A/N: This is much longer than my usual fare, so no complainy about the time between posting...please? ~puppy eyes~ Pretty please? With Voldemort wearing a neon pink dress in a field of neon green and yellow flowers on top? With light pink streamers? Doing a dance? In a circle of pink, floral-pattern robed Death Eaters? With lemon drop decorated lampshades on their heads?
On with the insanity!...~chough~ I mean story! On with the insanitory! ...right. ONWARDS!
Harry, Dudley, BOYS, 'no, just mine', Fred, George, Gred, Forge, 'no, just the Weasley twins', and 'ALL OF YOU IN HERE NOW' spent the first two weeks of summer in fierce planning mode. They had much to catch each other up on, many pranks to plan, and a great deal less time than they needed, and so they worked.
Dudley, who had joined both the rugby and boxing teams at Smeltings, made all of them wake up ridiculously early to work out with him, teasing and taunting until they kept up just to shut him up. Of course, the wizarding world was so much more lax about physical fitness, even for its quidditch players, that Harry, Fred, and George all had trouble at first anyways. When they realized how out of shape they were compared to Dudley, who quite enjoyed his food, and was a bit on the large side, they stopped complaining.
After their workout all four would take quick showers before thundering into the kitchen for breakfast. By then both Petunia and Vernon were awake, and the six ate together before Vernon left for work.
Following breakfast was chores, which Petunia insisted everyone help with, rotating each of them through the different jobs. When Fred and George complained on the first day Petunia calmly informed them that their mother had offered to pay for them to stay over, citing the mess they tended to make, and Petunia insisted they earn their keep. They didn't complain after that, and within five days had been overheard commenting that they'd never take their mum for granted again, knowing how much work she had, even with magic.
By the third day Harry had pulled a Hermione and insisted they all do their summer work after chores and before lunch, which was never shorter than an hour and usually around two. When Dudley happily agreed the Twins wondered what conspiracy they'd been caught in.
Lunch was always foods that required no cooking. Often they had sandwiches, sometimes a soup that was supposed to be eaten cold, other times Petunia would take them out for smoothies or something similar. With all four boys working the cleanup barely took any time, and they were released to "go do whatever, but if you blow up my house I will send the Twins and Harry to a muggle zoo and Dudley to a pureblood's menagerie, so just keep that in mind."
Tea was served wherever the boys happened to be at three-forty-five, and was always accompanied by an admonishment to "keep the crumbs out of the carpet or you'll be cleaning in the afternoon too!" A rather large tray of scarfed snacks later the boys got back to work, books strewn about, more pads of paper with notes than there were boys, and both mutters and shouts interrupting the almost-silence of page-turning and pencil-scratching.
Vernon would arrive home at six-thirty, give or take depending on traffic and his boss, and the closing of the front door signaled a stampede from upstairs as the boys hurried to set the table while Vernon changed and Petunia finished preparing dinner. When everyone was sitting and served there were always a few minutes of silence as the six of them took the edge off their hunger before conversation started. Vernon would talk about work, the boys would gabble about how their planning was coming along, and Petunia would gossip about the neighbors.
After dinner the boys would clear the table and wash the dishes, though they were allowed to leave the rest for Petunia, before running back upstairs to clean up whatever mess they'd left, filing all their notes and books carefully, which, surprisingly enough, had started at the Twin's insistence. When everything was filed away for the night they'd disperse, Dudley to watch the telly, Harry to do his own research, and the Twins to do whatever it was that they didn't want anyone else privy to.
The only change in their schedule was the weekend. On those days Vernon would be home, and therefore have lunch with them, sometimes taking them out for ice cream or some other treat. On Sunday Vernon, Petunia, and Dudley went to church while Harry and the Twins wandered the neighborhood or some other such innanity.
It was on one of those weekend days, the second Saturday of vacation, that there was a knock on the door at around ten in the morning. The boys, already working on their homework, looked up while Vernon answered the door.
"Who're you?" Vernon snapped at whoever was on the other side. Dudley and the Twins looked at each other, wondering why he was being so rude, but Harry perked up. His Uncle was never rude unless the other person looked or acted 'abnormal' (and he wasn't expecting it, of course).
"Oh, um, I'm Evan Patterson. I'm, ah, here to see Mr. Harry Potter." Harry shook his head even as he jumped to his feet and sprinted for the entry.
"And why do you want to see him?" Vernon asked, and Harry could practically hear his eyes narrowing. His relatives had needed to fend off a few wizards when he was younger, and they got very protective when they weren't sure what someone intended towards either Harry or Dudley.
"Lemme handle this Uncle." Harry said, skidding to a stop by the front door and laying a hand on his uncle's elbow as he ducked under it to peer out at the wizard on the front porch. The man was very much a wizard, dressed in slacks and a blazer with absolutely nothing underneath them, and if Harry wasn't mistaken his 'dress shoes' were made of dragonhide. Luckily he probably didn't look too strange from the back.
"You wanted to speak to me?" Harry asked the man.
"Yes, Mr. Potter." The man nodded. "I've been sent from the Ministry to assess your request for variances on using magic outside of school and in front of specified muggles."
"Ah, good, please come in." Harry nudged his uncle back as he opened the door wider. The man stepped inside, and Harry led him to the dining room as Vernon closed the door.
"You requested a variance, citing the need to assist your aunt with keeping the house clean as well as the need to hone some of your first and second year spells so that you do not fall behind, is this correct?" Mr. Patterson asked after sitting down and pulling out a parchment.
"Yes, sir." Harry said, watching the man.
"The house doesn't look like it needs cleaning." Mr. Patterson observed, looking at the spotless room.
"Yes, well, you came less than fifteen minutes after we finished cleaning. There are currently four boys living here, and they're a bit messy at the best of times." Petunia stepped into the room from the kitchen, a dish towel in her hands.
"Four? I was told there were only two boys living here." The man looked at her in alarm.
"Aunt Petunia's letting the Weasley Twins stay over so Mrs. Weasley can get a bit of a break." Harry grinned. "Speaking of which, I know I can't get a variance on the cleaning spells unless I can prove I won't mess them up or have a teacher. I'd like to hire Mrs. Weasley to teach me the household spells I'd be able to handle at my level, and again next summer, etcetera."
"You'd like to hire Mrs. Weasley?" Mr. Patterson asked.
"Well, yeah. I mean, it's what my school fund is for anyways." Harry smirked at the man, then decided to take a calculated risk. "Besides, I don't think Aunt Petunia would let me learn all the spells I wanted, like a hair-washing spell for next time I see Professor Snape."
Mr. Patterson stared at Harry for almost a full minute, then burst into a full-bellied laugh. "Alright, Mr. Potter." He shook his head, controlling his chuckles. "I'm sure you're aware that variances are frequent, though usually in all-magic families. I will assume for now that the only muggles who will witness any magic will be your aunt, uncle, and cousin, and that you are aware that any other muggles present when you perform a spell will trigger an alert. Would you like a household variance for your guests? It will have to be limited to spells taught at Hogwarts at or below each guest's level."
"That would be wonderful, Mr. Patterson." Harry said, trying not to laugh at Petunia's slightly alarmed look. "Can we have a household variance on the cleaning charms as well?"
"Of course." Mr. Patterson pulled four scrolls out of some pocket or other, and he signed them before passing them to Harry, who stood as the senior magical member of the household, who passed them to Petunia who signed as a guardian. Then Mr. Patterson left, and Harry yelled for Fred and George.
Mrs. Weasley arrived bright and early the next morning, Ron, Ginny, and Percy in tow. As Harry had gotten a household variance she added all her children to the lessons. Harry could tell she was surprised by the Twin's serious air as they learned, and nudged his aunt the first chance he got.
"I'm surprised they haven't blown something up yet." Harry heard Mrs. Weasley whisper as he practiced a dusting charm a few minutes later.
"Oh, they're good boys. They just need a little less order and oversight than most." Aunt Petunia whispered back.
"I'm surprised they're not goofing off." Mrs. Weasley's voice held a little concern, as though she was worried some form of plot was in the works.
"Oh, I figured they should see how much work you have at home, so I have them doing some chores with my boys in the mornings. Nothing big, but we did say they'd earn their keep. They seemed to have no concept of how much work a house requires, much less one with children in it." Aunt Petunia sounded smug.
"I don't know..." So that was why the Weasley kids were so childish. Harry shook his head. The way Mrs. Weasley was talking she did all the chores in the house, never mind that she had more kids than she could keep track of.
"Oh dear, please tell me the kids have chores." Aunt Petunia said, pulling Mrs. Weasley a little further away from the still-working kids. Still, Harry didn't have to strain much to listen in.
"Well, they're to keep their rooms clean and such, but I don't know..." Harry turned his attention back to his spellwork, as his aunt had sent him a reproving look.
Mrs. Weasley returned every other morning for the next few weeks. At the end of the Twin's second week there Mrs. Weasley forced them to return to the Burrow, though they still returned every morning for lessons. Of course, the next lesson after they left Percy begged to either send them back or let him stay with the Dursleys, so he and Ron ended up staying over, Ron in Harry's room and Percy in the guest room.
Petunia and Vernon both took a liking to Percy, though they and Dudley all expressed indifference towards Ron. As such the Twins and Percy ended up trading off who stayed at the Dursley's, and that was how things stood when Arthur won the Thousand Galleon Draw.
Harry didn't want to know what kind of arguing took place. All he knew was that Fred, George, and Percy all showed up one night with Aunt Petunia, and informed Harry, Dudley, and Vernon that they'd be staying till the end of summer.
Two days later their Hogwarts letters came, along with a Head Boy badge for Percy, and when asked about school shopping Fred, George, and Percy explained that they'd convinced their parents not only to let them stay, but to give them the money that would have been spent on the trip.
Dudley's birthday came, and with it Aunt Marge, though she only stayed for the party, as there wasn't enough room for her. Everyone was relieved when she left, and Vernon and Petunia agreed that part of Dudley's present would be freer reign of Diagon Alley during Harry's.
On the 31st of July they met up with Neville in Diagon Alley, and had a small party-cum-school-shopping extravaganza. After lunch at the Leaky Cauldron, and ice cream at Fortescues they split up.
Though they had enough money to get new books, Fred and George still got them at the used bookstore while Percy got himself a new set of robes. Harry, too, needed new robes, and accompanied Percy to Madame Malkins while Dudley went with Fred and George, and Neville went to Flourish and Blotts with his grandmother. When he and Percy met up with the others at the bookstore they were surprised to see their schoolbooks already picked out next to three piles of other books.
"Perce, check those." George pointed to the smallest pile. "Har, help us look through these." The two shrugged at each other, and sat on the floor by the other three boys.
"Where did you find this?" Percy held up a book a few minutes later.
"Behind a stack of other books." Fred grinned. "Dudley found it, actually."
"Thank you, Dudley." Percy smiled, and Harry caught Dudley smiling back. He was glad Percy and Dudley got along so well. Percy really, really didn't fit with his family, and Dudley knew what it was like to be the odd one out, though not to the extent that Percy did. As well, both were quite driven, and they'd somehow managed to click. Smiling to himself, he went back to figuring out which books would actually be useful for pranks and such.
They finished the day at the Leaky Cauldron again, Harry and Neville opening the modest gifts given by their friends and family. Somehow both felt that it was one of their better birthdays, full of laughter and fun, but still with a purpose and friends.
"Hey, Harry, what about this?" Dudley handed a book over, pointing out one of the spells. "It's in your level limit, and it might actually be practical." Harry looked at the spell.
"Presa corda?" Harry looked at the text. "I assume you mean the 'di stregone' modifier?" He handed the book to the Twins.
"Yeah, with Black on the loose this might be very useful." Fred grinned down at the book.
"I wonder why they only teach us spells in latin if there's so many in other languages?" George mused, staring down at the book.
"Dope, do you know how old that thing is?" Dudley asked. "I checked, it's so old there's no date on it. Of course not everyone's going to use latin."
"Yeah, but italian? It's based in latin, isn't it?" George pressed.
"So? Doesn't make sense to only use one language, besides, if what I've read about the theory is right then it's intent more than words that matter, it's just that constant use of specific words made pathways in the magic...or something." Dudley shrugged. "So, think you guys can do it?"
"We can try." Harry said, grinning. The Twins grinned back, and they set about enchanting ropes from the basement. When they'd proven the ropes to be effective they scattered them around the property and went on with their prank planning.
A few days later the household woke to the sound of a dog in distress. The Twins, Harry, and Dudley went to investigate while Petunia cooked breakfast. Outside they found a large black dog rather thoroughly bound by their wizard-catching rope.
"Um...didn't we test that?" Harry asked, watching the dog warily.
"Yeah." George said.
"It's pretty thin." Fred noted.
"Looks like a padfoot." Dudley mused.
"Padfoot?" The other three's heads snapped towards Dudley.
"You know, ghost dog?" Dudley said, eyeing them warily.
"Padfoot?" Harry looked to the twins.
"Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs!" All three of them said.
"Wizard-catching rope." Fred.
"Dog." George said.
"Animagus!" Harry inserted himself into their Twinspeak.
"Marauder!" Both Twins said.
"It's nice to meet you Mr. Padfoot." Fred stepped forwards.
"But, um, what are you doing snooping around Harry's home?" George continued.
"You know, why don't we take fluffles here inside and send mum to get her nails done or something." Dudley suggested.
Petunia was suspicious, but let the children convince her to get a mani-pedi while they "did things for which she required plausible deniability." Then they sat in the living room, Percy on the couch while Harry, Dudley, Fred, and George surrounded the dog so that it had no escape, looking at it expectantly.
A moment later Sirius Black was sitting in their living room, staring at the wands pointed at his chest.
"You can't do magic over the summer." He rasped.
"Variance." Harry growled. "You have five minutes to explain why I shouldn't call the aurors."
"Har, why are you giving him any time?" Dudley asked.
"Because I feel like something's not right." Harry said. "Five minutes." He looked at the escaped convict. "Start now."
The man stared at him for a minute, as though he wasn't sure what to think on more levels than he knew existed. Then he started to talk, explaining about the Secret Keeper fiasco, going after Pettegrew, and why he'd escaped from Azkaban. Eventually he trailed off with a shrug. "So that's the story." He looked at the five boys in the room.
"Surely you can't be serious!" Percy snapped from the couch, crossing his arms. "Harry, you can't be thinking of listening to him, he's obviously mad!"
"I am Sirius!" Sirius snapped, then turned quite petulant. "And don't call me Shirley!"
The twins were the first to crack up. Harry would have been, but he was making sure Percy didn't have a stroke or something. The poor boy looked like he was going to explode.
"Hey Percy?" Harry said suddenly, catching the alternately gaping and fuming boy's attention. "Why don't you ask to be re-sorted? I know you had to have told the Hat to put you in Gryffindor. You'd have made a much better Ravenclaw or Slytherin." He knew it was random, but he wanted to get the boy onto another topic, at least for a little while.
"Re-Sort the Head Boy?" Percy's voice held all the answer Harry needed.
"Sure, why not?" Of course, that didn't mean he was going to listen to it.
"Right, back to Sirius Black being innocent, in your house, a marauder, and an animagus." Fred and George said in their twinly way.
"Oh, hey, can we see if Dumbledore'll let me bring a guard dog to 'protect me from the threat of Sirius Black'?" Harry asked.
Percy looked at him like he was insane.
Fred and George cracked up.
Dudley went to grab some parchment, ink, and a quill from Harry's trunk. He returned quickly, and handed the items to Harry with a grin. "Let's find out."
"Should we not at least ask your parents if you can keep him?" Percy asked Dudley.
"Well, yeah, if he's gonna stay here, but for Hogwarts he can join Harry after if they say no, so it doesn't matter." Dudley said. "Besides, this is the best prank ever. We're pranking the entire wizarding world!"
They had just sent the letter off when Petunia got home. Her scream made Harry very glad Percy had helped them put permanent silencing charms on the house. Still, he and Dudley ended up having to step between her and Sirius before she used the cast iron wok she'd immediately grabbed to bash his head in with. This necessitated another round of explanations followed by a tense silence.
"So, let me get this straight. You're innocent, Ronald's rat is the real betrayer, and my children have decided that you're going to be Harry's guard dog to protect him from yourself but actually from Peter and anyone else who wants to kill him." Petunia deadpanned when she'd finally stopped staring at Sirius with distaste. She'd already gone off about how Sirius looked more insane than sane, and had been surprised that the man had agreed wholeheartedly. His explanation of "Dementors do that" had been the only one she'd needed.
"Yes." Sirius said, and everyone could tell he was fighting to stay calm.
"And you can swear however you wizards do so that you won't harm my nephew or anyone he cares about and follow his commands as long as they are reasonable?" Petunia pushed.
"Yes." Sirius didn't hesitate, and the others were surprised to see a strand of magic flash between him and Petunia, though neither adult acknowledged it.
"Right. First, you're showering. Then I'm getting your measure and picking up some decent clothes. I'll swing by Vernon's office on the way back and warn him. You're to stay as a dog unless you're needed as a human for some reason, and you'd better act like a dog. A housetrained, obedient dog." Petunia glared at Sirius, who had the guts to cringe.
Sirius showered, and everyone could tell he was much happier for it. Petunia had, of course, immediately taken his clothes and burned them in the barbecue pit, giving him only an old pair of Vernon's briefs to cover himself before barging in and taking a number of measurements, only releasing him once he'd changed into dog form and she'd measured his neck.
With Petunia out Harry, Dudley, Gred, and Forge forced Percy into an unbreakable vow of secrecy. George had suggested it, and Dudley seconded, and though Percy was unhappy he didn't fight it, knowing the other option was to have an unstable adult attempt to obliviate him with someone else's wand.
After the Vow Percy retreated to the guest room, and the other five, Sirius in dog form, went to Dudley's. Unfortunately they realized something when they got there: Four boys made the room crowded. Four boys and a very large dog was too much.
"Right, we need to knock down the wall between your two rooms." Fred said, George nodding in agreement.
"It's not like you need two anyways." George added.
"We'll have to ask Vernon." Harry replied, grabbing the pranking notes he'd been working on that morning. "Let's go take over the living room." The others quickly grabbed their own notes and trampled back downstairs.
They worked for another two hours before Vernon and Petunia got home.
"Boys, close the curtains." Vernon growled as soon as the front door closed. The for hastened to obey.
"Dog, transform." Sirius did so. Vernon punched him in the face.
"If you ever use a spell on me again I will tie you up and call the police, and make sure they know you can turn into a dog so you can't escape again." Vernon growled. Sirius glared, but nodded sullenly. The wedding prank didn't seem like such a good idea from where he was standing, well, slumping, anymore. He was just very glad Harry hadn't been forced to pay for his and James' sins. As soon as the thought crossed his mind, Sirius blanched. Vernon took that to mean he was suitably afraid, and grinned, but Sirius was realizing how badly Harry could have paid for his and James' past actions.
"Good, now change back and stay that way." Vernon tromped over to the couch and flopped down. "And why are you four down here? Get this stuff cleared up!" He was definitely in a bad mood.
"Um, we were wondering if we could knock out the wall between our rooms, dad." Dudley asked hesitantly. "There's really not enough space anymore."
"Absolutely not. We have no idea if that wall is load-bearing or not, and do you realize how expensive that would be?" Vernon snapped, stopping in the doorway to glare at Sirius.
"Aww, come on dad." Dudley said, pouting slightly.
"Um, Mr. Dursley?" Percy said from behind him, having been drawn by Vernon's treatment of Sirius. "I'm of age, and we covered construction spells last year in Charms. I could turn the wall into a large archway. That way it won't damage the house if it's load-bearing."
Vernon looked at Percy for a minute before nodding with a grunt. "Whatever. Go ahead then." Dudley, Harry, Fred, George, and Sirius, who they decided to call Grim, all made loud noises of good cheer. Percy, Vernon, and Petunia covered their ears.
The wall was quickly fixed, the living room cleared, and dinner well on its way to being prepared. Harry and the others wasted no time in continuing their planning, and behind the closed doors and curtains of the dual room Sirius took human form to help, though he stayed below the window line just to be safe.
After breakfast one Saturday morning Petunia made an announcement that sent warning signals through all five boy's minds.
"I'm going out, and I'm taking Grim with me." She happily clipped a leash to Grim's collar as she spoke. "Oh, and we'll need to borrow your wand, Harry." She held out an imperious hand, and wore an almost evil smirk when he handed it over.
"Wonder what that's about?" George said as the front door closed behind the pair.
"No clue." Dudley replied, shaking his head and turning back to their work.
It was time for lunch when Petunia got back, a shaking grim pressed against her leg. She handed Harry his wand and walked around the house to close all the curtains. As soon as no one could see in Grim transformed into Sirius, and surprised the boys by bowing so low his forehead touched the floor, staying on his knees.
"I bow down to you, oh Queen of intimidation. Please, please never turn your wrath on me, and instead let me watch you tear down the fragile egos of pureblood princes and kings before they realize who they're speaking to, then watch their faces twist in horror and shame." Sirius stayed in his bow, and all five boys looked between him and Petunia with wide eyes.
"Um...what happened?" Harry asked after the silence had stretched too long.
"Your aunt is amazing!" Sirius sat up, a giant grin on his face. "So, we leave the house and she walks me to this dark alley. I think she's going to kill me or something, but she holds out your wand and says 'take me to Diagon Alley, dog', so I transform and take her, and transform back, and she pulls a robe, a robe, out of her handbag and puts it on, and then a cloak, and I didn't think that bag could even fit that much, and puts that on too with the hood up, and then she walks me straight into Knockturn Alley, Knockturn Alley! And tells me quiet like to lead her wherever they sell wands, and everyone's already staring at her 'cause, you know, I look like a grim." He paused to give them a wolfish grin. "Anyways, we go into Schrodinger's Stuff, which is a second-hand store, and she just marches to the back and commands that the owner show her the wands he has. So he does, and she just starts handing them to me in dog form, like, I have to take them in my mouth, and the owner's looking at her like she's crazy, but it turns out I can still feel the magic, and there was one that actually really worked for me, so I huffed at her, and she goes 'good Grim', and the owner just pales like you wouldn't believe, and she buys the wand, and since when do you carry around wizarding money?" He addressed the question to Petunia, but didn't wait for a response.
"Anyways, we walk out, and who should we run across but Malfoy, and he tries to start something, and your aunt just tears him down without ever raising her voice. It was, like, the most amazing, awesome, absolutely fantastic thing I have ever seen, and before he can recover she's walked me past him, and then, guess what! Then she whispers that I should be a good boy and water the idiot to see if it'll grow a brain, but so he can hear, and I did have to go, so I got to leave dog-water on his nice, clean robes, then snap at him, and I think I got my eyes to glow because he got this absolutely terrified look on his face, wiped clean really quickly of course, and hustled away." Sirius paused for a breath, and pulled out a wand. "So now I have a wand, and can defend you even better, and I got to piss on Lucius Malfoy!"
"Mm. And you can go back to being a dog now." Petunia said. No one was surprised, given the story, when Sirius obeyed instantly.
Over the next week Sirius got used to being a dog, and they discovered something rather fun. Harry, who had long since given up actually using his skateboard much, pulled it out of his trunk and started having Grim pull him, only the collar choked him so they picked up a dog harness. Within two days Harry had discovered his most favorite ever form of transportation, and spent as much time as he could working on coordination so that he didn't take a spill at high speeds. Dudley, too, enjoyed the 'Grim Ride', though he wasn't quite as good, and the Twins were downright awful at it. Still, it helped Sirius come to terms with staying in dog-form so much that he could still play with his godson and prankster friends.
In fact, Sirius started behaving so well that Petunia sent off an owl, only warning him when there was a knock on the door that he needed to behave or she would brain him with her cast-iron wok. Then she went to answer the door, and Professor Snape walked in. Of course, no one but her would ever know why it was a good thing to have Professor Snape over, but apparently it was supposed to be.
"Uncle Severus!" Harry yelled from the table, work scattered around him.
"Rushing to get you summer work done, I see." Professor Snape said with a sneer.
"Of course not, silly!" Harry grinned, and both Snape and Grim realized at the same moment that he was a devil in a child-suit. "I'm trying to work out the formula for combining a time-delaying potion with a babbling beverage, and whether or not I can safely add tell-me-true to the draft without it being poisonous."
Snape turned to Petunia, a very blank look on his face. "Albus says he wants me to check over some dog or other for suitability and give it a defleaing potion?"
"Yes, the one under the table." Petunia smiled, looking between Severus and Grim, though Severus was the only one in the room who didn't understand her tight-lipped look of satisfaction as Grim started to whine deep in his throat. "Come on, Grim, say hello to Mr. Snape, and if you leave any presents I'll get you snipped before you leave for Hogwarts." Her face and tonation didn't change, and that probably made it worse, if the increase in Grim's whining was anything to go by.
"He seemed to actually understand that." Severus mused as Grim crawled out from under the table and walked over, tale tucked.
"Well, yes. He's actually quite intelligent. About on par with my late brother-in-law and his mangy friend, the black haired one, truth be told." The boys at the table made various sounds of mirth, and Grim got a decently offended look to stick on his canine features.
"Yes, well, Lupin will be teaching at Hogwarts this year." Severus said conversationally, reaching a hand down to let Grim sniff it. Grim, meanwhile, was staring at Severus, eyes wide with hope and something powerful and unidentifiable, though that could have been because of his form.
"You do know he's perfectly harmless, right? Even if your heart doesn't just yet?" Petunia asked, giving Grim a stern look. Grim sighed, sniffed Severus' hand, made a perplexed sound-face, and stepped forward to sniff at his robes and shoes.
"You must smell interesting, Professor." The Twins called, giant grins on their faces.
"Mm, yes, perfectly harmless, which is why I'm bound to silence." Severus growled.
"Right, boys, Professor Lupin is a werewolf omega, and a very DOWN GRIM!" She took a moment to snag a wooden spoon from the kitchen and shake it at him menacingly, he subsided, glaring at her. "And a very sweet man. He's perfectly harmless except when he's transformed, and I want you to look up everything you can about werewolves because, of anyone, you three might be able to help him, and owl Dudley too, to see if there's anything in the muggle world, okay? And put Percy under another unbreakable vow, if you would?" The twins grinned and dragged Percy away while Severus just stared at her.
"Wait, Lupin's an omega?" Severus asked after a minute as Harry got up and pulled Grim to the other side of the room.
"Couldn't you tell?" Petunia asked, looking at him as though he were a tad on the slow side.
"Can't say I was thinking much about that." Severus mused, making Petunia sigh.
"Indeed. If you think back you'll agree with me. Oh, wait, Grim, will he be a problem?" She turned to the dog, who cocked his head in confusion. Suddenly his eyes widened and he backed into the corner, whining rather piteously.
"Why on earth would Lupin be a problem?" Severus asked, reaching into his pocket and putting a small, capped potions vial with a whitish liquid on the table next to three pencils and a paperclip.
"Grim is both more and less than he appears to be." Petunia said with a shrug. "We'll think of something, I'm sure. Care to deflea him?"
"Right." Severus grabbed the vial and crouched, holding a hand out to Grim, whose whimpers had subsided.
"Go on." Harry tapped Grim's head, and the dog gave him a single, pleading look before slinking up to the potions master, seemingly torn between growling and crouching.
"Good boy." Severus said when Grim was close enough that his hand was on his head. Carefully, he uncapped the vial, letting the stopper hand on its chain, and pressed his finger to the opening, tipping the vial upside down to coat the pad before righting it. Still holding the vial in his left hand, he dug his un-potioned right fingers into the fur at the base of Grim's neck, and used them to bare the skin beneath before rubbing the potion into it.
Grim let out a hefty sigh when Severus removed his hand, and watched in fascination as he capped the vial and pulled another from his pocket, tipping some of the liquid inside into the palm of his left and and cleaning his right index finger in the small puddle before blowing on it and causing the entire mess to vanish.
"So enlighten me, why would Lupin's presence be a problem?" He asked, moving to Harry's vacated chair to peruse his work. He was the only person to not be mildly shocked when Grim padded over and settled with a huff at his feet.
"Werewolves and Grims don't get along very well." George said after a moment.
"Mm. That's not why." Severus smirked at the fidgeting boys.
"Swear to secrecy, or go without knowing." Dudley said, moving to stand in front of the Professor with his arms crossed. Everyone was surprised when Grim growled slightly at him.
And so Severus was sworn to secrecy, listened to the whole sorry tale, scoffed, watched Sirius transform, supplied veritaserum, heard the whole sorry tale again, sat back with a look of shock on his face, and stared.
"So why weren't you trying to bite my hand off?" He asked finally, staring at a subdued Sirius.
"Well, you see, at first I just didn't want to get hit by Petunia, lovely woman that she is, but, um, yousmellgood." Sirius transformed and hid behind Harry.
There was silence, most of the room staring at the large dog hiding behind the small boy. Because of where they were standing it even looked as though the somnolent television was staring at them, its unblinking stand-by light focused unerringly and unnervingly on the blushing, yes blushing, dog.
"Did he just say I smell good?" Severus asked.
"Yup!" Harry grinned. "Sure did, Uncle Sev!"
"I will poison you in your sleep if you call me that again." Severus growled. Grim growled at him, paused, whined in confusion, and retreated to curl up in the nearest corner.
"Well this is going to be a fun year." The Twins said. Severus and Grim groaned, then got down to planning how to bring Lupin around.
The rest of the Weasleys returned to England two days before the kids were to leave for Hogwarts. Everyone, which is to say the Weasleys, Harry, Hermione, and Neville, met up in the Leaky Cauldron on August 31st. When they entered Harry was riding his skateboard, Grim pulling in his harness, the Twins had their arms slung happily around Percy, and Dudley was happy enough to wave everyone off, even though he'd miss them. After all, it had been a strange and hectic summer. They all had their trunks, and rented rooms, Harry in with Neville, Fred and George paired as always while Percy had to share with Ron, Hermione and Ginny doubled up, and the Weasley parents in their own silenced hide-away.
It was both unfortunate and irksome that Peter had been hiding from Crookshanks, as about half a minute after Harry entered the pub, Peter caught scent or sight of Grim and ran...straight out into muggle London. Ron, of course, threw an unholy fit, so the Twins took him aside and explained what they'd learned about Scabbers, how he was actually a person hiding from the law, a person who had given You-Know-Who the Potters' address. Ron didn't want to believe them, so they asked him if he wanted to hurt Harry by protecting the thing that got his parents killed. Ron paled. Harry, listening at the door, shook his head, wondering why they were being so very intense about it. Then again, he'd never been horribly close to Ron anyways. The boy was just too jealous.
As it was, Ron refused to talk to Harry or Hermione, not that either minded all that much. Hermione and Neville chatted about how Neville could apply his herbology skills to potions while Harry huddled with Gred and Forge, Grim at his feet.
The next morning they all gathered while the Weasley children (sans the Twins and Percy, so basically just Ron and Ginny) ran around trying to find things while everyone else had a calm breakfast and loaded their stuff into the Ministry cars. At the station Mr. Weasley pulled Harry aside, and started explaining about how Sirius Black was after him. Harry just grinned.
"Mr. Weasley, I know. It's why I've got Grim with me this year." He patted Grim's head, grinning even wider when Mr. Weasley winced a little at the dog. It was understandable, and he couldn't wait to get to divination with Grim in tow, though if what Fred and George said was true he'd have to levitate Grim into the classroom...and out again. "Now, I really do need to catch the train." He waved as he let Grim pull him to the train, easily jumping through the narrow doorway with his skateboard and whipping around the sharp corner to find the compartment they'd chosen.
It was going to be a fun year.