The Many Faces of Harry Potter 21

“The Many Faces of Har—er, Adira Potter: Chapter 21”
By = Fayanora

Chapter Twenty-one: Sirius Business

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

Note 2: Once more, I apologize for the bits and pieces of canon dialogue/narration here and there.

Note 3: I have different styles for the internal speech of Alastair, Adira, 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.).# and {Tier}.

***FAYANORA***

Adira Potter was happy. It was less than two weeks since school got out for the summer, and already the summer was proving to be the best of her life. Sirius – wanting to make up for lost time on both their parts – had been taking her different places. Sure, they ate out a lot when she wasn't teaching Sirius how to cook without burning everything, but more than that. Some days they went to museums of various kinds, other days they would go someplace like the circus or the beach. And every couple days they would go to a public swimming pool of the wizarding sort, in a small building on Diagon Alley, a building which was much, much bigger on the inside than on the outside. They went there specifically to get Adira swimming lessons, since she'd never learned, and it might save her life someday. They even went to a rock concert, Adira's first ever.

Of course, they couldn't be out all the time. When they were home, since wizards didn't have televisions (something Adira made a mental note to work out how to invent, since wizards had their own version of radio), Sirius would tell her Marauder stories, or teach her Animagus stuff. They didn't need to worry about homework; Adira had done all her summer homework on the first weekend at home, so she wouldn't have to worry about it.

Today was really special, though. It was July 1st, and she woke with excitement at what would be happening that day. She was so excited that she woke before Sirius did. He was sleeping as a dog at the end of her bed again, having had more nightmares. She was very quiet so as to not wake him, and changed her clothes in the bathroom before heading down to the kitchen to start breakfast.

Humming happily, the happiest she'd ever been while cooking, she was almost done when she heard Sirius as Padfoot come into the room, sniffing eagerly at the bacon and eggs she was making.

“No animal forms at the table, Sirius,” she scolded.

Padfoot whined, but then Sirius changed back to his human form. He was already dressed.

“So you got up, became human, and got dressed before coming down as a dog again?” she asked.

Sirius started taking some bacon off the plate. “Yes. I can smell pretty well as a human, too, but your cooking smells so much better in my dog form. I mean, it smells great either way. Just... it's a richer, stronger smell as a dog.”

“That makes sense.” Adira sat down and started making herself an egg and bacon sandwich with tomatoes and lettuce.

“A BLTE, then?” Sirius asked, referring to her sandwich.

“Sure, I guess. Al prefers to call it a BELT, though.”

“Probably because if you eat enough of them, your belt stretches. Or it would if I ate them, anyway.”

Adira nodded absently, digging into her food.

“So today's the big day. You excited?”

Her mouth full of food, Adira gave him the thumbs up.

“Good. It took me enough work to convince them to do it. They don't normally let minors do it, you know. But between the evidence, and Dumbledore and I both pressuring them, they gave in. Sure, they've made exceptions before, but it's still something to be excited about. Well, for you it would be.”

“Mm-hmm,” she agreed.

“ Also, you already did the normally hard work, this would just be recognition of that.”

“Quite.”

“So I was wondering if you'd given any more thought to letting me pay for it. I am your guardian after all. You should save the money in your trust vault for school, since you can't access the other vault until you turn 17, and that's still over three years away, pup.”

She swallowed, took a drink of her pumpkin juice before answering. “Well, yes. And... you make a good point. So, okay; you can pay for it, then.”

“Good. I mean, I know it isn't much – only 40 galleons – but still, my vault can handle that better than yours can, for now. Plus, now I'm getting reparations from the Ministry for false imprisonment.”

“Oh really? How much is it?”

“It's over 1000 galleons per month for at least the next 10 years. And I heard Crouch is losing his job over it. No idea where he's going to get work now that the Ministry won't employ him. Not that I really care, mind, except out of malicious curiosity.”

“What about Dumbledore? I mean, he's the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, he could've at least tried to get you a trial. I mean, he knew you fairly well.”

“Ah, yes. That. Well, you're not wrong. Apparently he got Snape off, and Snape was actually a Death Eater before turning traitor on them for some reason. So I did ask him about it, naturally.”

“Between the shouting, I'm sure.”

“Exactly. The point was made, though.”

“What was his excuse?”

“His excuse was that he knew there was a traitor close to Lily and James. Given that I was supposed to be the Secret Keeper, I was the obvious choice for who the traitor was.”

“But all they found of Pettigrew was a finger. They find a finger, assume he's blown up, and don't look any farther?”

“As to that, it was a mess. The sewer had been blasted open, there was... well... stuff everywhere. Muggles were in a panic. They had to clean it up fast, or risk the magical world being exposed. So that much makes sense. They assumed most of his body ended up in the sewer or had been Vanished during the cleaning process, and the details got lost in all the chaos.

“Still,” he went on, “that doesn't excuse not even questioning me. Granted, veritaserum was not very reliable until after I was already in prison, when someone perfected the recipe. I guess I might still have been disbelieved by most. But Dumbledore would have believed me. As I said, though, they didn't question me. Dumbledore says he was told that I was questioned, though. That seemed to be enough for him.” Sirius glowered at his plate.

“Sirius?”

Her godfather sighed. “I'm not happy about it, but he did apologize, and I believe his apology was genuine. Still, I refused to accept his apology. My exact words were 'Your apology is heard.' Mind you, I'm not going to let this stop me from working with the man. But a lot of the trust that was there before is gone now.”

“I know how you feel. He was much the same way about the Dursleys.”

“Gods, the Dursleys. I don't know about you, but I can't forgive him for that, either. Lily and James wouldn't have wanted you to go to them even if every other witch and wizard in the whole world died first. When Dumbledore finally dies, he's going to have a pair of very angry people waiting to kick his arse over that.”

“I hope so,” Adira said.

“Oh, by the way, have you gotten the news yet? Pettigrew died in prison a couple days ago.”

“Yeah, I read about that. I'm amazed he hung on for as long as he did. He stopped eating almost two whole weeks before he finally died.”

“Yes, that was quite amazing. As soon as I heard Dumbledore say the dementors were getting excited, I thought for sure it'd be just two or three days before he died.”

Adira stood up then, done with her meal. She set the dishes to washing themselves with her wand, something she knew she could do since Sirius had informed her that the rule against using magic couldn't be enforced in households with magical adults living there. She was glad for this, because she wanted to practice dueling at some point.

“Well I'm done too, pup,” Sirius said, setting his own dishes to washing themselves, too.

“Shall we go now?”

“Not quite yet, Adira.”

A few minutes later, they both had everything they needed for the trip. They were going by Floo, rather than by motorbike, mainly because there wasn't anywhere to really park by the Ministry. The Ministry had its own vehicles, and thus its own garage, but only certain Ministry workers had access to that. So Floo it was.

“Ministry of Magic,” Sirius said, going ahead of her into the green flames.

When the flames went back to normal, Adira took a pinch of Floo Powder and tossed it in. “Ministry of Magic,” she said, once she got into the flames.

She spun around, whooshing through a dark tunnel past myriad hearths, until she tumbled out in a heap onto a floor of shiny dark stone. Taking her wand out, she stood up at attention, looking for danger. All she saw instead was Sirius smiling, and many many witches and wizards coming out of other fires. She stowed her wand.

“Moody would be proud, pup.”

“He would?” she asked. “What's he like, anyway?”

“Oh Moody? He's pretty intense. But he's a good man. Kind in his own way, even though he's abrupt, and practically the living incarnation of paranoia.”

Adira nodded, looking absently around her. They were standing at one end of a very long and splendid hall with a highly polished, dark wood floor. The peacock-blue ceiling was inlaid with gleaming golden symbols that were continually moving and changing like some enormous heavenly notice board. The walls on each side were paneled in shiny dark wood and had many gilded fireplaces set into them. Every few seconds a witch or wizard would emerge from one of the left-hand fireplaces with a soft whoosh; on the right-hand side, short queues of wizards and witches were forming before each fireplace, waiting to depart.

Halfway down the hall was a fountain. A group of golden statues, larger than life-size, stood in the middle of a circular pool. Tallest of them all was a noble-looking wizard with his wand pointing straight up in the air. Grouped around him were a beautiful witch, a centaur, a goblin, and a house-elf. The last three were all looking adoringly up at the witch and wizard, which was only believable in the case of the house elf. Glittering jets of water were flying from the ends of the two wands, the point of the centaur’s arrow, the tip of the goblin’s hat, and each of the house-elf’s ears, so that the tinkling hiss of falling water was added to the pops and cracks of Apparators and the clatter of footsteps as hundreds of witches and wizards, most of whom were wearing glum, early-morning looks, strode toward a set of golden gates at the far end of the hall.

“This way, Adira.”

They joined the throng, wending their way between the Ministry workers, some of whom were carrying tottering piles of parchment, others battered briefcases, still others reading the Daily Prophet as they walked. As they passed the fountain, Adira saw silver Sickles and bronze Knuts glinting up at her from the bottom of the pool. A small, smudged sign beside it read:

  All proceeds from the Fountain of Magical Brethren will be given to
St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries

She dug through her coin purse quickly and tossed a galleon into it, glad to share her wealth with people in need. Which got her thinking, and realizing she'd never seen a homeless witch or wizard, that she knew of.

“Where do homeless witches and wizards go to beg for money?”

“Homeless witches or wizards?” Sirius responded. “I don't know. I'm not sure they exist.”

“If poor people like the Weasleys exist, surely those who are worse off also exist. I mean, the Weasleys may be poor, but at least they own property, and they never go hungry. I mean, it would be great to find out that nobody in the wizarding world goes without food or shelter or clothing, but I highly doubt such is the case.”

“I honestly don't know. I guess it's a sign of how I grew up that it never occurred to me to look into it, but you have a point. Something for you to look into, then. But first, we need to go over here to the security wizard kiosk.”

They stepped out of the stream of Ministry employees heading for the golden gates, toward a desk on the left, over which hung a sign saying SECURITY. A badly shaven wizard in peacock-blue robes looked up as they approached and put down his Daily Prophet.

“Hi there, Eric. I’m escorting a visitor,” Sirius said.

“Why didn't you come through the visitor's entrance, then?”

“Oh. I forgot about that. Sorry. Should we leave and come back that way?”

“No,” the wizard said in a bored voice. “Just try to remember it next time.”

“That I will.”

“Good. Now step over here, please.”

Adira walked closer to him and the wizard held up a long golden rod, thin and flexible as a car aerial, and passed it up and down her front and back.

“Wand,” grunted the security wizard at Adira, putting down the golden instrument and holding out his hand.

Adira produced her wand. The wizard dropped it onto a strange brass instrument, which looked something like a set of scales with only one dish. It began to vibrate. A narrow strip of parchment came speeding out of a slit in the base. The wizard tore this off and read the writing upon it.

“Eleven inches, phoenix-feather core, been in use almost four years. That correct?”

“Yes,” said Adira.

“I keep this,” said the wizard, impaling the slip of parchment on a small brass spike. “You get this back,” he added, thrusting the wand at Adira.

“Thank you.”

“Hang on. …” said the wizard slowly. He was staring at her scar, and her appearance, and putting things together.

“Thanks a bunch, Eric,” Sirius said, steering her away from the security wizard.

When they were away, Adira sighed. “Thanks for that, Sirius.”

“No problem, Addy,” he said, ignoring her half-hearted glare.

Sirius lead them over to a golden, grilled lift. Its door rattled open, and they walked in. Adira looked up curiously at many differently-colored paper airplanes that floated into the lift with them.

“Inter-departmental memos, according to Arthur Weasley,” Sirius said. “He was with me on one of my first trips back here. They used to use owls, I think. The mess got to be too much, so they switched to those, instead.”

“Ick,” she said.

The lift was slow and tedious, especially since they were many levels above the one they needed to go to. A cool female voice spoke at each floor, saying what each level was.

“Does that voice always speak the floors? I imagine if I worked here, that would drive me mad before long.”

“I don't know, pup.”

After what seemed an age, they finally made it to level two, which was dedicated to magical law enforcement.

“There are other offices down here the voice didn't cover,” Sirius explained. “Such as the Marriage Certification Office and, of course, the one we need, the Office For Changes To Legal Statuses.”

They found an information kiosk down there, Sirius stopping there.

“Hello,” said the witch at the desk. “How may I help you?”

“Sirius Black escorting Adira Potter to get an official name change.”

“Sirius Black!” The woman said, alarmed. But then she seemed to remember he was innocent, for she said, “Oh yes, I recall now. Sorry. Anyway... Adira Potter? Who is that?” she asked, looking in confusion at Adira, until she saw Adira's scar. “Oh. You mean Harry--”

“That is her current legal name, yes. She's here for a name change and to change her gender marker on the Ministry's official forms,” Sirius said in a growl.

“Y-yes. Right. Name change. Yes. Well, you'll need Identity Paperwork Services. Down this hall, last door at the end.”

“Thank you,” Sirius said with a frown.

Adira followed Sirius down the corridor, finally starting to feel nervous.

“Sirius, what is this going to entail?”

“Probably a lot of paperwork, forms to fill out. After that, I don't know.”

“You don't know? Why didn't you find out before we came here?”

“To be honest, I did. But, er... I forgot most of it. My memory hasn't been quite the same since Azkaban, sorry.”

“You don't need to apologize to me, it's not your fault.”

“That may be so, but I guess I should try harder to compensate for it. Carry a notepad around, write everything down, or something like that.”

When they finally got there, they faced a short, fat, bald man with very thick glasses sitting on a tall chair behind a desk. He looked up from his work at them, squinting over his glasses.

“Sirius Black--” Sirius started, interrupted by the wizard's squeak of terror. Sirius massaged his forehead as though praying for patience.

“Falsely imprisoned and finally pardoned Sirius Black,” Sirius started over, “here escorting my god-daughter, who needs to change her legal name and gender on the Ministry's official forms.”

“R-right,” said the fat wizard. “Current legal name?”

“Harry James Potter,” Adira said.

The Harry Potter?”

Adira sighed. “Yes. The Harry Potter who survived the killing curse, thanks to the sacrifice of my mother. Now can we get on with this, please?”

“Of course, of course. Sorry, just never met anyone famous before. Except some of the people who work here, of course. Okay, let me just pull up your file.”

With a wave of his wand, the short wizard summoned “Harry's” file. A metal filing cabinet in the back opened up, the drawer inside sticking out impossibly long, their file poking up from among the others, which the wizard took. Adira looked at the man's nametag as he did this. The tag said 'Mortimer Theophilus Cavendish, Undersecretary of Records.'

The man took out their file and looked through it.

“So you'd like to change your name and gender marker, then?”

“Yes,” Adira said. “What all will this entail?”

“Well, you fill out some forms, then submit them. Submission fee for the name change is 100 galleons; for the gender marker change, another 50 galleons. The fees cover the cost of the forms, and the cost of the labor involved. For the gender marker, you'll have to submit to a scan by our resident medi-witch.

“Then, somewhere between one to three weeks, you'll have to return to have a meeting with a member of the wizengamot, who will determine whether or not to grant the requested changes. If granted, there are a series of rituals and blood seals required to make the changes to the forms and all the official magics connected to your legal name. Some others, like the Book at Hogwarts that records the names of magical children, will automatically update themselves at that point. But you'll have to go to Gringott's with a copy of the magical seal from the Ministry, because the goblins have their own ways of doing things, their own rituals and blood seals.”

“Hold on a moment,” Sirius said, summoning parchment from nowhere. “Do you have a quill and ink I can borrow, to write all this down and fill the forms out with?”

“Yes,” the short wizard said, pointing at a bedraggled quill in an inkpot at the end of the desk. “It's magically bound to this room, so it can't be removed. But you can move it anywhere within this room. There are desks over there you can use to fill out the forms.”

“Thank you. Now, I just have to write this all down. I forgot to last time,” Sirius said, rapidly scratching out notes, his tongue sticking out of his mouth in concentration.

“What do the rituals entail?”

“Nothing onerous. Some runes painted onto the skin, standing in a circle of runes. The blood seals are just magical parchments requiring a small blood sacrifice – just a pinprick's worth apiece – to activate. Also, you have to promise on your magic that you want the changes, and that you aren't being coerced.”

“Why do I need to be scanned by a medi-witch?”

“That's for the gender marker change. It verifies that you've either undergone the proper sex change spells and potions, or that there was a mistake in the paperwork from the start.”

“I, uh... I managed to change my sex with my own unique magic, without potions or spells. It was a complete transformation. Will that change the results?”

“If it is a complete transformation, then no matter how unique the cause, it should be fine. I can't think of any way for it to not be.”

“Er... as to that... I'm actually a bunch of different people in the same body. Two of them are male. Is that...? I mean...”

“It's the anatomy of the body at the time of the scan that counts. The scan does check for use of Polyjuice Potion, but if you're not using that, then there shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Oh,” she said, not completely satisfied, but not wanting to admit to having used Polyjuice before, to ease her mind by asking if it could detect past usage of the potion.

This Mortimer Cavendish fellow must be pretty astute, though, because he gave her a knowing look and said, “It only detects if Polyjuice Potion is being used at the time of the scan, mind; it doesn't detect past use of the potion. I don't think there's anything, spell or potion, that can detect something like that.”

“Oh, er... that would be good to know, if I'd ever used it in the past. Which I haven't.”

“Mmm... well if you had, it wouldn't be part of my job to find out, or to care one way or the other, Ms. Potter.”

“Sorry, can you repeat some of that earlier stuff, from before Adira started asking you questions? I think half of it slipped my mind, and I want to make sure I get it all. Twelve years falsely imprisoned, my memory isn't quite what it used to be, you know.”

Looking sympathetic, Mortimer Cavendish repeated the information for Sirius, making sure he stopped writing before assuming he was done.

“All done? Good. Any other questions before I fetch the paperwork?”

They looked at each other and shrugged.

“Good, good.”

With another wave of his wand, several enormous piles of parchments flew over to them. He began explaining them all one by one to an increasingly bewildered Sirius. Adira and other others tried keeping up with it all, but soon felt the man's words gum up the works of their shared mind like treacle in the gears.

Adira helped Sirius lug the piles of parchments over to a pair of desks, where they spent the next several hours poring through them, arguing over the meanings of the things asked in them and what to write down, arguing with Mortimer about these things many times. Adira was getting a massive stress headache; this seemed to be common, for Mortimer had vials of headache cure potions in a small cupboard behind his desk, and handed one to each of them.

By the time they finished, and Mortimer read through the forms to make sure everything was in order, they signed their current legal names to each, in about a dozen different places. Some of these, they had to suffer while Mortimer read out several pages of information he was required by law to read to them first. More headache cure potions were downed. Adira had to resist the urge to vanish Inside.

“Good,” Mortimer finally said, with an air of finality. “Now all that's left is payment, and then the scan by the medi-witch. Her first available appointment time today is at six PM.”

“What time is it now?” Sirius asked, too exhausted to check for himself. He was pulling gold out of his coin purse, staring at galleons as if he'd forgotten how to count.

The bureaucrat checked a pocket watch. “It is half past noon.”

“Of what day?” Adira felt Al ask with her voice. “Feels like we've been here at least a week.”

Mortimer chuckled. “Same day, I'm afraid. You've been here for only four hours, believe it or not.”

“You sure this room isn't hooked up to a Time Turner?” Adira asked.

The man chuckled again. “Quite sure, my dear, quite sure. Shall I put you down for six PM, then?”

Adira and Sirius looked at each other.

“Yes,” Adira finally answered.

“Good, good. Do try to not be late, Madam Codsworth doesn't like it when people are late.”

“We'll be here early,” she said. “Come, Sirius, let's get lunch somewhere.”

“I vote for the Leaky Cauldron. There's a room there where you can rent a couch to take a nap for an hour or two. My brain feels like it's been run through about ten years worth of marathons, then through a meat grinder.”

“I know the feeling,” Adira agreed.

“Ahem!” Mortimer said. They turned back to him.

“You forgot to pay. It's 150 galleons total.”

Sirius stared again at the money. Then he put it back, and dug around in his robes for something. Finally, he pulled out an oddly shaped piece of parchment.

“You take promissory notes?”

“Sure thing.”

They stood there for several long minutes more as Sirius struggled to bully his brain into filling out the Gringott's Money Order. But finally, all that remained was pricking his finger and wiping a smear of his blood on the middle of a rune circle on the parchment, which instantly transported the note back to Gringott's. A few moments later, another paper came back, a different one, which confirmed that the required amount of gold had been transferred to the Ministry's coffers from Sirius's account.

“Well that's all in order, then. Enjoy your lunch, and see you again at six!” Mortimer Cavendish said brightly.

“Uh huh,” they said with exhaustion, slowly dragging their bodies along to leave the Ministry.

When they got to the Leaky Cauldron, the barman, Tom, watched them try to figure out money. He waved them off.

“Never mind, Sirius, I'll put it on your tab. Will you be taking your nap before or after your meal?”

“Before, I think. I doubt either of us can figure out silverware in this state,” Adira said.

“Right, then. This way.”

~

A couple hours later, they woke up feeling much better. Less than a minute after waking up on their separate couches, Tom walked in with two large bowls of steaming hot stew. A teenage witch followed Tom with a couple bottles of butterbeer for them floating in the air at the behest of her wand.

“Thank you, Tom, Esmeralda,” Sirius said to them.

Still groggy from their nap, and very hungry, they ate in silence and were quickly done. Once they'd cleaned up and gotten ready, Sirius took Adira's arm and took her by the underground to the visitor's entrance of the Ministry, which was a magical phone booth that took them down to the Ministry once they punched the right number and identified themselves. Once they got through, they went through security, then down into Mortimer's office.

“Ah, there you are. Madam Codsworth will be with you soon.”

They sat there, waiting. Ten minutes later, a stern-looking grey-haired medi-witch with a beak-like nose bustled out.

“Adira Potter?” she called.

“Here,” Adira said.

“This way.”

Adira came into a very small room and sat down at the hospital bed. Sirius came in for moral support, and sat on one of only two chairs.

“So, you are changing your name and sex status, are you?”

“Yes.”

“Sit down,” the woman said unnecessarily, as Adira was already seated.

The medi-witch used her wand to scan Adira, like Madam Pomfrey had years ago after their first transformation into Iliana. She did all this silently, with a manner that suggested that no talking would be permitted until the scans were done.

“Very unusual,” Madam Codsworth finally said.

“Yes?” Adira asked.

“It's just, there are some things here I can't make any sense of, in your magic.”

Adira sighed. She had a suspicion what she was going to have to do.

“What have you heard about me before, Madam?”

“You? Absolutely nothing. Why?”

“My birth name is Harry Potter, Madam.”

The woman blinked. “The Bo—er... the er, the Child Who Lived?”

“Yes. But what else have you heard?”

“Nothing at all, as I said. Why?”

“Well, this may explain something. Zoey?”

With no glow at all this time, Adira shrunk down into the younger form of Zoey. The older woman jumped back in shock.

“What the name of Merlin...?”

“Hiya, Lady! I'm Zoey Potter. I'm one of at least five different people--” she held up five fingers as though showing her age “--that live in this body. Adira is the one who used to be known as Harry. She thought she was a boy. Now she's a girl.”

The medi-witch was silent, shocked still. But it was plain the gears were beginning to whirr in her mind.

“You are not a metamorphmagus, I know that much. Tell me, did Adira use... whatever magic this is... to change her body as you others do?”

“Right on the nosey, Lady!”

Madam Codsworth began to compose herself at last, brushing imaginary dust off her skirt.

“Right. Well that's that question answered. Am I correct in assuming you have been scanned like this before?”

“Yes. How'd ya know?”

“People usually ask a lot more questions during this process. Adira barely spoke. And I would assume, if you transfigured yourself like this at school, the school would wish to know what is going on.”

“You're right, of course. Hold on, Adira wants to come back.”

Again with no glow, Zoey shot back up to Adira's form.

“Sorry for that shock. But it was faster than trying to explain first. You might not have believed me.”

“Quite right, Ms. Potter. Good call.”

“Shall we go on?”

“No no, I have everything I need. You have undergone a more complete transformation than our best potions and spells can do for most transgender persons. We can get them to be able to, er... to be fertile in their new forms. But it takes monthly supplemental potions to maintain, and for the trans women, pregnancy can be quite difficult. Many only manage it once, safely. You, however... you could probably have as many children as the Weasleys, if you wanted.”

Adira blushed. “It's much too early for me to be thinking about that,” she said.

“Not really. You could get pregnant now if you wished. Not that you should. In fact, I bring this up because many witches and wizards your age become sexually active. If you should do so, you should learn about safe sex. I believe Hogwarts provides prophylactics for both boys and girls. Admittedly, I am unsure how most of them would work on you. You may wish to speak with someone at St. Mungo's about that. For now, here are some pamphlets on the subject.”

As she took the pamphlets, red with embarrassment, she noticed Sirius was looking just the same. He noticed her looking, but said nothing.

“Thank you, Madam.”

“You're welcome. And Miss?”

“Yes?”

Madam Codsworth actually smiled slightly. “Good luck. Though personally, I doubt you will need it, with my testimony.”

“Thank you.”

She escorted them out of the room and saw them off with a sharp nod. They waved goodbye to her and Mortimer, taking the dull journey back up to the main room of the ministry before returning home by Floo.

~

To take her mind off the upcoming interview with the wizengamot representative about approving her name and gender change, she did a lot of reading about the animagus process. It involved a lot of meditation and a lot of advanced learning about transfiguration theory, and was all very confusing and frustrating. Meditation was hard because it was hard to coordinate the different minds to all be quiet at once. When she expressed this frustration to Sirius, he chuckled and explained that you don't have to cease thinking in meditation, you just have to try to stop purposefully thinking.

“Think of it like this,” he'd said, “you're always gonna get random thoughts popping up, even us singletons have that issue. Just silently acknowledge the fact that they exist and then ignore them. Try not to engage those thoughts. Let them wash over you like bits of stuff in the surf, let them move on past you. You are not your thoughts, you are not even the thinker; you are the observer.”

Adira was glad for this advice, which made meditation a little easier. But her mind was still too distracted, given the thing she was concerned about on the horizon of her future. Then, too, Zoey got bored a lot more easily than she did, and would start singing random songs in their mind, which was too difficult to ignore for long, and often ended with Al sending Zoey images of him tying her to a chair and gagging her with a sock, at which point Zoey would pick the most annoying song she could think of and sing it even louder within their shared mental space, until Al started to “chase” her around, then all hope of meditating would be lost.

Then, the advanced transfiguration work felt like being at school again. Many of the books had practical exercises that were heavily recommended to do before reading on, exercises which were especially difficult. Sirius would occasionally quiz her on what she'd read so far, and assign her work if she got too many of the questions wrong. Adira had taken to calling him “Professor Black” when she got into tetchy moods after these quizes.

There was also a potion involved, that would reveal one's animagus form. It was highly complex; even Iliana was having a hard time understanding enough of how it worked to even begin risking brewing the preliminary parts, and half the time she melted her cauldron. It was very good for her that she'd worked out a way of repairing melted cauldrons, assuming they weren't completely melted. Plus, the cauldron was pewter, so occasionally she had to collect the melted metal, purify the potions ingredients from the melted metal, and re-cast a new cauldron.

They got an unexpected visit a fortnight after their visit to the Ministry. It started with Errol – the Weasley family's old and battered owl – hitting the window of Adira's bedroom and slumping onto the sill, having been knocked out. Adira opened the window and gingerly set the elderly owl down on her bed, taking the letter from him. He was still out cold, so she would wait to try to feed or water him.

She looked at the letter. It was from Ron.

Dear Adira or whichever of you gets this,

I'm writing because Ginny has been kinda weird lately, sorta down and thoughtful. I asked her about it, and she wants to know if she can come over to your house today. I figured I'd come too, if you let us, because I'm curious what the place is like. I think she wanted to talk to Adira specifically about whatever's bothering her. What d'ya say? Send me an answer back with Hedwig, I don't think Errol is up to more than one trip today, and I kinda need a response ASAP.

See you soon, I hope;
--Ron

Adira set her books aside and got up to run to Sirius, who was writing a letter to somebody. He looked up when she came into the room.

“Ron wants to know if he and Ginny can come over today. Can they? It sounded like Ginny really needed to talk about something with me.”

“Sure thing, Addy,” Sirius said with a smirk. Adira rolled her eyes.

“You know I hate that nickname.”

He shrugged. “Lots of kids get nicknames they don't like from their parents. Think of it as part of the godparent/godchild experience.”

“Whatever. So I can write him back?”

“Nah, owls take forever. Here, let me show you something,” he said, leading her to the living room with the hearth.

“What...?”

“Watch.”

He took a pinch of Floo powder, threw it in the fire. The fire turned green, and he got down on all fours and put his head in the fire.

“The Burrow!” he shouted.

Suddenly, his head disappeared, and Adira nearly screamed, but his body hadn't collapsed, so she thought he probably wasn't dead. She still worried, though, until he pulled his head back out of the fire and stepped away from the hearth.

“That's called a Fire Call. I didn't scare you, did I?”

“A little. It was shocking seeing your head fly off your body. Did that hurt?”

“Nope. A little uncomfortable kneeling by the fire, but... oh, this must be them.”

The fire, which had gone back to normal, had turned green again. Two redheads – Ron and Ginny – tumbled out of the fire and hit the wards, which shimmered briefly from the impact. Sirius did the things necessary to let them through the wards, and they stepped through gratefully, brushing ash off their clothes.

“Oh good, Adira's here already,” Ron said.

Ginny was looking around at the huge room. It suddenly dawned on Adira that Ginny might not have ever seen any place quite so swanky as this. She felt uncomfortable; while the house was Sirius's, not hers, she had never liked feeling like she was flaunting her wealth, and this was flaunting by proxy.

Whatever Ginny wanted to talk about, she didn't want to say right away. Adira even offered to find them a private room, but she wasn't fully psyched up to whatever it was yet, so Adira took the two Weasleys on a tour of the place instead. It was a little awkward of course, but Ron was suitably impressed, which helped ease tensions a little.

The tour over, they went to the drawing room and all sat down. Adira kept looking at Ginny, who was looking more uncomfortable. Ron looked at the two girls in turn, and after a few minutes, he coughed politely.

“Well, I need some water,” he said lamely. “I'll just go get some in the kitchen, okay.”

“If you're hungry, feel free to make a sandwich,” Adira told Ron. He nodded and left the room.

After another awkward space of time, Adira decided to ask.

“Ginny, what--”

“I'm sorry, Adira.”

Adira blinked.

“Sorry? About what?”

“When you came out as trans to me. I'm sorry I didn't take it well. I... I was a selfish, stupid little girl with a crush, and never really tried to get to know you as a person. I was attracted to what you were – that being the Boy Who Lived – and not who you were, and that was wrong. I'm sorry.”

Adira relaxed, and smiled. “Apology heard and accepted, Ginny. That had to have been a shock to you.”

“Yes, it was. Which also annoys me. The twins weren't even surprised, from what I hear. I mean, they didn't know, not really. But they knew something was different.”

“In fairness to you, the twins and I talk a lot more than you and I do.”

“Yeah, I know. Because I kept getting nervous around you, due to my crush on you. But, well... I want to get to know you for who you are, maybe be a friend. If you're okay with that.”

“I love having friends. The more the merrier. Especially with all the people at school who think I'm an attention-seeking nutter.”

“Cool. I mean, cool about us trying to be friends. I don't think you're any kind of a nutter,” she said, blushing. “So, er... how's your summer been so far?”

Adira smiled. She had been wanting someone else to talk about things with. Sirius was all well and good, but there were some things you didn't tell a parent or godfather. The fact she kinda had two dads – Sirius and Hagrid – didn't really change that. Sometimes you just need a girl friend. And Hermione... she wasn't all that girly. Ginny had her boyish aspects, but she did seem like a better fit for this kind of friend.

“Oh, it's been interesting,” Adira said, to buy time while she thought about how much she wanted to tell Ginny, and what, this soon in their friendship. “The best summer yet, I'd say. Hanging out at the burrow was fun and all, and I still want to visit sometime, but having a home that's my own, through Sirius, feels good. We eat out a lot, because Sirius never learned to cook for himself before his false imprisonment. I've been trying to teach him, but there's only so many fires you can put out in a week before it gets tiresome.”

Ginny laughed. “Maybe I can convince Mum to come over sometime and help out trying to teach him. I can just imagine what Mum would say if she found out that you two only ever ate homecooked meals when you were making it. She'd say it's not right, the child doing the cooking for the adult.”

“Yeah, that's pretty much Sirius's concern, too. It's part of why I'm teaching him. He is getting better, though. The other day he managed to boil some eggs without starting a fire.”

They talked of this and that for a while, until finally Adira felt she could bring the conversation over to something she had really wanted to talk about. She told Ginny all about the story of going to fill out the forms and get the scan for changing her name and gender marker.

“Hmm...” Ginny said, her expression reminding Adira of Mrs. Weasley.

“What?”

“Oh, it's just... why do they need to scan you to get your gender changed in their records? If there's one thing this has taught me, is that your gender is in your head, not between your legs. They should just take your word for it.”

Adira looked thoughtful. “Wow. Yeah. I hadn't thought of that, but what if I hadn't taken any of the potions or spells for a sex change? What if my worries had been founded, and they hadn't worked on me, and I hadn't been able to do it myself? I'd still have the, er, stuff down there. If that didn't match what they were looking for, would they even make an exception for me?”

“Exactly. And from what you said, making the transition puts most people in the position of becoming dependent on potions for the rest of their life. What if someone didn't want that? Or couldn't afford the potions? Why couldn't they just be whatever gender without actually having to do something about it?”

“Yeah...” Adira said, sitting there thinking. “Good points...”

Just then, the tiny feathery tennis ball that was Sirius's owl came into the room hooting and flying around like an excited, oversized bumblebee. Adira swatted half-heartedly at it, but Ginny giggled at its antics.

“What an adorable owl! What's her name?”

“His name. I think. I'm not actually sure how owl sexes work, but Sirius calls him a he. And he doesn't have a name yet.”

“Can I give him a name?”

“I guess so. You'd have to ask Sirius.”

“Ask me what?” said Sirius from the doorway. “Don't worry, I wasn't listening. I was looking for the owl.”

“Can I name him, Sirius?”

“Sure, why not? I haven't thought of a name for him.”

“Hmm... how about Pigwidgeon?”

The owl twittered around happily, now it had a name. Sirius sighed and rolled his eyes.

“Pigwidgeon it is, then. Come on, you feathery git, I have a letter for you.”

They watched Sirius grab the tiny owl out of the air and head out the room with him. Ginny turned back to Adira.

“I'm glad we had this chat. I like talking with you. I can't believe how ridiculous I've been about you in the past.”

Adira shrugged. “Yeah, well... I get it. I mean, if I had to try talking to some of the people I've taken a fancy to...” she stopped, turning red.

Ginny sat up more and looked very interested all of a sudden. “Ooooh, you fancy someone? Who?”

Adira shook her head.

“Come on, I can keep a secret.”

“I... you'll laugh. Or something.”

“I won't.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

She hesitated.

“Oh, fine then. I... do you know who Cho Chang is?”

“The Ravenclaw seeker?” Ginny said, looking momentarily jealous, before shaking it off and looking thoughtful. “Yes, I can see that. She's not bad looking, and she's nice. You could certainly do much worse. But your words kind of implied there was more than one person. Who else?”

“Um... none of these are anything major, you know. Just a little crush...”

“You're holding out on me, Addy.”

“You too with this 'Addy' thing?”

“Don't change the subject.”

Adira sighed. “Fine. I... I think your brother Bill is quite good looking.”

“Ah, yes. He does get a lot of attention. Any others?”

“Nobody I know the name of.”

“So you don't share Iliana's interest in Wood?”

“Nope.”

“Does Iliana like Cho Chang as well?”

“I don't know if I can say.”

#You can tell her, Addy.#

Not you too!

It's your official nickname now, the rest of us have all agreed on it.

Carefully trying to hide her reaction to this, Adira nodded at Ginny.

“Okay, Iliana says I can tell you. Yes, she fancies Cho Chang as well.”

“So you all can feel each other's feelings and still tell whose are whose?”

“For the most part, yes. Occasionally it can be difficult. Wait... you knew I was listening in whenever you and Iliana were talking?”

Ginny shrugged. “Yeah. I knew in the... I guess you could say 'intellectual' sense. But it was pretty much a case of 'out of sight, out of mind.' My odd behavior was pretty much a reaction to your face.”

“And you've since gotten over that?”

“You've grown your hair out, changed it. And you put pretty things in your hair now, and paint your nails, and stuff. Once you started doing that, the feelings that made me so nervous around you began to fade. Which led to the soul-searching that got me to approach you today.” She shrugged again, looking at the floor.

“Well, that's all water under the bridge now. Come on, I'm getting peckish, let's get a snack.”

Ginny smiled and followed her new friend into the kitchen.

~

The animagus stuff was still not going well three weeks later. Meditation had gotten a little easier, but it was still difficult and wasn't yielding anything. She knew they shouldn't get too discouraged, since Sirius had said it took him, her father, and Peter several years to work out how to do it. But this time, she had the help of someone who had done it. She had books about it, too, that would have been very difficult to get at Hogwarts. What was more, they had a natural affinity for transformations.

Occasionally Lupin would come over and continue to teach her the Patronus Charm, even though the dementors were long since gone from Hogwarts. She still hadn't made a corporeal Patronus, though. She wondered if she ever would.

Her nerves as the date of meeting the wizengamot representative approached increased. But finally, it came. Adira barely paid attention to anything as they got ready to go, and so time seemed to fly by, leaving her finding herself next to Sirius outside the door she'd be meeting whoever it was. She began to panic at this loss of time, though a quick check of their memory showed they just hadn't been paying attention.

She panicked more when the door opened and a young woman stepped out to call her name.

“Adira Potter? The representative will see you now.”

“Come on, I'll be right there with you,” Sirius said, guiding her into the room.

There was a chair facing away from her behind a desk. As she came in, the chair turned, and none other than Albus Dumbledore was there.

“Dumbledore! Sir. I... I wasn't expecting you to be the one I'd have to talk with.”

“Normally I am not. The task usually goes to the most junior member of the wizengamot, but I pulled some strings. Given the contents of the scan you went through here, the others agreed it was acceptable. I really am sorry I put you through so much worry, Adira. But now you can rest assured that my verdict is that you shall be granted the name and gender change you requested. I will start the process of getting all of that taken care of today. You will still need to stop by Gringott's, for they have their own ways of doing things, but this paper here will help you with them,” he said, handing a stunned Adira an official-looking document detailing the changes made to the records, with Dumbledore's own signature on the bottom.

“Thank you, sir!”

“Not a problem, my dear. Not that I had any doubt you'd be able to get it with another, I just thought a friendly face would help your nerves.”

“It did, thank you.”

Dumbledore nodded.

“Dumbledore,” Sirius said, “is it safe to talk about... the thing we discussed at the end of the school year?”

“Here? No, it isn't. But if you wish, I can come visit you at your home to speak of it.”

“Is that okay, Adira?”

She nodded. “Sure.”

“Good. When are you coming over, headmaster?”

“Oh, I have nothing pressing, if you wish me to come with you now.”

Sirius turned to Adira.

“That sounds good.”

“Then let us go now,” Dumbledore said.

They left the room together, and made their way up to the lobby of the Ministry of Magic, and took the Floo back home. The wards shimmered briefly when they got in, before Sirius gave the password that let them into the building.

“Impressive warding,” Dumbledore commented. “Wizard and goblin warding both, I see. Marvelous.”

“This way, headmaster,” Sirius said, escorting them to the sitting room. When they got there, an owl with ear-like tufts of feathers sat proudly on one of the chairs, a letter in its beak. Adira looked at the owl warily for a moment before she recognized the owl Sirius had given to Ron to replace Scabbers. She took the letter from its beak and gave it some owl treats.

“Hold on a moment, I want to read this letter first,” Adira said to Sirius and Dumbledore.

Adira or whoever,

Hi, it's Ron. I was just going to send Arnan here to tell you his new name, but then I remembered you've got that thing today at the Ministry. So how'd that go? Do you know yet? Tell me all about it. Ginny wants to know, too.
All for now.

Ron

“Cool. Arnan, you can stay here for a few hours 'til I write a reply, okay?”

The owl just regarded her haughtily.

She laughed. “Oh my. I'd be very surprised if you and Hermes didn't get into a haughtiness contest, Arnan.”

“Put Arnan in with Hedwig, will you, Adira? I know owls can't speak, but I don't feel comfortable talking around him about... what we're going to talk about.”

“Sure thing, Sirius,” she said, letting the owl sit on her arm before taking him into her bedroom with Hedwig.

“Hey Hedwig, this is Ron's new owl, Arnan. Keep each other company for a while, will you? I don't know how long this will take.”

The two owls nodded amicably at one another and then settled down to sleep. Adira paused momentarily to wonder at the weirdness of wizards using nocturnal birds to send each other letters, before heading back down to the sitting room.

When she sat down next to Sirius, Dumbledore began.

“So what exactly did you wish to discuss, Sirius?”

“About these horcruxes, headmaster. How do we destroy them? How do we even find them? How many does he have? And what will he have used to make them?”

“I have some theories about the three latter questions, but I need to gather more information before I can be sure. As to the first question, horcruxes are very difficult to destroy. The only things that I am sure will destroy the things are basilisk venom and fiendfyre. Fiendfyre is a spell that is difficult to cast and nearly impossible to control when cast. And basilisk venom, as you know, is rare, but we, er... have a supply on hand.”

“We do?” Sirius asked in amazement. “What do you mean?”

“Er...” said Adira. “Well, in our second year... down in the Chamber of Secrets, we met a basilisk. We didn't know how to kill as basilisk, and we were faced with the possibility of being killed by one. So Al just... he just started talking to it. In parseltongue. Convinced it to switch sides. It turned on Riddle, biting the diary, killing it. We've got an arrangement with the basilisk, feeding it with food from the Hogwarts kitchens. In return, it stays down there and doesn't threaten anyone.”

Sirius's eyes went wide. “You have a pet basilisk? In the school?”

“Yeah, that's right in essentials.”

Running his hands through his hair in astonished silence, Sirius looked like he was feeling ill.

“A basilisk! A bloody great basilisk! In a school!”

“Yes, a basilisk. A basilisk which, incidentally, is much more easily controlled than the giant cerberus named Fluffy that was in the castle in our first year.”

“A bloody basilisk and a giant three-headed dog?”

“Not to mention the talking spiders the size of automobiles living in the Forbidden Forest, imported by Hagrid, that we met in our second year,” Adira felt Zoey saying with her voice in a casual sort of way, as though deadly monsters were a hum-drum thing to have at a school. “They very nearly ate us.”

“Now now, let's try not give your godfather a stress-induced heart attack, please. I have many skills, but healing magic is not one I am especially good at,” Dumbledore said in a very droll way.

Adira looked over at Sirius, who was clutching his hair like it was a lifeline and breathing very heavily, and heard Zoey giggle. It took her a moment to realize that the giggle had been aloud.

“Anyway,” Adira said, trying not to smile, “we were talking about horcruxes. I agree with Sirius, and I would like to add that we need more information about them. In fact, I mentioned this to Sirius once, weeks ago.”

Calmer now with the distraction, Sirius nodded. “I know I could get books about them at Knockturn Alley if I looked hard enough, but well... between not wanting to be spotted there by Light wizards and being sure the Dark ones wouldn't trust me, I've decided not to.”

“Yes, I should think so. Such books are not precisely illegal, but having one does make the Ministry scrutinize you very closely if they find out you own one. Unless, of course, the book belongs to a school.”

“You're not telling me the library has books about horcruxes, are you?” Adira asked, incredulous.

“The library does not have books about horcruxes anymore, not even in the restricted section. It did, back when Tom Riddle was in school, but when I became headmaster, I removed them. The one I kept is now hidden in one of my rooms at the school. In case such information might be necessary one day, as it indeed was.”

“Is there any chance we can, er... borrow the book? Or look at it in your office?”

“I shall consider it, Miss Potter,” Dumbledore said carefully. “In the meantime, what you must know about horcruxes is what I have already told you; they are pieces of the wizard's soul, earth-bound in protective casings. Such casings are so thoroughly protected magically, with spells to protect them from destruction, and often riddled with hexes, that as I said, only fiendfyre and basilisk venom can destroy them.” He paused a moment, thinking, then added, “I can also say that horcruxes are the opposite of a person. Where a person can die without damaging their soul, when a horcrux is destroyed, that part of the soul is destroyed forever.”

“But what about Voldemort's horcruxes, specifically? How do we hunt those down?”

“I will be gathering more information about Voldemort. I assure both of you that when I have what I need, I will begin teaching Adira all that I know and suspect about Voldemort and his horcruxes. I am not at that point yet, though. Please do not badger me about it.”

His tone was light, but it was nonetheless clear that he would brook no more discussion of it for now.

“Okay, so... if basilisk venom is so destructive, is there any way we can collect it for when we need it? In case Adira can't get down to the Chamber for some reason, I mean.”

“As to that: yes, there are vials I can acquire that have charms that allow them to hold basilisk venom. They wouldn't work on horcruxes, though, these spells. And even if they did, they are temporary; long-term storage of basilisk venom is fraught with difficulty, the venom must be re-flasked every so often before it burns through the flask. I believe each vial lasts around 6 months before it begins to develop leaks.”

Dumbledore sighed. “Alas, if only we knew where the Sword of Griffindor was. It has properties that would be helpful to us. It is goblin-made to have the power to imbibe only that which strengthens it. Meaning that we could pour basilisk venom on it, and it would imbibe the venom, giving us another weapon against horcruxes.”

“That would indeed be useful, sir.”

“Yes, it would. Ah well, no sense worrying over things that we can do nothing about. We have a ready source of basilisk venom at hand, and that is enough. What we really need now, as I have intimated, is information. Information I have already begun to seek. With luck, we can find all the horcruxes and destroy them before Voldemort has the chance to regain a body.”

There were a few noises of agreement, but nobody really spoke. There was silence for a few beats until Dumbledore broke it.

“Are there any other questions I have not already answered?”

Adira and Sirius looked at one another, unable to think of anything to add.

Dumbledore stood up then.

“Well, if that is all, I shall leave the two of you in peace. Good day to you, Sirius, and Adira.”

Twinkling his eyes at them first, he then went to the hearth and took the Floo back to wherever it was he went during the summer. With him gone, the two of them went back to sit down again.

“Well, Adira, how's your animagus studies going?”

“Not so well. Meditation is difficult. Even when I manage it, nothing comes of it. And honestly, I don't think the normal way of doing things is going to work with us. We already change so often and so quickly that the mandrake leaf isn't necessary, I think. The only real problem, in our opinion, is that when we try to transform into an animal, it's always some weird hybrid creature, and human-sized. No idea what that's about.”

“I thought Tier was the one that did that sort of thing?”

“He is. For whatever reason, when we need to transform into something other than our usual form, we have to tap into his abilities. But no matter what animal we picture in our mind, it doesn't come out right. There's some block there, that once we figure out will, I think, let us become our animal or animals.”

“Well, the transformation isn't supposed to work for any random animal shape. Animagi only have one animal form for the same sort of reason the Patronus only has one form. It's a reflection of your soul and your mind.”

“Ah, that could explain it. There's like, five of us, with a common memory, and overlapping thoughts at times. I'm betting the reflection is complicated by that.”

“Sounds like you need to disentangle from one another, or all concentrate on one animal.”

“We've already tried that. It isn't working. Watch, we'll try to concentrate on the form of a black cat.”

She stood up and closed her eyes, concentrating. After a few moments, she began to glow and shrink. It seemed to be going well until she got to Zoey's height, and then the form went wobbly and unstable. After fighting it for almost an entire minute, their form settled on a Zoey-sized catgirl with one hand a paw and the other just furry, half a tail, and one leg shorter than the other. The face was also very distorted, halfway between the shape of a cat's head and a human's head.

The catgirl monstrosity opened its mouth to speak, and a creepy sound that was nothing like either a human voice nor a cat's voice came forth, startling them both.

A brief glow later, and Adira was back to normal.

“See what I mean? That was the closest we've gotten to a cat form yet.”

“I do see what you mean. But don't worry too much. The animagus transformation is very difficult. One of the reasons it's usually overseen by the Ministry is the bizarre and freakish ways the transformation can go wrong. You're just experiencing something similar, I expect. The only difference is, you can put yourselves right again with a thought, and most wizards would need a trip to St. Mungo's. Keep on practicing. You seem to be making a lot of progress, even without the mandrake leaf.”

“Do you think I should use the mandrake leaf?”

“Hmm... I don't know. We'll leave that decision for later, since you seem to be doing okay without it for now.”

“You call that okay?”

“Well, look at what you lot have become in the past. From what you've told me, one of your previous bestial transformations was something like a cross between a human, a wolf, and a dragon. At least now you're recognizable as being a cross between only two species. Like I say, it's progress.”

Adira laughed. “Oh, I guess you're right, Sirius. It's just frustrating. Been working on this, and the Patronus charm, and neither of them are getting very far. I still can only make a bit of mist, with the Patronus charm.”

“Well remember, Adira, your name is officially changed now. As is your gender. Maybe concentrating on that will give you a good strong happy memory.”

“Oh yeah, that's right!”

Adira got out her wand, and concentrated on her new happy memory, on the joy of being recognized for who and what she was at last.

“Expecto patronum!”

The wand flared with bright white light, and there was a vague shape, but it turned into formless vapor almost at once.

“WOW! Did you see that?”

“I did, Adira. That was very nearly corporeal. Good progress, keep it up.”

“Did you see what it was?”

“Nope. Could've been anything. All I saw with any clarity was an eye, which didn't give me any clues, it was still so blurry.”

“Oh, well, at least it's getting better.”

She concentrated again.

“Expecto patronum!”

This time, the form was a little more solid, for slightly longer.

“Looked like some kind of canine, I think,” Sirus said. “Maybe a wolf, or a dog? Not sure.”

She tried a few more times, but each time it was even less distinct than the first time.

“Ah well, don't worry. You're still making progress. Keep practicing, you'll get it. And what you've got now is still enough to buy some time to get away. And you're only 14, so even an indistinct patronus is a huge achievement.”

She sighed. She really didn't like how frustrating it was trying to do these things. She wanted to skip the waiting, but there wasn't any way to do that, so she just resigned herself to more practice.

Note: I would like to credit the fanfics I got a lot of the ideas for the animagus process from, but I've read so many at this point that I don't remember which ones I got these ideas from.

Note two: Lame ending to the chapter, I know, but... *shrugs*



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