(A/N: So, I admit it. I'm one of those people who felt the urge to stick the FFVII cast into Hogwarts. In fact, I've already done it once. This story is a sequel. The first story, 'Year the First', took place during Philosopher's Stone. This one follows straight after it. Cloud is now in his second year at Hogwarts, along with Tifa, Aerith, Vincent, Barret, Cid, Yuffie and the HP characters. This story charts Cloud's adventures through the events of Chamber of Secrets. And no, this isn't one of those fanfictions that repeats a Harry Potter story word for word, with different names thrown in. I hate that.
I think this can be read as a standalone story if you're familiar with the Harry Potter series. Some of the events of 'Year the First' are recapped in the first chapter. But if you like what you read here, then please do check out 'Year the First'. It's easy to find: just click on my profile and it's listed under my stories. Self-pimping over, I hope that newcomers and returning readers alike will enjoy. :)
Basically, this is crossover crack, so it doesn't take itself too seriously. What I've tried to go for is a light-hearted, charming tale that's fun to read. I'll let readers judge whether I've succeeded or not...
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and FFVII are copyrighted to JK Rowling and Square-enix respectively. I'm not making any money by writing about their characters. To save myself from writing this out again and again, this disclaimer covers the whole story. Right. Okay, so on we go!)
Dawn streamed through the open window, its soft rays flowing along the wooden floor and pooling around the bed. A boy lay sprawled under the rough woollen covers, his spiky blond hair catching the sunlight and casting odd shadows on the white pillow, his eyes closed, his mouth slightly open.
An owl flew to the window ledge. She roosted there for a few seconds, her talons firmly gripping the wooden ledge. Her liquid eyes rested on the boy, who had begun to stir.
The boy's eyes opened, revealing bright blue irises. His pupils contracted and he shielded his face from the sunlight.
"Ghost? Have you got something for me?"
The barn owl ruffled her wings. Attached to her leg was a small roll of parchment, bound with a pink ribbon.
Seeing this, the boy's eyes widened and he leapt out of bed with sudden energy. He grabbed the roll of parchment, tore it open and read through it quickly.
Of course I'd love to come over for your birthday! It's been too quiet at home. I've missed everybody. I can't wait to see you!
Love Aerith. xxx
Cloud stared at the signature dazedly. She had put 'Love Aerith'. What did that mean? Did girls usually do that, or had she said it because she was writing to him? He felt an odd tingly sensation in his fingers and had to put the letter down on his bedside table.
Ghost flew onto his bed and looked at him expectantly. He stroked her soft feathers.
"It's all right; I haven't got another letter for you. Come on." He held out his arm and she jumped onto it.
He went downstairs to find his mother already in the kitchen. He'd never managed to be up before her.
Cloud's mother glared at him. "How many times have I told you not to let that owl into your bedroom? Look at you, you're not even dressed."
The stone floor made his bare feet cold. "Sorry, Mum. It's just I got a message from Aerith. She says she's coming."
His mother beamed, all trace of anger vanishing at once. "That's great, Cloud! Sorry I snapped at you; you know what I'm like early in the morning."
He shrugged. "That's okay. I'll go and get dressed." He set Ghost down on the kitchen chair.
"No, wait a minute, Cloud." She walked over to him and gave him a bone-crushing hug. "Happy birthday!"
"Thanks, Mum," he gasped.
She wagged a finger at him. "Now you can get dressed. I want you to help me get this place spick and span before your friends arrive."
He groaned. She had to pick his birthday to be house proud. All summer she had let him be a slob, but as soon as she caught even a whiff of visitors, he had to wash and clean and generally scrub up.
Today was the nineteenth of August. His birthday. Finally, he was twelve years old. He hated being one of the youngest in his year. Still, at least it was usually hot and sunny when he celebrated his birthday.
He changed into his cleanest T-shirt and shorts, and carefully rearranged his spiky hair. Today, he wanted everything to be perfect.
"Oh, someone's coming," his mother said.
Green flames shot up in the fireplace. A spinning figure appeared within it and then toppled out.
"Ugh!" said the figure. "It's been a while since I travelled by Floo Powder. I feel all dizzy..."
"Here, let me help you," said Cloud. He dashed over to the fireplace and held out his hand. Aerith grasped it gratefully and he pulled her up.
"Phew!" She brushed a few stray bits of ash from her pink dress. Bangles jangled on her wrists. Her hair was down for once, spilling in brown waves over her shoulders and down her back.
"You must be Aerith," said Cloud's mother, coming over to greet the girl. "Welcome, welcome."
"Thanks, Mrs Strife," said Aerith. "It's nice to be here. So, am I the first arrival?"
"Would you like a drink? Tea? Coffee? Sparkling water?" his mother asked, ever the gracious hostess.
"Sparkling water sounds great," said Aerith. "Thanks."
She and Cloud sat down at the table while his mother poured them drinks.
"Happy birthday, Cloud! I've got a present for you." Aerith produced a box wrapped in silver paper. "I hope you like it."
Cloud reached over to take the gift but she snatched it away. "Hey..."
"You can open it when everyone gets here," said Aerith.
A tapping sound alerted them both. Cloud's mother smiled and went over to the door.
"Hello, Mrs Strife," said Tifa timidly. "Is Cloud...?"
"Come in, come in! You know you're always welcome, Tifa. Would you like some sparkling water too?"
"Yes, please." The girl smiled as she saw her two friends beaming at her.
"Happy birthday, Cloud." Tifa was wearing a turquoise summer dress. It danced around her knees as she walked to the table and joined them. She wore a white Alice band in her long hair.
"Thanks, Tifa." Cloud smiled at her awkwardly.
"I'm just popping out for a few minutes," Cloud's mother said, giving Tifa her drink. "You kids behave, okay?" She left.
"Tifa!" squealed Aerith. "I haven't seen you for ages!" The two girls hugged. "That's a pretty dress you're wearing. Is it cotton?"
"Yeah," said Tifa. "You look really pretty with your hair down, Aerith. You should have it like that more often."
"Thanks. Maybe I will. Cloud, what do you think? Do I look better with my hair up or down?"
Cloud was flustered. "Er... I..."
Aerith was giving him that teasing look again.
"Never mind," said Tifa quickly. "I'm sure it doesn't matter to Cloud."
He scratched his head.
"That's right!" said Aerith. "The important thing is that it's your birthday, Cloud." She held her hand to her mouth as though she was performing a mock interview. "So, how does it feel to be twelve at last, Cloud?"
"All right, I guess."
Tifa laughed. "Cloud, tell us about the events of last year. Your fans say you had quite a busy time at Hogwarts."
"Fans?" Cloud looked puzzled.
"Play along, silly!" Aerith whispered to him. She spoke up. "Is it true, Cloud, that last year you embarked on a quest to find the Stolen Materia?"
"Oh... er, yeah!"
"And that you discovered that the afore-mentioned Stolen Materia was in fact stolen by a lying, scheming, and manipulative thief known only as Yuffie?"
"Yuffie, the sneaky Slytherin!"
"And," Tifa put in, "Yuffie wasn't the only Slytherin you had trouble with, was she?"
"No," Cloud growled. "There was Draco Malfoy too."
"Ah, yes, dear Draco!" Aerith stood up, smoothed back her hair, and mimicked Draco strutting around the kitchen. "Draco Malfoy, so full of himself it's amazing he needs to eat at all. Yes, look at me; I'm Draco, the pureblood king! I live in a huuuuge mansion with the slimiest snob of a father you've ever seen and I think I'm better than everyone else just because I'm rich and pureblood."
"He's also an arrogant bastard," Cloud added.
"But we got the better of him," Tifa said.
"Because Cloud concocted an ingenious plan to take out Draco and take back the Materia in one fell swoop!" said Aerith.
"Well, it wasn't really my idea," said Cloud. "You all helped..."
"So modest, our Cloud," Aerith giggled. "No wonder all his fans love him so!"
"Ah... ha..." said Cloud, feeling embarrassed and flattered at the same time. "What fans?"
"We'll be your fans!" said Aerith. She made an exaggerated curtsey. "Oh, Cloud, our lord and saviour, whose birthday it is today..."
Tifa grinned. "People all over the world rejoice..."
"...And we will ever be at your feet," said Aerith. "There can be no other hero for us... not even Johnny."
Tifa blushed. "You know I don't like Johnny that way. He's the one with a crush on me!"
Aerith grinned mischievously. "And may it ever be so!"
"Ah... okay... stop now," said Cloud, who felt so hot he thought steam might come out of his ears, like that time he had taken Pepper-up Potion.
Aerith pinched his cheek and then kissed it. "All right then, Cloud, I promise never to worship you ever again!"
Cloud rubbed his cheek, slightly dazed, but Aerith had already darted back into her seat, laughing and gazing at him with those soft emerald eyes.
Tifa folded her arms and frowned. She opened her mouth to speak, but then bit her lip.
"Hey, look," said Cloud, glad that a distraction in the form of Vincent spinning in the fire had appeared.
Vincent stepped out of the fireplace and brushed ash off his sleeves. His black hair had grown slightly over the summer, and he now looked at them with inscrutable shadowed eyes.
"Happy birthday, Cloud," he murmured. "I'm glad to be here."
"Vincey!" said Aerith.
"I'd appreciate it if you called me by my given name, which is Vincent," the boy said. He was pale as ever, dressed in dark heavy robes completely inappropriate for such a hot summer's day.
"Gosh, Vincent," said Aerith, voicing Cloud's thoughts, "have you been sleeping in a coffin all this time? It's summer outside, you know."
Vincent shrugged. "I prefer to stay indoors, where it's cool. Summer isn't my favourite season."
"I swear you're a closet vampire," Aerith laughed.
"I still find it hard to believe that real vampires exist," said Tifa. "When Professor Quirrell told us about them, I was really shocked."
"Oh, they're not so bad, vampires," said Vincent. "My father has dealings with them. I met one once."
"Really?" said Tifa, her eyes wide. "Come on, tell us!"
Vincent raised his eyebrows. "I thought we were supposed to be celebrating Cloud's birthday? I've brought a gift for you." He pulled a present out of the folds of his robes.
"Present-opening time!" sang Aerith. "Which will you open first, Cloud?"
Cloud selected Aerith's little silver box first. But the presents themselves didn't mean much to him. He couldn't express how happy he felt just to have the three of them there, supporting him and having fun. Talking, laughing... just being there. Being friends.
Aerith's present was an exquisite little photo album, bound in leather. It came with a potion bottle for treating photographs.
"That's nice," said Cloud, "but I don't own a camera..."
Aerith winked at him. "No need to worry about that. Wait and see."
It immediately became clear what she was getting at when Cloud opened Tifa's present – it was a silver camera. Cloud looked at it, intrigued. He didn't often come across Muggle-designed gadgets.
"Aerith and I decided on your present together," said Tifa. "We wanted you to preserve all your happy memories. You can take pictures of all your friends and family and put them in the album."
"I would have bought you the camera too," said Aerith, "but I don't know much about Muggle shops."
"And I didn't know that there was a special potion to make the pictures move," said Tifa, "so Aerith got that."
The two girls beamed at him.
"Thanks, both of you," said Cloud. He searched around for the right words. "It's wonderful that you were both so thoughtful like that..."
Their smiles widened.
"Now for Vincent's present..."
Vincent pushed the small gift, wrapped in black cloth, over to Cloud. He unwrapped it curiously. A silver chain fell out. He picked it up and held it up to the air. A white fang glinted on the end of the chain.
"It's a werewolf tooth," said Vincent. "Charmed to protect you against Dark creatures."
"Thanks," said Cloud, not sure what else to say. The object certainly contained magic; he could sense it. Trust Vincent to give him something like that.
"When do you think Cloud's going to be attacked by Dark creatures?" Aerith asked, half-curiously, half-teasingly.
"It's always wise to be prepared. I believe there may be monstrous creatures lurking inside Hogwarts. Last year, for instance, there was a three-headed dog on the third floor..."
"A what on the third floor?" Aerith gasped.
"You're kidding, aren't you?" Tifa said at the same time.
"I saw it," said Vincent. "I was curious to know what waited in the forbidden corridor."
"Have you seen it too?" Aerith asked, noticing Cloud's expression.
"Yeah," he muttered.
"You never said!"
"Well... it's not that important. It's in the past now anyway." Cloud slipped the chain over his head. He thought he must look pretty cool, with a fang dangling over his chest.
"So... what are we going to do?" asked Tifa.
"We're going to sing happy birthday to Cloud!" said a woman's voice. Cloud's mother had just got back, and she was carrying an enormous cake. She placed it on the table and lit the twelve candles with her wand.
"Make a wish, Cloud!" Aerith whispered, before his friends burst into the 'Happy birthday' chorus.
He stared at the flickering candles. What could he wish for? I know, he thought. I want to stay friends with Aerith and Tifa and Vincent. I wish for long, happy friendships. What more could he want?
(Next chapter... Tifa brings along a new friend and the students meet their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher...)