Title: The Grim

Penname: SassyFrass

Characters, Pairing: Harry/Ginny, Sirius

Word Count: 2088

Rating: G

Genre: Romance

Song Lyrics:

If you look at her, she looks at me

She's got me thinking about her constantly

But she don't know how I feel

She carries on without a doubt

I wonder if she'll figure out

I'm crazy for this girl.

"Crazy For This Girl" - Evan and Jaron

Summary: After fifth year, Harry receives a special present, and Ginny gets one too.

A/N: Thanks to dukebrymin and rosiekatriona for their mad beta skills. And yes, this is partially inspired by my 100 word drabble "The Grim."

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and AOL Time Warner, and have been used without permission. Rights to these characters and their images is neither claimed nor implied. It is not endorsed by any of the aforementioned parties.

All recognizable characters, song lyrics, settings, and ideas not associated with the world of Harry Potter remain the property of their respective owners and all original characters, situations, places and ideas are the sole property of their creators. Original content viewed here may not be used without their permission.

XXX

The first time Harry had the dream was two weeks after Sirius died. It was an odd dream, different than the nightmares he was used to. He'd walked through a mist, hearing voices whisper, just as he had when he stood close to the veil. Then he'd heard barking that started far off, but came closer and closer. Harry only had a brief glimpse of the large black dog before he'd been bowled to the ground and his face covered with slobber from an enthusiastic tongue.

"Padfoot!" Harry sputtered, "that's gross. Get off."

Padfoot leaned back, panting in Harry's face, a distinctly mischievous doggie-grin on his face. Harry huffed a breath, then shoved the large Grim off his chest. Propping himself up, Harry glared at the dog, who promptly pounced again.

Play with me! He seemed to say. Come on! Padfoot scrambled back, his tail high and wagging, as he lowered his front half in a playful doggie bow.

Harry grinned, and in that way that only happens in dreams, bounced forward as a black puppy and tackled the large black dog.

When the pounding on his door woke Harry from sleep, he sighed and stretched. Eyes widening, he realized that he hadn't had any nightmares about Sirius falling, or Cedric dying. Getting out of bed, he smiled, bittersweet feelings coursing through him as he remembered his dream. Playing with Padfoot was one of his favorite memories from Christmas, the dog had been carefree in a way Sirius couldn't be after Azkaban. The idea of Harry as a puppy pouncing on the older man was something Harry had longed for. He'd been planning on asking Sirius to start teaching him the Animagus transformation this summer, safe behind the wards at Grimmauld place. Now, he just didn't have the heart to ask anyone else.

It wasn't 'til after his aunt complained about hair in the hallway that Harry noticed the silky black hairs scattered about his bed.

The same thing happened the next day, and the next. Every morning Harry was forced to hoover the upper hallway, and he carefully cleaned his room as well. The last thing he needed was for the Dursleys to blame him for the hair. Although, they would've been right for once. By the time his birthday rolled around, Harry was convinced that there was more to his dreams of dogfighting than just his subconscious mind dealing with the loss of Sirius.

When Harry woke up the day of his birthday, there was a parliament of owls gathered in his room. They perched on the desk and the windowsill, except for Pig, of course. He was still flying in rapid circles near the ceiling, hooting excitedly. The other owls, much like Hedwig always did, regally ignored him.

Harry put his glasses on, and not bothering to change clothes, began relieving the owls of their packages and letters. Wrapped up was the usual assortment of treats and books he'd come to expect from his friends, although there was a very nice framed picture of Harry and Hedwig flying around the Quidditch pitch from Ginny. He was a little surprised to get an individual gift from her, as she was usually included on the card that accompanied the package of sweets from Mrs. Weasley. But, for some reason, the idea that Ginny had thought of him, and cared enough to send a personal present sent a warm feeling through him.

The last present he opened was preceded by a letter from Remus. He turned the letter over curiously, as he'd already opened a present from Remus, a very interesting DADA book.

Dear Harry, the letter read,

I knew that Sirius had planned your present months ago. I don't, however, know what it is, he was keeping it a secret. Possibly because I'd disapprove, or more likely, because he wanted to bug me.

Harry smiled. That seemed like something he'd do.

I do know that whatever it is he decided to give you, likely some prank spells that he'd love for you to cast on some unsuspecting Deatheaters, or Snape, he was really looking forward to working with you on it.

I know you miss him, Harry. I do too. But remember that he loves you, and that he doesn't have to stay locked up anymore. Padfoot is probably romping wildly at the moment, hopefully causing all sorts of trouble with Prongs.

Happy Birthday, Harry.

Remus.

Harry carefully folded the letter back up, and set it aside. He unwrapped the package slowly, his eyes a little bright with emotion. It was a book. But there was something odd about it. It looked like an old journal, but it was blank. Inside the front cover was a simple message scrawled in Sirius's hand.

What's the magic word, Pup?

Harry snorted. Wouldn't Remus have figured this out? "I solemnly swear that I'm up to no good." The words shimmered and changed.

Mssr. Padfoot would like to ensure that this really is Pup, and not some nosy git like Mssr. Moony. He asks that you please whisper the phrase that caused him to threaten you with dire results if you ever uttered it again.

Harry laughed hysterically. That's what stopped Remus! "Padfoot prances prettily." The words changed again.

Mssr. Padfoot thanks Pup, and reminds him that if he ever tells anyone else that phrase, the consequences will be such that he'll wish the Weasley Twins or Snape had gotten hold of him.

"Not anymore, Padfoot." Harry sighed. "You're gone."

Mssr. Padfoot assures Pup that there is nowhere he'd be safe and that Mssr. Padfoot would find a way from beyond death if necessary.

"Padfoot?!"

Mssr. Padfoot begs that Pup not sound so astonished as Mssr. Padfoot is, of course, a magnificent wizard, and did Pup really think those were just dreams? But Mssr. Padfoot would like to return to the point as it is Pup's birthday present, and nothing is more important than presents.

The cover went blank for a moment, and new writing appeared on the title page.

Mssr. Padfoot is proud to present:

Padfoot's personal guide to becoming an Animagus.

Beneath that was a smaller note.

Practice, Pup, you don't need a wand for it, and Padfoot's lonely.

XXX

By the time the Weasleys picked him up from no. 4, three days later, Harry could change his hands into paws, and had managed to cover his entire body with fur a few times. He only practiced at night, because of what he'd discovered the first time he'd changed an arm and hadn't been able to change back. If he went to sleep, he'd revert naturally in his sleep. . . after his dreamtime romping with Sirius of course.

He'd spent a lot of time thinking about his friends as well. He'd seriously considered talking to Ron and Hermione about his animagus form, but decided not to. Hermione would lecture him about doing it unsupervised, and Ron would likely be annoyed he hadn't waited so Ron could try as well. But the main reason he didn't want to tell his friends was that he wanted a secret that was just between him and Padfoot. He'd tell them later. Ginny, on the other hand, he'd thought about more than Ron and Hermione combined. He remembered how bravely she'd fought, and how she comforted him. How she'd kicked him out of his bad moods, and supported him against Umbridge. And eventually Harry realized that he'd been thinking about her more and more, and with deeper feelings.

At The Burrow, Harry was soundly hugged by Mrs. Weasley, and then Ginny gave him a light hug, too. He pulled back, his face flushing, and stuttered through an inquiry about her injuries. Harry smiled in relief to find out everyone was healed fully, with no lingering problems. Hermione wrapped him in a bushy brown hug, and chattered some quiet remarks about Sirius, and was Harry okay? He nodded, muttered something in reply–he wasn't sure what–and made Ron help carry his trunk up to his room.

That night at dinner, Harry felt as though the summer heat had latched onto him. Every time he looked at Ginny, he felt the temperature rise. It didn't help that he caught Hermione looking at him knowingly a few times. Luckily, no one commented on the blush he could feel in his cheeks. Especially after the time she met his gaze and smiled.

The days passed, and Harry worked on his Animagus form, and Ginny's birthday drew nearer. Hermione grew tired of watching him watch Ginny, and pulled him aside.

"She still likes you, you know."

Harry sputtered in shock, and his face turned red again.

"What do you mean?"

"Harry, I've seen how you look at her. You like her, you're crazy about her. Every time you two are in a room together you can't take your eyes off of her."

"Doesn't matter," he replied diffidently. "She's dating Dean." Hermione waved her hand in dismissal.

"She broke up with him right before you came. Something about 'lack of common interests.'"

"Really?" Harry perked up.

"Yes, so ask her out already."

"I can't."

Harry refused to discuss it anymore with Hermione. But he watched Ginny more than ever.

XXX

The day before Ginny's birthday, Harry had finally managed a full transformation, but still couldn't consciously control his reversion. But he decided not to worry about it anymore. He was more concerned with what to give Ginny for her birthday. All he had were some chocolate frogs, and there was no way he'd be able to go to Diagon Alley to buy her something better. Maybe he could write a nice letter, or teach her to be an animagus. That could be fun. But then he chickened out, and wrapped up the frogs.

That night, he dreamed about Padfoot again, but this time he woke up with a start, early in morning.

"Bark!" Harry jerked. What was that?

"Bark!" Padfoot? Harry stumbled to Ron's window, and saw a shadow move out in the yard. A shape stepped out into the dawn light–it was a large Grim.

"Padfoot!?" Harry's voice was strangled. The dog's tail wagged. Harry hurried to the door, and edged out quietly. He carefully tiptoed down the staircase, avoiding the squeaky steps, and let himself outside.

It took him a few tries to concentrate enough to change, but soon there were two dogs wrestling in the early morning.

XXX

Ginny loved to be out in the garden early in the morning on her birthday. After the events of her first year, she liked to have quiet time to herself. And on her birthday, it was even more important to her. She liked to think about how she had changed and grown in the last year.

She looked up from her thoughts when she heard a soft whine. At the edge of the garden, out of sight of the house, stood a familiar-looking black dog. She shook her head, Sirius is dead, she reminded herself.

When he whined again, she couldn't stop her whisper.

"Snuffles."

His tail wagged, and she walked toward the dog who should be dead. He side-stepped away and nosed a shape hidden in the shadows. It was a smaller dog, with black fur that stood up every which way, and a white lightning bolt down his forehead.

"Harry?!"

His eyes were green.

"What happened, Harry?" Ginny looked around briefly, but the larger, grim-like dog had disappeared. "Did you get stuck?"

Harry whined again, pathetically and flopped onto his back. Ginny reached down and rubbed his stomach. He wriggled enthusiastically, and squirmed over, licking her wrist.

"You have to change back, Harry."

Harry scrambled into a sitting position, and gave her a sheepish expression, and a doggie shrug. He licked her hand again, and looked up at her in entreaty.

"No, Harry. You have to turn back. I want my birthday wish, and can't have it if you're a dog."

Harry whimpered a question.

"You're a cute dog," Ginny said in reply. "But I can't kiss you if you're not a boy."

Harry froze in surprise, staring at her. She looked back at him steadily.

XXX

A large black dog at the edge of the woods heard the POP! of an animagus resuming his human form, and then nothing but quiet. With a snuffle of humor, he started to fade, then gave a bark of laughter that seemed to say Mischief Managed!