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Follow in their Footsteps

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                                                                 To follow in their footsteps...

                                                                                 ...each for reasons of their own

                                                                                               (But mostly because it'd be awesome)



It was one of the most horrifying things that could have happened.

He really should have known better than to get his hopes up. But no, he had been so excited to follow into the footsteps of his father, of Sirius, of the Marauders – and to become an animagus.

It was awe-inspiring that they had managed something like this in their fifth year at Hogwarts. For Harry, Ron and Hermione it was a few years later than that. But then, they had been busy during their Hogwarts years – with plots and danger and a brewing war. And then the actual war. Hunting, hiding, fighting, dying, rebuilding, grieving, celebrating - there was always something more important to do.

Until suddenly there wasn't and their whole future lay open before them.

And while Hermione was talking about reforms and joining the Ministry and Ron was going on about Aurors and Hit Wizards and Quidditch, Harry Potter, twenty years old and completely free for the first time in his life said those damning words.

"But before all that we could take a bit of a breather. I've always wanted to become an animagus like Sirius and my dad."

And that was that. Because there was no chance that, after everything, they'd deny him this. Especially because Hermione had always been fascinated by discovering new and interesting forms of magic and Ron was eager enough to do something, well, awesome.

It took research, potions, mental practices – Hermione had made a detailed schedule and Harry and Ron didn't mind humouring her and going along with it because it saved them the trouble of doing all the research themselves.

And then the day was there – the day Hermione had marked with a brilliant green ink spelling out 'first transformation'.

Hermione went first – her form a beautiful and graceful owl and Harry laughed because it was both wonderful and fitting. Then was Ron's turn, because by unspoken agreement they had all decided that Harry would go last.

Both Hermione and Harry were surprised at the large, intimidating animal suddenly in front of them, but the bear looked more comical than dangerous due to the strange sounds it was making and the way it twisted around, trying to take a look at his own body parts. When Ron finally changed back, the three of them grinned at each other in a moment of victory.

And then, suddenly, Harry's turn had come up.

No more delay, the moment of truth – he'd finally find out his animagus form. All these months spent preparing he had wondered. Wondered and worried because what if he turned into a snake or something, because of his ability to speak parseltongue? Or what if he turned into some other sort of dark creature because he used to have a dark lord with a direct link to his mind? Or what if he was something tiny, pathetic and useless, what if he was a rat like Pettigrew?

Yes, he had worried, but he'd also hoped – he'd imagined being a great eagle, a lion or even a stag like his father.

But what if he wasn't?

There were no do-overs in an animagus transformation. There was only one animal at the core of one's being, and although that animal may change during a person's lifetime, that first transformation made it fixed. Even if his personality changed, if his core animal changed with time and experiences, his animagus form would always remain the same.

Which was why it was probably a good thing that they were doing this now, and not during their fifth year in Hogwarts – when Harry had still been a Horcrux.

With a sharp nod to his friends who smiled at him with encouragement and support, Harry squared his shoulders and changed.

And utter silence fell between them.

He stared nervously at Ron and Hermione, reading in their expressions of utter shock that yes, he had done it again – Harry Potter, Boy-who-lived-to-never-be-normal. Dread was pooling in his stomach and he was afraid to look down at his body.

Finally it was Ron who broke the silence; "Blimey, mate. You're still a virgin?"

His mind drew a blank when he considered why the hell Ron would ask him that at a moment like this. Then realization dawned, slowly but inescapably – moving in like a rolling fog.

'No…' he tried to say. What came out was a little high-pitched whinny.

He looked pleadingly at Hermione, wanting her to tell him it was all a vicious lie.

"Oh Harry, you are beautiful!"

Ah, hell no. He sat down, his horse's legs sprawling out awkwardly. He should have known something like this would happen. He should have known.

"Yes mate, you look, magical," Ron managed in between bursts of laugher, "Look at you – the defeater of The Dark Lord, Saviour of Wizarding Britain… So very pure of heart."

Harry changed back.

"Ron, stop laughing. This is not a bad thing!" Hermione scolded, "You really do look beautiful Harry, and not many people can change into magical creatures, so it's really quite brilliant."

Yes, brilliant. He pouted. Magic really did have it in for him. This was arguably even worse than being a snake or some dark creature. Ron would never, ever let him live this down.

And he had so wanted to be an eagle.