Sign of the Lion
Chapter 1 - Sweet Sixteen
Once again the four will rise
Inside those of flesh and blood
To work together, to maintain the peace
Or fight their raging battles
On this mortal playground.
The eagle will fly in great peril
The badger will crawl only little
The serpent will choose to stem or create
But these against the lion
Are petty under rulers.
At the sixteenth turn of life
Receive all that which is due
Yet needed are the guardians
Those who are the wise
Attempt to sew together
The four that again shall rise.
As predicted by Cassandra Trelawney, the most celebrated Seer of all time.
Harry Potter, to put it mildly, was having a bad summer holiday, sitting glumly in his bedroom, too bothered to set foot outside. He was contenting himself with writing on parchment aimlessly, trying to ignore the stinging in his scar. His jet-black hair lazily hung anywhere it could get away with it, but never enough to cover his green eyes. Harry had often been told how much he looked like his father, but he hadn't had any remarks of the sort lately.
He spent his time avoiding his cousin Dudley, who seemed to have taken an interest in boxing up anyone he could find who wasn't his parents. But all Harry had to do to set him off was walk up and hiss "Dementor" into his ear and watch the reaction with guilty satisfaction.
The weather lately had been dismal for summer - contradicting last year's drought - pouring fury down onto the boxy houses lining the cramped cluster of residents. So far, the rain had not let up, running down the gutters and bogging muddy lawns. The only consolation to this was watching Mrs Figg strolling past none too conspicuously, holding a wind swept umbrella above her head as she went. Sometimes she would rip a flower off the hedges as she passed.
Harry glumly realised he had been writing to his godfather again, even though there was no way Sirius Black would ever get them. Throwing out the letter (which only had 'Dear Sirius' scrawled across the top) he began looking for something else to occupy him. Reaching for one of his spell books, he kept an eye on Hedwig who had begun twittering by the windowsill.
"I wish this weather would let up," he told her gloomily, picking at a stray feather. "I doubt I'll get any letters in this storm."
He waved at the window to emphasize his point. Suddenly, he felt his scar shoot from a twinge to a full blasted boil in a second. Giving something of a yell, Harry bit down hard on his lip until it bled. He saw Hedwig nestling her head into her wing, unconcerned. Eyes watering, he waited for the pain to subside. When it did, he let out a breath.
He sat there for a moment, relieved, dove for his parchment, then paused. Who could he write to? Dumbledore? Ron or Hermione? Frustrated, he threw his books and parchment into a corner of his room. What he really needed was to send a letter to Sirius, but that was no possibility in that any more. Before he knew what he was doing, he was throwing various books at the wall. Harry didn't particularly care if the Dursleys woke up.
Scowling after having run out of ammo, he kicked the end of his bed savagely and instantly regretted this. Pain shot up his toes, causing him to swear. This drove him to sit down again and continue with the numerous essays he had to finish. He snuck a glance at the clock - eleven in the evening. Perhaps tomorrow the weather would let up...
Harry glanced outside. The storm was already letting up, only distant rumbles of thunder and the occasional streak of lighting shooting across the sky. Hedwig fluttered over and nibbled his ear hopefully. The wizard shooed her aside. "I haven't got any letters for you to deliver."
The owl seemed unperturbed and flew over to the window. She pecked at the window latch without accomplishing anything. Harry, exasperated, went over and opened the window as quietly as he could. Hedwig jumped aside and in flew two owls that Harry had failed to notice before. Ruffled and drenched, a small twittering one (who Harry identified as Pig, Ron's owl) seemed weighed down by more than usual. The other was a slightly battered Hogwarts owl.
"You're earlier than usual," Harry told them, but then laughed at himself.
Being a couple of hours earlier actually made him much happier. He tore open the thick letter with the Hogwarts crest emblazoned on the back in red wax.
Dear Mr Potter,
Please note that the new school year will begin on September the first. The Hogwarts Express will leave from King's Cross Station, platform nine and three-quarters, at eleven o'clock. Your OWL results, advised classes and a list of books for next year are enclosed.
Professor M. McGonagall
Tossing this and the book list aside, Harry unfolded the third and last piece of parchment. Apprehensively, it took him a few moments to start reading.
Astronomy - Poor
Care of Magical Creatures - Exceeds Expectations
Charms - Exceeds Expectations
Divination - Dreadful
Defence Against the Dark Arts - Outstanding
History of Magic - Acceptable
Herbology - Acceptable
Potions - Outstanding
Transfiguration - Exceeds Expectations
OWLs in total - 7
Harry set this aside, a little surprised. He had done much better than he thought he would - well, maybe he'd been expecting 'Outstanding' in DADA but Potions? He scanned over his advised classes and smiled triumphantly over never having to do Divination, Astronomy and History of Magic ever again. He had scored the NEWT classes for Potions, DADA, Transfiguration and Charms. He still had Herbology and Care of Magical creatures, coupled with the basic classes for his NEWT ones.
Grinning broadly now, he opened Ron's letter with gusto. It was brief, including birthday wishes and a reasonably cheap mini Foe Glass. Ron commented that it would do well to replace the Sneakoscope. Hermione's letter had arrived with Pig as well and included an ominous book reading in gold lettering: NEWT Study Guide. The little flashing sticker taped across one corner guaranteed good results.
He didn't notice the third owl until it gave him a sharp peck.
"OW!" Harry exclaimed crossly, taking off the largish parcel it had been carrying.
The parcel contained only a few things from the Weasleys and a couple of other people Harry knew. He stole a look at the time - midnight. Putting his letters aside (taking a rather long time to find a suitable spot for his OWL results), he got into bed and put his glasses on the bedside table next to where he had placed the mini Foe Glass. Smiling up at his dark ceiling, Harry fell into, for once, a dreamless sleep.
When Harry first woke, he just lay in the increasing light, looking up at the ceiling. He examined the cracks in the white paint for a moment, then contented himself with looking at the finer parts of the cheap light shade hanging off his light. He reached up to his nose to fiddle with his glasses, but could not find the frames. Frowning, he used his other hand to grope for his glasses.
And they were sitting innocently on his bedside table. Harry raised them to his face and immediately his vision went out of focus. Confused, he took them away and blinked. He set them aside, confused, before swinging his legs over the side of the bed. As he stood up, he felt a pounding in his ears and had to reach for his bedpost to steady himself.
Harry rubbed his forehead feeling just a little light headed. The moment passed and he threw off his creased shirt into a corner, treading lightly past littered piles of his possessions. He looked down at his jeans, trying to decide if they were still wearable, then realised the only went down to the top of his ankles.
"What the...?" he muttered and looked down.
He noticed that he had muscled out a little on the stomach. Harry quickly looked at his arms and whistled appreciatively. He had light toned muscles and couldn't quite believe he hadn't noticed before.
Downstairs came the usually bellow from Uncle Vernon which could be loosely translated as a cave man's request for raw meat for breakfast. Harry looked around quickly and yanked on a large black shirt, hurrying out the door, darting down the stairs. He paused at the kitchen doorway, surveying his last remaining relatives with something of a smirk on his face.
The Dursleys had mostly left him alone. Harry supposed this was due to the fact they were scared witless of what a certain crazy looking wizard in a bowler's hat would do to them. He cracked a grin and walked in. "Good morning."
Aunt Petunia turned around and shrieked, dropping an expensive stack of china plates, which had been waiting in the dishwasher from the previous night. A little startled at this reaction, Harry blinked at her for a moment. Before he could say anything, Uncle Vernon came striding in. "Boy! Heat up the...what happened to you?"
"What?" Harry demanded anxiously.
He looked quickly into the mirror just visible through the doorway into the living room and his jaw slackened. He could hardly recognise the person looking back at him without the glasses. Wordlessly, he walked closer to his reflection and stared at it, dumbstruck.
Harry was jolted from this when the front door opened and hit the wall with a bang. Squeezing past the frame was Dudley, a massive arm around a flighty girl with set cheekbones and silver rimmed glasses. While he had become something of a boxer, Dudley still resembled something extremely huge from the marine wild life park. He powered into the living room, his chins quivering expectantly. The girl flicked her long gold blonde hair over one shoulder and shot a look at the ceiling.
Harry, still frozen in place, was knocked aside by Uncle Vernon who promptly made small talk. Dudley shot a Harry a nasty look, saying in a loud voice, "This is Judith Brookedale. Her father is on the water board and she's my girlfriend."
Harry sniggered, but desisted with a look from his uncle who was battling to keep both an angry and welcoming expression on his large purple face. This directed Judith's attention over at the black haired wizard who instantly found himself going red. She gave him a lusty wink and settled on the couch next to Dudley, keeping her eyes on Harry.
"Boy!" Uncle Vernon snapped as he passed Harry. "Offer them breakfast!"
Doggedly, the boy walked over and asked politely, "Would you like any breakfast, Judith?"
She began twisting her locks through her fingers, smiling coyly. When she spoke, it wasn't the bookworm voice Harry had expected - instead it was with a slur. "I can think of something I want more than breakfast."
Harry tugged at his collar uncomfortably. He wasn't sure if it was just him, but the room seemed very hot. Dudley was scowling, shooting his cousin a death glare. Without another word, Harry made his escape and told Aunt Petunia tonelessly that Judith did want breakfast. He was soon put to work on bringing the eggs to boil and the bread to toast.
A few minutes later, Harry turned around and set the breakfast down on the table, sitting down on the edge next to Judith (Dudley still took up an entire side by himself). Uncle Vernon had retreated behind a newspaper, barking questions across to the visitor about her father and what sort of car he drove. Aunt Petunia was sitting with her hands resting on the table, not eating anything.
Harry wanted to go upstairs as quickly as possible, but the narrowed eyes from his aunt told him he'd have to stay. He looked sideways and noticed the sly smile spreading across Judith's face. Harry inched away; she put her hand on his thigh. Dudley reached for the innocent tomato sauce bottle, glaring at his cousin almost angrily and at the same time trying to show off. Judith gave Dudley an agitated look and said loudly. "Oh, I haven't got any tomato sauce. Would someone pour it for me?"
Dudley immediately reached his pudgy hand across and squirted some onto her eggs. Something twitched on her face and she pushed her plate away, shouting hotly, "No! I want your cousin to do it!"
Harry jumped involuntarily.
"Oh, and sweetie," Judith added as an after thought, "what's your name?"
Uncle Vernon had begun shredding the paper, lines creasing up on his forehead. The tell tale vein on his temple began to pulse furiously. He growled, "He doesn't have a name."
Judith giggled. "Of course he does, don't you, spunk?"
Harry sat there in a kind of horrified trance. Just this morning he'd realised he'd grown up and now Judith! For a moment, he wondered what his godfather would have thought, but then discarded this. His heart began to race - Uncle Vernon was going to throw him into the cupboard for sure! And it wasn't even his fault. The bottle of tomato sauce quite suddenly exploded.
"Go to your room!" bellowed Uncle Vernon angrily. "And stay there!"
The neatly set out china plate collection against the wall fell into a broken pile on the floor. Harry had jumped to his feet, hands clenched by his sides. He could hear his heart beat pound in his ears, could feel his anger inside unleashing. And all the fury, despair and guilt he had felt about Sirius' death exploded outwardly.
By now, there was no longer any breakfast on the table. It had either found a snug place on the wall or on the Dursleys. Uncle Vernon was shouting furiously, Aunt Petunia white at seeing her spotless kitchen turned into a multi coloured mess and Dudley just sat there, his mouth hanging open. In the middle of the orbiting chaos stood the wizard, who said with barely kept calm, "My name is Harry."
Judith grabbed a pen and quickly wrote her number across his palm, dodging the flying food.
"Call me sometime, stud." She winked and sauntered out the door.
Immediately, everything fell to the floor with a crash or a splatter. Harry waited a moment, then raced upstairs to his bedroom. He sat on his bed, breathing very hard and waited for the dooming arrival of a Ministry owl.