll appear till the next… Should I write the next from Howl's viewpoint? I think it would make the story a bit more interesting, because, at least to me, it seems terribly slow…
Oh, and by the way, I wasn't feeling overly inspired for this, so I went back and read every single review… XD I find it very funny that when Howl is mentioned, there are far more reviews.
Harry was bored. Absolutely and utterly bored. He had thought that when you were about to go off on some sort of adventure, some daring quest in order to restore life, or at least your gender, your time was filled with maps, strategic planning, and choices of weapons. That's how it was in the books, or at least the stories that the wounded soldiers brought home.
Apparently not, however. Currently, he was just holding open a bag, where Hermione continued to dump things that she considered 'essential'. At a bundle of what looked like cotton sticks, Harry opened his mouth to ask, but then shook it and decided against it. Truly, he didn't want to know. The boy turned girl shot a look over at Ron, who was sitting at Hermione's kitchen table. Discarded letters littered its pine surface, as well as the blue carpeted floor below it. Seriously ('no pun intended,' he thought with a twinge), why couldn't he help? But no, Hermione was worried that if he knew what was in the letter, the stupid curse might prevent him from giving it to Howl.
He sighed. Paranoid, much? "I've got it!" his freckled friend yelled, jumping out of his seat and brandishing the apparently completed letter fiercely, a victorious look on his face. Both Harry and Hermione jumped, the former because he was too close and felt as if his eardrums would split open, and the latter because of her fraying nerves.
"Ronald!" Hermione admonished, advancing on him with a predatory glint in her brown eyes, and her bushy hair ruffling dangerously. "Must you really scare us like that?"
Gulping, Ron took a few steps back, clearly afraid of an angry Hermione who had stretched nerves and was close to the breaking point. "Err… sorry?" he offered lamely, brandishing the letter as if it were a peace offering.
Hermione opened her mouth, looking as though she were about to give him a sever talking-to, before thinking better of it and closing it with an audible snap. Snatching away the letter, leaving Ron with his arm outstretched, relieved look on his face, her brown eyes poured frantically over the paper, growing more pleased with every word she read. Far too quickly, at least, that's how it seemed to Harry, she was beaming, delighted. "It's great, Ron, absolutely perfect!"
With that, she promptly hugged him. While Harry was used to her hugs, and she did them quite often, the redheaded boy didn't seem to know what to do for a moment, before, inventing a new shade of Weasley red as he did so, hugging her right back. As the hug began to last longer than the normal length, and neither of his friends looked close to letting go anytime soon, Harry sniggered, sending the two promptly jumping apart, beet red.
Harry grinned mischievously, sending them both looks, making them darken even further, before turning to Hermione, having not given up yet. "So, can I read that letter?"
"No!" she told him, crossing her arms as if it were final. Of course, Harry would never let it go with just that.
"Come on, 'Mione! What harm could it do?"
His bushy-haired friend huffed, rolling her eyes slightly. "Plenty." Ignoring his protests, she turned to Ron, whose face was slowly regaining its normal color. "Ron, get out."
He turned to her, scowl covering his freckled face. "Why is that, 'Mione? I'm as much in this as you are!"
To her credit, the girl wasn't rude to Ron. "Well, Ronald, seeing as Harry is now a girl, at least temporarily, I need to talk to him about the changes happening in his body." The color swept out of Ron's face, while Harry blanched. Hermione, however, shrugged. "So, I thought I'd have a little girl talk. If you want to stay, you can…"
Ron was gone before she even finished the sentence.
After a very embarrassing, possibly mentally-scarring conversation that Harry had buried deep, way deep into his memory and would be happy never to remember again, it was time to go. For him, that was. He was very adamant that his friends not go with him, and Hermione and Ron, who had returned, face redder than his hair, after some crying on Hermione's part, ended up giving in. The Boy-Turned-Girl had pulled the "family" card on them, saying how they couldn't just leave them, even with a note.
Then Ron had tried to turn the tables and flip it on him, but thankfully since Harry didn't have any real family, and though Mrs. Weasley was amazing and he wished she was his real mother, she tended to tip-toe around him after the whole "getting him away from the Dursleys" thing. She was just as mothering, and loved him the same, but she tended to be a tad cautious around him, like he was one of Fred and George's handmade bombs waiting to explode.
She was awkward with him, just hadn't quite figured out where his limits were. Normally, she would probably never care, but when the older red-haired woman read his medical record… He should just say that heads were rolling, that was for sure.
Now, with Harry winning all the arguments, though his two friends were still determined to come after him if a month went by and he didn't return, at first, it was a week, before he shot them down, it was time to go. Dressed in a dark green dress that Hermione steadfastly claimed "matched his eyes", the Boy-Turned-Girl fidgeted, uncomfortable, as his brunette friend double checked to make sure that nothing was, well, that he was proper.
Sighing, the hatmaker turned his eyes on Ron, begging for reprieve. "Come on, 'Mione. Harry's fine," the redhead told her, only to be greeted with a very enraged Hermione.
"Ronald Bilius Weasley!" she yelled at him, while the boy in question looked at least slightly relieved that there were no others in the Grangers' simple kitchen. "We need to make sure! He's going to Howl! What if, What if…" Quite a change from her anger, Hermione's bushy hair seemed to wilt as she worried her lip between her teeth, blinking back tears.
Ron, seeming regretful of his words now that she looked to be crying, stretched a hand forward, as if going to touch her, but drew back. He really didn't know how to deal with crying girls, with Harry being the exception. The boy in question spoke up, attempting to reassure his friend. "Hermione, I'll be fine," he told her, stepping across the wooden floor and taking one of her hands in his own. "If Howl goes pervy on me, well, I've got my invisibility cloak, don't I? And besides, you guys are coming after a month!"
Hermione sniffed, not her usual information sniff, but one that signified that she was about to cry. And cry she did, throwing her arms around Harry and hugging him tightly. The boy didn't even stiffen, used to her pouncing on him like that. "Oh, Harry! You have to be careful! You have to!"
Patting his friend encouragingly on the back, Harry shot Ron a look over the brunette, his expression blatantly screaming 'Help me!' The redhead merely snorted, quietly, of course, not wanting to bring 'Mione's wrath down upon himself again. With a long suffering internal sigh, the Boy-Turned-Girl spoke up, his expression resolute. "Hermione, I've been in worse scrapes. I can survive this, can't I?"
She pulled back, looking down on him, instead of up, as she normally would. Her eyes were red, and slightly puffy, as the bushy-haired girl worried her lip. Harry knew that she hated thinking about what he'd been through at the Dursleys, as both he himself and Ron did, but it was necessary in this case, that was for sure. "H-Harry…" she sniffled, releasing him in order to attempt to regain her composure. "J-Just, be careful, okay? You're so brave, and so loyal, and…" Hermione's lip quivered, signifying another cry coming on, but Ron decided to actually be nice and rescue his best friend.
"Harry, mate, you got to go soon." Both of them looked up at him, surprised at his interference. "If you don't get moving, you'll have to spend the night outside." The redhead shrugged, seemingly nonchalant, but Harry could see the pain and worry hidden just underneath. He was much better at hiding it than the only real girl in their group, but Harry could still read him, being the as close as they were.
"I'll be fine, I promise," he told the two of them, disentangling himself from Hermione, and hefting his bag onto his shoulder. At their two disbelieving looks, he felt a spark of irritation, though he knew it was only with worry over him. "Honestly, I will be. You two made sure I have everything, the note's in my pocket, and I know exactly where I'm going. Worrywarts." The boy added the last part underneath his breath, but judging by the tightening of 'Mione's lips, and the scowl forming on Ron's face, they had heard him.
Attempting to diffuse the situation, and perhaps escape from their anger, Harry decided to speak again, trying to make his eyes as wide and innocent as possible. Hermione snorted, but Ron actually blushed. Was it because he was a girl now? "Please, I promise I'll be careful. Remember, if I'm gone a month, then you come get me, okay?"
Ron didn't look happy, once again reminded of this fact, but he sighed, uncrossing his arms. "He's right, 'Mione. We should just let him go." Hermione looked quite scandalized by this fact, opening her mouth to speak, but the redhead beat her to it. "He'll be fine. He has to be." His best friend sounded defeated and sad, so Hermione, perhaps realizing this, shut her mouth, taking a deep breath.
"Fine. You need to go, Harry," she told him in a tightly controlled voice, as if shutting the lid on her emotions.
"I'll be fine, 'Mione," he told her, stepping through the tiled kitchen, mentally bidding the green walls good-bye before stepping out onto the porch. "I'll stay safe, I promise."
Her lip quivered once more as she and Ron followed him outside. "I'll hold you to that, you know."
The Boy-Turned-Girl grinned at her, his eyes shining with false brightness. "I know you will, 'Mione." The boy felt vaguely uncomfortable, unused to good-byes like this, but pressed onward, now turning to his best friend, Ron. "Take care of yourself, Ron," Harry told his best friend, feeling an unwelcome tightness in his (very different) chest.
The redhead merely nodded, hesitating for a moment, before pulling Harry in for a quick hug, releasing him from his strong arms very quickly. Ron's face was covered in an embarrassed blush, inventing a new shade of Weasley red as he refused to look at his surprised friend's face. "Just… be careful, mate," Harry found himself told, and the raven haired boy (girl?) merely nodding, feeling as though something in his throat was choking him from the inside out.
Not allowing himself to talk, Harry stepped down off of the porch, setting a rapid uphill pace, even though he was unused to walking and knew he would pay for it later. The two stares of his best friend's were feeling heavier and heavier on his back, and he feared that if he turned around, he'd go flying down the slope back to them, promising to never leave. Feeling the unusual weight of his chest, and the lack of weight between his legs, Harry kept walking, knowing he couldn't go back. Not until he had fixed this mess.
His legs burned, while his breath wheezed out of his lungs as he scrambled to gasp more air. Yeah, he had definitely been correct. Harry definitely shouldn't have walked so fast before, cause he was finally paying for it. Concentrating, and forcing his tired body to take yet another step upwards, the Boy-Turned-Girl cleared the top of the umpteenth hill, collapsing onto a rock that was embedded in the ground.
Merlin's baggy underpants, he was not ready for anything like this. Harry was used to sitting in a hat shop all day, well, making hats. When he went anywhere, the boy was used to taking the bus, not walking all that way. Obviously, he wasn't someone who did a lot of physical activity.
"Sssstupid human…" a voice came from nearby, making him jump. "Easssssy catch…"
"Hello?" Harry asked, his eyes wide as he looked around, trying to pinpoint the location of the person. "Who'ssssss there?"
There was a rustling in the bush right next to him, and the raven haired boy in a girl's body scooted to the edge of the rock farthest from it. Then, low and behold, a dark green snake head appeared out of the top of the bush, its tongue flickering out to taste the air, before it turned to Harry, whose face was stark white. "A ssssssspeaker…" it hissed, its reptilian eyes becoming large. "There'ssssssss more?"
It could talk. It could talk it could talk it could talk it could talk it could talk! Realizing that he hadn't taken a breath since the snake had started talking, Harry sucked in a breath, his face returning to its normal coloration. A snake was talking to him? Once he got that through his brain, the Boy-Turned-Girl was calm. Honestly, though? He had turned into a girl! Nothing was really surprising anymore! "Y-You can talk? I didn't know sssssnakesssss could talk…"
The snake made a series of garbled hisses which Harry thought was laughing, but he wasn't sure. "You are a ssssssspeaker. You ssssssssspeak my ssssspeak."
Frowning slightly, the boy translated the sentences in his mind, his eyes widening as he understood them. "I am ssssssssspeaking ssssssssnake tongue?" he exclaimed, startled at the possible revelation.
"Yessssssssss…" the snake told him, sounded somewhat irritated. "SSSSSSSSSSSSpeaker, I jussssssst ssssssssssaid that."
Harry was now officially very confused. "But how can I sssssssspeak a tongue that I don't know?" he asked quizzically, cocking his head.
The snake moved the top of his body in a funny bend, making Harry blink, startled. From what he was guessing, that was the snake equivalent of a shrug. Very very strange. "It'ssssss the way sssssssssspeakersssssss are…" the snake hissed, still sounding irritated.
Great. He had a pissed off snake telling him that he could speak the snake language – and it was probably poisonous. Just peachy. Harry opened his mouth to maybe ask more about these 'speakers' that he apparently belonged to, when the snake hissed again, its tongue flickering out to taste the air once more. "I sssssssenssssssse magic in you…" it hissed, making the Boy-Turned-Girl gape in surprise.
"Magic?" he asked the snake, recovering momentarily. "Like, I am a wizzzzzzzzzard?" Or was the snake just sensing the magic from the curse? It was possible, but for some reason, like a sixth sense of sorts, Harry didn't think so.
The snake in question nodded its flat head, staring at Harry with its non-blinking eyes. "Yessss… If you are trained, you sssssssssssssshould be a wizzzzzzzzzard." A wizard? Really? For a moment, the boy halted his thoughts, trying to think of where he could learn magic, someone he could learn it from, before inwardly laughing at himself. He was going to visit the wizard Howl, so he could tell him! Well… learn from him, until he was turned back into a boy. After all, Howl liked his little boys…
Shuddering at the mental picture that created, pretty much of him being bent over a table, with an older man… Well, it wasn't pretty. Maybe if it was someone younger? Picturing a fit man doing the deed, Harry nearly choked, face flaming at the thought of it. Bad thoughts, bad thoughts…
The snake, apparently irritated with being ignored, hissed quietly, before slithering out and onto Harry's arm. Immediately blanching, the boy didn't dare to move as the quite large snake pulled itself out of the bushes, slithering up his arm and gently relaxing around his neck. "What issssssssss you called?" the snake hissed quietly, lifted up its head off of his shoulder.
"H-Harry…" he told it, not even knowing that you could stammer while hissing. "What'ssssss yoursssss?"
"Nagini…" the snake told him, before promptly curling up around his neck and falling asleep. Well, Harry thought it was asleep. It didn't close its eyes, and the boy thought he had her from Hermione doing one of her informational rants that snakes couldn't close their eyes. Most of the time, he didn't pay attention when his bushy-haired friend got in a mood like that, but it was really hard to tune out every part of it.
Standing up, and trying not to jostle the snake, Harry took a few steps in one direction, before a hissing noise from around his neck forced him to stop. "Harry…" Nagini hissed, freezing the boy in his tracks. "There'sssssss a magic sssssssstraw body in the busssssshesssssss."
"Magical Straw Body?" Harry voiced out loud, slightly confused, before shrugging and turning out. Well, he was going to shrug, before he remembered the snake around his neck, and stopped himself immediately. Kneeling down slightly, and wincing as Hermione's voice instructing him not to get the dress dirty rang through his mind, the Boy-Turned-Girl began pushing through the branches of the bush, frowning slightly as he revealed the turnip head of a scarecrow.
"A scarecrow? Really?" Feeling as though he should at least humor the snake, so it didn't like eat him, or anything, Harry pulled out the scarecrow, then immediately gasped in surprise as it wrenched itself out of his hands and began jumping. "A jumping magical scarecrow?" the boy spoke, awe dripping from his tone, though he felt as though he should begin getting used to this. Honestly, being flirted with by a wizard, turning into a girl by a witch, speaking the language of snakes, and now a jumping scarecrow? Yeah, it really shouldn't be that shocking…
"Dragon…" Nagini hissed, and Harry jumped, having forgotten about… it. The snake hissed in displeasure, causing the boy the hastily apologize, before it continued with what it was saying. "He issssssss dragon…"
"Dragon?" Harry asked, slightly suspicious of the name, but the snake didn't speak up again; perhaps it was actually asleep this time. Turning to the scarecrow, who had starting jumping in a steady beat, he spoke up again. "A high jump for no, two short jumps for yes," the boy instructed the magical scarecrow, before posing its question, assuming that the… creature couldn't understand snake tongue. "Is your name Dragon? The snake told me it was."
It hesitated a moment, jumping steadily, before speeding its pace up and jumping quickly, much to Harry's surprise. "Oh!" he exclaimed, his voice coming out more girly than he would've like. "I thought it was kidding," the Boy-Turned-Girl explained, feeling slightly foolish.
Unsure of what to do now that he had a magical scarecrow and a sleeping snake accompanying him, Harry opened his mouth to, well, say something, though he wasn't sure what, when overhead, thunder rumbled, and he jumped. Blinking up at the sky, the boy was startled when a raindrop plopped out of the sky, landing right on his nose. Was it raining? Another one fell, landing on his hand. Then his dress. Cheek. Eyelash. Shoe.
Yup, it was definitely coming down, that was for sure. "Nagini," Harry hissed, trying to draw the snake's attention, but even with those eyes wide open (now the Boy-Turned-Girl was positive that Hermione had said they had no eyelids), the snake didn't stir. Sighing, Harry turned to the scarecrow, Dragon, and lifted one eyebrow. "So, what about you? Do you know any place?"
Feeling ridiculously idiotic, talking to a scarecrow, though 'Mione would've begun an interrogation by now, note-taking and all, Harry was surprised when Dragon hopped twice quickly, signifying a 'yes'. It began to hop away, before stopping and turning to face the wet girl. Hastily, though careful not to jostle the sleeping snake, Harry scrambled to his feet, not looking forward to getting even more drenched.
It was pretty much pouring by now, a fact which annoyed the Boy-Turned-Girl to no end as his dress got steadily soaked, clinging to him and making him intensely uncomfortable. He was well aware that if he showed up looking like this back home, Dean and Seamus would've immediately jumped him, and while liking boys, Harry was highly aware of every curve showing through his plastered on dress. He didn't like it. Not one bit.
Jumping as thunder echoed over the plains, Harry slipped slightly in the mud, falling to his knees, before scrambling back up again, following the scarecrow, who seemed to be headed for a bunch of trees. The boy tried to grasp his thoughts about something Hermione had said, about lightning and trees, but couldn't remember it, his mind too preoccupied with the thought that she would kill him once she found out about the dress. Gulping in apprehension, Harry dashed after Dragon, all thoughts of Nagini discarded, though she woke up hissing, displeased. Dashing under a curve of a bough, Harry stopped, surprised.
Inside the bunch of trees, seven or eight of them, there was a small circular clearing, and in it were the remnants of a camp. A burnt out fire pit, surrounded by rocks, a bag of some sort, and a tent. A tent. Grinning at scarecrow, Harry felt positively delighted, ignoring Nagini's hissed displeasure, which was dying down now that she understood what was going on. "Thanks, Dragon!" he told the scarecrow, and the boy swore that its stitched on smile grew a little bit bigger. Dismissing it to either a trick of the light, or magic, seeing as it was an enchanted scarecrow, Harry practically dove into the tent, paying no mind to who this might belong to or the mud on his clothing.
Collapsing on a bedroll inside, even though the only reason it was dark was the clouds in the sky, Harry listened to the sounds of the thunder, and the occasional flashes of lightning that he saw through the cloth. Nagini hissed grumpily as she slithered off of him, leaving Harry to curl up, swearing to himself that first thing in the morning, he'd go home. Definitely. Probably. Maybe. No?
Woo! I think that's my longest chapter yet, and I apologize for the delay. I was in a musical at my local theatre, which took up so much time I'm behind on school, so I probably shouldn't be writing this, and my cat died. :( Very sad.
But yay, more plot devices and characters! I was originally have Turnip-Head be his normal character, but… This is more fun! *giggles*
Plot Bunnies are also creeping up on me like none other, so if you have me on Author Alert, you might be seeing a bunch of random beginnings of stories. Unless I can restrain myself. Maybe. *ponders*
Please enjoy, and reviews make me want to write more. (Seriously, whenever I see a well written, thought out review, I feel guilty for not having updated yet.) Howl will be coming up next chapter, as well as another charrie from Harry Potter, taking the place of Howl's assistant person who I can't remember the name of. Cookies to the person who can guess him!