Chapter 38

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Harry regained consciousness, struggling and writhing. His cries were muffled by a hand on his mouth. He opened his eyes and saw Snape leaning over him,

"Ssshh, Harry. It's alright. We need to get out of this place."

Harry blinked several times to confirm that he wasn't hallucinating, that Snape was really talking about helping him. He was still talking different. Maybe it wasn't Snape. Or even if it was, maybe this was another way to torment him. Harry tried mentally feeling for his back. After the whipping he had received, he should have been screaming in agony now but at the moment, he felt nothing but a dull throbbing pain there which was bearable. The same was the case with his hands and the rest of his body. Snape removed his hand from his mouth gradually and Harry finally spoke,

"I…. I don't trust you."

Harry saw tears in Snape's black eyes. Maybe he really did regret whipping him,

"Harry, trust me like you trusted me before. I can take you somewhere Dumbledore will never find you."

Those words clicked in Harry's mind and he gasped. Snape caressed his cheek softly but it wasn't Snape, it couldn't be. Harry closed his eyes. Was Dumbledore messing with his head? Harry couldn't stop the tremors that raked his body,

""Are you scared? Relax. He'll have to go through me if he ever wishes to hurt you again."

Harry felt utterly speechless. Those were his own words thrown back at him. Shakily he attempted to raise himself into a sitting position. It was extremely difficult without his hands to help him,

"I know that promise sounds so hollow because I hurt you but I had to do it…If I hadn't done that…. Dumbledore would have taken you away from here and I would have lost his trust…...And if I tried to defend you, he might have locked us both up somewhere or worse."

Harry leaned forward and buried his face in the crook of his neck. No, this was real. It was really happening. Joy, pure and warm flooded through his body and he spoke,

"Rabi, stop talking. You have no idea how happy I am to see you right now."

Rabastan held his shoulders and made him meet his gaze,

"You really mean that? You don't feel betrayed that I hurt you?"

Harry looked in Snape's dark eyes and tried to look for Rabastan in them, it felt weirdly disconcerting but he was glad to know that Snape was still a greasy git. He couldn't help but grin,

"Yes, I mean it. I'm dying to hear about how you got here though and what you did with Snape."

Rabastan's characteristic mischievous grin lit up Snape's features and Harry's jaw dropped,

"That looks seriously creepy."

Rabastan laughed. Harry closed his eyes and couldn't help but laugh as well,

"Never thought I'd see the day when I would hear Snape laugh. Now I can finally die in peace."

Rabastan's laughter died down abruptly and he held Harry close to his chest,

"I'm not going to let Dumbledore kill you."

Harry was about to mention that he could have died from the whipping when he realized something. It all made sense now. At the end of the whipping he had wondered how he had managed to survive it with his senses intact. He had thought it had been Dumbledore's doing. It was Rabastan. It had been Rabastan. He owed him a lot. Rabastan gently spoke in his ear,

"We need to get moving. I applied some healing salve on your back and gave you a couple of pain relief potions along with dittany. Couldn't do much for your hands but I guess the potion is working for them too. It'll last for an hour, more or less. Can you get up?"

Rabastan supported him and despite the weakness, Harry managed to get up on his feet. Rabastan released him slowly so that Harry could support his own weight. He managed it after a few tries. Rabastan waved his wand and Harry found himself dressed up in a pair of black robes. He pulled out a small glass phial from inside his pockets and held it to Harry,

"You need to drink that. We don't want anyone to recognize you now, do we?"

Harry realized it was Polyjuice potion,

"Who should I expect to turn into?"

Rabastan snickered,

"Why don't you find out?"

Harry observed the potion closely, it didn't look bad or smell bad so it probably belonged to someone good. He downed the contents of the phial in one. It didn't taste bad either. Immediately, his insides started writhing as though he'd just swallowed live snakes. He doubled up and wondered whether he was going to be sick. Then a burning sensation spread rapidly from his stomach to the very ends of his fingers and toes. Harry gasped and nearly went down on all fours but Rabastan held him up. Harry couldn't stand the horrible melting feeling, as the skin all over his body bubbled like hot wax, and before his eyes, his hands began to grow slimmer, more feminine, the fingers lengthened. His shoulders and waist grew trimmer as he grew taller. Harry closed his eyes and a prickling on his forehead told him that hair was creeping down towards his eyebrows and past his shoulders.

He opened his eyes, looked down at himself and nearly squealed in shock. Rabastan broke out in raucous laughter and Harry could only seethe,

"This settles all my previous debts to you."

Rabastan just nodded his head, his body trembling with the effort to keep his laugher at bay,

"I have to say, you look far prettier as yourself though."

Harry shuddered involuntarily as he caught another glance at his body,

"Mirror, NOW!"

Rabastan conjured a mirror and held it up for Harry. Harry gasped when he caught sight of his face and bubble-gum pink hair. Very aware of the fact that he wasn't supposed to yell, he spoke out,

"You turned me into Tonks! You couldn't find anyone else to grab hair from?"

Rabastan broke into another fit of laughter. Harry scoffed and turned his back to Rabastan,

"Seriously, Rabi. If you're done admiring me, we should go."

Rabastan wiped tears from his eyes and pulled away his glasses,

"How is your vision?"

Harry looked around,

"It's perfect."

This was about the only perk of being Tonks though. Rabastan was still grinning ear to ear and it looked extremely insane on Snape's face. Harry growled,

"Cut it out."

Rabastan's expression immediately grew serious,

"You're right. We're running out of time."

Rabastan began walking. Harry followed suite,

"We're going to use the secret passageway on the mirror behind the fourth floor."

Harry yelped,

"Wrong plan. It caved in."

Rabastan continued to walk,

"Really? It's supposed to be caved in? That makes it all the more better."

They managed to reach the fourth floor without encountering anyone and Harry felt extremely sceptical about that. Their luck couldn't be that good. Any minute now something bad was going to happen. Dumbledore was going to find them and torture them both. Harry shook his head as he saw Rabastan melt through the mirror and vanish. He hurried after him and looked around. The passageway was different from all the others, very roomy and wide. Rabastan was moving fast through it and Harry had to run to catch up to him which turned out to be terrible for his back. He had to take the support of the wall to stop himself from keeling over in pain. Rabastan jogged back to him and hugged him close,

"I'm so sorry. I didn't realize I was going too fast."

Harry instantly pushed away from him and blushed,

"You have no idea how awkward that felt with this body."

Rabastan grinned again and wrapped an arm around his waist,

"I'm really not into women. But I can make an exception for you right now."

Harry bumped his shoulder with his,

"You're really enjoying my misery, aren't you?"

Rabastan instantly pulled away his arm from around his waist and his expression grew solemn,

"No, Harry. I'm sorry if I made you feel that way."

Harry shook his head, leaned against him and batted his, well, Tonks long eyelashes up at him,

"Awww Rabi. Don't be like that."

Harry offered him a crooked grin and then continued,

"I love tall, dark, brooding greasy gits like you."

Rabastan's grin returned and his arm returned around his waist,

"You definitely know how to make a man long for you. Let's get you out of here."

After several twists and turns and what felt like hours, they reached the end of the passageway. Harry's legs were about ready to give out and the pain in his back and hands was slowly building up. Rabastan noticed his discomfort and tightened his hold around his waist,

"Just a little longer, Harry."

Rabastan waved his wand at the exit and it flew open, revealing a storeroom, filled with boxes of all shapes and sizes,

"Where are we?"

They managed to sneak out of the storeroom and Harry found himself in a familiar place. At least two to three hundred owls hooted down at him from colour-coded shelves. They exited the Hogsmeade Post office. Once outside, Rabastan took his arm in his tightly,

"Have you ever experienced side along apparition before?"

Harry had no idea what it was and shook his head,

"Well you might feel a little queasy then."

Rabastan's grip tightened on his arm and Harry felt the familiar constricted feeling that he had only experienced once before with Voldemort.

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