A/N: Don' ask me where th' hell this 'un came from. Blame mah contagious weirdness... An' th' shower. Always th' shower wit' these ahdeas. Anywho, puttin' Puppy and our favorite green-eyed Wizard together. Hope you lahke it.
DISCLAIMER: No, Ah don' own either of 'em. If Ah did... No character would escape me. *cue evil laugh*
WARNING: This 'un will contain man on man action... Much, much farther into the series. Y'all should know by now that Ah'm a YAOI writer...
The first time they met was at the zoo. Yes, that particular zoo where Harry had set the python upon his large, pig-like cousin. Green had met curious violet for all of a moment in the panic. Harry never thought he'd see that pair of gorgeous eyes again...
-Platform 9 3/4; Hogwarts Express-
Zack fidgeted as his parent dropped him off; he didn't like large crowds.
"Dad, do I have to go?" He turned huge, innocent violet eyes upon Amos Diggory.
"Cedric, settle him. I have to get back to work." Zack then turned to his older brother, still frightened.
"It's okay. I'm right here. Come on, let's find you a compartment." Cedric's blue eyes shone with love and he forgot that he was scared. He took his brother's hand and they found a nice compartment; it was empty, though. "All you gotta do is yell my name if you're scared, okay?" He nodded, smiling bravely at his brother. Zack scooted into a seat and nibbled on his Nutella sandwich, watching the frantic goodbyes of worried parents. A pretty red-haired lady who looked like she had lots of kids turned to a pair of twins that even he knew about; Ced had told him about the Weasley twins. She berated them before her expression softened. He was joined by another boy with black hair that stuck up every which way. The other boy looked up and he saw the green eyes from about a month ago.
"Hi." The words were out of his mouth before he could say anything else.
"Hi. Do I know you from somewhere?"
"Yeah. The zoo; that python was awesome." The green eyes widened and then they both laughed. "My name's Zack."
"Harry. So, it was awesome?"
"Dad freaked... Cedric thought it was pretty funny."
"Oh, um, he's my brother. Older, if you wanted to know." Harry sighed and scraped back the wild bangs, revealing a lightning shaped scar. "Where'd you get that?"
"Umm..." Anxiety flashed across his new friend's face.
"You don't have to tell me. I've got a few secrets of my own." He smiled and offered half of his sandwich to Harry as a apology. "Here; it's a Muggle thing." Harry took the sandwich and bit into it, squeaking as the rich chocolate touched his tongue. "Good, huh?"
"Yeah... So, what's the Wizarding world like?" The door to their compartment was slammed open and what looked like the youngest male Weasley came in.
"You-You're Harry Potter, right?" Harry nodded casually, apparently not knowing anything about how his name was treated. "Ron Weasley. What are you doing here, Lupin-Black?" Zack rolled his eyes and gritted his teeth. Great, another bully...
"Zack's my friend, Weasley." The pretty green eyes narrowed and Harry stood. "Get out." The red-head lashed out and back; Zack flinched as he heard it.
"Yeah, enjoy your time with the werewolf." The compartment door slammed and he stared out of the window.
"Werewolf? He's joking, right?" Zack took a painful breath and spoke, facing the boy who was supposed to be his new friend.
"No, he wasn't, Harry. It's probably better if you go; you'd be an Outsider."
"I've been one of those for most of my life, Zack. It doesn't matter now; Weasley knows where my loyalties lie."
"Yo-You don't care that I could bite you?" He stuttered, violet eyes full of an old, deep pain.
"Nah. Besides, isnt there something you can take that will help?" The Wolfsbane Potion, but boy was it nasty.
"Yeah, but it's gross." Zack made a face as he remembered the taste.
"Wait, is Cedric your real brother?"
"No. I got adopted by the Diggory's. They're always so nice... I don't know, Harry. It's never been easy for me."
Harry noticed a lot of things about Zack suddenly. The way he slumped his shoulders, the dejected look, the flinch as Weasley had snarled that horrible remark... It all made sense in an awful way. Here was a boy even more shunned than himself. But, why? Zack probably hadn't asked to be a werewolf.
"What?" The question was tired, as though Zack had been through this all before.
"You're still here, still a better PERSON than Weasley, Zack. You could've said no, could've given up." He answered, smiling.
"Harry, you're crazy. But... Thanks."
The Great Hall was just in front of them. They were waiting to be Sorted.
"Did you see him hanging out with that-that thing?"
"Whoa, he touched him!" The whispers were something Zack tended to ignore; he was used to it.
"Excuse me, but, Lupin-Black, how did you manage to get the Golden Boy to defend you?" He turned to impassively face the Malfoy Hier.
"Harry's a good friend." Zack said, his voice neutral.
"Zack, why is everyone freaked out? Do we actually have to do anything?" Harry asked him, the, by now, familiar emerald widening in panic.
"Nah. Cedric said all you have to do is try on a hat. It talks though, so some people might be freaked out." Malfoy threw back his head and let out a decidedly evil laugh.
"The Golden Boy's looking for reassurance from the one thing he should be avoiding?"
"Shut it, Malfoy. You wanna fight, you'll get one, wanker." He straightened and snarled at the slightly younger boy.
"Zack, don't. He's not worth it." He looked from Harry to Malfoy and back. Sighing heavily, he scraped back his spikes with his hand. Zack looked one more time at Malfoy then did something he'd probably regret later. He growled, baring his slightly sharper than normal canines. Just then McGonagall walked back in to see it.
"Mr. Lupin-Black!" Zack silenced himself, shrugging his shoulders. "What was the meaning of that?"
"Malfoy stuck his nose in business that wasn't his, Professor." He sneered, his violet eyes hard and cool.
"We'll sort this out when you are in your Houses, Messrs Lupin-Black and Malfoy."
The list was read through fairly quickly, and his name was called.
"Hmm... Very interesting, boy. Whip smart, loyal, brave... Cunning as well. All four Houses in you. You'll be difficult to place."
-Damn, why does life have to be so unfair? All I want is a break.-
"Yes, it is. A break? Alright, you'll be... SLYTHERIN!" He gasped and took off the hat. Zack made his way reluctantly to the table that was silently watching him. There were no cheers for him; never were.
"SLYTHERIN!" He stopped tuning in after that, only to hear Harry's name.
"Did she say Potter?"
"The Boy-Who-Lived is here?" The whispers echoed throughout the Hall. The mutters of the Sorting Hat did not escape his ears.
"Hmm... Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind either. There's talent, oh my goodness, yes- and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that's interesting... So where shall I put you?" Zack smiled sadly and shook his head. "You're sure? With the Lupin-Black boy? Well, if you're sure- better be SLYTHERIN!" His eyes widened as Harry plopped into the seat next to him.
"Harry, you crazy-"
"You needed a friend." That put a smile on Zack's face. "Slytherin? Really? Thought you'd be one of the Lions..."
"Told the Sorting Hat I needed a break and it put me here." He told Harry as food appeared on their plates. "It's nuts, I tell you."
"Daft, alright. It put two Lions in the Snakes' den." Zabini snorted, spooning more potatoes onto his plate.
"Feh, said I could've been in all four; damn thing couldn't make up it's mind." He replied gruffly, pushing more meat onto Harry's plate. Harry looked at him with confusion in those gorgeous green eyes. "You're too skinny, Harry. Eat." Indeed, the rest of the table noticed that Zack was extremely gentle with the Boy-Who-Lived.
"What about you, Zack?" He raised his eyebrow at his friend.
"I'm fine. Do they not feed you?" Harry flushed a light pink, avoiding his direct gaze. "Harry..."
"'Mfine." Zack dropped the subject in favor of asking about the Professor who seemed to be glaring at both him and Harry.
"Who's that Professor talking to the Professor with th' turban?"
"Our Head of House, Professor Snape."
"He's glaring at me an' Harry." He said bluntly, in leu of manners.
"Manners are important, Lupin-Black. The Professor gets on the whole House about that." Malfoy hissed at him.
"I can speak properly if I wish, but I do not." He snapped, trying not to roll his eyes. "Would you like a copy-cat, Malfoy?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Zack, quit it. Malfoy, desist in aggravating him." Harry stated quietly, tugging on Zack's arm. "So, what did Cedric say about Hogwarts?"
"Umm... The staircases move."
"Yeah. Ced got lost once; said it was the scariest thing ever."
"Light-hearted banter at MY table? I believe you have been Sorted incorrectly." The smooth voice had Zack's hackles raised and he bit down on his lip to keep from growling.
"Professor?" He asked, keeping his tone respectful. "Whatever do you mean?"
"You encourage Mr. Potter's ridiculous questions." Zack balked, then drew suaveness from who knew where.
"They are not as ridiculous, Professor, as they seem. He was raised amongst Muggles who had no idea what the halls of this school were like. Such questions are warranted, perhaps." He stated softly, never changing his tone nor raising his voice.
"Hmph. See to it that he knows, boy."
"Yes, Professor." The older students gawked for all of three seconds after Snape left.
"How did you DO that?" One of the older males asked him in a reverent tone of voice. Zack shrugged, then yawned.
"Told him what he wanted to hear, which was respect; by th' way."
"Hmm?" Came the semi-intelligent response.
"You look tired."
"Got up at three in the morning so that Dad could see me off. Moon cycle's off by three days... Yeah." The violet eyes were now tame on his newest friend. Harry hoped that they'd go to bed soon.
"Off to bed." Quite a few of the first years had fallen asleep at their tables; the Slytherins knew better. Their Head of House would be speaking with them soon. They made their way to the dungeons, Harry shivering as Zack heated up.
"Damn dungeon..." Zack mumbled, the circles now prominent.
-Hogwarts; First Transfiguration Lesson-
"Zack, you're crazy!" Harry yelped as his best friend pulled him onto his back and bounded down the hallways.
"Yeah, but since when have I lead us wrong?" Harry pondered that as they cornered a particularly sharp turn. "We're here. Whew! Is it me, or have you put on some weight?"
"Not you; Madame Pomfrey's got me taking nutrient potions out the wazoo since you complained about me being too short... Glad McGonagall-" Zack clapped a hand over his mouth.
"A wise move, Mr. Lupin-Black. Take your seats."
The lessons were all like that; Zack soon found that, even though he was what he was, he was treated no differently than the other students. He kept his mouth shut when a particularly vile smell passed by his superior sense of smell. Potions had been downright ridiculous...
"... I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death- if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach." And then he'd started on Harry; big time. "Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?" Harry had looked visibly uncomfortable answering.
"I don't know, sir." Snape sneered.
"Tut, tut- fame clearly isn't everything. Let's try again. Potter, where would you look if I told you to find me a bezoar?"
"I don't know, sir." The entire lesson went on like that; Snape sneering at Harry for everything he did 'wrong'. Zack was three seconds from snarling back. The shift was in less than two days and his temper was... Violent at best. He ground his fangs so loud that Snape looked at him, then did a double take.
"Mr. Lupin-Black, is there something you'd like to say?"
"No, sir." Zack gritted out, still working on his potion with Harry, who was quietly preparing everything as he stirred.
"You are quite sure?" The soft voice was now silky, dangerous.
"Yes, sir." They finished their potion and Zack pulled the two Gryffindors out of the way when the potion exploded. "Idiots, the pair of you."
"A quick and generous rescue, Mr. Lupin-Black. Ten points for getting the idiots out of the way.
"I could smell it getting corrupted, sir." He stated softly, trying very hard to control his, now on the verge of exploding, temper.
"Very well. Class is dismissed; Mr. Lupin-Black will stay." He stood shaking as the rest of the class left. "Are you well?"
"No, sir. It's less than two days before the- I am not very people friendly right now, sir."
"Is it my... 'targeting' of Mr. Potter?"
"Somewhat, sir." He spat, gritting his fangs again. "May I go, sir? I have to meet someone."
"Dismissed. I am asking as in loco parentis, are you angry?"
"Yes." Zack snarled as he collected his things.
"Care to explain why?"
"You; that is why. Targeting Harry when it's so obvious to anyone that he's recently stopped being abused! For Merlin's sake, he's got bruises on top of bruises! Didn't want to show me, 'cause he was scared he was gonna get hit again." Zack finally hissed, letting some of his anger out. "I despise you for that, sir. You have to earn back my trust."
The visit to Hagrid's cleared up his irratation, mostly by him being outside. His wolf sighed and relaxed; Harry noticed.
"Are you alright now, Zack?"
"I wanted to punch him in th' face, Harry. We both know he was deliberately targetin' you! Grrr... Adults are so stupid sometimes." Harry chuckled, a wide grin on his still pale face.
"Why couldn't you have been at my other schools?"
"'Cause I'm a Wizard? Nah. Muggle school looked boring, so Dad just taught me what he knew and when Ced started to go here, he taught me as well."
"Sounds like you love him."
"Ced? How could I not? Big brother's always cared for me, brewed my... Umm." Harry shrugged.
"I told you, I don't care that you're a werewolf."
"He brews my Wolfsbane potion when my Mediwizard can't deliver or thinks I should go a cycle or two without it." He told Harry, grinning as it hit his friend what he was dealing with.
"Wait, go without it?"
"My... Uh... My wolf is kinda sentient."
"What?" Zack knew this question was for comprehension.
"It's another personality; like there's two of me. An' the Wolfsbane keeps him asleep most of th' time... The Medi says that repressing him's bad, so sometimes I go without."
"Yeah... What's Hagrid like?" Changing the subject had Harry narrowing eyes the color of the Killing Curse. Zack prefered not to talk about himself, let alone how he knew what color the Killing Curse was.
"He's the one who told me I was a Wizard." He found himself choking on his rage again as he heard more about Harry's Muggles.
"Your Muggles never told you?"
"My Muggles? Interesting way of putting it, but no."
"Please tell me that I can't kill them." He begged Harry, taking deep breaths of air to calm himself.
"You can't kill th-Whoa, what?"
"Good; 'cause if that ever gets out, a lot of Wizards will be majorly offended."
"Why?" Innocent green met jaded violet.
"A Wizard's supposed to know about their heritage by the time they can WALK, Harry. What those Muggles did is almost a capital offense."
"Well, tell that to the person who left me on the Dursely's doorstep..." Harry grumbled, knocking on the cabin's door. A rough, loud bark sounded along with several thumps.
"Back, Fang. Hold on, Harry. Back, ye great silly beast. Hello there, Harry. An' who's this?"
"Zack. He's my best friend."
"Saw ye got Sorted inter Slytherin... What's it like?"
"Eh, pretty good. Malfoy's a drag, but Zabini is cool. Hey, Hagrid, who's Ron Weasley?"
"One o' th' last o' tha' brood. There's a little girl, but Ron's th' youngest boy."
"Figured. Weasleys never have any manners, do they?" Zack drawled sarcastically. "Basically told Harry that if he didn't stop associating himself with me, he'd be an Outsider. Harry told him to-"
"Leave. Yeah, th' twins're alright... Even if I have to chase them from th' Forbidden Forest."
"That girl... She's in Gryffindor, but I swear she should be in Ravenclaw. Think her name's Hermione; that's three good Lions."
"Hey, did ye know that Slytherin's been on a losing streak since Charlie Weasley graduated?" They rolled their eyes, and then shrugged. "Harry's Da was a good Quidditch player." Zack thought about it, then gasped.
"Harry, there's a trophy with the name James Potter on it! Come on!" He pulled Harry out and to the Trophy Room. "See?"
"Wow... Think I'll be any good?"
"Uh... Duh. It's in your blood, dude."
"Zack, are you sure you weren't raised by an American family?" The barb didn't sting and Zack rolled his eyes.
"Harry, there is such a thing as the telly. I watched American shows... Their idea of fun is better."
"Americans in general, silly. Whatever, c'mon, we have flying instructions wit' th' Lions. We're going to be late." They barely made it before Madame Hooch strode onto the clear field.
"Hold your hand over your broom and say 'up' in a firm voice."
Harry's broom jumped into his hand, as did Zack's, Blaise's, and Malfoy's. The Gryffindors were having a hard time with their brooms, it seemed.
"Now mount them and grip the front tightly so that you don't fall off. Now, on my whistle, you'll kick off from the ground, hover for a moment, then tilt the handle towards the ground so that you may land." One of the Lions' brooms lifted off the ground and Harry watched in shock as the boy was thrown around by the broom. When he fell and Madame Hooch left, Malfoy picked up the Remembrall the boy had dropped.
"Hey, Malfoy, give that to one of the Lions; it isn't ours." The words were out of his mouth before he could help it.
"Says who, Potter? You and the mutt? I think I'll leave it somewhere for him to find." Malfoy sneered back, taking off gracefully, whipping around the broom in mid-air to face them. Zack grinned and took off from a standstill.
"Try it, Malfoy." The blond looked shocked that Zack would, or could in this case, follow him at all. Harry kicked off too, wanting to support his best friend.
"You look nervous without your cronies in the air." He said, feeling particularly mean. "Malfoy, give it back."
"No. You want it so badly, you get it." With that, Malfoy threw the Remembrall hard at the tower. Harry dove after it, Zack following closely. He grabbed it and rolled, nearly losing his grip, stopping right before he hit the window. Zack flew close, worry in the now familiar violet.
"You are absolutely crazy, Harry. Glad you're okay."
"Potter, Lupin-Black; get down immediately." The cold voice of their Head of House had both of them wincing. They flew down and gave each other a look, shrugging. "What was the meaning of that?"
"Malfoy took a Lions' possession that was not his to take. Zack and I got it back." He answered smoothly, not allowing his fear to show.
"Granger, did he tell it correctly?" She nodded, pointing at the Remembrall still in Harry's hand. "Ah, Longbottom's is it? Give it back to him when he gets out of the Hospital Wing. Draco, you will join Messrs Potter and Lupin-Black in my office... Now." Came the sharp command after Malfoy looked like he was going to protest.
Zack was quite frankly shocked that they weren't immediately expelled; most of Snape's tirade was directed at their nemesis, Draco.
"You sully the Malfoy name with such actions. Be sure that your Father will hear of this."
"It was only a-"
"Ploy to get two of your Housemates expelled. I am not a fool; I see the way you look at them. They have been Sorted. Only an appointment and reversal by the Hat itself can reSort them. Detention, Draco, until I feel you no longer resent your Housemates. You are dismissed. Potter, Lupin-Black; stay." Malfoy left, giving them a subtle glare as Snape gave them appraising looks. "That is the best broomwork I've seen out of my Snakes in three years. Was that your first time on a broom?" He nodded and was shocked to see Harry do the same. Maybe his best friend really WAS a natural...
"Told you it was in your blood, Harry."
"'S in yours too. Pulling that trick on the wall..." Zack flushed as he suddenly remembered balancing on the broom like it was nothing with one hand.
"Boys, forgetting something?" Snape said after clearing his throat.
"Manners, sir?" Their Head of House nodded shortly.
"I will speak with the team Captain about letting you try out."
-Great Hall; Halloween Feast-
Harry was enjoying the Halloween Feast when Professor Quirrel burst through the doors.
"Troll! Troolllll in the dungeons!... Thought you ought to know." He fainted in the middle of the floor. Lovely. Everyone but Zack and the teachers panicked. His friend shook his head and stayed in his seat. Malfoy screamed like a little girl and Harry snickered before the Headmaster shouted above the din.
"SILENCE! Perfects will take the students to their dormitories; teachers will accompany me to the dungeons." Once order was restored, Zack looked thoughtful.
"Harry, have you seen that Lion... Granger? She doesn't know." Harry felt his eyes widen at the thought of someone getting hurt. "Yeah, plus that troll smells gross."
"Where do you think she might be?" Zack thought for a moment, his violet eyes going blank.
"C'mon." They separated from the rest of Slytherin and Zack apparently followed his sense of smell. "Whoa, hide." The troll literally trudged past their doorway the minute after Zack had pulled them into it. "Whew, that was a close-"
Zack heard the Lioness scream as the troll smashed through something. He took off with Harry right on his heels. The first spell that ran through his mind was out of his mouth before he realized it.
"Bombarda!" A bright red streak of light erupted from his wand and slammed the troll against the wall. "Run, Granger!" She curled into a tiny ball under the sinks as the troll recovered. Harry jumped onto it's club and then onto it's shoulders. The troll roared in anger when Harry's wand went up it's nose. It grabbed Harry and Zack literally saw red as he cast two spells this time. "Bombarda! Reducto!" The troll smashed through the wall with enough force to knock it out. "Harry, umm, I think your wand's covered in troll boogers..." Harry groaned and wiped his wand on the troll's clothes.
"Urgh... You alright?" Harry asked the clearly frightened Gryffindor.
"I-I've be-been better... Are you two okay?" Zack shrugged; dust didn't count when you were saving someone's life. Harry rotated his shoulder and it popped.
"Yeah, we're fine. What's your name?" Zack asked, trying to get rid of the chalk-like substance on his robes.
"Her-Hermione." She blushed, looking down as three Professors walked in on them.
"Potter? Lupin-Black? Miss Granger? What on earth are you- Oh, my." Professor McGonagall put her hand over her heart as she saw all of the damage.
"Sorry, Professor. Umm, see Hermione-"
"I went after the troll myself. I-I've read all about them and thought I could-could stop it by myself." Hermione lied through her teeth.
"Miss Granger! That is completely unresponsible! And how did these two get involved?"
"Do tell, Lupin-Black." Snape's cool tone invaded the conversation.
"I heard her scream. Harry tagged along, because we're friends."
"Did you cast those spells then?"
"Yes; they were the first thing that came to mind... I apologize for the damage." He fully expected to get punished.
"The first thing that came to mind? How far are you into your DADA book?"
"I-I've finished year four... Cedric lent it to me because I finished his others."
"You mean to tell me you cast over your year? What did you cast?"
"... Bombarda and Reducto." He admitted softly. The Professors looked at him in astonishment. Harry rolled his eyes and patted his shoulder.
"Hey, Zack, can I-"
"Harry, you've been borrowing mine after I'm done; want Ced's when I finish?"
"Ahem, back to the topic at hand. Miss Granger, five points for your arrogance. Potter, Lupin-Black, five points each for use of cool intellect. Go back to your dormitory, Miss Granger." Snape said cooly, his usual tone back. Hermione waved and left for Gryffindor Tower. The other two Professors left, making sure that she'd get back safe. "You two, I've questions for. Why are you not getting Outstandings in DADA if you are reading THREE years AHEAD? Where did you, Mr. Lupin-Black, learn Bombarda at that age?"
Zack shrugged; not like he knew the answer to the last question.
"Well, Professor Quirrel is not all that easy to follow and as for the second question, I have no idea, frankly. It was the first spell that came to mind."
"Hmm. Very well, I shall see you in class."
-Great Hall; Day before the Match-
Harry was shocked to see Hedwig and Tosca each carrying two strangely wrapped packages. Zack caught Tosca's package and Harry caught Hedwig's.
"What do you think they are, Harry?"
"Wait, there's a note: Don't open these at the table." He and Zack looked at each other before finishing breakfast in record time, taking the time to talk to Hermione. "Hey, 'Mione, wanna come with us to the Library?"
"Sure." She never passed up library time; it was ingrained or something... "What are you-"
"Shh. We need you to come with us."
"And what would she want with a pair of Snakes?" Weasley snapped, food all over his face.
"We saved her life, idiot; can talk to her anytime we like." Zack snarled back.
"Honestly, Ronald! You're such a jerk! Leave them alone! Come on, Library. He won't DARE show his ugly mug to Madame Pince." She hissed, throwing her Daily Prophet into her school bag. Strap secure, she turned on her heel and marched out of the Great Hall. Harry and Zack stared after her for a moment, then laughed. Yes, that was their Hermione. They followed until she had calmed down and was pacing at their favorite table. "So, what did you want to show me?" He unwrapped his package and so did Zack; Nimbus 2000s rolled out of the paper.
"Wow... Our Head really pulled through. These are what the professional Quidditch teams have right now." Zack stroked his broom lovingly. "Dude, I know it sounds weird, I have the strangest urge to hug Snape..."
"Brooms? How'd they get past the first-year rule?" Weasley had followed, regardless of Hermione's threat.
"We're on th' Slytherin Team, pea-brain. Can't figure it out?" Zack kept his voice low-pitched, knowing Madame Pince would show in three, two-
"Ronald Weasley, you have thirty seconds before I throw you out." The Librarian stated softly, her sharp grey eyes narrowed. "Very nice, boys. Congradulations." She offered after Weasley left in a hurry. Harry raised his eyebrow at Zack about the hugging Snape comment.
"What? I've never gotten something like this." A deep graditude shone in Zack's violet eyes. "These are damn expensive..."
The Professors expected more out of him and Harry since the Halloween incident. Zack kept them both up to that high standard as well as allowing Hermione to come up with schedules, so that they would have some time to visit Hagrid whenever he asked. Hermione soon included that into her own schedule, making the Professors blink at their progress. They were known as the Moonlighters. They were joined by Zabini, whose name so happened to be Blaise. Draco held himself away from anyone but his cronies, basically avoiding him and Harry. Snaps was harder on him for it, but Zack figured it was easier for Draco to learn the hard way to be friends with them; he'd appreciate them more and realize that they weren't fair-weather friends like Bulstrode and Parkinson. The day of the match, Malfoy approached them, expression haggard and contrite.
"Look, I will only say this once. I am sorry for trying to expel you from Hogwarts. I was jealous of your closeness." Zack grinned, clasped forearms with him, and accepted it with a nod of his head. He also nodded to his Head of House; signalling that the fued was over between the rivals.
"Zack, why'd you do that?"
"Clasp his forearm with mine? It's a universal 'I accept your apology' that comes from the Romans. He can speak to us without expecting a barb, or insult, aimed for his Family." Harry frowned at that and Zack swore to teach him about Wizarding ettiquette if it killed him; but Harry was a fast learner.
"Oh. I'm never going to do that with Weasley."
"He has to apologize first, dude." He yawned casually.
"The dolt started it, so he has to apologize first."
"Oh." Came from Harry as it dawned on his best friend. "He'll have to admit that he was wrong... Which he's never going to do."
"C'mon, we have to get dressed for th' match. Plus, Hermione'll hand our butts to us on a platter." They walked warily to the Gryffindor table and gave Hermione his scarf. "I need that back when th' game's over, 'Mione."
"I'll give it back ASAP."
"A Muggle expression; it stands for as soon as possible." She explained, her exasperation clear.
"Huh. Thanks." Now they were going to be late for the Captain's speech. "Harry, we have to run. Get on." Harry reluctantly got on and Zack inhaled before running. He exhaled when they were in the Slytherin locker rooms.
"Something like it, Flint. Harry and I will be done shortly."
"You missed it." Nott mumbled, tugging on the green outer robe.
"Was it any good?" He shot back teasingly.
"It was Flint; of course it was. He was telling us how great the pair of you would be and you weren't even here to hear it."
"Good... I'm nervous enough as is."
"You'll be a good Keeper, Lupin-Black. Come on out; the match is about to start." Nott dragged Harry and him onto their brooms and nearly booted them out onto the field.
"This is the first Quidditch game of the season, ladies and gents! Slytherin vs. Gryffindor! The Bludgers and the Golden Snitch are out! Madame Hooch has released the Quaffle! Katie Bell, Gryffindor Chaser, has it! She throws and- Is blocked by a kick from one of Slytherin's newest members, their Keeper, Zackary Lupin-Black! The Quaffle's in Slytherin's possession now, Marcus Flint carrying it... He throws and scores! Ten to zero, Slytherin leading! Angela's got the ball back in Gryffindor possession and-Ouch! Slammed by Nott and back to Flint! He throws and misses! Back to Katie, who is dodging the Snakes like she's one of them! Three meters, two- And yet ANOTHER save by Lupin-Black! That throw almost made it to Gryffindor's goal posts! Caught by Nott, thrown and- Blocked by a furious Captain Wood! This match is heating up!" Lee Jordan yelled the game from the Professor's Tower. "Back to Chaser Spinnet, who throws- GRYFFINDORS SCORE!" Zack snarled under his breath and vowed to not let anymore pass him. The game went on a while, then Harry's broom acted up.
Harry felt his broom almost buck him off as though it were a living thing. He tried turning his broom towards Zack, but his broom was completely out of control. He couldn't turn it. He couldn't direct it at all. It was zigzagging through the air, and every now and then making violent swishing movements that almost unseated him. His broom had started to roll over and over, with him only just managing to hold on. Then the whole crowd gasped. Harry's broom had given a wild jerk and Harry swung off it. He was now dangling from it, holding on with one hand. Nott and Flint were circling below him as Katie Bell scored five times. Something happened and Harry was able clamber back onto his broom. Harry was speeding toward the ground when the crowd saw him clap his hand to his mouth as though he was about to be sick- he hit the field on all fours- coughed- and something gold fell into his hand.
"I've got the Snitch!" he shouted, waving it above his head, and the game ended in confusion.
"He didn't CATCH it, he nearly SWALLOWED it!" Wood was still howling twenty minutes later, but it made no difference- Harry hadn't broken any rules and Lee Jordan was still incredulously shouting the results- Slytherin had won by one hundred and seventy points to sixty. Harry heard none of this, though. He was being made a cup of strong tea back in Hagrid's hut, with Zack and Hermione.
When they left the dungeons at the end of Potions, they found a large fir tree blocking the corridor ahead. Two enormous feet sticking out at the bottom and a loud puffing sound told them Hagrid was behind it.
"Hi, Hagrid, want any help?" Zack asked, poking his head through the branches.
"Nah, I'm all right, thanks, Zack." Weasley sneered from behind them.
"Oh, so the werewolf needs to be useful instead of a lump on a log? Feel like a burden to the Diggorys and decided to pay your own way?" Zack dived at Weasley just as Gryffindor's Head of House came up the stairs.
"Mr. Lupin-Black!" He growled and let go of the gangly idiot.
"He was provoked-"
"Be that as it may, fighting is against Hogwarts rules, Hagrid." She snapped, "Five points from Slytherin, Lupin-Black, and be grateful it isn't more. Move along, all of you." Weasley, Finnegan, and Thomas pushed roughly past the tree, scattering needles everywhere and smirking.
"I'll get him," Zack snarled under his breath, "one of these days, I'll get him-"
"I hate them both," said Harry, "Weasley and McGonagall." Hagrid suggested that they accompany him to the Great Hall. It was beautiful and Zack whined, when Hermione reminded them of their search for Nicolas Flamel, looking back longingly at the pretty lights.
"Oh, you'll be here all of the holidays."
"And? I've never seen anything like it. Ced and I are the one's to celebrate Christmas... Dad's always busy." Speaking of his brother- Cedric snagged his robe in the hallway on the way to the library.
"Zack! Hey, did you sign up to stay here or go home?"
"Umm... Not yet. Harry doesn't have anyone, but I'd like to stay."
"Stay? But, Dad's... He'll be home this year."
"Yeah, I know. Like I said, Harry decided to stay when they passed around the sheet. His family's mean, Ced. I haven't even met them yet an' I wanna- Never mind. I'm staying." He caught up to Hermione and Harry, who gave him weird looks. "What?"
"We heard what you said to your brother." Harry said softly; Zack felt his cheeks flush a light pink.
"You're giving up your Christmas for Harry."
"Am not! 'Sides, Cedric an' Dad haven't had one without me-"
"Since they adopted you. Zack, you... You always give up your happiness for someone else." He stuck his tongue out and grabbed a book off the shelf of the library, grunting at the weight. "Za-"
"Drop it." He perused through the book he was holding, sighing as no mention of Nicolas Flamel was in this one either. Placing it back on the shelf it came from, he went further down the aisle, pulling yet another heavy tome off the shelf as Harry turned to Hermione and spoke.
"'Mione, do what he says."
"Why? It's obvious he cares that you'll be alone in that dungeon."
"We're friends; that's what they're supposed to do. At least, to Zack. Who are we to change it when he doesn't want to?"
"It's better if you don't rub his nose in it. It's how he is, 'Mione." She gave a heavy sigh, rolling her eyes in irratation.
"Fine. Zack, did you find anything?" The book mentioned another book with Nicolas' name in it.
"Yeah... Wait, yes! It mentions another book with his name in it! Go ask Madame if it's been checked out, 'Mione."
Harry enjoyed the rest of his holidays and even having their Head of House referee was a joy. He caught the Snitch in five minutes; Slytherin was catching up to Gryffindor...
-After Getting Norbert Out; Hogwarts-
Zack growled as he was handed the Wolfsbane potion by his Head of House.
"I hate this." He grunted as the potion spread through his system. The transformation started as the moonlight hit him; bones broke, only to realign into a different formation. He yawned, a whine coming from him as he stretched his seven foot frame. Zack chuffed, pawing at the heavy oak doors of Hogwarts' entrance.
"Mr. Lupin-Black, desist. Mr. Potter is out there, along with Miss Granger." He slammed his shoulder into the first door and it creaked under nearly a ton of solid flesh. Turning to Snape, he motioned to the door and whined again. "No. Dumbledore is adamant about keeping you indoors tonight." He snarled and slammed against the door again, causing the ancient wood to shake upon it's frame. "Alright... I'll send a message." Zack relaxed and curled up by the door. Dumbledore's message came back as a silvery, wispy phoenix.
"He may, Severus. I hope they'll be safe." Zack rolled his eyes in an entirely non-werewolfish manner and waited. Snape opened the door and he bounded out, chasing his tail before wagging it in a salute to his Head of House. He took off sprinting for the Forest, enjoying the feeling of moist leaves under his paws. Then a horrible smell met his enhanced senses; it was laced with fear and pain. He tracked the silvery liquid and saw the Dark creature headed towards his friend. Zack picked up speed and jumped over Harry, snarling with ferocious intent. The creature paused for a moment, taking in his raised hackles and slavering fangs.
"Sssuch a defenssse..." A cold, high voice came from the hood. Another snarl ripped it's way up from his heaving chest. The creature fled when he lashed out with his claws, catching some of the dark fabric in them.
"A wolf defending the Potter boy?" Zack whirled, his eyes widening when he saw a black-haired and black-bodied centaur. Cocking his head to the side, a confused whine slipped from him. "No, I do not mind, pup. Your rescue must not reach your friend's ear." He chuffed before sitting down and scratching behind his ear with his hind foot.
Harry waited for Zack to get back from his shift. A giant black wolf loped into their paired room and flopped onto Zack's bed, yawning. He was actually rather cute; almost like a huge, fluffy puppy. Glowing violet eyes blinked as he pulled back his covers to see his invisibility cloak and the note that came with it: Just in case.
-Exam Week; Hogwarts-
Zack put down his quill and stretched in his seat, fighting a yawn. When everyone finished, he cheered with the rest of them. He gave Hermione a raspberry when she suggested going over their exams.
"No freakin' way, 'Mione... My head hurts when you say stuff like that."
"Ditto, 'Mione. Zack and I are done; a week of no brain killing is just the thing." Harry rubbed his scar for the, so it seemed to Zack, thousanth time. "I wish I knew what this means! My scar keeps hurting- it's happened before, but never as often as this."
"Go to Madame Pomfrey." Hermione suggested. Zack thought for a moment, giving heed to Harry's words.
"I'm not ill." said Harry.
After rushing to Hagrid's and making plans, Harry could barely hold still.
"Your face is gonna get stuck like that if you keep it that way, Harry." Zack deadpanned, his violet eyes calmer than normal.
"What?" He faced his best friend, only to crack up. Zack was sprawled across the most comfortable chair in the Pit, his spikes smushed flat against one arm of the chair.
"Thought you'd laugh, Harry. Relax."
"In the Slytherin Common Room? Downright dangerous, Lupin-Black." Malfoy drawled, standing over his friend and behind the chair.
"Not for me, it isn't; I'm the most dangerous thing in the room."
"Glad you think so, werewolf." Drawled the Greengrass sisters from another corner.
"Oh, I know so, girls." He stretched and all of the Slytherins froze as the muscles Zack had flexed. "No one else turns into a seven foot monster, darlin'." Harry had to giggle at that one. "Harry's seen me, you know."
"More like you're a really big, really fluffy puppy." Zack laid a hand across his chest as though it had hurt.
"Ouch, Harry. You wound me..." He placed his other hand on his forehead and looked up at Harry with the Puppy look he perfected.
"No, don't-Oh, hell. I'm sorry." Those Puppy eyes could make him do just about anything.
"Apology accepted... But what did you apologize for?"
"Calling you a puppy."
"Ha, Cedric said that the look would make people apologize... But, damn if he wasn't right. Yes, finally perfected it!" The Slytherins looked in mock horror at his best friend.
"Remind me to never make you ticked." Draco said, taking a step back.
"Roger, will do." Harry laughed again at the look of confusion on Draco's face. "Muggle expression, Draco. Ask a Muggleborn."
"Ask a Mud-" Zack was standing with his wand at Malfoy's throat; it disturbed Harry how fast he'd moved.
"Say it; I dare you." Malfoy's mouth closed; he swallowed and backed away. "Feh, thought Malfoys were below such remarks."
"Since when do you know about my Family?"
"I'm one of The Purebloods, Draco. I know a lot of things."
Zack waited for the Greengrasses, who were usually last, to leave the warm Common Room and shook Harry awake.
"Cloak, Harry. C'm- What're you doin' up, Blaise?"
"You're going to do something Lionlike. I won't allow it; we've lost enough points as is." Zack rolled his eyes, then shot off his least favorite spell.
"Perfectus Totalus. Sorry about this, Blaise, but we have to."
"It's for your own good." Harry added, green eyes completely contrite about having to jinx Zabini. They pulled on the cloak and made their way to the Great Hall, where they met Hermione, who scooted under with them. Trying not to make much noise, they encountered Peeves halfway there. Harry scared him off with a great impression of the Bloody Baron.
"Brilliant, Harry." Zack whispered as they reached the door that hid 'Fluffy'. There was already a harp in the room, playing a soft melody. "Looks like our Head beat us to the dog."
"You know, it could be someone else." Hermione told them with her no nonsense voice.
"Uhuh. Anyone else notice something?"
"It's quiet." Harry replied, then gasped. The dog was looming over them, snarling and snapping. "Go, go!" They jumped down, Zack sighing as they hit a soft something.
"Hey, good thing this-Whoa!" The plant wrapped thick tendrils about his thighs and chest, tightening when he struggled. Harry had relatively thinner ones and Hermione had avoided them altogether. "'Mione, uh, can you do something?"
"Well, this is Devil's Snare... and it hates fire... But, but there's no wood..."
"Hermione, listen very carefully. ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT? Use that brain of yours for once!" He yelped as the Devil's Snare tightened further. She concentrated for a moment then cast her spell.
"Inflamare!" A blue streak of flame erupted from the tip of her wand, causing the tendrils to retract and drop them. They fell again, this time onto cold stone floor.
"Whew. Good thing ZACK doesn't panic... 'There's no wood', Hermione?" Harry bit out as he took a wheezy breath. "Honestly..." They travelled for a bit and Hermione ran to the door.
"Alohamora doesn't work. Do the brooms-"
"Yes! Damn... Harry, you're going to have to come up with a plan. I'm good on a broom, but not THAT good."
"They're... Keys. All right, Zack, you come at the key with the broken wing from the side; Hermione, from the bottom. I'll catch it."
"But, brooms don't like me..." She protested, blushing.
"But nothin','Mione. Look at me. You're on the broom, we've got to stop whoever is beyond this damn door, and go!" The plan was executed flawlessly, Harry catching the key with a tiny crunch. They inserted it into the door and gasped in awe at the giant chess set.
Harry took a step forward, only to be blocked by a black chess piece; a castle to be exact.
"Do we have to play to get across?" The strange solemn tone came from Zack, who sighed and scraped back his spikes. The black knight closest to his best friend nodded once. "Alright, will a knight, the queen-side castle and the king-side bishop step off?" Zack motioned that they take the spaces that had been recently vacated. The game was a nightmare, the pieces visciously smashing each other into rubble. Zack almost used Hermione, but looked back when she squeaked in terrified protest. He smiled an apology and used the other castle instead. It was only towards the end of the game that Zack's face hardened. It wasn't going well, by that look.
"Nothin's wrong, per se, just tryin' ta figure out how ta beat th' queen... Yeah, got it. Harry-"
"Wait, what- You're going to sacrifice yourself?" The realization hit Harry with the force of a wrecking ball.
"Well... yeah." The eyeroll that followed the smart-arsed remark cemented the meaning. "I need you to checkmate the king after I-"
"You can't!" Hermione admonished from her square.
"Shut up." She fell quiet, her large brown eyes flooding with tears. "You an' I both know it's Harry tha's gotta go from here. Either help or hinder him; an' make your decision quick." She whimpered, then hung her head as Zack's cool words sunk in. "Checkmate th' king, no matter what, Harry." He nodded and Zack moved into the white queen's veiw. With a viscous stab and uppercut combined, she demolished the stone horse he was sitting on with blinding swiftness. Zack slumped onto the ground, a pool of blood slowly seeping from him.
"ZACK!" The tears in Hermione's eyes poured over. She made to take a step forward, off of her square-
"No, Hermione! We have to finish the game!" He barked out authoritatively. She sniffled, wiped her runny nose onto her jumper, and stayed. Harry marched a bit wobbily to the white king and his voice almost cracked before he finished. "Checkmate." The giant figure nodded and released the sword, Harry wincing as the metal clattered to the floor. "Now we can-" Hermione was already running to Zack from her square. He rushed over as well, feeling for Zack's pulse. It was slow, even sluggish, but steady as ever...
Zack moaned as he was unwillingly awakened. Pain radiated all OVER.
"Mr. Lupin-Black, do you realize that you've been out longer than Mr. Potter?" The stringient voice of Madame Pomfrey made him groan and collapse back onto the soft, fluffy pillow.
"Don' care." He grunted, then groaned as that caused more pain. "Why th' hell does it hurt sa much?" His mood was horrible, which messed with his speech patterns.
"You were thrown and pummeled with shrapnel from the stone horse you were on." Came the drawling tone of his Head of House.
"Your pain is entirely natural, though your accent is atrocious."
"Pain makes it tha' way, Professor... Can' speak properly ta save my life right 'bout now. Could kill whoeve made th' damn chess set, though. Damn queen was viscious." He spoke haltingly, drawing in a breath now and again when it got too painful to speak. Snape handed him a potion and he swallowed quickly, sticking his tongue out at the horrible taste. "Yuck... Hate potions."
"Excuse me, Professor McGonagall."
"She's out to get me, I swear."
"What-" But Zack was out like a light as the potion reacted.
Severus smiled softly at his most way-ward Snake. Zack had endured hardships far worse than his own and he had a soft-spot for the boy, werewolf, with violet eyes that regarded most things with an avid curiousity. Not in a disgusting, perverted, manner, but like a father loves his son. He had no childern and Lily had been the only woman for him. The man he wanted wouldn't look twice at him... It was a moot point.
At the end-of-term feast, Dumbledore startled them all by announcing that Zack was making the feast. His best friend limped in and sat down next to him, sighing softly as his body rested.
"The points stand thus: Slytherin, in last place with three hundred and twelve points; Hufflepuff, in third with three hundred and fourty-two points; Ravenclaw, in second with four hundred and fourty; and Gryffindor, with four hundred and seventy-two is in first place for the House Cup. However, due to recent events, I think some points may be awarded." The entire Great Hall gasped at the Headmaster's announcement; McGonagall looked ticked. "To Mr. Blaise Zabini, it is easy to stand up to your enemies, but even harder to stand up to those you consider friends. I award you thirty points." The Slytherins whispered; they were now tied with Hufflepuff. "To Mr. Harry Potter, for valiant acts and interHouse relations, I award you sixty points." They were short of the Cup by seventy points! "And, finally, to Mr. Zackary Lupin-Black, for sacrificing himself to help save his best friend and being the best Keeper this school has seen for nearly a hundred years, I award you... Eighty points." The silence in the Great Hall was deafening as all of the students calculated mentally. Zack sniggered as the total appeared in his friend's genius brain. The Slytherins slowly began to smile, and the Gryffindor's faces fell as it registered that they had LOST. "Perhaps a change in color is due?" Dumbledore clapped his hands together; the red and gold hangings changed to Slytherin colors, silver and green. "Slytherin has won the House Cup." A never-before-seen sight greeted the students... A grinning Snape; the other Houses and their Heads probably thought it terrifying. The Slytherin table laughed then cheered as their Head of House was handed the Cup. Ravenclaw quickly joined in, followed by Hufflepuff, because the underdog House won for the first time in nearly a decade...
Zack grinned lopsidedly as Harry joined him and Hermione. Blaise was out, asleep from all the food he'd eaten. He and Harry had been kind; they packed Blaise's things for him and levitated him onto the train with Snape's help. It helped that Blaise slept like a rock.
"So, Harry, gonna write me when you get back to your Muggles?" Zack started without preamble.
"'Mione, they might as well be. They are related to him, after all." He told her, raising a dark brow in contempt.
"Zack, does your leg still hurt?" Harry asked, worry in his gorgeous green eyes.
"Ha! I love it when you worry, Harry. Werewolf, remember?" Zack rolled his eyes at Harry's naiveness.
"Oh." A bright pink flush covered Harry's cheeks as his best friend ducked down.
"Don' worry 'bout it."
"But... I keep forgetting-" He put his finger to Harry's suprisingly soft lips. Where had that thought come from? Zack tucked it away in his mind for further examination; he'd effectively silenced the self-depreciation Harry engaged in more than even HE did.
"I said, don' worry 'bout it. You're allowed ta forget... A whole lot to empty your brain from back there. You sure you wanna return ta them?"
"Dumbledore said that I have to return at least once a summer. You can rescue me if you like." Harry teased, his bright green eyes glittering with happiness. They spent the rest of the ride playing Exploding Snap.
He watched Harry approach the fat Muggle his best friend called 'Uncle.' Zack instantly disliked the large, pig-like cousin who looked NOTHING like his best friend; it was like leaving a rose amongst weeds of the cruelest nature.
"Hey, Harry, c'n I talk wit' ya for a moment?"
"Get away from him, you freak." The horsey woman snarled suddenly. "We don't need you contaminating him further!" His violet eyes narrowed and he straightened to his full height... Which was all of four eleven, but he made it work. He squared his shoulders and managed to politely spit out his response without shouting.
"I understand, Madame Dursely. However, if I so much as see another mark on Harry, you will meet with our laws." Zack sneered coldly, looking down his nose at her. The chilling gaze lingered longer on the fat man and his whelp. "Harry?"
"Shh. Here, in case you need me to 'rescue' you. He hits you, you say my brother's name and the Portkey will activate. You know what this is, right?"
"Takes me to you?"
"Something like that. Listen, to Wizards, abuse is the worst thing someone could do to a kid like you. If they don't feed you, treat you like a person... Any of that and you use that Portkey. If something interferes, it has a back-up Portkey for emergencies. Same password, but say my name after it. Got all that?" He said earnestly, handing Harry a book that looked like a photo album.
"Not now, silly. When you're in trouble, or they aren't treatin' you good."
"Oh. So, your brother's name for the first one then his and yours' for the second one. Got it. Thanks, Zack."
"You're welcome; but the thanks is unecessary, Harry. It's what friends do. Have a good summer!"
ENDING A/N: This is the first of seven. Yes, it'll follow Zack and Harry's relationship (which will take a while to advance) up to their marriage. I've got this all set up; just have to type it out. See y'all next chapter/book!
P.S. Concrit is welcome; flames are not. I keep my replicas sharpened and loaded. Any flames will either be ignored or answered with roasting in their own flame the next chapter. Ah'll embarass th' shit outta ya. 3