Chapter 1- Introductions
Albus was musing over all the events that had gone on during the last few years since young Harry Potter had arrived at Hogwarts when he noticed an obviously stray black dog observing him from behind some bins in the alley beside the Hogs Head where he was going to see his brother Alberforth. Normally he wouldn't concern himself with the animal but there was just something about his eyes that caught Albus' attention. The pleading yet cautious look struck the soft hearted Headmaster as an appeal for help. Now if anybody actually knew how much of push-over the Great Albus Dumbledore was when it came to animals.. He sighed and checked to see that there was no one in sight at the moment who would observe him so... " Here boy come on." he coaxed the timid and wary creature.
Professor Severus Snape, the Potions Master of Hogwarts School of Witchery and Wizardry strode purposely through the corridors as he had been requested by the Headmaster to come to his office at once. He wondered as to what Albus had planned to torture him with this time when he arrived where the gargoyle guarded the entrance to Albus Dumbledores office and snarled the new password. " All day lollies."
The Gargoyle jumped away from the entrance and Severus could have sworn he saw a smirk form on the stone guardians face before he stepped on the moving staircase. Knocking on the door and then entering he saw that Albus was watching something that was near the end of the large ornate desk, just out of his line of vision but not his hearing. The sounds of Albus' prized silver thingamabobs shattering as they fell off the spindly tables that covered the room and from the room above the sounds of books falling off the shelves that vibrated as if there was a minor earthquake happening.
"How prompt you are Severus." Albus said innocently, his baby blue eyes twinkling madly as the cautious Potions Master came in." I have a simple request which I would like you to do for me."
Severus' eyebrows arched with suspicion, after all Albus' requests were not as simple as he tried to make them sound. "Yes Headmaster?"
" Now Severus, I would appreciate it if you would look after Snuffles for me." Albus said firmly as he called over an extremely large lanky black shaggy dog that was bouncing around excitedly in his office. That, was the source of destruction.
" You. Want. Me. To Look. After. That... that animal? Is this some sort of joke?" Hissed Severus as he looked around at Albus' office that was nearly in total shambles. The destructive animal settled down which gave Severus a chance to clearly observe with horror the creature , who looked more like a leggy thin rack of bones with a motley coat of long shaggy black hair draped all over. including what looked like dreadlocks hanging over his eyes and muzzle.
"Why me? Why not Hagrid? He'd love to look after the creature." Severus eyed the hyper-active animal warily as he wrinkled his nose. A slight aroma reminiscent of a sewage dump hovered in the air.
"No joke I want you to look after him. Though I suspect Hagrid would be pleased to help if need be." Albus answered calmly with a serious look that brooked no argument. "I'm sure you both can get along just fine for now."
"How like you Albus. To assume That there would be such a response." The dogs extra large cavern that passed for a muzzle opened showing many large sharp pearly white teeth and it looked as if he was laughing at him . Severus scowled while wondering what 'The Master of Manipulation' was up to now. " Did you just happen to find this poor excuse for a dog wandering about Hogsmeade while visiting with your Brother?"
" Well... yes you could say that. I also thought Snuffles would be helpful in keeping Harry out of trouble this term." Albus stoked his beard thoughtfully. " After all, as you know I do believe in giving second chances." He looked pointedly at Severus who bit back a scathing reply as he really didn't want to get into a heated discussion with the Headmaster over what he considered another one of his lame-rained Potter out of trouble with the help of a dog indeed. He couldn't see that happening. Not by a long shot.
The dog looked up at him with a strange look in his brown eyes and whined quietly as he wagged the feathery appendage at the other end which Severus assumed was the tail and suddenly reared up onto his back legs and the Potions Master found himself falling backwards as the large front paws connected with his chest and then the large dog slurped his enormous wet pink tongue all over the shocked wizards face.
"Arrgh." Severus tried to push the heavy animal away as he landed squarely into one of the thickly cushioned armchairs that Albus just happened to have sitting nearby. His face was suffused red with embarrassment and anger as several of the former Headmasters portraits that hung around the office watched the action with barely concealed amusement . The animal sat back and panted as he looked up through the twisted dreadlock like fringes of fur that covered his eyes at the disgusted Potions master who conjured up a handkerchief with which he wiped away the dog drool that covered his face. He glowered at the dog and then shot a Death Glare at Albus . "I hope he isn't infested with fleas."
"See he likes you." Chuckled Albus as he patted the end that drooled all over the toes of Severus's clean dragonhide boots. "Don't worry my dear Severus, It will only be a little while. We just need to tidy him up before giving him to Harry."
" I don't suppose I could convince you that this is not one of your good ideas?" Severus asked sourly while cleaning the drool off his boots with the scorgifing charm. "Potter plus this... this.." He shuddered slightly as he watched the dog roll over onto his back and back again before picking up and worried a large chew toy that Albus had given him.
"Now Severus, don't be that way." Albus remonstrated as his twinkling blue eyes brightened mischievously.
" Snuffles is just having a wee bit of fun. I'm sure he will settle down once he gets used to being here."
"R-i-g-h-t. Headmaster." Severus replied slowly as the dog tossed his head and sent the soggy chew toy into his lap. He picked up the offending toy with a grimace and dropped it back onto the floor. "As you wish."
"Snuffles is a smart pup." Albus smiled proudly and nodded as Severus got up off the cushy chair and Snuffles stood up beside him obviously anticipating a walk. "See he already knows that he is to go with you."
Sevrus fought the urge to roll his eyes as the animal crowded close to him and barked once with what Albus declared an acceptance to the situation before reaching down to retrieve the soggy chew toy.
"Oh great ,not only do you speak Mermish and Gobbledegook you also speak Dog." Severus commented sarcastically as the dog thumped his large feathery tail against his thigh.
" You do have a nice sense of humour Severus." Albus chuckled and said with the knowledge that Severus would do as asked. "The House Elves have co-operatively taken his kibble , bed, toys and grooming kit down to your quarters for me."
With a resigned shake of his head Severus motioned for the dog to follow him out of the office and down the moving stairs to the corridor where the Gargoyle allowed them out before sealing off the entrance.
Minerva McGonagall spotted them as she walked the corridor towards them. Stopping once she got closer she looked enquiringly down at the large black shaggy dog who sat down and politely held his paw up to her. Stopping for a moment she accepted his paw and commented, "What a well mannered animal Severus. Where did he come from?" She sniffed and wrinkled her nose. " No offense intended but I think he needs a bath."
"He is a stray that Dumbledore picked up in Hogsmeade, named him Snuffles and foisted him on me till Potter arrives and Yes I agree he needs a bath." Severus grumbled as they continued on and stepped onto the moving staircase together. "Before you ask why he asked me instead of Hagrid; I couldn't say."
Minerva's eyes narrowed as she tapped her chin with the tip of her index finger. "Odd, very odd. Till Potter arrives did you say?"
Severus fought the urge to roll his eyes as he answered, "Yes, It seems that Albus thinks this animal would be a help in keeping Potter out of trouble."
"Keep Potter... Out of trouble?" quried Minerva as she pursed her lips while studying the lanky looking animal that looked up at her with soulful eyes and panted gently.
"What is going through that feline mind of yours?" Severus asked impatiently.
"I couldn't put my finger on it but..." Minerva studied the dog and said. "I don't know... but this dog reminds me of Sirius Blacks Animagus form ."
"No! You have got to be kidding. Black? He wouldn't be allowed anywhere near here in case of the Ministry finding out." Severus looked down at the dog with a frown and then back at Minerva. "I know the mutt is disreputable looking and seems to have a troublesome nature but comparing him to Black..."
"It was just a thought." Minerva laughed heartedly, her Scottish brogue thickened "I canna' see him being so well behaved around you either. Or You tolerating his presence for any length of time before drawning your wand."
Knowing that she wasn't that far off in her assesment of his relationship to that disreputable maurader, Severus snorted at the thought of Sirius Black being well behaved and then replied. " I suppose I should take him down to my quarters and get the grooming kit that Albus 'thoughtfully' provided. Then I suppose I better take him outside since it is hot and sunny out to give him that bath he obviously needs I hope Albus included a large bottle of flea shampoo in that 'grooming kit."
" I'm sure Hagrid would love to help you give Snuffles a bath." Minerva suggested as she sized up the large lanky animal who was 'playfully' tugging at Severus' cloak. "Awwww, he wants to play with you."
"I'm sure he would. In fact I might take up your suggestion." Snape glared a warning at the dog as he surveyed the soggy patch where the dog had tugged. "But I think a muzzle wouldn't be amiss while giving this animal his bath."
"Oh come now. I don't think you need to go that far." remonstrated Minerva as she rubbed the dogs ears and patted his head. " He' seems to be quite friendly and playful ."
" You weren't there in Albus' office as this 'playful' creature cavorted and did extensive damage." responded Severus sourly.
The large black dog s expressive brown eyes widened and glittered as he panted and then trotted along quietly with the witch and wizard while observing everything around him. The paintings gawking at the sight and the ghosts frittering by didn't seem to faze the animal as they neared the entrance hall and separated. Minerva continued on to the Great Hall and thinking he had better give the mutt a bath first off, Severus turned to take the dog down the stairs to the dungeon levels where his quarters was situated to retrieve the dog grooming kit that Albus had 'thoughtfully' provided.