The Lure of the Fur-rest
The Lure of the Fur-rest
'You ready?' James Potter's eyeglasses reflected torchlight as he turned to
grin at his partner in mischief. Sirius Black merely smirked, grabbed
the edge of James's Invisibility Cloak and pulled it around him. James
adjusted the Cloak to finish the job and thus they made their way to one of
the lesser-used stairways leading out of Hogwarts.
Memories rather than moonlight helped them cross to the Forbidden Forest --
only a sliver of the setting crescent moon showed above the mountaintops.
James and Sirius made sure a line of trees and bushes lay between
them and the Gamekeeper's hut before unCloaking and incanting Lumos.
'How far do you want to go?' Sirius grinned eagerly.
'Just far enough so we have some room. If you have to haul my
charm-damaged body back I don't want it to be too hard for you, right?'
James pushed some branches out of the way. He grimaced and
shook spiderweb off his hand. 'Euch.'
Sirius snorted. 'Mate, we have this charm down flat, you know that.
All that's left is the actual test. Peter'll catch us up later,
if he can be bothered to apply himself instead of whining.'
In short order, they broke into a small clearing where starlight cast their
faint shadows onto the weedy grass. They stared at each other for a
moment; Sirius finally said, 'All right, then,' and put his wand away.
James stepped back and watched intently. The handsome teenager
closed his eyes and screwed up his face, invoking all the different
components of the Animagus spell, focussing on what the books said was
the most important: concentrate on what you believed to be your
Nobody knew what form they would take until they actually performed the
complex charm for the first time. The boys had read horror story after
horror story about wizards who had failed, ending up half-beast/half-human;
or who had achieved an animal form without retaining their human minds and
had lived out their lives as somebody's pet. This had scared Peter
into wanting to abandon the effort, but his mates wouldn't let him, laying
on the guilt about gratitude to Remus for all his tutoring -- but all three
knew Peter wouldn't be ready for weeks yet due to his lack of nerve.
Despite their loudly stated confidence in themselves and Sirius's natural
Transfiguration talent, James still had tiny twinges of uncertainty.
What if they'd forgotten something? Suddenly, there was a
soft *pop*, and Sirius no longer stood before him. Instead,
James strained his eyes to make out the huge black shape before him.
He pointed his wand-light directly at it; pale eyes glowed back
at him like captured stars, and James jumped back with a stifled yell.
'Sirius... you're... you're a Grim! You're the Padfoot himself!
You did it! Erm... you're still Sirius, right?' The
legend-sized 'dog' barked once; James thought his friend's tail wagged
furiously. The dog bounded forward, licking James's cheek with
one big slurp. 'Aaauugh, stop that, you prat!'
Another *pop* and Sirius stood next to James again, beaming to
split his face.
'It was incredible! Come on, Potter, you try it!'
James gathered himself as his best friend had just done, reached deep
inside himself and his magic... and felt his reality shift. Next
he knew, he stared down at Sirius's astonished face... and his head
'James -- you're a stag!' Sirius bent and grabbed one of his
friend's thin legs, pulling it straight so James could dip his head
and see his hoof. He shook his head experimentally and felt what
must be a full rack of antlers tug at his skull. Sirius couldn't
contain himself -- he jumped around in glee before holding still long
enough to change again. The massive black dog bounced down into
a play-bow, barking at the stag to come play -- then bolted out of the
They took turns chasing and being chased, revelling in their new forms.
James had tagged Sirius out and was now the chasee when a pale
form bounded without warning right into the stag-boy's path. James
avoided it with difficulty but -- not used to his new long legs --
sprawled over a fallen log. Sirius, pelting after him at full
tilt, tripped over his friend in turn, which left both boys on the
ground staring up at their roadblock. Startled, they lost their
control on their charms and shapeshifted back to human.
A centaur. Young, from what they could see with their animal vision
before losing that advantage -- faint light shining off him because he
was blond all over, from top of human head to the end of palomino tail
with matching Nordic-pink skin. He too had started at the unusual
spectacle of a mythic dog and a stag playing tag.
The boys stayed frozen in alarm. What would he do to them?
Stare, apparently. The centaur finally stepped forward, leaning
down to get a better look at them.
'I am Firenze. And you were not what you appeared to be.
Humans... be warned. Mars is rising, and Saturn is
ill-positioned for your ephemeral affairs. Your people would
be well-served to look within yourselves for a solution to your
problems. And you would be well-served to leave the Forest
now -- the Acromantulæ are restless tonight, and you are unused to
those alternate forms of yours.'
Firenze straightened, turned... and bounded off, swallowed by the shadows
in seconds. James and Sirius looked at each other, eyes wide, and
bolted away after changing back to creature-form. They ran
neck-and-neck all the way back to the edge of the trees.
However, by the time they'd reached the castle and re-Cloaked, they could
barely suppress their triumphant snickering enough to stay concealed.
They had done it!
Still... once safe in Gryffindor Tower, James mused out loud, 'Wonder what
that Centaur was going on about, looking within ourselves....'
Sirius shrugged. 'Who cares? We DID it, James! We're going to own
the Forest from now on!'