House-Elves, the OTHER other white meat...
In a compartment on board the Hogwarts Express, Harry stood, staring out the window at Platform 9 and 3/4. If he'd looked, he would have seen the Weasley's waving in a sea of parents and family. If he'd looked, he would have seen Padfoot bounding about like a maniac, with Sturgis Podmore and Mad-Eye Moody standing guard in the background. If he'd looked, he might have even seen Narcissa Malfoy glaring at him and subtly rubbing her backside after the playful swat he'd given it with his cane to try and lighten the mood.
He didn't see any of that, because he was staring at Tonks and Fleur, who were staring straight back at him.
The relationship the three had was a new thing to Harry. Their closeness wasn't the result of some shared battle against a troll, or a mutual hatred for a blonde jerk-off. They hadn't rescued a wrongly-convicted man or travelled through time, battling Dementors. Granted, Harry had competed against Fleur in the Triwizard Tournament and rescued her little sister, but that wasn't what started their friendship.
They were essentially three strangers who'd met up one day and decided to go shopping for clothes together. The two-day excursion had progressed to a movie, then lunch, then more movies after dinners. Soon, it seemed perfectly normal to be helping the two women pick out a new apartment, plus furniture to go in it, then acting as baggage bitch by bursting all of their belongings from their old places into their new place. A little house-warming party to break in the fancy new two-bedroom apartment, and Harry woke up the next morning on the fold-out-bed of the new sofa, spooned up against Fleur's back (who was snuggled between the phoenix and the Auror), with his wing covering and warming the two still-snoozing women perfectly.
In a way, theirs was the most normal relationship he could ever remember having with anyone.
And now he was leaving.
He'd spent time away from both women before. They both worked, after all. And he could always flame back to their apartment whenever he felt like it. It was just...them in London...him at Hogwarts. He hadn't even left the station yet, and he could FEEL the distance between them. Judging by the expressions on the two women's faces, they could feel it to.
The whistling at the front of the train, coupled with the screeching of metal as the train began moving, was painful for more than one reason, and it took a concious effort to stop from bursting off of the train, grabbing Fleur and Tonks, and carrying them back to their apartment for a day of vegetating. He resisted the urge, and in no time at all he was speeding off towards Scotland.
Harry blinked, lifting his forehead from the cool glass of the window. 'When did I lean against the window?'
Turning, Harry straightened up and smoothed out his new robes. "Yeah, 'mione?"
The brunette gestured down the carriage. "We should catch up with Ron and Ginny; they said they were going to look for a compartment further down the train."
Harry nodded. "Right. Here, hold this for a sec..." He handed Hermione Hedwig's cage, picked up the witch's trunk and stacked it on top of his own, before pushing both down the aisle.
Following after, Hermione frowned curiously at the ease with which he was pushing the heavily-laden trolly. "Isn't it difficult pushing that?"
Chuckling, Harry shook his head. "Not really. If Fawkes can fly up from the Chamber of Secrets with me, Ron, Ginny, and Gilderoy hanging onto his tail, then I can shove a couple of trunks around."
The next few minutes were mostly silent, with Harry poking his head into one compartment after another, while Hermione mumbled about the possible mechanics behind such a magical ability. Eventually they found Ron and Ginny sharing a compartment with Neville and a blonde girl reading a magazine upside down. Harry lifted the trunks and shoved them into the luggage rack, but didn't get a chance to sit down or even speak before Hermione caught him.
"Harry, we need to go to the Prefect's carriage, remember?" She frowned as she noticed something missing from Harry's robes. "Where's your prefect badge?"
Harry frowned in return. "Where's yours?"
The muggle-born reflexively glanced down and groped at the front of her robes, visibly relaxing when she found her badge pinned exactly where she left it. She glared up at a smirking Harry as he fastened his own badge to the front of his robes. "Don't do that! For a second there I thought I left it back...home. Back home."
"Don't worry, I'll make sure you never forget your preciousssss."
Hermione groaned, palming her face as Ginny and Ron snickered. "I should never have left those books lying around..." Snapping out of it, she grabbed Harry by the sleeve and dragged him out the door. "We'll be back in a little while, guys!"
"Why the hell did I agree to this, again?"
Hermione leaned closer to Harry so she could whisper without interrupting the Head Boy's speech. "You're a wonderful friend who has agreed to help me enforce the rules and set a good example for the younger students for the remaining school years."
"...no, really; why did I agree to this?"
"Something you'd like to add, Potter?"
Glancing up at Michael Thompson, the pointedly glaring Ravenclaw Head Boy, Harry shook his head. "Not really, no."
The older black-haired wizard nodded curtly, and began pacing the spacious Prefect's carriage once more. "So now you should all have a basic understanding of the weighty responsibilities and enjoyable perks of the Prefect position." He pointed to a table along one wall of the carriage, upon which rested of number of trays of food and drink and a neat pile of books. "I encourage all of you to take a copy of the Prefect Handbook and study it thouroughly for a more in-depth understanding of your new role in the school. You have the next half hour to talk amongst yourselves, get acquainted, and read through the books. It is customary for the fifth-year Prefects to choose the first passwords of the year for their respective common rooms, so give that some thought, too. In half an hour, Head Girl Erica Whyte will join you to answer any questions you may have, and to let you out of the carriage."
As the seventh-year wizard moved to leave the carriage, Hermione held up her hand. "Excuse me, but I have a question."
Thompson didn't even turn his head, let alone stop walking. "Read the book. If the answer's not in there, then ask Whyte." Whipping the sliding door to the side, Michael stepped out of the compartment and slammed the door shut behind himself, audibly locking it as he did so.
Harry growled softly as he glared at the closed door. "That man is a tool. /Accio Handbook/!" Snatching the flying book out of the air, the spliced wizard began to casually flip through it.
Hermione frowned, but wasn't particularly inclined to disagree with Harry's assessment of the Head Boy's character. Turning to the other new Prefect's scattered about the carriage, Hermione smiled brightly. "I think it's safe to say that we all know each other, at least by name, correct?"
All of the other Prefects nodded with varying degrees of enthusiasm... except for the Slytherins, of course. Pansy Parkinson was alternating between glaring at her Gryffindor counterparts, and glaring at the tall, dark-skinned boy lounging carelessy and silently on the same couch as herself.
Before she could go any further, Harry interrupted. "Hey, did you know that technically, it's against the rules for Prefects to go to the bathroom while they're awake?"
The other Prefects stared at a snickering Harry disbelievingly. Hermione shook her head in annoyance and leaned over to check the line of text Harry was pointing to. "I'm sure that's not the case..." After reading the rule, then an additional rule on an earlier page that Harry flipped back to, Hermione reluctantly changed her tune. "...well, I guess those rules COULD be interpreted that way. How did you find that so quickly?"
"Fred and George pointed it out to me yesterday, in one of their older brother's old handbooks."
Hermione groaned, fighting down a smile. "Those two... in any case, I doubt the teachers would enforce the rules to such an extreme degree."
Harry disagreed. "Snape would."
The dark-skinned Slytherin spoke up for the first time since entering the compartment, his voice calm and smooth. "Fortunately for you, you won't be having that problem, will you?"
Harry feigned confusion -badly, at that- before adopting a rather exaggerated look of wide-eyed realisation. "That's right, he disappeared, didn't he?"
Pansy snapped, leaping to her feet and snatching for her wand, stabbing it in Harry's direction once it was firmly in hand. "You know who did it, don't you Potter!? You know who took Snape, and Mister Malfoy, and all the others, DON'T YOU!?"
Grabbing the back of Pansy's robes, Blaise dragged her back into her seat. "Sit down and shut up, Parkinson."
"Don't tell me what to do you filthy bas-" Pansy's screeching stopped abruptly as the tip of Blaise's wand pressed into her neck. She glared at her housemate for a long moment, before reluctantly slipping her wand back into her pocket. When the wizard's wand was removed from her throat, she worked up the nerve to hiss at the wand's owner. "This isn't the end of this, Zabini."
Blaise said nothing, merely summoning his own copy of the Handbook, then tucking his wand away before starting to read.
Ernie Macmillan, the stout new male Prefect of Hufflepuff, cleared his throat, cutting through the tense silence. "Personally, I want to know what kind of security measures are being put in place after the Summer." He shuddered, disturbed. "Dementors flying about, people disappearing from all over the place, and worst of all, the Dark Lord coming back..."
The Ravenclaw Anthony Goldstein scoffed. "The Dark Lord isn't back."
Hannah Abbot crossed her arms and glared at him. "Then who killed Cedric? You don't honestly think that Harry was able to turn the Triwizard cup into an illegal portkey under all of the judges' noses, and kill poor Cedric, do you?"
"Well... not alone, no." The room went deathly silent as everyone, even Blaise, stared at Anthony. He fidgeted under their collective gaze for a moment, before steeling himself. "Potter certainly never told anyone his version of events, and Dumbledore told us squat, so what sounds more believable; that the Dark Lord is back after being DEAD for more than a decade, or that the Headmaster is covering up for his Golden Gryffindor after the nutcase did in the poor bastard for dating the girl he was interested in?"
Anthony, and several other people in the room, flinched when Harry suddenly stood and dropped the book on the couch he was previously seated. Reaching back, he deftly undid the somewhat complex fastenings doing the robe up around his wings, then neatly folded the black garment over the arm of the couch. He walked over to one of the windows, but paused before opening the portal. "...the Triwizard cup portkeyed me and Cedric to a graveyard, where one of Voldemort's lackeys was waiting. Said lackey killed Cedric and disabled me, then forcibly took my blood for a ritual that brought back Voldemort. Voldemort called his Death Eaters to him, then toyed with me for a bit before he got cocky and I escaped. End of story. I'm going to stretch my wings." Sliding the window open, Harry climbed out, then kicked off into the noon air, pumping his wings to gain altitude.
The various Prefects gaped at the open window in astonishment; they didn't know weather to be more astonished by his brief summery of the Dark Lord's rebirth, or by his bizarre exit. Ernie pointed to the window in question. "Am I going nuts, or did he really just fly out that bloody window?"
Hermione nodded, sighing. "Yes, he did. I was going to ask Thompson what should we do about spliced students, but I'll have to wait for Erica...and Harry, I guess." The blank looks on most of the Prefect's faces prompted an eye-roll from the lone muggle-born. "Honestly! Splicing is a recent muggle creation, where you can, in layman's terms, have the strengths and characteristics of almost any animal added to your own. Eyes like a hawk, speed of a cheetah, strength of a bear, endurance of a wolf, claws like cats... anything you can think of, really. And there's no dark or bloody rituals involved, it's cheap, easy, and only as permanent as you want it to be." She waved at the open window. "As you saw, Harry had bird wings added, and his eyes were fixed, too."
Some of the Prefects looked interested, but Pansy, for one, looked positively revolted. "Why in Merlin's name would anyone do that to themselves?"
Padma spoke up. "Why do people have their ears pierced, or get tattoos?"
The Slytherin girl shrieked her retort. "They are having animal parts stuck onto their body! It's bad enough we let mudbloods into the school, but to let freaks like that in as well!? I wont stand for it!"
It was dark by the time the Hogwarts Express rolled into Hogsmeade Station, and Harry watched it arrive from the roof of the station house. It was only once he'd decided to land back on the train that he realised how stupid he'd have to be to try; he was confident in his ability to fly around, and more so in his ability to burst, but landing on top of or bursting into a moving train had any number of inherent dangers, which he decided to simply avoid by bursting to the train's final destination; the nine hours usually spent on the train was spent wandering around Hogsmeade Village.
In any case, after a bit of flying and humming to himself, he was no longer feeling so intensely...whatever the complex bundle of emotions that had driven him into air had been. The only other time he'd gotten into that kind of mood during the holidays, Fleur and Tonks had taken care of it by smothering him with affection, and had made him promise to come to them if he ever felt like that again. If he didn't feel 100% by the time he'd taken the kids up to Gryffindor Tower, he'd 'turn in early' and burst back to the ladies' place for 'treatment'.
Spotting a familiar head of bushy brown hair in the crowd, Harry dropped off of the building, flapping his wings once to slow his fall, and then made his way to his fellow Prefect.
As soon as she spotted him, Hermione shouted out his name and all but pounced on him, grabbing him into a rib-cracking hug. "Harry, where on Earth did you get to? You didn't fly all the way here, did you? Oh, you missed so much; there was the rest of the Prefect meeting, and then Ginny introduced me to the oddest girl, then Malfoy showed up and he was so angry, and then a little girl showed up looking for you and Neville; apparently one of the new teachers wanted to meet the two of you in his compartment, and-" here, Hermione finally took a breath, then frowned and glanced up curiously. "-are you... PURRING!?"
Grinning, Harry wrapped his arms around her and hugged her back. "You're very huggable. And you smell nice. New shampoo?"
Slowly blushing red, Harmione squirmed out of his grip and backed away a little, trying to frown, but only managing a pout. "You weren't paying attention, were you?"
Harry looked mildly insulted. "Of course I was paying attention! I missed the meeting, you met a strange girl, Malfoy's having a shit-fit, the new teacher wanted to meet me, you've matured quite a bit over the Summer, and you smell very, very enticing."
Turning even redder, Hermione looked away, hiding somewhat behind her bushy hair as she feigned looking around. "We should find Ginny and Ron so we can all share a carriage to the castle."
Unfortunately, the Gryffindor trio was once more doomed to be kept apart by fate, as Harry spotted non-redheaded twins making their way throught the crowd, chatting animatedly. "Er... sorry Hermione, but I've got a way overdue apology to make."
"Excuse me?" Following Harry's line of sight, she easily spotted the Indian siblings. "You didn't apologise last year?"
The brunette shook her head and sighed, exasperated. "Boys! Well, get a move on then, before they get onto a carriage without you."
"You're a champion, 'mione. See you at the feast!" Squeezing the girl in a one-armed hug and pressing a friendly kiss to the top of her head before leaving, Harry then bounded off towards the Patil twins. He came to a stop in front of the identical duo, interrupting their conversation in the process. "I'm sorry for butting in, but I've got a seriously overdue apology to make to the two of you - Parvati in particular - and I was wondering if I could share your carriage while I begged for forgiveness like the insensitive slime that I am?"
The two extremely attractive Indian teens, one with a Gryffindor patch on her robes, the other with a Ravenclaw patch and a Prefect badge, glanced at each other, then at Harry and his new physique in his new clothes, then back to each other, silently conferring as twins do, before turning back to the boy who lived and answering simultaneously.
Yeah, patil Twins! If you haven't guessed, this is going to be a kind of Harry/Multiple or Harry/Harem fic.
Just a friendly warning.
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