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Chapter 37: Frolicking Animagi and Dummies

Thank you to my Betas; Cateagle and Sparky40sw.

After her last class of the day, Ginny decided that she had enough of exercising her gray matter and wanted some fun.   Her day hadn’t been going how she would have designed it, had she a choice.   Her classes were the most evil combination of boring and difficult that made your brains want to retreat through whatever orifice is available.   As if to compound the dreadful day, she had missed Harry at lunch and not seen Ron or Hermione to be able to find his whereabouts.

She decided that, by now, either or both of the lovebirds should be back in the Gryffindor common room, and would be able to point her to her boyfriend so that he could do his duty and comfort her after a bad day.

Sure enough, both lovebirds were in the common room acting in a manner that should have been saved for somewhere more private.   Ginny really had to get Hermione to a healer to see if she was brain damaged.   How she could find her brother attractive enough to do that with is a mystery.   Just the thought made her shiver.

Unfortunately neither Ron not Hermione were any help, as they both spouted the same drivel about Fred’s prank resulting in a room full of flowers and Harry with a day off.  If she knew that that was all she had to do to get a day off, she would have paid more attention to the twins earlier in life.   And what was this, a room full of roses and none for her?   She huffed.   All that and they could not give her a clue as to where to find Harry.

Ginny trudged out of the common room on her trek to find her wayward boyfriend.   Her search brought her to all likely corners of the great school but with no results in the positive.   He was not haunting any of his normal locations and she knew that she didn’t have to check any of their joint locations, as they both found them boring without the other.

Her final place to search within the school was the astronomy tower, where Harry occasionally liked to find his peace.   She smiled at the memory of his peaceful expression that normally was reserved for only during non-Voldemort enhanced sleep.   The nightmares were not frequent, but did rob Harry of his rest on occasion.   That peaceful expression could only be seen during waking hours if Harry could find complete personal peace, something that both Harry and Ginny knew from experience to be all too rare.

It didn’t take long for Ginny to search the classroom tower and discover no sign of Harry.   She heaved a calming breath of the frigid air and felt an inner urging to spread her wings…well arms.   This reaction was new to her and took her by surprise.   She had never felt her animal self brush her mind while she was in human form before.   She stared out over the clear blue sky and felt the urge to soar grow in her chest, pushing to be released.   The thought of unaided flight in the open appealed to her and her current need for relaxation.   Maybe while she was up she could find where Harry had gone.

She stood on the edge of the parapet and opened her senses.   She embraced her animal self and let the transformation take over.   The falcon in the back of her mind came quickly to the fore, her human instincts replaced by the avian raptor instincts, as her body and clothes were replaced by the light and nimble falcon with spotted feathers.   She unfurled her wings and gave a mighty heave as she launched herself from the stone into open air two hundred feet from the unforgiving ground beneath, really a silly thing for a fifteen-year-old girl to do.

Her wings caught immediately as the momentum created by the vertical force of gravity interacting with the mass of the falcon was translated to forward motion by the horizontal wing surface, causing air to move from the front to the back of the feathery wings, creating a localized low pressure zone overpowering said vertical force of gravity and causing flight.   Luckily she didn’t have to understand any of the physics of flight to safely navigate the airflows, her instincts serving her well.

It was some minutes after the stress of the day has melted away before she pulled herself from the thrill of soaring in the open air, riding the rising thermals as if an expert, to the task at hand of finding Harry.

She drifted quickly from her vaulted perch on the top of a thermal back to the castle.   The snow was nearly virgin over the dormant lawns.   The only evidence of living humans beside the path plowed by trudging students to the greenhouses or Care of Magical Creatures was a single, solo set of tracks leading to the Quidditch pitch.   It was obvious to her at that point.   Harry had gone there to relax and play.   She would have to aid him in this pursuit.

She was surprised to find the tracks change half way across the pitch.   Gone were the two booted feet of a wizard, only to be replaced by the staggered sign of a large running cat.   The tracks seemed alive with the bounding joy their maker had while forging them.   She consciously followed the tracks out of the field and past the structure to a concealed meadow beyond.  It was an image from a storybook.   A wide meadow blanketed by fluffy snow, surrounded by picturesque pines.   Later Ginny would realize how out of place a small forest of pines surrounding a meadow is in the Scottish highlands.   The forest had been magically planted centuries before when a headmaster had fallen in love with the idea of Christmas trees and garlands during the festive season.   Ginny would realize that the Christmas trees Hagrid always dragged in for the Christmas celebration had come from somewhere, even as out of place as they were in Scotland.   The blanket of snow was only interrupted by a strangely unfrozen stream cutting a swath diagonally through the pristine meadow.

Harry was easily the most noticeable current feature of the meadow.   Where else would you see a midnight black panther standing statue still staring at the snow?

The panther launched into the air soundlessly and plunging into the white surface in a dive, startling Ginny.   Moments later he pulled himself from the subzero blanket with a small animal within his jaw’s grasp.   The mouse had built itself a home in snow tunnels, plucking and consuming the foliage left abandoned to whither and die below the snow blanket.

Seeing her mate kill and consume the rodent caused her falcon instincts to react with need.   The falcon instincts wanted food, wanted prey.   She scanned the surrounding area with her keen eyes as she circled, seeing no other living creature but her and Harry.   This caused her Weasley half to assert itself and demand retribution in the form of mischief.   She gave in to her newest option and dived at his unseeing back.   She gathered speed before extending her talonned feet and driving herself into his broad shoulders.   She bounced off and resumed driving her wings to gain back her altitude and momentum.

Harry felt the hard impact throw him to the side.   He continued the roll and landed on his paws in a fighting stance.   His claws extended, he looked for any threat, but confusion set in when he found none.   His confusion abated when he heard the distinctive call of a raptor.   He swung his powerful, furry head skyward and immediately found the source.   Everything in him, both instinct and intellect, reported the identity of that particular falcon as his mate.

As he marveled at his orbiting girlfriend, his instinct told him to see to his mate’s needs.   Harry realizes that, as a panther, he was capable of hunting the hidden prey but the same could not be said of his girlfriend.   The snow drove all small rodents underground and unavailable to the falcon.   Harry slinked several meters away from his last catch before stopping dead and cocking his head to the right and then left.   He heard the distinctive skittering of a small rodent in yet another warren of tunnels in the soft snow.   Sensing the rodent pass into his kill zone, Harry coiled his muscles, preparing for his strike.

He loosed his coiled muscles and struck into the air, diving into the ground fang first, crashing through the snow and closing his mouth around another morsel.   The entire move was not natural by any means to a panther.   To learn this hunting style more common to snow bound canine, Harry had taken the report from his animal senses that there was a something below the snow and his intellect had connected this with what it had seen on the telly of a snow fox using this method for capturing prey below the snow and the instincts of the cat had answered with a plan.

All of this resulted in the stunned rodent in Harry’s jaws.

Ginny was fascinated intellectually and hungry instinctually as she circled the cat.   She watched Harry fling the live rodent into the air, causing her instincts to curse her lack of ability to catch a mouse in the same way.

The large cat sprung forward to corral the rodent and started to bat it around, playing with the poor creature.   The cat reached forward and recaptured the frightened mouse with a small nod of recognition to the falcon.   Curious, the falcon swooped from its orbit toward a closer location for better observation.   As she approached, she could feel time slow as the big cat flung its head sharply and released the mouse back into a high arch.   A moment of bafflement was quickly replaced with understanding, causing her to change her swoop into a power dive for the flying morsel.   It had dawned on her that her mate was providing for her the prey that she couldn’t obtain on her own.   The feelings of love and gratitude outshone the pride that wanted to refuse the charity.   Her warmer feelings reminded her that a meal provided by her mate was not charity.

She shot forward with her talons at the fore and snatched the mouse from the air, her instincts guiding her flight on an intercept course.   For its last moments of life, the mouse provided the falcon with the distinct pleasure of a predator, the feeling of the desperate struggle from prey within its grasp.   Just before landing, a casual twist of its talon ended the life of the rodent, turning it into simple food.

She wasted no time in consuming the rodent by tearing it with her powerful beak, the hooked upper making short work of the soft flesh and brittle bone.   This meal, while minute for a panther was quite satisfying for the falcon, sating her hunger and her instincts.

She hopped to the reclining feline and nipped at his lips affectionately, the closest to a kiss that could be achieved between the disparate species.   With a soft lick from his rough tongue, he accepted her thanks.   He curled up into a tight ball, to which she answered by hopping into the nest that his curled up form provided.

It was not long before the cold of the surrounding snow got to them and they both transformed to their human selves, as if by mutual agreement.

"I don’t think that either of our animal forms is meant for the winter snow," Harry laughed.

Ginny laughed in return but agreed.   She leaned into him and they shared a light kiss.   The kiss heated up in no time as her hands found residence on the back of his head, tangling themselves in his hair.   Harry’s hands moved from her shoulder to the small of her back as he pulled her against his torso, suddenly enjoying her salient features, even through the bulky robes.

Ginny’s hands, as a matched pair, moved from the back of his head, past his shoulders and spine to new territory.   With a bold flair, her hands stray past his beltline and found positive purchase with two handfuls of flesh that made Harry gasp into her mouth.   She wasted no opportunity and deepened the kiss, thrusting her tongue into his in an aggressive move.   Harry recovered from her continuing purchase on his bum and returned the aggressive kiss with his own tongue coming into the action.   Pleasure flitted throughout both of their bodies as he massaged her tongue with his own.

Ginny used her position to pull them flush together using her hold on Harry’s posterior.   Moaning, Harry moved his attention from Ginny’s lips and mouth along her jaw until he nipped at the ridge of her ear causing a sharp intake of breath from the teenage witch.

The slowly flickering flame within Ginny roared to life with his kisses, but it was the warm breath in her ear and the nibbling on her ear that weakened her knees.   Seeking a more advantageous position, Ginny pushed him suddenly, sending him to the soft snow.   Their grip on each other pulled Ginny with him, sending his breath out in a whoosh as her body landed on his.   She moved immediately to the junction of his neck and shoulder and attacked his pulse point.   She nibbled, kissed and sucked the spot, causing him to moan in pleasure, all of his attention focused on her none too gentle ministrations.

Before he could return the favor, he became aware of the damp condition of his freezing back.   He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her up to capture his burning lips.   He poured every last ounce of his very soul into the connection for some long final moments.   Her writhing on top of him was causing many pleasurable reactions in his body, but the frigid condition of the surrounding environment couldn’t be ignored.

Ginny was enjoying every moment, every caress, when suddenly Harry’s tight grip pulling her into himself, was changed to a soft push away from his body.   After a moment of resistance, she stopped her activities and pulled back, looking in his eyes with an unspoken question.

"Ginny," Harry said, "despite my body screaming how brilliant that was, we have to be going in."

"Why?" Ginny asked breathily.

Harry chuckled strangely at the mix of outrage and lust in her eyes.

"It’s late," Harry said, "and I’m freezing."

She looked down on him in sympathy before the real world reinserted itself into her consciousness, registering the cold she was now feeling in her extremities.

"I guess," she acknowledged.   "And you do have a DA meeting tonight."

"Yes, we do," Harry agreed.

"Thanks for the snack," Ginny smiled back.

"You’re welcome," he said, "we’ll have to continue this in a warmer setting later."

Her heart gave a flutter at thoughts of later activities in warmer settings, involving less clothing encumbering their efforts.

Harry happily entered the Room of Requirement that night; the night of its grand re-opening.   This was to be the first DA meeting in the magical room after its rebuild and re-enchantment.

It surprised Harry that he was able to complete the complex enchantments.   The activity left him proud of himself and his friends.   He had certainly gotten a sound sleep during the night after the hours of enchantments that were necessary to rebuild the room’s abilities.

When he finished making requests of the room for the ideal setup, it had ten rows of objects covered with sheets, concealing their identity, and an observation platform that would allow him to see the progress of the students.   He had gotten the idea for the new equipment from a book that Hermione had shown him regarding casting dummies that Aurors used in training.   The only problem had been that the casting dummies had actually been too violent for a school setting, as they fired back harmful spells that were stored in them by the instructor.

His idea was slightly different.

After his preparation, he waited for Ginny and his friends to arrive.   Ginny had bid him to go ahead to set up the meeting, as she was going to take a long hot shower and get ready.   He agreed, as he would be ready at least twenty minutes before her, even with his own hot shower.

Harry smiled in greeting as Ron and Hermione entered the room hand in hand.

"Hey Harry," Ron greeted enthusiastically.

"Hey Ron, Hey Hermione," Harry answered.   "Brilliant job on enchanting that dummy.   The room copied it perfectly."

"Thanks Harry," she said.

"Blimey, what happened to your neck, Harry?" Ron asked, pointing to a spot at the base of his neck to the right.

"What?" Harry asked in confusion.   He silently asked the room for a mirror and one was provided immediately.   There at the base of his neck was a decidedly noticeable mark left by his enthusiastic girlfriend.   He had a hickey.

Harry did not answer the original question, but simply covered the spot by buttoning his uniform shirt to the top button.

Ron laughs at his best friend and said with the biggest smile he has to offer, "Not to worry there, Harry.   It’ll go away in a day or three," he said.   He continued in a stage whisper for Harry’s benefit, "Hermione sometimes gets a bit overzealous too.     I think that it’s their way of marking territory."

Harry laughed as a blushing Hermione socked Ron in the arm for his poorly concealed comment.

"Too much information, man," Harry grinned.

Ron was saved as students started to flood in through the doors.   Harry motioned for them to stop and gather just inside the doors for the explanation of the day’s activities.   He was momentarily distracted when Ginny glided up to his side and gave him a hug, the clean fresh Ginny scent sending his mind on a holiday.   He shook himself from the distraction when it became evident that the entire Defense Association had turned up for this special session.

"Hello," he greeted them.   "Welcome to the reopening of the Room of Requirements.   With this area back open, we’ll be able to use one of the ideas that Hermione Granger found to aid in our practice."

Harry motioned to Hermione with a nod.   She smiled and waved her wand in a practiced movement.   The sheets on the hundred’s of practice dummies flew off to an unused corner.

"I ask that we suspend our class learning from the book.   You’d be best served to continue with the book on your own outside of class.   If you have any questions on one of the spells just ask me or one of the professors," Harry said to his class.   "Today, however, we’ll start using practice dummies that Hermione conjured.   They will dodge spells and return simulated spells back at you.   I want you to treat this as a duel, despite the returning spells only being simulated."

Harry smiled at the goggling expressions on the students when faced with the wooden mannequins.

"These practice dummies," Harry said, "will shield themselves and send simulated spells at you as practice.   In their hands are sticks to simulate wands.   If you manage to hit them with an expelliarmus, they may lose their wands.   They will move to the right and left and can duck.   Try not to get hit with their simulated spells and to disable your opponent."

"How can you have simulated spells?" Asked someone disbelievingly.

"Simple," Harry said, "magic.   They will fire different color sponges with dye to show that you were hit.   You’re successful if you can go unmarked.   The sponges will travel at the same speed as their colored spell.   Okay, everyone in front of a dummy and wands out."

The previous week Harry had put a lot of his power into the spell for recreating the Room of Requirement, thus allowing for enough space to allow a couple of hundred students to have duels with their dummies at the same time.

Harry blew a coach’s whistle once the students were in place.   The students began sending spells at the dummies and all learned that it wouldn’t be as easy as any had hoped.   Harry could see from his vantage point that many were having trouble keeping up with the simulated opponents.   This would be good for practice.

While Harry had his attention focused on the students, Tonks entered the room and looked on approvingly.   She made her way to Harry’s side without a sign showing that he noticed the young metamorph professor.

"Looks like a good use for the new room of requirement," Tonks said approvingly.

"Thanks," Harry said after a small flinch.   He scolded himself internally for not paying enough attention.

"But won’t some of those spells be too much for the students.   Those things can be dangerous," Tonks said, waving toward the practice dummies.   "I remember when I was in the academy.   Those things kicked my tail way more often than I would have liked."

Harry chuckled and bent down to grab a blue sponge ball that had rolled to his feet.

"No," he said, "they will just get temporarily messy."

Harry beaned Tonks in the middle of the chest with the dyed ball.

She stood dumbstruck looking between Harry, the sponge ball at her feet and the blue spot on her blouse.

"You prat," she yelled, "this is a new silk blouse."

"Yes," Harry smiled in return, "nice.   Has Remus seen it yet?"

Tonks colored, both from anger and embarrassment.   "No, and he never will with it stained like this."

"Tonks," Harry said, "are you a witch or not?"

"Harry you can’t get stains out of this kind of silk even with magic," Tonks said with exasperation.   "It hurts the cloth."

"Then do me a favor," Harry said, "and step outside the room and come back in."

"Not going to try to run from me are you Potter?" Tonks threatened.

"Just do it, Professor," Harry smirked.

With a grumble Tonks stepped out and was astonished to find the stain disappear.   She reentered and hugged Harry.   Luckily for him the other students were much too busy with their mock duels to see his embarrassment.

"How?" she asked.

"The room’s magical," Harry said.   "Everything it creates is magical and needs the room to supply it with magic to exist.   When you leave the room, anything that you have, that the room created, disappears."

"Yeah, uh…remind me to never create clothing in that room," Tonks blushed.   Harry stared at her sideways and shook himself.

"Don’t even want to think about that," Harry said quickly.

"What’s wrong, Harry?" She asked in a breathy seductive voice.   "Don’t you find the thought of me without clothing attractive?"

Harry gulped, "Sure, I just don’t want to think of you and Remus and the Room of Requirement."

She broke down into peels of laughter, joined later by Harry.

After they recovered, Harry turned serious, "So are you and Remus still dating?"

"As much as we can," she said with an air of regret.

"As he is the closest thing to family that I want to recognize, the Dursley’s don’t count," Harry proclaimed, "I feel that I should be the one to continue with a tradition."

"What’s that Harry?" She asked with little concern, her attention on the dueling students.

Harry stood shoulder to shoulder with her and spoke with just enough volume for her to hear.   "If you break his heart, they will be finding your corpse for weeks," Harry said with complete conviction in his low voice.

Tonks blinked in surprise.   She had not expected that from Harry.   When she looked into his eye, she gulped and quickly reassured him that it would not become a problem.

"Good, then I can say that I am happy that you two have found happiness," he said with a sudden jovial expression.   "You are happy, right?"

She let a smile break through her intimidation at the hands of the teenager.

"Yeah, I am," she said matter-of-fact’ly.

"Good," Harry said with finality.

"Why aren’t you out there with them?" Tonks asked.

Harry withdrew his wand for the first time in hours and waved it with a clear enunciation of the gong charm.   What happened was not the resounding gong that would have interrupted the practicing students, but a beautiful bouquet of roses.   Harry caught them and handed them to the perplexed Professor.

"Fred pranked me," Harry said.   "Now…no useful magic for a day."

Tonks immediately answered, "This seems plenty useful to me."

Harry blushed and stammered that he didn’t think of her that way.

"You know," Tonks said changing the subject and taking pity on the occasionally bashful teen, "the dummies are good and all, but they all do the same thing at the same time.   It would be useful if they adapted to the level of the opponent."

"Yeah, I noticed that," he said.   "I guess that’s because Hermione made the first one yesterday and I just had the room copy it.   I’ll try to make them more unpredictable next time."

"Good," Professor Tonks said.   "See if you can make them more reactive to their opponent, too."

"I will," Harry agreed.

"Can they be modified to work like the Auror dummies?" she asked after a moment of silence.   "Can they have free movement around the room and send real spells?"

"Hmm," Harry contemplated.   "Yeah, I think they can.   Eventually we’ll get to the point that we’re going to need some active opponents."

"Okay.   Keep that in mind."

Simultaneously, the two defense experts moved from their perch to the rows of practicing students and began to offer pointers to improve the performances.

A/N: When this chapter was originally posted, it ended right here with a poll of my readers for which prank was the best.   I received hundreds of votes from people with their favorites and many gave reasoning for why one was better than another.   Their votes served as the voices in Harry’s head, telling him which one was best when he sat down to decide.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank those, my original readers, for their votes and support.   Their encouragement brought me to a stage where I could post it here and share my story with you after it was deleted from

Thank you, also, to my new readers for your support and reviews.

And lastly, I believe that we all owe a vote of thanks to the Betas that have given their effort to parts of this story.   Thank you to Donalddeutsch, Kat Armstrong, Cateagle and Sparky40sw.

Stay tuned for more story to follow.   There is much still to come.

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