|snarryswapmod (snarryswapmod) wrote in snarry_swap,|
@ 2009-01-14 12:00:00
|Entry tags:||creation: fic, emynn, rated: pg|
Happy Daft Day, majmunka!
Title: Fearful Symmetry
Warning: Those with animal allergies may want to look away.
Prompt/Summary: Harry was comfortable living in his little cottage with 22 animals. Then a little black rabbit arrived and changed everything ...
A/N: Thank you to eeyore9990 for the fantastic beta! majmunka, I hope you enjoy this!
There were times when Harry wondered if perhaps he should face his fears, abandon his quaint cottage hidden away in the depth of the Forbidden Forest, walk back to Hogwarts, grandly announce his reappearance after five years, and join in sipping champagne and dancing at all the Ministry balls there'd undoubtedly be as his Order of Merlin, First Class, sparkled in the light of the crystal chandeliers.
Those thoughts usually occurred when he was cleaning up cat vomit.
"Vincent, how many times do I have to tell you?" he asked exasperatedly as he wiped up the last of the mess. "Stop eating the grass!"
Vincent apparently didn't care so much. He lazily arched his back as he brushed against Harry's legs and sauntered off through the catdoor, probably to eat some weeds as an after-dinner mint.
Harry sighed as he threw the rag away in disgust. Vincent's habit of eating foods that inevitably wound up regurgitated on the exact same spot on the kitchen floor had been so frequent that using a spell to clean up the mess had resulted in a discoloring of the wood. Such were the trials and tribulations of being the owner (or, at least landlord) to – he did a quick count in his head – twenty-two animals.
And it looked like there would be one more coming. Harry glanced over at Charon's food bowl, which had stayed at the same level for three days. Harry idly began wondering if he should begin preparing another dog bed or start to expand the fence around the pasture.
He couldn't say how he had become surrounded by animals. There he had been sitting just outside his little cottage in the middle of nowhere, aimlessly pondering the meaning of his pitiful existence as he snapped twigs in his hands, when a stunning unicorn had appeared seemingly out of thin air. He had seen unicorns before, but never one this close – hadn't Professor Kettleburn warned him years ago how the beautiful creatures were distrustful of males? But he doubted even if he had been able to get close enough to stroke one of those unicorns' head that he would have thought they were anywhere near as beautiful as this one. She seemed to glow in the darkness, her sleek fur shimmering in the night, her mane glistening like spun silver, her pale eyes haunting and forlorn. Even the gaping wound in her side glimmered like a stream of garnets. Harry had been afraid to leave her alone as he ran back to the house to grab some of the healing potions he kept on hand, but she had remained standing there, as serene as ever, when he returned. He still remembered the first feel of her soft hide as he reached up to rub the ointment on her wound. But more than that, he remembered the sense of utter sadness and strange peace that filled his body as he realized the lovely creature was blind.
He sat with Helen for the rest of the night, crying occasionally, sometimes marveling at how she seemed to be crying as well, but mostly basking in the company of the first living creature he had seen in six months. When he woke the next morning, his skin damp from the morning dew decorating the grass, Helen was gone. But there wasn't much time to mourn the loss. That afternoon Charon had arrived, and as Harry gingerly applied healing salves to the bloodhound's burns and scrapes, he felt the soft nuzzle of the unicorn's snout against his neck. He had laughed – his first laugh in so long – and returned to his ministrations. The next week, once his wounds had healed, Charon disappeared for a few days, only to return with Vincent, whose head was still bloody from where his left ear had once been. Since then, Harry had acquired a menagerie of animals, all with some injury or vulnerability, but all simply yearning for company. Harry supposed, with his (most likely inferior) potions and food and lodgings, he was taking care of the animals, but really, they were taking care of him.
A loud howl interrupted Harry from his musings. Well, Charon was home. And most likely irritated and slightly in pain, judging by the noises he was making. Still, despite his rather frightening appearance, Charon was quite the pansy, and Harry found himself more excited than concerned as he followed the sound out to the front hall to see who his new house guest would be.
He found Charon sulking in the corner, trying as best as possible to hide his gangly body behind the umbrella stand. Harry looked around in puzzlement. A few of his pets had gathered around – Ludwig the deaf phoenix, Beelzebub the four-eared tabby, and Phaethon the fox had prime seats for the spectacle – but as far as he could see, there were no newcomers. Then Charon suddenly lunged forward and pounced at something in the opposite corner. After a brief scuffle, during which Harry tried his best to hold back the furry audience, Charon emerged victorious, and trotted over to his master. His mouth was suspiciously bulging.
"Charon," said Harry in his best I'm-your-master-obey-me tone. "Drop him."
Charon sat down and gazed up at Harry. He could see the conflict in his eyes – turn over his prize to his master, as was his duty, or continue torturing whatever animal was apparently still putting up quite the fight in his mouth.
Responsibility won out – most likely because the mystery creature was causing Charon a good deal of pain and distress, if his whimpers and watery eyes were any indication – but Harry wouldn't hold that against him. With a wheeze of disgust, Charon spat the creature out onto the floor.
It took a minute for Harry to figure out what the animal was. It rather looked like a slightly oversized black furry bocce ball. It was only when the furball stretched and then leaped forward to snip at Charon's heels did Harry realize he had a violent rabbit on his hands.
"Hey there, none of that," Harry said as he knelt down next to it. He cautiously moved his hand until it was a few inches away from the rabbit. The rabbit only glared – if a rabbit could glare – at him and imperiously stuck his twitching nose up in the air. The slight action revealed two tiny white spots, the only sign of color in his otherwise all black coat. Deciding to take a chance, Harry moved to pick up the rabbit. It nipped at him, but allowed the gesture.
"You’re a skinny little thing, aren't you?" That was an understatement. The rabbit was more bone than fluff, and couldn't weigh more than a pound or two. Certainly it was small-boned, but that was no excuse for its malnourishment. Harry felt the familiar indignation arise that an innocent animal was suffering.
"There, there, we'll take care of you. Don’t worry."
The rabbit kicked a few times but then settled back into Harry's arms with an almost palpable sense of resignation. Ignoring the indignant looks on the other animals' faces, Harry smiled.