Before you read this please read Never Again, or else you will be utterly lost and confused! Just go to my Favorite Story page and click on Never Again by DaughterOfAres, she posted it for me when I didn't have an account on here!
This story is told mostly from little Harry's POV (first person), though Sev's POV is represented in some chapters where appropriate.
I make no money off this, just do it for fun!
This is for all my reviewers who asked for another story featuring Master Healer Snape, little Harry, and Tobias!
Author's Chapter Notes:
Takes place right where NA left off! Inky is alive through accidental magic! Will Sev consent to raising a panther?
When my daddy, Master Healer Severus Snape, adopted me and married my mum, Lily Potter, I was only two. My real dad, James, had been killed by the evil wizard Voldemort, whose real name, Dad says, is Tom Riddle. I was only a year old then and don't even remember James, who died a hero in the line of duty. He was an Auror, like my dad's two best friends, Moony and Padfoot. Their real names are Remus Lupin and Sirius Black. But the only daddy I know is Severus, who is called Sev by his family and friends. Daddy says I'm his special boy, even though I don't have the same last name, and am his son, and he loves me to pieces, even when I'm an awful naughty brat that ought to be spanked and grounded forever. All the good dads are like that.
I think my dad is the best dad in the whole world, even if he does scold me and put me in time-out and spank me sometimes. Someday I'm going to grow up to be just like him, a Healer and Potions Master. Dad says it's important to have goals in life and to try and be the best you can be.
That's why he gave me this cool journal, that writes magically whatever I tell it to. Dad says I ought to use it "organize my thoughts", whatever that means, or write about important events in my life, things I want to remember, or anything that's upset me. "Just write about anything, Harry, and someday when you've got grandchildren, you can let them read it."
Okay, Dad. But I ain't having grandkids for a LONG time, since I don't even have a girlfriend yet and besides, most girls are boring and afraid of everything cool, like snakes, bugs, scary stories, and my panther cub Inky.
Let me tell you 'bout Inky. Inky didn't used to be alive at all. He used to be my favorite stuffed animal to sleep with and play with. I took him everywhere, even to school for show and tell and naptime and recess. Inky and I were best buds. I told Inky everything too, like how mad I was at my dad when he punished me, or at my grandpa if he did too, and how much I still missed my mum. Mum got real sick when I was four, and not even my dad, who's a brilliant wizard doctor, could cure her. She died in her sleep one day, two and a half years ago, but I still miss her and so does Dad. She gave me Inky, it was the last gift she ever gave me. Guess that's one reason why I love him so much.
Anyway, my grandpa, whose name's Tobias, though to me he's Grandpa or sir, if I've been bad and disrespected him, had come to stay with us for a few days. It was right after he'd come out of the hospital, he'd gotten hurt real bad by the masked men who'd attacked us on Halloween. The masked men are called Death Eaters by grownups and most of them are dead now or in prison in Azkaban. But before Uncle Sirius and Uncle Remus and Uncle Al put them in there, they almost killed my grandpa. Luckily, my dad saved him, and he wanted to keep an eye on Grandpa after, to make sure he recovered properly. So Grandpa was staying over and I was playing with my toys and Inky while he and daddy talked about grownup stuff, like the nature of magic.
Daddy and I are wizards, but not Grandpa. He's a Muggle, which is what wizards called non-magic people. But I got bored listening to them talk and went off to play in my room. That's when it happened. I'm only six and my magic's not really awake yet and I can't use a wand or cast spells like a real wizard can, but sometimes I can use my magic accidentally.
Which means things just . . .happen around me.
Well, I was playing, pretending really hard that Inky was a real panther, like the Rabbit in one of my favoritest stories-The Velveteen Rabbit. It's all about a little boy and his favorite stuffed rabbit that he loves so much that it becomes real! I was hugging Inky and whispering over and over, "I wish you were alive! I wish you were alive! I love you so much, Inky, and I wish you were alive so I could have a real pet to play with."
Next thing I knew, I got this funny feeling in my chest, kind of like I had a cold, and a weird light came out of my hands and my head hurt. I squeezed my eyes shut, 'cause sometimes that makes your head quit hurting.
Then it went away and when I opened my eyes, Inky was alive!
I was actually holding a real baby panther!
I thought it was the most awesome thing ever.
Daddy and Grandpa thought it was a bloody damn catastrophe. (psst-don't let Dad know I wrote that-he doesn't like it when I swear and he'll make me eat soap-yuck!)
"What in Merlin's name are we going to do with a panther cub?" Dad groaned, hitting himself in the forehead.
"Can't you just, uh, magic it back to a toy?" asked Grandpa, looking at Inky like he was some kind of alien from Pluto, and he wished he'd catch the first ship back home.
Before Dad could answer, I cried, "No! I'm keeping him!" And I hugged the purring fuzzy cub to me and gave them my best Snape glare. In case you don't know, a Snape glare is REALLY scary. My dad's can make me shiver and Grandpa's can make me hide under the bed. But that's cause he's older and has had more time to practice being scary as hell. (Oops! I hope Dad never reads this!)
I was all set to have the mother of all tantrums if Dad tried to change Inky back, and I didn't care if I was grounded and spanked after for being a royal spoiled brat, so long as my Inky was safe. "He's just come to life, Dad, 'cause I loved him so much and you can't magic his life away," I argued. "You just CAN'T!" I sniffled and gave Daddy my best puppy-dog stare too, figuring it couldn't hurt.
Dad looked at Grandpa and I could tell he was cracking. I do real good puppy-dog stares, just like my mum. I've got her eyes, big and green and very expressive, is the word my dad uses.
"Minnow," said Grandpa, that's his pet name for me. "What do you think you live in, a zoo? How can you possibly raise a baby panther? Do you even know what kind of food it eats?"
"Yes. I'm not dumb. All baby animals drink milk, everyone knows that," I pointed out cheekily.
"Mind your attitude, boy," warned Grandpa, scowling at me. "Or else you're going to have a long session with the wall and maybe over my knee too."
"Sorry," I apologized quickly. I knew better than to test him-he always did what he said, just like dad, and his spankings really hurt! "But baby panthers drink milk like our babies do, Grandpa. I read it in a book. And we can too raise Inky, all we need to do is ask Aunt Minerva how."
Aunt Minerva, or Aunty Min, as I call her, is really Professor Minerva McGonagall, she's a teacher of Transfiguration at Hogwarts and one day she'll be my teacher too when I'm old enough to go there. She can change into a cat, which is like a panther, and she would know what we needed to do to raise Inky.
"Harry, Minerva's a teacher of Transfiguration, not of magical creatures," Dad reminded me.
"I know, but she can be a cat sometimes, so she'll know what a cat needs, Dad. Or we could ask Hagrid." I was stroking Inky's soft fur, it was like black velvet, and he was purring happily. "Please, Dad? Please? I don't wanna change Inky back, he's my pet now!" I made my eyes big and wide and teary, like I was gonna bawl any minute. That one ALWAYS works!
"Oh, Harry!" sighed Daddy. "You make things so complicated sometimes, son. What am I going to do with you, little boy?"
"Love me and let me keep Inky."
Dad frowned sharply, thinking it over. Then he said, "We'll see," and I knew that was as good as yes, this time.
He bent to see Inky, who was curled in a fuzzy ball in my arms, sleeping. Inky was the size of a small cat then.
"All right, scamp. Let's go and see if Minerva or Hagrid has any idea on what we need to do to raise this cub."
"Severus! You can't be serious!" cried Grandpa. "Who do you think you are, Dr. Dolittle?"
Dad didn't bother to answer, he just gave his father another one of those what-the-hell-can-I-do looks. Then he picked me up and said we'd be back in an hour or so and Apparated us to Hogwarts, which is in Scotland somewhere. Dad and I live in London, on Aspen Avenue.
Aunty Min was in her office, grading papers. She's got red hair and is always dressed in green or some kind of red and green plaid, 'cause she's Scottish and proud of it. Us Snapes and Potters are from Yorkshire, which is in north England near Scotland.
"Harry! Severus!" she smiled as we came in. "What a nice surprise!" Then she caught sight of Inky. "What do you have there, Harry? A puppy?"
"Nope. This's Inky, Aunty Min. My stuffed panther I made come alive."
"Oh my!" she put a hand over her mouth. "Accidental magic again, Severus?"
Daddy just nodded. "Merlin help me, Minerva, but now we've got ourselves a baby panther. And I don't have the faintest idea how to care for it, I'm a healer, not a Magical Creatures vet." He ran his fingers through his dark hair, like he does when he's very frustrated.
"Severus, a panther is hardly a magical creature." Aunty Min pointed out.
"Normally, no. But this is Harry's panther, Min, which he magically brought to life, so don't tell me it won't display some kind of magical powers someday. I just hope it leaves my house in one piece when it's grown."
"Calm down, Sev," soothed Aunty Min. "Let's all of us have a nice cuppa and discuss this. It's not the end of the world if Harry has a pet, you know."
"A pet would be a dog, a kitten, an owl-not a panther cub," Dad grumbled, scowling at Inky.
"Look on the bright side, Sev. A pet will teach Harry responsibility."
"Oh?" He raised an eyebrow and gave me a long look. "You're going to feed it, brush it, and clean up after it?"
"Yes, Dad. Promise."
"Humph! I'll believe it when I see it. Because somehow I just know I'm going to get stuck training the little nuisance. Minerva, what do we feed him, for starters?"
"Well, that depends on how old he is. Harry, let me see Inky for a moment."
I handed her the sleeping cub. She gently looked at his teeth and his paws, then she transformed into a tabby cat and sniffed him too, don't ask me why. When she changed back, she gave Inky back to me. "I'd say he's around three weeks old, which means he'll still take a bottle, but in a week you can start him on solid food. The cubs can digest ground beef raw, and that's what you ought to feed him, a little at a time, soon as he's old enough. But until then, give him a special formula, I'll give you the recipe, Severus, so you can make it. You need to feed him twelve ounces of formula three times a day. If he does well on that, you can start him on small dishes of ground beef mixed with some formula and a raw egg once he's a month or so old. He still might need a bottle of formula once a day at first, but eventually you should wean him to all ground beef."
Dad had magicked a quill to write all this down, and it took notes while Aunty Min talked. She told us that we should have a special room for Inky where we could let him play and roam around till he was used to us, with cat toys like a rubber ball and a rope and stuffed animals magicked so he couldn't tear them. And Dad would have to panther-proof our house, meaning he'd have to cast lines where Inky wasn't allowed to go and put all of our shoes and stuff away because he'd be teething soon and chew all kinds of things, like shoes and furniture. He'd also need a cat box, with sand so he could go potty. Aunty Min said Dad ought to cast a waste removal charm on it, so it would vanish the pee and poop when Inky used it.
Dad said he would, once I showed him I could be trusted to clean the cat box myself. I made a face at him. "But Dad, why can't we just use magic?" Emptying out the cat box sounded just plain gross and I wasn't sure at all if I wanted to do it.
"Because, young man, magic is all well and good as a shortcut after you've learned how to properly take care of your cub. You wanted Inky for a pet, Harry James Severus, so now you need to learn how to take care of him. Which includes cleaning the cat box."
I groaned. "Aww, Dad!" When I'd made Inky alive, I'd never thought of anything like this! I just wanted a panther to play with and pet and that would be my friend.
"Harry, if you don't want to take care of this cub the right way, then I can always have Minerva Transfigure him back to a toy." Dad threatened sternly.
"No!" I yelped, hugging Inky tightly. He mewed softly. "Okay, I'll take care of him . . .even if it means I have to empty the cat box, ugh!" I wondered if there were a way to teach Inky to use the potty like I did.
"I'm going to hold you to that promise, Harry. For four weeks, you're going to help me take care of this cub the right way, and if you start whining or forgetting or getting bored, then we'll change him back into a toy, because you'll have proved you aren't old enough to take responsibility for a cat. I'll make a chart up with colored markers so you can check off when we feed him and change the sand in the box, brush him and I'll even put a collar on him with a nametag, like I would a kitten. But you're not to take him outside without me yet. Am I understood?"
"Yes sir," I said. "I'll take good care of Inky, Dad."
I meant it too. I was the one who'd brought the panther to life and I didn't want to be the one who made him become a toy again. It wouldn't be fair.
Aunty Min told Dad that he might want to see a vet anyway, even though she was sure what she'd told him was standard procedure, just so the vet could give us some vitamins and maybe give him some shots too when he was older. I wondered if he'd try to bite the vet the way most of the kids did my dad when he gave needles.
I never did, because I was brave and the shots really didn't hurt too bad, they just stung my bum for a little, till Dad put magic salve on it and made the sting go away. And the shots were so you didn't get really sick, Dad explained, so you needed them and staying healthy was worth a stinging bottom. Guess he was right, though I didn't really like them, I could deal with it.
I'd make sure Inky behaved at the vet's and pet him and tell him it would only sting for a second, the way Daddy did me and the other kids, though they never believed him.
After all of that, Daddy got the recipe for the formula from Aunty Min and we left to return home, where Grandpa was anxiously awaiting us. I could tell he thought this whole situation was silly and if he'd been in charge, Inky would be a toy and nothing more, pronto. But Grandpa's stricter than Dad will ever be and that's why I'm glad sometimes I'm Sev's son and not Tobias's.
Dad set to making the formula so I could feed Inky the first bottle, Grandpa looked at the two of us and said we were bloody crazy and Inky woke up and started meowing, he was hungry. It took Dad ten minutes to make up enough formula and heat it a little and put it in a big plastic bottle, then he showed me how to feed Inky with it.
Inky loved it, and sucked away, snuggled in a velvet heap in my arms. Dad took our picture, saying it was one of my firsts-like my first step, first tooth, and whatever.
You'd think with all the information we had, we'd be expert panther sitters in no time, right? Wrong! Raising a panther cub was kind of like raising a whirlwind, you couldn't turn your back for a minute. Dad made a room for him, like we were told, and I played with Inky in it, but when it came time for bed, Inky wailed and yowled so much that I went and brought him to sleep in my room. He fell asleep next to me on the bed, same as always.
The first week, Inky was still small and nervous, and didn't do too much 'cept eat, sleep, and use the cat box. That was the worst, emptying that out, but I did it. But once he was a month old, he'd grown some ten pounds already and he was like a black flash.
He could climb too, and more than once I found him on top of the cabinets or the blinds. Dad was not happy. We introduced Inky to the raw ground beef, and Inky loved it. He loved it so much that the next week he jumped on the counter while I was doing my homework and ate the roast my dad had left marinating in the pan. Uh oh! Then he threw up all over!
Dad said I should've made sure I was watching him and made me put him in the room for a day and for dinner that night we had salad, bread and butter, and I really don't like vegetables, but Dad made me eat it anyway. And we didn't have dessert.
Inky loved to play games, like hide-and-seek and pounce. Only thing was, his favorite thing to pounce on was-me! He'd hide under the bed or behind the sofa, and when I went by he'd dart out and attack my feet. He'd wrap his paws around my ankle and gnaw on it, and his claws and teeth were like needles, they hurt sometimes, and once he grabbed at my hand and he made me bleed.
Of course, Dad just happened to see it then and asked what happened. I tried to make up something, but Dad gave me one of his truthteller Looks and said, "Do not lie to me, young man. Did that panther bite you?"
I hung my head and whispered, "Yes sir, but he didn't mean to! He was playing!"
Dad cleaned the scratch and healed it, then he told me to fetch Inky, who was hiding under the table. I started to cry. "No, I won't! You're gonna magic him back and it was an accident, Daddy!"
"Harry, for the love of Merlin, just bring me the panther."
I shook my head stubbornly. I couldn't let him magic Inky away. "No-o-o!" I howled, stamping my foot on the floor.
Daddy's eyes narrowed. "Harry, I'm going to count to three and if you don't quit acting like a spoiled brat you're going to get a twenty-minute time-out plus a good swat too. I'm not going to hurt him, now bring him here."
I sniffled and peered up at my father through my lashes. Was he telling the truth? He'd never lied to me before, but what if it was a trick? I knew he hated it when I got hurt.
I turned around. Once Daddy starts counting, he means business, and I went into the kitchen and coaxed my cub out and picked him up. He was almost too heavy for me to lift now, but he loved to be carried and he put his paws round my neck and purred. "Inky, why'd you have to bite me?" I moaned. "Now Daddy's mad and you're in big trouble, mister."
I returned to the den, where Dad was waiting impatiently, his arms crossed over his chest. My lower lip trembled as I came towards him. But all he did was pick up my cub by the scruff, that's how the cat's mums carry them, look at him and say. "You're getting too rough here, mister." Inky mewed softly. "Soon you might leave more than a few tooth marks on my Harry. Now what shall we do about it?" His hand went to his wand.
I threw myself at his leg, grabbing him about it and clinging. "Don't change him back, Dad! Please! Anything but that!" I started to cry again, unable to help myself.
"Harry! Stop it!" Dad ordered in his do-it-or-else voice, the one he learned from Grandpa.
I stopped. Crying, that is.
"I'm not going to change him back, I'm going to blunt his claws and teeth a bit with a spell, so he won't draw blood when he plays with you. And maybe it'll stop him from tearing up our sofa too, hmm?" He glared sternly at my panther, because yesterday Inky had ripped the side of the couch with his claws for some reason and Dad had to repair it with a Repairing Charm. He was really mad, too! Almost as mad as the time he caught Inky on his bed, shredding his comforter and bed hangings, which had been a gift from Mum for their anniversary.
Dad took out his black wand (it's called ebony, I think), which I'm never allowed to touch, otherwise I'll get time-out for life and probably the spanking of my life too, and tapped it against Inky's paw and muttered something in Latin.
There was a greenish glow about the cub's paws and then it was done. He repeated the spell and tapped Inky's jaw and the same thing happened. Inky sneezed and batted at Dad's wand. "There! I'll have to renew it every month, but for now, his claws and teeth shouldn't do you any harm. Until he learns to control how hard he bites and to sheathe those claws when he plays with you."
Dad had written to Dagger the Dragon Tamer, who worked for the circus we'd gone to see two months ago, and Dagger sent him a book on how to train big cats-like lions, tigers, and panthers, since the circus has them in their acts sometimes. It was really useful, and Dad and I were trying to teach Inky to be a good panther and not a wild one.
Inky went to chew on Dad's hand, and Dad shook him a little and said, "No! No biting!" Then he tapped him on the nose. "Bad cub!" Inky hung his head, looking kind of like I do when my dad scolds me. He summoned one of these hard leather twisted sticks and gave that to Inky instead. Inky gnawed at it and Dad petted him and told him he was a good boy. "Here, Harry. Take this catastrophe back, I've got some charts to go over."
I took back my pet, who was now chewing away on the stick, though it didn't leave marks like usual. I started to play with him on the couch then, until Dad asked, "Have you finished all your homework and studied for your spelling quiz?"
"Uh . . ." I'd forgotten. "I'll do it later," I said quickly.
"Oh no you won't. Put Inky in his room and go do your homework, Mr. Potter. What's my rule about homework and playing?"
I groaned, for whenever I do something wrong, Dad makes me recite the rule for it, like I don't already know it. "You do homework before you go play, because school is important. I forgot, Dad."
"Yes, I can see that. Now do as I say, Harry, right now. Next time if you 'forget' you'll be writing your spelling words ten times each for me and spend some time in the corner as well."
"No! I'll remember!" I cried, for I hated, absolutely hated time-out. It was the ultimate in boring and I'd rather have my fingernails ripped out than get time-out. I'd even take one of Grandpa's spankings than get a twenty-five minute time-out. Once when I was really bad, Dad gave me a time-out every day for a week, and I promised I'd never be that bad again. (I think I colored in and ripped his potions text, I was three).
I quickly went and put Inky into his room, which had a comfy cat bed and his food dishes and his cat box inside. Then I headed to my room to get my homework out and do it at the kitchen table, because if I forget, Dad insists he sees me do it, and so I have to work in the kitchen while he watches me. So I came back with my notebooks and stuff, he was already at the table, looking over patient charts and making notes on them with his veridian quill, and then I did all my homework with him there.
After he looked everything over and went over my spelling with me, he told me to go play with my panther. But when I opened the door to the room, Inky was sleeping, so I went and asked Dad if I could firecall Blaise and Ron instead, they're my two best wizard kid buddies.
Dad said okay and I used the Floo, asking Mrs. Weasley and Mrs. Zabini if Ron and Blaise could play till supper. They said yes too, and before you could blink, they'd Flooed into my living room.
"Where's your panther, Harry?" asked Ron.
"Can we pet him?" Blaise added.
"Later. He's asleep. Let's go play in the backyard," I said.
My backyard's got a fence about it and a swing set and it's pretty neat.
"All right," Blaise agreed, and off we went.
By the time we were sick of that and came back inside for a snack, Inky was awake and meowing for food. I looked up at the chart on the wall. Time for his supper.
"Harry, your cub's hungry," reminded Dad, he was still working at the table.
"I know," I said, and went to take the little package of fine ground beef out, plus an egg and a little of the formula in a bottle. I mixed it all in a bowl with a wooden spoon while Ron and Blaise watched, then I asked Ron to get me Inky's dishes.
I let Blaise put water in one while I put the food in the other and then we went back and fed my poor starving cub. Least he acted like he was starving, he finished the food in about forty seconds. Then he drank and began to groom himself.
"He's gotten so big, Harry," exclaimed Blaise, kneeling to stroke my cat's silky fur.
Inky rubbed against his hand, purring.
"Yeah, he's growing fast," I said proudly. "In a week we're gonna take him to a vet and let them weigh him and stuff."
"How old is he now?" Ron asked.
"Umm . . .six weeks, near as I can figure." I picked up a rope and snaked it across the floor.
Inky stopped grooming, crouched, wriggled his backside and his tail, them pounced on it. I dragged the rope all over the room for him to chase, it was almost as long as I was.
"Can I try?" asked the two boys.
So I let them play for a bit, because I know they don't have any pet like this at home, and both of them really loved Inky and wished they knew how to make a stuffed animal come alive. I wished I did too, because I didn't have a clue how I'd done it. Then I could've taught them. Only, somehow, I don't think their mum or dad would've been happy if I did that, so maybe that's not such a good idea after all.
We played with Inky till we were tired and then we went into the den to watch cartoons. Guess we must've fell asleep, 'cause the next thing I know, Dad's shaking me and saying it's time for supper and Ron and Blaise have gone home. I yawn and follow Dad into the kitchen, where a bored Inky pounces on my ankle from under the table.
This time, though, it doesn't hurt.
I giggle and Dad looks at us and shakes his head. "You and that panther. The two of you are mischief squared and going to drive me to distraction, I swear it."
I go wash up for dinner, tonight we're having fish sticks, corn, and chips, yum! It's Inky's favorite too, and I always give him a fish stick under the table when Dad's not looking.