The Many Faces of Harry Potter 19

“The Many Faces of Har—er, Adira Potter: Chapter 19”
By = Fayanora

Chapter Nineteen: Home

Note 1: Text in 'Italics and British quotes' is Parseltongue.

Note 2: Once more, I apologize for any bits and pieces of canon dialogue/narration here and there. It's been frustrating me, too, but some things are just too perfect already to change.

Note 3: I have different styles for the internal speech of Alastair, Harry, and Zoey, and now #Iliana (bold, italic, underlined, and now between hashtags/pound signs because some people's computers don't do the B.I.U.).#

***FAYANORA***

Quite apart from anything else that day, even the pleasure of putting Malfoy and his cronies in their place, was the look of resigned horror on Madam Rosmerta's face when she saw both Al and Sirius together in her bar, like she'd been afraid this would eventually happen, and had been hoping it would be a few more years before that day came.

“Alastair Potter and S-Sirius Black, in the same room together. Blimey, Sirius, I've only started getting used to the idea of you having been innocent this whole time, and you drop this on me?”

Sirius and Al both barked with laughter, slightly out of synch with one another.

“Sorry, Rosmerta, but I didn't plan this.”

“Nor did I,” Al said. “We were gonna have Iliana come today, but she, er... wasn't feeling well.”

Sirius looked at Al shrewdly. So did Rosmerta. But neither commented.

“What would you two troublemakers like to drink?”

“I'd k—er, I'd like a firewhiskey,” Sirius said.

“Same for me,” Al said, putting his feet on the table. The two adults glowered at him. “What?”

“You're too young, pup,” Sirius said.

Al sighed. “Fine. I'll have a butterbeer.”

“Good. And you two?” she asked Ron and Hermione.

“Two butterbeers,” Hermione said.

“Be back soon with your drinks,” Rosmerta said. “Do try to not demolish the bar before then.”

“You wound me, Madam,” Al answered melodramatically. “You wound me to my very core.”

She snorted, and left to get their drinks. Al eyed her backside appreciatively. Then he nudged Sirius, who was also leaning back with one foot on the table, and said, “You and her ever, you know...?”

Sirius nearly fell over, he laughed so hard. “Don't I wish. But she was always immune to my charms. Don't think I've ever seen her take to anyone, to be honest. But then, I've been a bit out of touch for a while, so who knows?”

The door opened, and McGonagall and Hagrid walked in. McGonagall looked stricken when she spotted Al and Sirius, as though she'd had nightmares about this.

“Minerva, are you feeling well?” Sirius asked her.

“To be honest, Sirius, I'm not. Ever since Madam Pomfrey told me about the first time you two met, I've been dreading it happening again.”

“Seems to be a theme,” Al commented. “I can't for the life of me think why, though,” he said, grinning.

“Blimey, I knew yeh looked like 'im, Al, but seein the two o' yeh together like this... blimey.”

“Yeah, it's one of life's little mysteries. I'm still not entirely convinced Sirius isn't somehow a literal second father.”

Sirius really did fall off his chair that time, cursing like a sailor as he scrambled to get back up while everyone laughed at him. Red in the face and ears, he righted his chair and sat normally on it before speaking.

“There'll be none of that talk, Alastair. Lily was cool, but she wasn't that cool, and even if she was, it's quite impossible. You heard Madam Pomfrey.”

Al shrugged.

Rosmerta came over then with their drinks, and got the two new orders at the same time, going back to the bar. When she'd left, McGonagall turned to Al and looked sternly down her nose at him.

“By the way, Mr. Potter. I found something rather unusual on my way down here today. Or rather, Hagrid did. His foot hit something invisible. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you?”

Al shrugged. “No, Professor McGonagall. Could it have been a demiguise?”

“No, Mr. Potter, I think not, since demiguises are native to the far east. Besides which, it was three Slytherins, trussed up and Disillusioned and left at the side of the path. Misters Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle to be specific.”

Sirius nearly choked on his firewhiskey, laughing. Their letters to him had told him all about the three Slytherins.

“Sounds like they got themselves into quite a predicament. Good thing you found them, Professor. I wouldn't want them to get hurt.”

“In point of fact, Mr. Potter, that was a rhetorical question. I know full well you're responsible. I just wanted to know if there were any extenuating circumstances before I meted out punishment. Which I will be doing regardless of your answer, but I may be predisposed toward leniency if the situation calls for it.”

“Well, we were just walking along when the three of them ambushed us to have a little chat with us. Malfoy seemed to think I'd done something to him, and I couldn't convince him otherwise. Our argument may have gotten a little heated. But he and his goons attacked first.”

“I see. Well, I shall be punishing them for attacking first, but you will attend detention tomorrow night at 7 o'clock; come to my office then. Also, I will be taking 15 points from Griffindor for what you did to them.”

Al arranged his face into a passable semblance of remorse. “Of course, Professor. I'll be there.”

“Yes. You will indeed be there. Not Zoey, not Adira, not Iliana, nor Tier. You.

“Ten-four, Professor.”

She blinked at him, confused.

Hermione sighed. “That's something Muggle lorry drivers and walkie-talkie users say to mean that they've heard you and understand.”

“Oh. Good. Now I'm going to go over there and enjoy my drink. See you later, Mr. Potter. And do try to avoid further trouble.”

“Ten-four, Professor,” he said again, saluting.

As she and Hagrid left their table, they heard snickering from the table behind them. They turned to look, and saw the Weasley twins.

“That was brilliant, mate!”

“Lovely! And you only lost 15 points!”

“Yeah, she must've thought they deserved what you did, for waylaying you.”

“What was it you did to him, pup?” Sirius asked him.

Al grinned, and started to tell them all, in detail, what Zoey had done to Malfoy, careful to couch it in rhetorical terms, in case any of the teachers could hear him. When he finished, he leaned back and smirked while everyone but Hermione laughed themselves silly. Hermione just rolled her eyes and sighed.

“Honestly, you are just impossible,” she told him.

“Not impossible. Just highly improbable.”

When their drinks were finished, Al and Sirius got up and left the main group to go off and do their own thing together. They went to Honeydukes, where Sirius got a generous amount of chocolate for Al and company, as well as some for himself. Then they spent a lot of time in Zonko's, getting various joke supplies and laughing it up.

It wasn't until a running student accidentally splashed mud all over Sirius's robes that they noticed he had a wand, when he took it out to clean himself off.

“You got a new wand?”

“What? Oh, no. It's my original wand. Got it back after I got pardoned. Fudge himself came to St. Mungo's to give it to me.”

“Your original wand? But when Hagrid got expelled, they broke his.”

“Well yes, he was expelled. Can't have unqualified wizards using magic. But prisoners just have their wands confiscated.”

“Oh, okay. Hey, I just thought something. Since Hagrid's name got cleared, is he going to be trained up and given a new wand?”

“Hmm... I don't know. Sounds like something to take up with Hagrid. Or Dumbledore. Or both.”

“Well if so, he'll have to get a new one. He's been using his old wand, which is an umbrella now, and it's a miracle it works at all. After Ron's wand broke down in the Chamber of Secrets, he had to get a new one. Of course, his had been among the walking dead for some time before that, so maybe it's different with Hagrid's.”

“Possibly. Dumbledore or Ollivander would know for sure.”

They went back to the Three Broomsticks and sat down together to talk.

“So, how are you, you mangy mutt?” Al teased.

“Oh, on the mend. Healers keep saying I should be well enough to be released by Easter. I hope so. Getting stir crazy in that hospital. At least they keep bringing me plenty to read, and I get the occasional day trips. This one, you may have noticed, is unsupervised. But they have a tracking spell on me so they can fetch me up when they want to.

“Anyway, let's see, what else? Ah yes, I've been allowed to talk with the goblins, and I've got access to the Black family vault again; I haven't actually been in there, yet, but I've been getting money again. I've been trying to see if I can get a flat for us by the time I'm released from St. Mungo's. The Healers haven't been thrilled about it, but they've been letting me carry on anyway. I've got a few places to look at, which means more day trips. Been trying to arrange things so I can check multiple places out on the same days, because until they let me go, the number of day trips they let me have is limited. But I should have a place squared away soon. Which reminds me, I'll have to talk with Dumbledore about letting you come with me to look at places.”

“What? Why?”

“If we're both going to be living there, we should both like the place we pick, right?”

“Oh, yeah. Good point. Well, as long as it isn't 4 Privet Drive in Surry, and as long as I have my own room, I don't care about anything else.”

“Yeah, but don't settle for shit when you can get gold, okay? I only wish we could go to my old flat, the one my uncle helped me pay for, before Azkaban, but my possessions were seized when I was thrown in there, and the old flat has different people in it now. I know, I checked.”

“Well it sounds like fun. I've never lived in a flat before. Never even been in one. The Dursleys own their own house, and so do the Weasleys.”

“If you're getting your ideas about flats from television, pup, don't. Wizard flats are different. They look like normal Muggle ones on the outside, but inside they're as huge as one can afford. The one my uncle got me was only a little smaller than my parents' house, on the inside.

“Anyway, after we pick a place, I'll have to have goblins and some trusted friends in to set up the wards. I want to keep you as safe as possible, like I should have been able to do before.”

He paused, scowling.

“Sirius?”

“Gods, I was such an idiot. I should have gone straight to Dumbledore and explained the truth. He can always tell when someone's telling the truth or not. Should've gone to Dumbledore, rather than trying to murder the traitorous rat myself. Seeing the house blown up like that, two of my best friends dead, and a third was a traitor... I must've lost my mind. Temporary insanity.”

“Eh, don't dwell on the past. What's done is done.”

“Good advice, pup.”

Sirius tousled Al's hair playfully. Then he looked at Al in a strange sort of wistful way.

“Knut for your thoughts?”

“Oh. It's just... I suppose Adira's in there, right? Is she awake? Is she listening?”

“Hanging onto your every word. Offering occasional comments, suggestions for things to say.”

“Good, good. I just... this whole thing is very odd. I know I've been hiding my confusion well, but, well... yeah. Still trying to make sense of this whole thing.”

“You and us both. But at least you don't avoid talking to us, and then talk about us behind our back, like most of the students and some of the teachers do. At least, I hope you don't.”

Sirius hugged him. “Nah. It's unusual, for sure, but I love you, all of you. Though I don't think I've met everyone yet. Let's see, I met Adira, Iliana, and you. Who does that leave?”

“Zoey and Tier.”

“Ah yes, the little mischievous pixie and the strong, silent one.”

Al chuckled. “Yeah, pretty much. Do you want to meet Zoey now?”

“Only if it's okay with you lot.”

Al nodded. “See you later, Padfoot!”

Before Sirius's eyes, Al shrunk down to Zoey.

“Striking eyes,” Sirius said. “Looks like one is Lily's, the other is... blue?”

Zoey nodded. “Just like Al's.”

“Blue, green, and hazel, all in one body, eh?”

She shrugged. “I guess.”

“So I hear you're a dab hand at transfiguration.”

“I'm a natural. Tier is a natural at transfiguring the body, I'm a natural at transfiguring other stuff. I don't even need a wand!”

“Really? Can I see? That's a heck of a thing to claim, I'm gonna need proof.”

“Sure,” she said, grabbing her used butterbeer bottle and concentrating on it, both her empty hands on the table, in plain view. And before his eyes, the bottle morphed into a small bird, which hopped around the table and twittered.

“Amazing!”

“Yeah, I guess so,” she said shyly. “I don't do so well with a wand, though. On transfiguration, I mean. I'm just as good as the others with most spells, but the wand kinda holds me back when doing transfiguration.”

Sirius let the little bird hop onto his finger, admiring the realism. It was indistinguishable from a real bird.

“My mood seems to affect it, too. In a bad mood, trying that, it would look like a lump of melted glass, and not a bird. Oh, and by the way, don't touch it too hard, it might break.”

“Break?”

“Like glass. I may be a prodigy at transfiguration, but I've still got a lot of learning left to do. And I couldn't do that at all with a wand.”

Sure enough, when the bird hopped down off his hand, its legs broke under it like colored glass, and it started to panic, twittering like mad. Zoey, looking sadly at it, concentrated on it, and turned it back into a bottle.

“Oh, by the way,” she said, changing the subject, “I should show you Aqua!”

“Aqua?”

'Come on out, Aqua,' she hissed in Parseltongue.

From out of the sleeve of her robes came a very annoyed looking garden snake.

'You know, it is very hard to sleep when you keep changing back and forth.'

'Sorry, Aqua.'

'You are forgiven, human. Now, what did you call me for?'

“Bloody Hell,” Sirius said in wonder. “So Dumbledore wasn't lying, you really are a Parselmouth.”

“Yup. I was speaking it when Dumbledore overheard, and told me the significance. We tried to keep it a secret, but that didn't work out so well.”

'Well, human? Are you going to answer me?'

'Sorry. This is my godfather, Sirius Black.'

The snake turned to Sirius and flicked its tongue out at him.

'He does not look black to me. More of a whitish color to me. Except for his fur; that is black.'

She giggled. Sirius raised an eyebrow.

'It's not his color, it's his name.'

'His name is Serious Black?'

'No, not Serious. Sirius, the dog star. The north star.'

'He smells like both a human and a dog.'

'He's an animagus. He can turn into a dog.'

'Fitting name for him, then.'

She giggled again.

“What's it saying?”

“She's saying... well, I told her your name, and she thought I was describing you as serious and colored black. Then I told her you're named after the dog star, and told her about your animagus form. She said it was a fitting name for you.”

“Yeah. I've long wondered about that. I suspect the universe has a sense of humor. After all, Moony's given name and surname both mean 'wolf.'”

“Wolf Wolf?”

“Yeah.”

She giggled again.

There was a silence for a bit, while Zoey looked thoughtfully at Sirius. He looked back at her curiously.

“Sirius?”

“Yes, Zoey?”

“Would you give me a piggy back ride?”

Sirius chuckled at this. “Sure thing, moppet. Where should we go?”

“You could take me down to the Shrieking Shack.”

“Alright, then.”

The two of them went outside then, and once outside, Sirius lifted Zoey up and set her down on his shoulders. She held onto his head and giggled as he started down to the Shrieking Shack.

“Lucky thing I've been getting stronger, with the physical therapy St. Mungo's has been putting me through. I doubt I'd have been able to do this around Christmas time.”

“So high!”

Sirius laughed again, thoroughly enjoying this as much as Zoey was.

“This is amazing, Sirius! I've never had a piggy back ride before!”

“Oh, you have. You just don't remember. Or, Adira has, rather. Back before... well... your mum and dad gave you piggy back rides. I may have done so, too.”

“Yeah, but I don't remember those.”

~

On Monday morning, something else they'd forgotten to do came to mind, and – hoping it wasn't too late – Adira wrote a letter to Mrs. Weasley in which she came out as trans.

Dear Mrs. Weasley,

I meant to do this sooner, and then got distracted and forgot. I can only hope that you get this before you hear it from other sources. I don't know how much opportunity you will have to use this information, for I will be spending the summers with my godfather, Sirius Black, from now on. That is, once he gets a flat chosen, and gets out of St. Mungo's.

Anyway, I've veered off course. I have come to a realization about myself over the last year, something that was hinted at to me around Christmas of my first year in Hogwarts, that I need to tell you. And it never gets easier, each person I tell, but here goes: I am actually a girl, in mind and spirit. I mean “Harry,” not Iliana or Zoey. I thought I was a boy, since that's what I was always told, but I'm actually a girl. I will be looking into changing my name legally over the summer, to my new name: Adira Lily Jamie Potter. Please do not use my old name or pronouns, okay? But if you make mistakes, I won't bite your head off, so no worries there.

Well even with staying with Sirius, I hope to visit you all at the Burrow at least once, maybe on my birthday.

I also thank you for being understanding about Al's previous anger, moot as it may be now. I was very worried he'd damaged our relationship with his letter. So again, thank you.

Sincerely,
Adira Potter

Satisfied with the letter, she put it in the envelope and went out the portrait hole to go to the owlery. When she closed the portrait, she noticed the Fat Lady was back.

“Oh good, you're back!”

“Yes. No thanks to your godfather,” she said testily.

“Er, yeah. He was a bit mad, obsessed with getting at Pettigrew. He wasn't really thinking clearly.”

“You tell him I expect a formal apology from him, and he's to call ahead first. I want some extra security around when he comes to apologize, because I still don't trust him.”

“I'll let him know, ma'am.”

“Good.”

Adira nodded and left. Wary of running into Malfoy, she made sure to keep her eyes peeled, and even checked carefully inside the alcove Zoey had stowed Malfoy in, in case he'd worked its secret out. But there was nobody in there, so she continued on up to the owlery, still alert.

Luckily, nobody else was there, so she tied her letter to Hedwig and sent the snowy owl off to the Weasleys, after giving her some owl treats. Then she warily headed back downstairs, and on to breakfast.

On her way to Potions later in the day, she was glad to have been free of Malfoy's revenge so far, but she half hoped he'd strike soon to get it over with. Hermione and Ron looked at her curiously, but she didn't explain her worries.

When the three of them arrived at Potions class, they were early. They were also faced with the Slytherins. Malfoy and his cronies were looking especially horrible today, wearing malicious expressions as they talked quietly.

“Speak of the devil,” Malfoy said when they approached. “Here's the it now. I wonder what it thinks it's doing here, polluting our air with its freakish disease.”

The Slytherins laughed. Adira tried to ignore him.

“Bad enough it's an attention-seeking nutter pretending to be a whole load of different people, but now it thinks its a girl. Mark my words, the one that looks like Black will probably be asking us to call it Miss Pouf by Easter.”

Ron balled his fists and looked to Adira questioningly. Adira, despite being furious herself, ever so slightly shook her head 'no.'

Al? Are you in there? I could use some clever comebacks.

Al was in there, alright. She felt an answering fury from him. But he was too incensed to speak. The way Malfoy was using the word 'it' was seriously pissing him off.

“Don't be rude, Draco,” said an unfamiliar voice from among the Slytherins. Everyone who had been laughing stared in shock at the source, a black boy Adira recognized as Blaise Zabini. Blaise was presently staring down his nose at Malfoy.

Recovering his wits, Malfoy turned red with anger. “What are you doing, Zabini?”

“What I'm doing, Malfoy,” Blaise said, “is choosing to disregard the usual Slytherin unity to call you out for behaving in a disgusting manner.”

This shocked everyone in the vicinity, especially Adira. Malfoy was gaping at him like a fish. Crabbe and Goyle recovered first, and cracked their knuckles threateningly. Blaise, however, ignored them and stepped toward Adira.

“Potter,” he said, inclining his head.

“Zabini.”

“Let me just make one thing clear: I don't like you, Potter, and I don't agree with you on a lot of things. I also don't know what to make of this whole... being other people business. Seems very weird to me, at least. That said, I just wanted you to know not all Slytherins are going to be horrible about your gender, like Malfoy. I support you in that much. And everyone else should, as well,” he finished, giving Malfoy a haughty look, before turning back to Adira.

Zabini held out a hand for Adira. Stunned, she took it and they shook hands.

“Thank you, Zabini.”

“You are welcome, Potter.”

They stopped shaking hands, and Blaise went back to his previous place, though about a third of the other Slytherins moved away from him.

Malfoy looked like he was going to say something, but then Snape appeared, by opening the door.

“Mr. Malfoy,” Snape said coldly. “I have just heard your entire conversation through the door. And as amusing as it normally is when you taunt Miss Potter, your behavior in this case may be hurtful to other students who are also transgender, but are not open about it, which may or may not include members of your own House, a consideration that plainly did not cross your mind. So you will serve a detention with me later, Mr. Malfoy. You will stay after class to find out when and where it is. And if I ever hear you belittle someone's gender again, it will be a week's worth of detentions, am I understood? Good. Now I suggest you go take your seat. ALL of you!”

Everyone jumped, and rushed to get through the door as soon as possible.

“Now, the potion we will be doing today...” she heard Snape say before she found it too hard to focus.

That was... odd. Zabini and Snape both being so...

I know, Al answered. Too weird for words. I wonder if Zabini is trans? Or knows someone who is?

Doesn't need to, necessarily, to be a good ally.

“Miss Potter!”

“What? Sorry, Sir.”

“Please pay attention, Miss Potter. This potion is very tricky, and despite the fact that you – or one of you, anyway – have proven to be better than average in this subject, you will need to pay very close attention to avoid a cauldron explosion today. I will not tolerate repeating myself today, so I will be handing out detentions to any student who needs to be told a second time to pay attention and concentrate only on their work. Understood?”

Adira nodded vigorously. So did everyone else, when Snape's gaze panned in their directions.

“Good. Now, moving on...”

~

“That was weird! First Zabini, then Snape!” Ron exclaimed on their way out of class.

“Yeah. And I think he actually complimented me on my Potions skills, in his own way. Or rather, Iliana's skills.”

“Did he?”

“Yeah, he mentioned we're 'better than average' at Potions. Which, coming from Snape, is high praise indeed.”

“Blimey.”

“You know... it's only been a month since the whole school got told about me being Adira, but I've already noticed Snape has seemed to hate me a little less since then. The first time I showed up as Adira in his class, I could swear he almost smirked at me. That was the day he started being more lenient with me than before. I mean, he's still a hard-ass, but he doesn't seem to be hunting for excuses to pick on me in class anymore.”

“Weird. I wonder what that's about?”

“Yeah, me too. I mean, his attitude toward Iliana I get, because he fancied my mom and she's a painful reminder of Lily's death to him. I understood that something similar was going on with me as Harry, because I have Lily's eyes and look like my dad, even as a girl. And he hates Alastair because he hates Sirius. But now, I don't know.”

“Didn't he hate your dad, too?”

“Yeah, he does.”

“Hmm... maybe the fact that James's son is now a girl amuses him?”

Adira thought about that. “Yeah, that sounds possible. A little bigoted of him, but that's Snape for you.”

~

After that, the days went by in a fairly regular fashion. They went to classes, they practiced Quidditch, they did homework, and they continued working on the Patronus Charm. Ginny slowly warmed back up to them, talking with Iliana and Al, though still unable to speak with Adira. Adira reached out more to Luna and Neville.

She got a letter back from Mrs. Weasley. It wasn't very long, and didn't address her previous letter's contents directly, just asking after her well being and mood, as well as sharing some news of the family. The only sign that Mrs. Weasley had gotten the previous letter was that the letter was addressed to Adira by her new name. This made Adira smile.

As she read the letter for a second time, Percy Weasley came downstairs, looking furious.

“Ah, Adira. Have you seen either of the twins lately?”

“Uh, no. Why?”

“Because those two put a load of grass snakes in my trunk. I want them to take the dratted things out, and I also want to drag the two of them to McGonagall. If they're going to keep targeting me for their pranks, then they're going to pay the price.”

“They do seem to pick on you an awful lot. I think it means they like you, ironically.”

“I find that unlikely. They like you a lot, but have you ever been pranked?”

“Um... not much. Maybe they're afraid of Al hexing their legs backwards?”

Percy snorted in disbelief. Adira prodded his feelings with her empathic sense, and got rather a lot more information than she'd expected.

“You know, it occurs to me now that everything you achieve, they tease you about. I know for a fact that they like you, but, well... that doesn't excuse their behavior.”

Percy looked relieved. “I'm glad someone else sees it. And it's not just the twins, either. I never hear a positive word from Ron, either.”

“I dunno about the twins, but Ron gets really jealous. He wants to outshine Charlie and Bill, too. He's probably sore that yet another older brother is doing so well for himself. He already feels like he's got too much to live up to, and then you keep raising the bar. It doesn't excuse his being a berk, but it does explain it.”

Percy sat down next to her and sighed heavily. “Thank you, Adira. It is exhausting, being excited about things, and the only people in my family who've ever had a positive word to say about it being mum and dad. I just want the others to be proud of me. I work hard for everything I get. I'm taking every class in the syllabus, too. Unlike Hermione, I've actually been managing it well enough.”

“Oh, so do you have a time turner too?”

“Er... told you about that, did she? I rather thought she was more sensible than that.”

“Only after she'd turned it in. I think she didn't consider you might have one too.”

“Yes, well... I guess the kneazle is out of the bag, now.”

“I won't tell anyone. Not even Ron or Hermione.”

“Thank you, Adira. I keep it on me at all times, but still... I worry what the twins would do with it if they found out.”

She nodded. “Well I'm happy for you, even if I didn't say it before. Head Boy is quite an achievement, on top of Prefect. I hope to do as well as you someday. Of course, I'm not doing every subject like you, but still...”

“Thank you, Adira. I appreciate it.”

“Would you like me or Iliana to speak with the twins and the others about their behavior? We can do it without making it seem like you asked us. Which you didn't.”

“I suppose you can try. I think Iliana is the only person aside from Mum that the twins really listen to. I think she intimidates them.”

“Yeah, she has that effect. Anyway, I don't know where they are, but I could get those snakes out of your trunk for you. I don't imagine they like being in there.”

“Thank you again. I'll show you the way. Follow me.”

She nodded, and got up. A few minutes later, she was gently coaxing the grass snakes out of the trunk in Parseltongue and telling them to follow her and she'd guide them back outside. Shortly thereafter, she was seen by many people, being followed by at least a dozen snakes as she guided them down to the entrance hall and out the door.

“That was cool, Adira!” George said as she came back in. “Were those the snakes we put in Percy's trunk?”

She glowered at them, crossing her arms. Despite being much taller than her, the two twins cowered at her glare.

“Yes, those were the snakes you bullied your brother with.”

“Bullied? I wouldn't say we--”

“Well I would. I grew up with a bully, I know what bullying is like. Pranks should be funny for everyone involved. Snakes in Percy's trunk is not a funny prank. Nor is, let's see,” she thought, counting on her fingers, “stealing his Head Boy badge and changing it to say 'Bighead Boy,' mocking the way he speaks when he's proud and trying to bring it up to people, putting beetles in his soup, pushing him into a pyramid, teasing him about having a girlfriend, and who knows what else over the years?”

“But that was all in good fun,” Fred said as though he didn't really believe his own words.

“Look at it from Percy's perspective: constantly teased, never a positive word said to him, and whenever he's justifiably proud about something he's worked hard for, he gets mocked by you and Ron, and occasionally Ginny, too. You may be intending these things in good fun, but well intentioned actions can still hurt. Percy doesn't let on much, but it does make him rather grumpy, maybe you've noticed that much.”

“He's always been grumpy, though,” said George. “We were trying to make him loosen up.”

“Perhaps. But he's not you, the things that would loosen you two up don't work on him. Percy responds more to respect. He wants people to be as excited about his achievements as he is. Would you mock Hermione's way of speaking after she excitedly started going on about getting a great score on a test? Or after she had managed to perfect the use of difficult magic?”

The twins looked shame-facedly at one another before responding. “Of course not!” Fred said. “That would be mean! She'd be hurt!”

“And yet that's the sort of thing you do to Percy all the time.”

They stared, first at her, then at each other, as though they'd never thought about it before. Which they likely hadn't.

“Blimey, George, she's right! We've been a pair of jerks for years now!”

“How do we apologize? He'll be expecting it's another prank.”

“I could go with you,” Adira said.

“Thanks, but still, what do we say?”

“You'll think of something. Come on, no time like the present.”

She prodded them forward and they made their way up to Griffindor tower, the twins talking all the way, trying to figure out how to make it up to Percy.

When they got there, Percy looked surprised to see them. He looked even more surprised to see their plainly abashed body language. He sat there and listened quietly as they stumbled through an apology, one that ended up being long and rambling, the twins talking about what Adira had told them, and how they'd not intended, consciously at least, to be mean to him.

“...and yeah, we know we tease you about everything when you're proud about stuff, because you have a tendency to sound stuffy and boring, but that doesn't make it right. The fact that we're not interested in the same things as you are doesn't mean we aren't proud of you. You do work hard, we should let you know once in a while that we're happy for you, if a bit put out by the repetitiveness of it.”

“Yeah, Perce, what he said. Also, I'm sorry if our pranks have been mean spirited.”

“We both are.”

“We'll be better, we swear. We won't play any pranks on you until we can figure out what'd be actually in good fun for you.”

“Or otherwise work out a way to balance things out.”

Percy regarded them curiously. When they stopped speaking, he turned to Adira.

“Are they telling the truth?”

“Yes. I can usually tell when people are lying; Snape and Dumbledore being exceptions. They're being honest.”

“Good. I accept your apologies, Fred, George. But I'll keep an eye on you, and call you out if you slip up.”

The twins grinned sheepishly. “Fine by us.”

Percy held out his hand, and they took turns shaking it.

“I'll get Ron later, Percy,” Adira told him.

“Good, good. Thank you for your help, Adira.”

“No problem.”

~

Adira told Ron off for his behavior towards Percy the next day. Ron was angry and defensive at first, but then the more Adira spoke, the more abashed he looked. He ended up apologizing to his brother by the end of the day, which pleased both Percy and Adira. Percy, surprising even Adira, actually hugged his brother by way of accepting the apology, which made Ron protest feebly, trying to hide his grin.

After that, the rest of the month passed fairly straightforwardly. Classes progressed, including her anti-dementor lessons with Lupin. Iliana continued having Quidditch practice. Birthdays were celebrated. The only problem was, as they discovered, related to Iliana's and Adira's monthlies. While switching to Al or Zoey could suppress the menstruation for a while, it just came back with a vengeance when they switched back, and so it ended up being easier and shorter to just suffer for a few days than to drag it out for a week or two by transforming.

Even though it was a whole month before Easter that Hermione had left Divination, Trelawney still insisted she'd predicted Hermione leaving. Of course, Al was quick to point out that it was hardly a mystical prediction if you kept harassing someone until they left to get away from you. This, of course, got him more detentions with her.

~

When Easter holidays came, Sirius was finally released from St. Mungo's. He came to Hogwarts to fetch Adira and take her to the flat he was thinking of getting, in a building in London that was owned by a witch and wizard couple, a building full of dozens of magical flats.

It looked like quite an ordinary building on the outside, of course. A rather run-down and ratty sort of place, in fact. In fact, it looked from the outside like the sort of place that the Dursleys would have called a 'hole in the wall' sort of place. Adira imagined a single small room with a bed-bug riddled twin mattress, a toilet and sink in the same room as the bed, and a single battered set of dresser drawers. She also imagined Uncle Dursley saying “Even the roaches would be moving down in the world, moving in there.” Except that such a sentence would require more imagination than her uncle posessed.

The inside corridors didn't look any better. The wallpaper was torn and peeling off the walls. The stairs were rickety, creaking and groaning with every step. In the few places where there was wood, that wood looked like it had been through several centuries of hard wear. It rather reminded her of the inside of the Shrieking Shack, in fact; except the Shack was swankier.

Finally, they were led to the battered door to flat number 23B. The hinges were rusty. But when she opened the door, which meant she had to disengage some wards first, the door opened to something unexpected.

Inside the flat was a whole other story from the building's appearances. Inside 23B was the inside of a mansion. Bigger on the inside, it had over a dozen rooms, each one large and spacious and already stocked with furniture. There were at least 6 bedrooms, a drawing room, a large dining room, a dozen or more bathrooms, a spiral staircase up to other levels, and a dueling practice room. What's more, the place was clean and well maintained.

“How does this place stay clean?” Adira asked the landlady witch.

“Oh, we have a staff of house elves that clean the rooms. Don't worry, they're bound to keep the secrets and silence of all residents and former residents, same as in Hogwarts.”

“How many house elves do you have?”

“We have plenty of them. I don't remember the exact number offhand. Might be 15. Yes, that sounds right.”

“Only 15?”

The middle-aged witch smiled at her. “Well, not all the flats are quite so spacious inside as this one. If you're worried about the poor dears being overworked, they'd tell us if they were overworked, trust me on that. Our elves are very vocal about their needs. Polite, and still obedient, but vocal. The head elf gave us quite the earful the one time we gave them too much to do. And another time when we didn't give them enough to do.”

“Oh okay.”

“Want to look around inside, dearie?”

“Sure.”

She let them in, and Adira stared in wonder at the huge place, wandering around the place and looking at everything, from the huge kitchen to the bedrooms to the dueling practice room.

“It's huge!” Adira commented at last. “And gorgeous.”

“Yeah, it's a little more ostentatious than my usual style,” Sirius said, “but when I saw the dueling room, I knew I had to get it. Given how often Volde--”

“EEK!” squealed the landlady.

“--mort and others try to attack you, I figured you might want somewhere to practice getting better at fighting for your life. Especially with your mother's blood protection broken. Plus, the building itself has lots of high-end wards on it, and I plan to get a bunch more put on our flat in particular. I'm even going to be using goblin-made wards as well as wizard-made wards.”

“It's perfect! I mean, if you really want to spend this much on me.”

“Of course I do. My best friend and his wife died, I want to keep their daughter safe,” he said, ruffling her hair.

The witch stared suddenly at Adira's forehead.

“Wait, are you... are you Harry Potter?”

“Not anymore I'm not. I'm Adira Potter now.”

“Hold on, that's not official yet. You'll have to register your name change at the Ministry.”

“Can we do that over the holidays?”

“Not yet. But in the summer we can, for sure.”

“Oh, er,” said the witch. “So you are the famous Potter? But your name is different now? And you're a girl?”

“Yes.”

The witch looked a little uncomfortable about this, but said nothing. Then she plastered on a smile.

“So are you satisfied with the flat?”

“I dunno. Adira?”

“I love it.”

“We'll take it.”

Adira explored the flat some more while the adults took care of the boring details of the lease and payment and so on. Sirius came and found her when they were done.

“We can move in today, Adira. Pick out a bedroom for yourself, and I'll do the same.”

“I already know which one I want!”

She ran upstairs, and Sirius followed. Adira picked out the bedroom nearest the dueling room, a bedroom which had its own bathroom and wasn't too far from the staircase. Sirius took one down the hall. That left four unused bedrooms which could be used for guest bedrooms.

“Galloping gargoyles!” Sirius exclaimed.

“What is it?”

“It has windows! My parents' house doesn't have windows. Of course, there was only the front and back that could have had windows, but even those were windowless. They didn't want to be able to see the Muggle households nearby. Admittedly, the view isn't all that great from here, either, but at least the air is fresh.”

“My bedroom has windows, too!” Adira called from her room. “I didn't notice them at first behind the curtains.”

“Well this makes sending owls easier. Whenever we wanted to send an owl at my parents' house, we had to go out back. Anyway, speaking of owls, I need to send one to Gringott's, let them know we're ready for the new wards to be put in place.”

“I left Hedwig at home.”

“That's alright. I came prepared,” Sirius said, pulling a cage out of his robes.

In the cage was a very small owl, which was twittering around madly like it wanted to be set loose. It looked like a tiny, feathery tennis ball.

“Scops owl, local deliveries only. I was checking out the owl post office in Hogsmeade and this little guy caught my attention. I was going to give him to Ron to replace his rat, but I've grown fond of the little fellow, I think he's funny. Plus, from what you've told me of Ron, he'd probably hate the poor thing. I haven't named him yet, though. Can't decide on a name. I call him Owl for now.”

Sirius let the tiny owl out of its cage, and it flew around the room like a feathery snitch.

“Calm down! Calm down you little feathery goofball! I have a letter for you!” Sirius said with a laugh, catching it in one hand and struggling to tie a letter to the small owl's leg.

“Take this to Griphook at Gringott's, understand?”

The small owl hooted at him in acknowledgement.

“Good,” Sirius said, tossing the small bird out the window. Adira gasped and rushed to the window to watch the bird plummet ten feet before gaining altitude again as it flew off toward Diagon Alley.

“Wouldn't it have been faster to Floo over there?”

“Yeah, but we're close enough to Gringott's that I wouldn't mind getting a good look around the place before they get here. Plus, why take the risk going out if we don't have to?”

“You just don't want to put up with the looks, right?”

Sirius looked uncomfortable, and didn't respond.

“It's okay, Sirius, I get it. I get looks all the time. Granted, they're not the same looks that you get, but I get it. I guess it'd be like my second year of Hogwart's, but all the time.”

“Yeah, it's taking some getting used to. But I suppose people won't get over it as fast if I don't go out more and make them get used to seeing me.”

Adira nodded.

“Well, I'm famished. Let's go get some Chinese, what do you think?”

“Sounds cool. I've never had Chinese before. Never had anything that the Dursleys would consider foreign. Not even spaghetti or pizza.”

“Really? Well we'll have to fix that this summer. I'm a horrible cook anyway, so we might as well order out as much as we can. I'll introduce you to Chinese food, Thai food, Indian curries, spaghetti, pizza, all sorts of things! Got to expand that palette of yours.”

“Will your owl be able to find you if we go out, though?”

“Yeah, it'll be fine. If not, he'll be here when we get back.”

Without further ado, they left the flat and locked the wards. Adira tried ignoring the dilapidated appearance of the building as they headed down to the street. Once there, they walked a couple blocks to a Chinese restaurant and sat down at one of the tables.

Not knowing what to get, Adira finally settled on a variety platter with five different things on it. There was kung pao shrimp, General Tso's chicken, orange chicken, Chinese style pork slices, and crab rangoons. It was all delicious. Sirius laughed til he cried when Adira tried the kung pao shrimp and started coughing and grabbing for the water, but after the surprise of it was over, she enjoyed the spiciness of the dish, and ate the whole thing.

Their bellies full, and their hearts full from the excited babbles and thanks from the waitress when Sirius gave her a 20 pound tip, they went home. As soon as they opened the door to the flat, they saw the small owl fluttering around like mad with a reply tied to its leg. Sirius grabbed it and removed the letter, reading it as the tiny owl flew around Adira's head.

“The goblins will fire-call us soon, and Floo over when I respond. I'd better get over to the drawing room, then. That's the only fireplace connected to the Floo.”

Curious, Adira followed along. They arrived just in time to see a face in the green flames, looking something like the Wizard from The Wizard of Oz, except it was a goblin.

“About time,” the goblin said impatiently. “I was about to pull out and try again in half an hour. Is it safe to come through?”

“According to the landlady, it is.”

“Good. Here we come.”

The face vanished from the fire, and soon the goblin was stepping out of the fireplace, brushing ash off his clothes. Soon after him came a wizard in green robes.

“My name is Fangslaughter,” said the goblin. “This is Benedict Snaggletooth, our resident ward expert. He'll be helping me.”

Adira was fascinated by the pair of them and their work, but it didn't take long to become boring, and so she took a deck of Exploding Snap cards out of her robes and began to play while she waited for them to finish.

After over an hour, they got her attention again and explained how to open the door through the wards without setting them off. They also explained that there were anti-Apparition wards on the flat. One could get through the Floo still, but coming in, the farthest you could come in without activating the wards was the stone in front of the fireplace. Coming in via Floo would make your arms and legs snap to your sides and you'd stand there frozen in place, only your mouth able to move in order to give the password, which could only be given by Sirius or one of the Potters, and was tied to their blood, meaning nobody else could give the password and have it work. Giving the password would unfreeze your body so you could use your wand to unlock the second set of wards holding you in place, so you could enter the drawing room properly. Guests could be pulled in through the wards by Sirius or Adira and company after the password was given, no matter who the password was given by.

“Of course,” said the goblin, “if you try to do anything else with your wand after giving the password, such as trying to hex the people beyond the wards, the hex will rebound onto you, and then you'll be completely locked in place and stunned, which will alert the Ministry, and they will send aurors to investigate.”

“Cool,” remarked Adira.

“Thank you, Miss Potter.”

Sirius handed the goblin, Fangslaughter, a sack of money. “For your troubles, sir.”

Fangslaughter looked confused. “You already paid us, Mr. Black. It's part of the contract, payment in advance.”

“It's a gratuity. To show you how much I appreciate your hard work. Here's one for you as well, Mr. Snaggletooth,” he said, handing another bag of money to the wizard.

The goblin looked in his. “There must be 20 galleons in here!”

“Yes. Adira and I are very appreciative.”

“Yes, thank you very much, Mister Fangslaughter,” Adira said, bowing to the goblin.

Fangslaughter's eyes went wide with surprise. Then his face resolved into a thoughtful look.

“It's just Fangslaughter, Miss Potter. And thank you for your surprising show of respect. It is unusual of wizards. Both of you are very unusual in that regard.”

“Thank you,” they both answered in unison.

Still bewildered, and also looking very forward to counting his gold, Fangslaughter went back through the Floo to Gringott's. Mr. Snaggletooth soon followed him.

~

For the rest of the day, Sirius told Adira lots of stories about her parents, especially Marauder stories, even over dinner of Indian food from another nearby shop. When Sirius finally had to stop because his throat – still not used to speaking after Azkaban – got all scratchy and sore, Adira went upstairs to work on her homework, which they had a lot of over Easter holidays.

She was halfway through Potions homework when she yawned very loudly. Setting her things aside on the desk, she got up and showered, changed, then went to bed. It was very easy to get to sleep; the bed was very soft and comfortable, and had warming charms built in.

How long she slept, she didn't know, but too quickly she startled awake, sitting bolt upright, trying to figure out what had woken her. Then she heard the screaming again, from Sirius's room, and bolted out of the room into his.

Sirius was tossing around so much that he looked tied into his bed, and he was screaming in his sleep. She approached him warily, not knowing what to do. Not everyone with problems like this could be dealt with the same way; some people preferred to be prodded awake, while others would go into full self-defence mode if touched at all in their sleep. Not knowing which to do, she opted for speech.

“Sirius? Sirius, you're just dreaming. It's me, Adira. James's kid. You're safe here, Sirius. Sirius?”

She tried again, louder. Then once more, even louder. Sirius finally jerked awake, sitting bolt upright in bed, looking around the room. When he saw her, he relaxed visibly.

“Adira. Sorry if I woke you.”

“No problem, Padfoot. You went through 12 years of Hell. And now you're in a new place, an unfamiliar place. I know what it's like, having nightmares.”

“Ah yes, I remember you mentioning that.”

“Do you...” she trailed off, thinking, and walked over to hold his hand. “Can I help you at all?”

“Oh Adira. It's me who should be helping you. I'm the dogfather, I mean godfather.”

They both chuckled at his joke.

Adira sat down on the bed next to him, still holding his hand.

“I'm serious, Sirius; I want to help you.”

“That's sweet, Adira. But I don't know what you could do.”

“Have you tried sleeping as a dog?”

“Yeah. Doesn't help much.”

“What if I invited Padfoot to sleep at the end of my bed?”

Sirius scowled in thought. He looked like the idea left a sour note in his mouth. She cocked her head curiously at him.

“Oh, sorry about the weird look. It's just... I'm an adult, I shouldn't be sleeping in your bed, even as a dog. It reminds me of Peter.”

“What about at the foot of the bed, on the floor? Maybe a little doggy bed?”

“You're insistent, aren't you? Well, alright. I'll try it once. I can conjure a doggy bed. But I'll need a large one, not a little one.”

She shrugged. “Figure of speech.”

He followed her to her room, and conjured a doggy bed at the foot of her own.

“Just... just try to not forget I'm here. I don't want to see anything I shouldn't. Alright?”

“Understood. By the way, if you have a nightmare in your doggy sleep, is it okay to pet you? Or should I do something else?”

“Try waking me up with words first. Then petting my side might be okay. I can smell your scent in my dog form, which helps. Don't touch me when I'm sleeping as a human, though. I don't respond well to that.”

“Okay, understood. Sleep well, Sirius.”

“You too,” he said, transforming into his dog form.

She looked curiously at it; the last time she'd seen his animagus form, the giant black dog had been skeletally thin, with fleas, and a little mangy in patches. But he had a lot more meat on his bones now, with well-groomed fur, and looked very healthy and happy.

Padfoot whuffed lightly at her, then spun around on the doggy bed a few times before settling down. Adira smiled, and got back into her own bed.

She didn't fall asleep right away. By the sound of it, Sirius as Padfoot fell asleep before she did, as his breathing evened out and slowed. Adira fell asleep to the sound of the dog's slow breathing.

~

When she woke up the next morning, the dog bed was empty. Since the door was closed, she presumed Sirius had turned himself back into a man in order to turn the knob. She opened the door and stepped out, curious. She heard faint sounds from the kitchen, including cussing. She smiled at that; Sirius was trying to make breakfast, it seemed.

Returning to her room, she got undressed and bathed, then changed into a green Muggle full-length dress, slipping her slippers onto her feet before going downstairs.

Sirius was still struggling in the kitchen, and by the smell of it, he was burning his attempt at breakfast. He was angrily tossing the burnt remains of what looked like bacon into a bin – a magical, fire-proof bin – when she entered the room.

Looking up at her, he half-grinned, the other half of his expression still annoyed.

“Hey there, Adira. Third attempt lost so far, sadly. After the first one burned, I tried cooking less bacon. Did the smoke wake you?”

“No. I didn't smell it till I came down. Anyway, let me do that. I know how to cook, and I'm pretty good at it.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I'm supposed to be providing for you, not the other way 'round.”

“That's okay. I don't mind cooking to help friends and family. Real family, I mean; not the Dursleys. I hated cooking for them.”

“But--”

“No buts,” she said, taking the frying pan from him with a grin. “You're providing the materials, I'm providing the skills. Real families share chores. You can buy the things we need, I can cook them.”

“Fine, I suppose,” he said, grumbling. “But I don't like it. Soon as I can, I'm gonna learn how to do it myself.”

“I should hope so, or you'll eat nothing but pizza and Chinese food whenever I'm at school.”

“Hey! I don't just eat pizza or Chinese food!”

“Oh?”

“No. I eat Indian and Japanese food, too.”

Adira laughed. Sirius laughed too. Adira was still chuckling while she started the eggs and bacon.

“And Thai food! Don't forget Thai food.”

“Yes, but you still go out to eat a lot, and going out to eat should be a treat, not an everyday thing.”

“I've been in Azkaban for 12 years and St. Mungo's ever since. Eating out everyday is a treat for me.”

“Yes, but for how long? And besides, bacon!”

“You raise an excellent point, pup. Bacon is the food of the gods.”

When the eggs and bacon were done, Sirius ate some of the bacon and closed his eyes, moaning.

“What're you doing over there,” she felt Alastair say with her voice, “it sounds obscene.”

“Just enjoying my first bacon for 12 years.”

“They didn't give you bacon in St. Mungo's?” Adira asked.

“Of course not. They're healers, and bacon is heart attack on a plate.”

“Ah, yeah, that makes sense,” she said, making herself a bacon and egg sandwich with ketchup and cheddar cheese.

“Speaking of heart attack on a plate, pup...” Sirius said, eyeing her sandwich.

She shrugged. “It's got lettuce in it, too.”

“Ah, then that means it has no calories, cleans your pores, and makes you look 5 years younger!”

“I'm 13, but I look like I'm 11. I don't need to look any younger, thanks.”

After breakfast, Sirius took Adira with him into Diagon Alley to get casual robes for her, and also Muggle London to buy her some Muggle clothes that were flattering and stylish.

During their outing, Sirius took her to a sushi shop he liked, and so she had her first ever taste of sushi. It was a kind of food she'd never felt like trying, but she tried once for Sirius, and found to her surprise that she loved it. She especially loved the salmon rolls, the California rolls, the ones with avocado in them, and even found the edamame to be delicious. The sushi was a dollar per plate, and though she went in expecting to get maybe three dollars worth, in the end there were almost 15 plates just on Adira's side of the table alone. Between the two of them, their bill was over $30 before the tip.

“I had no idea, when I went in and saw those tiny little sushi rolls, that I'd manage to get full, let alone so full I feel like I need to be rolled home,” she said as they left.

Sirius burped richly. “I know what you mean. I felt the same way the first time I went to a sushi place. James and I ended up sitting in the corner of the room digesting for an hour before we left, we were both useless lumps. By the way, it took me weeks to convince James to try sushi. With you, I only had to cajole you for about an hour. You're far more open to new experiences than James was. He was adventurous about a lot of things, but food wasn't one of those. Every new thing I had him try was like pulling teeth. Then he'd act like he'd liked it all along.”

“Yeah, well, anything the Dursleys hate must be worth at least trying. And the Dursleys would sooner let you in your dog form enter the house and muddy the carpets before even thinking about getting anywhere near a sushi place.

“Anyway, I hope we get home soon. Now I know what the sitting room is for. It's for sitting and digesting a large meal before you can do anything else.”

“Amen to that, pup.”

“I don't think I even have room for dessert, even if we had anything to have for dessert.”

“So going out for ice cream is a no go?”

“Not until I've sat around digesting my meal for an hour or two, at least.”

They didn't end up going out for ice cream. Not as such, anyway. Instead, Sirius went to a nearby Tesco and bought a box of ice cream sandwiches for them to share.

“Over the summer, we'll definitely have to go out for ice cream. Maybe Florean Fortescue's; his stuff is always amazing.”

***

On the final day of the Easter holidays, Sirius said his farewells at the train, but intimated that he would be going to Hogwarts ahead of her to fetch his motorbike from Hagrid. And since he didn't know what kind of shape it would be in, he didn't know how long it would take to be done there. That would depend on how much work he needed to put into the charms and the physical structure of the motorbike.

The next morning, Iliana woke up to find they'd switched during the night for unknown reasons. After a long hard day of classes, she checked with Sirius on her two-way mirror, and found he'd been there most of the day reinforcing the charms on the bike before taking it home and parking it in the apartment building's garage, which apparently was accessed from an alley in the back.

Later in the week, the day before the Griffindor/Slytherin Quidditch match, they received an owl package from Sirius. There was a glowing note on the packaging, which she read, and good thing. The note said to not open the package until she was alone or just with Ron and Hermione, since Sirius wasn't sure it was, strictly speaking, allowed by the rules for her to have the particular book he'd sent. Her curiosity was piqued all day long, it was hard for her to concentrate, she kept thinking about it. Ron was excited, too, and kept speculating about its contents. Even Hermione found it difficult to hide her interest, though they had to put up with her wondering if Sirius had sent something that would get them into trouble.

And so, the three friends went into Iliana's room after dinner and watched Iliana open it.

“'Animagi: A History and How-To Guide,' by Állat Hayop.” she read aloud the title.

“Cool! You can learn how to be an animagus! Then the next time You-Know-Who tries to get you, you can escape as an animal.”

“But it's illegal for her to learn without being monitored by the Ministry,” Hermione said. “And then she'll have to register, and that would sort of defeat the purpose. Also, changing right in front of You-Know-Who or his Death Eaters would expose her form to them.”

“He'll be back someday, Hermione. So I should learn, and keep it a secret from the Ministry. At least until after he's properly dead and his followers are all captured.”

“Yes, but---”

“But what? We brewed an illegal Polyjuice Potion in second year to try to figure out who the Heir of Slytherin was. Being an animagus could be a huge weapon in the coming war. Plus, if I figure it out, I can help you and Ron figure it out, too. Which will protect the two of you, as well. War is coming, Hermione. He's going to come back someday, and we need all the secret weapons we can get.”

“Oh, well,” Hermione said, “I suppose that makes sense. Well alright, I won't tell anyone.”

“Besides which, it's gonna take me ages to learn, I'm sure, even with Sirius's help. But once I know it, I'll help you two. You can register after Moldywart is dead.”

“Cool,” said Ron. “I wonder what my form will be.”

“I'm not too particular,” Iliana said, “Just as long as I'm not a rat. Or a mouse.”

“Ugh, yeah. I don't ever want to be reminded of... well... you know,” Ron said.

“Hmm,” Hermione said, thinking. “I guess a secret weapon is a good idea in case he ever comes back.” She got thoughtful. “I wonder what my animal would be?”

“My guess is bookworm,” Ron said.

“Eww, no,” Iliana said. “Silverfish eat books. They destroy them.”

“Silverfish?” Ron asked.

“The proper name for the insect commonly known as a bookworm,” Hermione said.

“Yuck,” Ron exclaimed. “Not an insect, that would be disgusting. Who would want to be a bug? Bugs are gross.”

“Well, not a silverfish, but you could be a literal fly on the wall. That would be useful, I could spy on the Death Eaters and report back to the Ministry or Dumbledore.”

“Makes sense. But it might be better to become something that can get away fast. I wonder if you can become magical animals? You could become a demiguise.”

“I have an invisibility cloak already, Ron, I don't need to become a demiguise.”

“Or a dragon! Hell, Tier was breathing fire that one time, he almost looked like a dragon.”

“It'd have to be a small dragon. I'll need to be able to change in my bedroom to practice. And anyway, I don't want to be a dragon. Dragons aren't nice, and who knows how much of the animal's personality crosses over when you change?”

They discussed it some more, the conversation eventually going on to other things, until it grew quite late, and Ron and Hermione left to go to bed. Iliana stayed up reading the Animagi book for an hour before she, too, had to go to sleep. By habit, she moved to take glasses off, but then remembered they were in Iliana's body now, and she didn't need glasses. But before she could think too much on it, her mind grew fuzzy and warm, and soon sleep had found her.

***END CHAPTER***

End note 1: Actually, I think Fred and George wouldn't mess with Percy's time turner. The punishments for messing with time are harsh enough they wouldn't put Percy in that situation. Or if they did, they'd take full blame.



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