Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Once in a Blue Moon

Chapter 4

by USA_Tiger 1 review

n/a

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Crossover,Fantasy,Humor - Characters: Harry,James,Lily,Neville - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2017-03-29 - 9431 words

1Original
Once in a Blue Moon

Author: USA Tiger

Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling and Final Fantasy 7 belongs to Square Enix

My best buddy Asilyessam has betaed this chapter for me.

Author Notes: Lord, it’s been quite a few months since I’ve updated this so I’m glad to have finally gotten this chapter done. As always I hope the chapter is enjoyable for everyone. Also I just wanted to let everyone know I finally got a twitter account, under the name @usa_tiger1983, where I’m going to post updates and story recs and all that sort of stuff.

Chapter 4

Severus appeared with a crack at the edge of the Hogwarts wards by the front gates. The two gargoyles that perched on either side of the gate shifted as Severus passed them but otherwise didn’t move. Severus’s head was bent as he walked toward the school, he was still trying to process and rearrange everything he learned today in his thoughts. Everything he had assumed about one Harry Potter had more or less had been thrown out the window as soon as he realized the small under-fed, obviously abused child was the very child he had up until then thought was a spoiled, pampered bully just like his father.

It was nice to see the son of the woman he loved hadn’t been anything like he thought, though Severus was sure there was something in Harry that he got from his father, but he never wanted to see any child like that, not even the child of one of his worst tormentors as a teen. In fact Severus was surprised that the boy wasn’t bitter toward the world and hateful toward muggles, he didn’t appear to be leaning toward the dark. He wouldn’t blamed Harry if he had after living with Petunia who had become a bitter shrew of a woman who still had a chip on her shoulder.

The corner of Severus’s lip curled into a smirk, it had felt good putting Petunia down again after so many years. The look on her face when she had opened the door would be something he was sure he would revisit many times. The smirk fell away as Severus considered just what he would tell his boss… and what to do about Harry. Severus didn’t feel right about leaving Harry with Petunia and her family, not at all. Yes he had that strange dog Zack with him, the one that was more than just a dog, but that didn’t mean total protection from Harry’s family. Sooner or later one of the adult Dursleys would push the limit to see what they could do. His money was on Petunia’s husband after what Harry had told him and what he had seen when he glimpsed in Petunia’s memories.

Then there were the blood wards, Severus had doubts that the wards were in fact blood wards at all. They were something similar he was sure but they were either something Lily invented herself or modified from a blood ward spell or it was an old magic spell from times when the old magicks were still used. The Potters were an old family, how old he didn’t know but Severus was sure that like other old pureblood families they had rare books of spells and enchantments that just weren’t known anymore. It was possible that whatever this ward was, it could have been found there.

Severus blinked as he found himself at the gargoyle that guarded the headmaster’s office. The way was already open, with no students at the school Albus found no reason to close his office off, and Severus was glad there were no students or anyone else around to see him so lost in his own thoughts. Stepping onto the bottom stair Severus let it carry him to the top as plans on what he was going to say raced through his mind.

“The door is open Severus my boy,” Albus’s voice said from the other side of the door before the stairs even came to a halt. Severus, like many others in the school, wondered just how Albus knew who stood outside his door, he suspected either a ward or spell or that the gargoyle somehow informed him or the paintings were warning him ahead of time. Albus refused to confirm or deny any of those theories but Severus was determine to find out one day so he could win the teacher pool.

Severus opened the door and found Albus at his desk scribbling away at some paperwork with a quill made of phoenix feather, no doubt donated by the man’s familiar Fawkes the phoenix who was sitting on his golden perch preening his feathers on a wing.

“I was beginning to worry,” Albus said as he glanced up at his Severus over his half-moon glasses. “I expected you to return hours ago. Is everything alright with young Harry? Did you discover what the cause of the ward shifting was?”

Severus sat in one of the tall back chairs across from Dumbledore, leaning back and pressing the tips of his fingers together. “The child is alright, for now. I believe the fluxuation you had in your instruments were caused by Mr. Potter acquiring a familiar.” Albus picked up right away on the way Severus now spoke about Harry, without the bite that he had always said Potter before. It pleased him to no end, maybe Severus was finally starting to see that Harry was not his father and was just a child, from what Arabella told him during her monthly reports Harry was a kind thoughtful child if a little quiet at times. Of course she said other things as well but Albus was sure she was mistaken in what she had told him.

“What sort of familiar?” Albus asked as he set his quill in the pot of ink then clasped his hands in front of him on the desk. His mind ran through the possibilities, hoping it wasn’t something like a snake.

“A dog,” Severus said. “A black Great Dane, he calls the great beast ‘Zack’.” Albus blinked, well he surly wasn’t expecting Severus to say a dog much less something as large as a Great Dane but it would just have to be something to work around.

“I see, well while uncommon it is not the first time a student as brought a dog to the school,” He said, taking a bit of parchment and writing down a note on it. “We’ll just have to make accommodations for Harry’s friend. Are you sure that Zack is Harry’s familiar?”

“I preformed all the tests, I am sure,” Severus said, deciding not to share his thoughts on Zack, at least not yet, he had no proof to back anything he said up. Albus just nodded and finished writing his note to himself.

“As long as everything is fine then… is there something my boy?” Albus asked seeing the look in Severus’s eye.

“I’m curious sir as to why you believed it was a good idea to leave Mr. Potter is Petunia’s care,” Severus asked a touch too calmly.

“Mrs. Dursley is Harry’s only remaining family, she is the only one whom I could place Harry with for his protection,” Albus said. “She has a son his age, I’m sure they get along fine.”

“Have you ever checked on the boy?” Severus asked with a raised eyebrow. “Fine is not the word I would use. Leaving him with his aunt was not the wisest choice Albus.”

“Surely my boy you must be mistaken,” Albus said with a small shake of his head. “Harry is her nephew, her blood kin.”

“Blood does not mean much too some people,” Severus pointed out. “Petunia was always jealous of Lily when we were children; she called the both of us freaks. She has only become bitterer over the years and is clearly taking it out on her nephew as is her husband.”

“I know Lily has some problems with her sister, who doesn’t with siblings,” Albus said thinking on his own childhood with his brother and sister. “But it couldn’t have been that bad, Petunia wrote a letter to me asking if she could come to Hogwarts as well, sadly I had to write her back informing her it would be impossible.” Severus blinked; he hadn’t known Petunia had written to Dumbledore asking to go to Hogwarts. It would explain why she became even nastier toward him and Lily after they returned from their first year. “After so many years I’m sure she is over petty sibling fights.”

“Albus, she made Harry sleep in the cupboard under the stairs,” Severus said bluntly. Albus started at that, eyes wide in shock. “Until yesterday in fact when they finally moved him into the smallest room in the house, a room that until today had housed his very spoiled cousins broken and cast off things. They have starved the boy, punished him for magic that he has no control over, /he has been abused all the years he’s lived there./”

Albus gulped and leaned back in his seat. Fawkes trilled and flew over to perch on the arm of his chair, singing softly.

“Surely Severus, you must be mistaken,” Albus said.

“I am not,” Severus said bluntly. “Look into my memories, see if I’m not telling the truth.” Albus slowly nodded and peered into Severus’s dark eyes. Severus brought forth the memory of when he first saw Harry, dressed in rags and clearly underfed, what happen in the park and the conversation they had over dinner. He also showed Albus the memory of the cupboard when he had opened it while confronting Petunia. Albus gave a weary sigh and leaned back again, withdrawing from Severus’s mind and rubbed his forehead with his long fingers. Fawkes trilled again in a song to ease his bonded wizard’s pain.

“I knew that young Harry’s life wouldn’t be easy but… with the blood wards he is safer with her and young Mr. Dursley. We know that Voldemort is still alive, waiting and planning,” Albus said after a few minutes.

“I suppose I should tell you what else I discovered then,” Severus said. “I took a closer look at the wards, they do not appear to be tied to either of Mr. Potter’s blood relatives but to Zack.”

“Harry’s dog?” Albus asked blinking. “That… should be impossible; the blood wards should only work with his blood relatives.”

“That is not what the scans I did tell me. Are you sure that the wards are blood wards?” Severus asked. Albus absently stroked Fawkes’s head and neck, the phoenix closing his eyes in bliss.

“I assumed…” Albus said softly lost in thought.

“With the wards tied to the dog, Mr. Potter shouldn’t have to live with his aunt and uncle,” Severus pointed out. “He can live someplace else and still be protected as long as Zack is with him.”

“You don’t know for sure,” Albus pointed out but there was a note of doubt in his voice now.

“I don’t think you do either,” Severus quickly responded back. “Why not try it at least for a month or two, if I’m correct the wards will still protect Harry. If I’m wrong and they start to weaken then you will have plenty of time to place Harry back with his relatives before he comes to the school next year.” A slow smile crossed over Albus’s face and his blue eyes twinkled.

“You are calling him Harry,” He pointed out. Severus huffed and gave Albus a flat look before slowly saying,

“Perhaps the child isn’t has… horrible… as I assumed he would be,” he said. Albus chuckled then sighed.

“I suppose we can try it your way,” he said. “It may be good to reintroduce young Mr. Potter to the wizarding world a year early, he’s old enough that the fame shouldn’t go to his head. But who could take him in… maybe the Weasleys? Molly would gladly take him into her home but it maybe to too much of a burden on their family right now on such short notice. Hmm… ah perhaps-“

“He can stay at my home,” Severus said. The room became very quiet as Albus, Fawkes and even all the portraits of the past headmasters and headmistresses of the school look at him in shock. Severus blinked looking quite shocked himself as if he didn’t expect himself to say that.

“You Severus,” Albus repeated. “I don’t know if that is… such a good idea. Spinner’s End isn’t really an ideal place for young Harry, the Death Eaters know of your home after all.”

“You really don’t think that is my only home, do you Albus?” Severus asked with a raised eyebrow. “I do have a second home I purchased after the war, one that my former… acquaintances do not know about.”

“Nor does anyone in this school I expect,” Albus said with a chuckle. “I should have known… well I suppose… Are you sure my boy? What about your teaching and head of house duties here? And when Voldemort returns?”

“It is not in the school rules that professors must live at the school, Minerva lived in Hogsmeade with her husband until he passed away. If I’m not mistaken she had a House Elf assigned to keep an eye out on her quarters and office on the off chance she was needed by her lions or any other student within the school. I do not see why the same could not work for me, my perfects watch after my snakes as it is unless I am needed. I also have a neighbor who watches my house during the school year, she can look after Mr. Potter while I am here in the castle for any reason.” Severus said. “That is if things work out as I believe they would. As for my other duties…”

“Yes, let’s keep this hidden for now then see what comes of it then decide if you should continue spying or not,” Albus agreed. It could be Severus would be better suited to being Harry’s guardian and protector than spying on Voldemort and Albus had other ways he could his information. Not as easily but then again he didn’t think Tom would trust Severus right off the bat anyway if ever. “Alright, but I must insist on setting up other protective wards around your property. I’m sure you have your home locked up tight in protections Severus but I know some that you don’t and extras never hurt in this case.” Severus considered that and nodded his head in agreement. He was still shocked that not only had he suggested that Harry and Zack live with him but that Albus had agreed. He would have to clear out one of the rooms on the first floor for the child to sleep in and move his more dangerous books to his study. At least he wouldn’t be living with that harpy Petunia.

****

“Snape!?” James yelled as he watched the scene unfold from the afterlife. “Of all the people it had to be Snape!”

“Oh honestly James,” Lily said with a sigh. “Would you get over it?”

“But Lils, it’s Snape!” James said pointing. “Why?” Lily sighed again and rubbed her forehead, she was just as surprised as James to see her once friend come into Harry’s life and hadn’t know how Severus would reacted to her baby boy but was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. It was good to see some of her old friend again, before the Death Eaters and when they had drifted apart.

“Is he always like this?” a man asked from beside her. Lily glanced to her side, Angeal Hewley came from the same world as Zack and Aerith. He had in life been Zack’s mentor and friend according to him until something happened that ended in Angeal’s death. He looked a lot like an older version of Zack but with straight hair and blue eyes and a small goatee on his chin. When Lily had prepared to go back to her own afterlife to continue to watch over Harry, Angeal approached her and asked if he could come as well to watch after ‘The puppy’ as he called Zack. Lily thought he was a lovely man to be honest.

“James and Severus have a bit of a history,” Lily said. “Severus was my best friend growing up; he was the one to tell me what my magic was and that I was a witch. But we were sorted in different houses that were rivals and he fell into a bad crowd. On top of that this lummox,” she pointed at her husband who said “Hey!” “and his little gang of friends pranked and bullied Severus through most of our years at Hogwarts.”

“Hey, Snape wasn’t some innocent snow flake,” James defended himself. “He got us back just as good plenty of times and he was a bully too.”

“Luckily James grew up out of some of his habits otherwise I never would have started dating him,” Lily continued ignoring James. “But he never got over his dislike of Severus and I’m sure Severus still hates James just as much. I’m just happy Severus has over looked that and is treating my baby like his own person.”

“I still don’t like it,” James groused as he crossed his arms over his chest.

“James stop being such a child over this,” Lily said standing and putting her hands on her hips.

“But Lily,” James whined. Angeal quickly removed himself from the area already seeing the argument brewing and had no desire to be in the middle of it. He walked around Earth’s afterlife that was so much the same yet different from what he knew as the Lifesteam. It was peaceful and he could see many people watching their loved ones much like he had watched Zack then watched Zack’s friend Cloud after Zack had died.

“Oh dear oh dear,” Angeal heard an older man said. “Oh Augusta…”

“I’m sorry, are you alright?” Angeal asked as he came closer. The older man looked up surprised then gave a grandfatherly smile.

“Ah, sorry. I didn’t mean to disturbed anyone,” the man said.

“You didn’t,” Angeal said then jerked his head in the direction he came. “Mr. and Mrs. Potter are in a bit of a row, I though it better to remove myself.”

“Ah, yes Fleamont’s boy, I was good friends with his father,” the man said with a nod. “James and his lovely young wife, shame they had to die so young. Oh here I am rambling and I haven’t even introduced myself. Adair Longbottom at your service.” (1)

“Angeal Hewley,” Angeal said smiling as Adair shook his hand.

“Good grip there, son,” Adair said with a laugh. “Now you asked if I was alright. Well the answer is no, not really. I’m worried about my grandson Neville, I love my dear Augusta but she can be very strict and overbearing. And I believe what happen to our boy affected her more than she’s willing to admit. Come, see my grandson.” He waved Angeal over with a smile, letting the large man peer into one of those sorta portal things that let the dead watch the living. Adair brought up a young boy around 9 or 10 years old with blond hair and warm brown eyes who had a bit of baby fat still clinging to him. The boy was sitting in the middle of a greenhouse tending to a few plants. “My Neville has such a way with plants, the best Longbottom in years to work with them. Our family has run many greenhouses with the best plants for many years, it was one of our ways of bonding when I was still alive.”

“He looks like a good kid,” Angeal said.

“Oh he is, a bit shy though but Augusta and I always tried to keep Neville safe but we may have sheltered him a bit. But since I passed on, my Gusta has gotten worse,” Adair said with a sigh. “She’s always been very strict and proper; we’re from another time after all. She loves our boy but stills always been just a little distance. And she tried too hard on the boy, I always told her let Neville’s magic come on his own but she lets those horrible relatives of hers try to bring Neville’s powers out. Some of the things they’ve done to my boy…” Adair shook his head. “And Gusta has tried so hard to make Neville a carbon copy of Frank, our son. I wish she just let Neville be.”

“That’s sounds dishonorable,” Angeal said with a scowl.

“I agree,” Adair said with another sigh. “That’s the hard thing about being dead, there is nothing I can do for my grandson.” Angeal patted Adair’s shoulder in comfort. “Ahh thank you sonny. You shouldn’t listen to an old man rambles, I’m sure you have a love one you would like to get back to watching.”

“Oh… yes…” Angeal shook Adair’s hand again then headed back in the Potter’s direction. And they weren’t alone, Aerith was with them watching as James pouted like a child and Lily looked smug. Angeal could only assume Lily won their spat. “Miss Gainsborough.”

“Angeal, I told you to call me Aerith,” Aerith said smiling. Angeal chuckled and sat down beside her. “You looked troubled.” This caught Lily’s attention as well.

“I just met an Adair Longbottom, he was telling me about his grandson,” Angeal said.

“You mean Neville?” Lily asked.

“Do you know of him?” Angeal asked. Lily and James both nodded.

“The Longbottoms have been good allies and friends of the Potters for many generations,” James said.

“And I became good friends with Alice, Neville’s mother, when we were at Hogwarts. In fact Neville is my godson and Alice is Harry’s godmother,” Lily said. “Neville was born the day before Harry so he also just turned 10.”

“And all four of us were in the Order of the Phoenix together,” James added. “A resistance group against You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters, it was started by our old Headmaster.”

“Have you watched him like you watch Harry?” Angeal asked.

“A few times when we were first here but he was in a loving home with his grandparents, I know Mr. Longbottom adored little Neville, and we became preoccupied with what was happening with Harry in Tuney’s home,” Lily admitted. “Why has something happen to my godchild?”

“Mr. Longbottom didn’t say too much on it but he seemed worried and he said something about relatives of his trying to bring the child’s magic out?” Angeal wasn’t too sure just what that meant but it didn’t sound good. James groaned and face palmed.

“It figured that old bat’s family would fall back on old practices,” he said. “A long time ago some families were so worried when a kid was showing little to no magic they were try all sorts of crazy thing to scare the magic out to prove the kid wasn’t a squib. But something that could end up killing or at least seriously hurt the kid.” A thunderous look clouded Angeal’s face and he jumped to his feet, moving several feet again yelling angrily. “Wow, he must have a soft spot for kids.”

“I don’t know Angeal that well, I never met him until I was killed,” Aerith said. “But Zack always said that he was very big on honor and hurting a child like that would be very dishonorable in his eyes.”

“Yeah some Pureblood families are crazy like that, a lot of them are dark families but there are a few light and neutral families that did the same in the past,” James said. “Having a squib in a family, a non-magical person born into a magical family, is seen as a huge stigma against a family and their magic though not as much as it use to be. But as you just heard some families are still like that.”

“I think it’s all the inbreeding in some families,” Lily said to Aerith. “Just about every Pureblood family is related to each other according to James.” James nodded in agreement to the statement.

“Some more than others, my family has always married witch and wizards outside of the British Isles or married Muggleborns, Halfbloods or at times someone from another magical race,” he explained then rolled his eyes. “That’s why it was so hilarious when people put up a royal stink about me marring Lily because I was a Pureblood but she’s Muggleborn, they act like no Potter has dared to do that before.”

“Oh goodness, sounds very complicated,” Aerith said. Both Potters nodded in agreement. Angeal rejoined them a moment later and looked down at Aerith with a look of determination on his face.

“Miss Gainsborough, is it possible for you to do the same thing with me that you and Mrs. Potter did with Zack?” he asked.

“Ummm what?” Aerith asked confused. “You mean send you back to the living? I-I’m not sure Angeal, why do you ask anyway?”

“It’s wrong, it’s…. dishonorable what this family is doing to this child,” Angeal said as he crossed his arms over his chest. “I would like to go back if possible in the same way Zack did, and become Neville’s protector.”

“Is that the only reason?” Aerith asked gently as she stood, dusting off her skirt. Angeal frowned and bowed his head in thought.

“Mostly,” he said. “But part of me wants to atone for what I did, I made myself in a monster instead of listening to Zack and dishonored myself. But mostly I want to protect a child who seems to have no real protection not even from his own family.” Lily and James looked at each other in confusion, they didn’t know Angeal’s story at all and was a bit confused by the comment. Aerith made a little humming sound and shifted side to side a bit before answering.

“I’ll see what we can do,” she said. “Even if we can, it might not be just like Zack. I might not be able to give you the ability to turn into a human when Neville is in danger, a lot of that came from Lily and her desire to protect her son.”

“Just whatever we can do Miss Gainsborough,” Angeal said making Aerith give a laughing huff and lightly punch him on the arm.

“/Aerith/,” she stressed her name in an attempt to get him to call her that. “What do you think Lily?” Aerith turned to the other female in the group.

“I would love for my godson to have a bit of protection too,” Lily admitted. “From his family and anyone else. He was the other child in that stupid prophecy that Albus believes in so much.”

“Alright,” Aerith said as she laced her fingers in front of her and stretched her arms out, a few joints popping with the action. “Let’s mosey.” She started giggling at her own joke as she followed Angeal and Lily over to Adair Longbottom who looked amused.

“My I’m getting a lot of visitors today,” he said then accepted the hug and the kiss on the cheek from Lily. “Lily dear, how are things with Harry? Those muggles still causing him problems?”

“Not as much, I’ve arranged a way to protect my baby,” Lily said smiling. “And we think we might be able to do the same thing for Neville.” One of Adair’s eyebrows raised and he looked at the three others curiously. Lily and Aerith, who were very happy to meet another plant lover, explained how Lily had traveled across the afterlife to another world and had sent the spirit of Aerith’s boyfriend Zack back to Earth as a dog to become Harry’s personal protector. They also explained how Angeal also was from the same world as Zack and Aerith, being Zack’s mentor and friend when they were alive, and was moved by Adair’s story about Neville and wished to offer the same sort of protection.

Adair listened closing now sitting in a conjured overstuff chair his hands clasped over his stomach.

“The offer is… tempting,” he said after a few minutes of thinking then looked at Angeal. “But why?” he asked the younger man.

“Would it sound strange to say that it feels right?” Angeal said. “I was a SOLDIER and lived my life by the honor taught to me by my father. But I found out something about myself, something surrounding my birth, and allowed myself to be corrupted by what I learned. I know I can never make up for everything I did, I was a coward I know this, but I can’t let myself not do anything knowing I could make a difference.”

“Hmmm….” Adair hummed to himself and tapped his fingers together then looked at Lily. “What do you think my dear?”

“Well Zack so far has been a wonderful guardian for Harry, as much as he can be as a dog,” Lily said. “And Angeal was his mentor in their last life. And maybe I’m being selfish by saying this but I want my godson as safe as my son, or as close as I can get.”

“It may not work, or at least not the same way,” Aerith said. “I drew on the magic Lily left with Harry to form the bond between Zack and Harry and had enough magic to give him extra abilities.”

“Would a bond between a grandparent and their grandchild work?” Adair asked. “An emotional one? Frank was always closer to his mother though he loved us both. I believe that is why my Augusta is so broken up over what happen to our boy, but Neville was always closer to me even when he was a wee babe.”

“I may be able to work with that,” Aerith said after thinking then looked at Angeal. “I don’t think it will be enough to give you everything I gave Zack but I think I can at least form the same sort of mental bond so you can speak to him.”

“I will work with whatever you can create Miss Gainsborough,” Angeal assured her, ignoring the playful frustrated groan from the young Cetra as he continued to only call her by her adopted name.

“Alright, let’s see what I can do then,” she said and started to work. Luckily for everyone Aerith was able to forge a similar bond between Angeal and Neville that Harry and Zack had, but the magic available to her was only powerful enough to give Angeal a new body, once again they chose to go with a dog, and not a temporary human one much like Aerith had thought would happen. Angeal would take what he could get.

“Thank you my boy, for looking out for my grandson,” Adair said as they finished preparations. “You had no reason to step up like you did but it eases my soul to know Neville will have you to watch over him. I just hope this gives you the peace you’re looking for.”

“Thank you Mr. Longbottom for trusting us with this,” Angeal said, shaking Adair’s hand when the elderly gentleman offered it. Adair shook his hand firmly with one pump then stood back to let Aerith take his place.

“Good luck Angeal and give Zack this for me will you?” She kissed the tall man’s cheek.

“Yes… well... I doubt it will mean the same coming from me,” Angeal said with a chuckle and a cough. “But I will pass it on Miss Gainsborough.”

“For the last time, it’s Aerith!” Aerith said with a laugh as she pushed her and Adair’s combined magic into him. The laugh was the last thing Angeal heard as his vision turned white.

******

When Angeal could see, hear and feel again he was lying on the ground next to a lake. He made a doggy-groaning sound as he stood on shaky paws.

‘Well, it worked,’ he thought as he took his first lungful of fresh air in years. He was a bit overwhelmed by the much more advance hearing and smelling capabilities of his new canine form. His eyesight thankfully was like that of a humans and not a dog, one point in his favor. Wanting to see what he looked like, Angeal look a step toward the nearby body of water only to trip over his own paws and land face first on the ground. ‘Ow.’

Angeal shook his head, right walking like a dog was different from a human. He had to account for 4 legs instead of just the two. ‘I must look the way Zack did the first time he turned into a wolf,’ Angeal mused as he stood again learning how to move in his new body. It was a challenge, he had been turned into a toad before thanks to a Touch me a few times but being a frog was different from a dog. Still Angeal was nothing but determine and he was a quick learner. Soon he was moving around on all four legs as if he was doing it all his life. Satisfied that he could walk without making a fool of himself now, Angeal walked over to the lake and looked at himself in the still water.

The dog he turned into wasn’t one he was familiar with, not that he was too familiar with too many dogs to start with. He was jet back with triangular ears on top of his head that were perked up. He looked like he was pretty large but he was certainly not the same sort of dog his former student had become. (2)

Around his neck was a collar with what looked like materia embedded in it and a tag that looked to be in the same shape as his wings when he started to degrade. He thought it was a very good reminder not to let himself go down the same roads he did last time.

Angeal gave a mental nudge to the summon materia on his collar, one of them was Phoenix which instantly reminded him of his best friend Genesis and he hoped the red headed man wouldn’t allow himself to get into any more trouble back home. The other two summons were Shiva and Alexander.

Done checking himself over, Angeal felt out the bond between him and Neville, it had a pretty good strong tug on it which Angeal hoped that mean he wasn’t that far away from Neville. Shaking himself Angeal headed in the direction that the bond was pulling him toward.

******

To say Vernon Dursley was unable to deal with how his life had been going the last few days was an understatement. He was, in fact, livid with how things were turning out.

Before things had been perfect. He had a fine wife who took care of the house, or at least oversaw the care of the house, and his son was a fine strapping young lad who was well on his way to growing up to be just like him. He had a great job, lived in a perfectly normal neighborhood and as far as he was concerned the envy of his neighbors and co-workers. Yes, it had been perfect.

Except, of course, the fact that his freak of his wife’s nephew lived with them. Oh how he hated magic and magic users. It still rankled him every time he thought of the boy’s father who had humiliated him with that freaky unnatural power of his the one and only time Vernon had met Petunia’s sister and her fiancé. It was a pity too that Lily Evans had turned out to be a witch, she had been quite pretty from what he remembered but looks wasn’t everything and Petunia was far better than Lily had been. So to be stuck with their boy, who was just as magical as they were, was unpleasant.

Oh they had tried to stomp that freaky power out of the boy, keep him away from those type of people. To keep him away from that school and that crackpot of a headmaster. But, as his dear sweet Pet had pointed out, they had failed on that front.

It wasn’t as if the boy didn’t have his uses, Vernon liked having a lived in housekeeper, cook and gardener. After all, the little freak had to earn his keep somehow and it saved him having to spend money on hiring those sorts of people.

Then that dog showed up with the boy one afternoon. That dog that was just as freaky as the boy, with glowing eyes and able to cast magic. Since that bloody mutt had shown up, everything had been just awful. Well at home at least, work had become Vernon’s safe place as it were. If he was more prone to explode in anger… well no one pointed that out. But home… that was his castle! He was the master there! Yet that bloody dog had turned their lives upside down.

Vernon would not stand for it, he was going to take a stand and get rid of that blasted mutt and if possible find a way to get rid of the boy as well. There had to be someone who could take the little freak off their hands. He was done with the boy and his freaky world!

Thankfully, Vernon knew a guy who knew a guy who could get him something that would help him get his life back on track.

*****

The following days after Snape’s visit to Number 4 Privet Drive fell back into a mostly normal routine. Harry still had chores but the list was considerably cut down. He still had to cook, which he didn’t mind, and still had to tend the garden something else he didn’t mind all that much. He liked watching the flowers bloom under his touch and Zack liked lying out in the sun as he watched Harry work. This was also Harry favorite time because he would pepper Zack with questions about his home world which Zack for the most part answer without much fear of anyone overhearing him. Things Zack wouldn’t answer he explained where either too dark for a boy Harry’s age or were too painful for Zack to remember right now.

Harry learned about Zack’s home village Gongaga, the name sending Harry into a fit of giggles while Zack gave a doggy grin.

“Yeah, it’s as backwards as it sounds. Nothing but jungles and a mako reactor,” Zack said.

“What was it like growing up there?” Harry asked as he thought growing up in a jungle sounded exciting.

“Same as anywhere I guess. It was a place where everyone knew everybody or were related. I had cousins all over the village. You had to be careful when you left the village cause of all the monsters,” Zack said. “The worst was the Touch Mes.” The SOLDIER shuddered in remembrance.

“What’s that?” Harry asked green eyes wide as he imagined a huge monster with deadly horns and claws and a mouth full of sharp teeth.

“It’s this frog monster about this big,” Zack held a paw a few inches off the ground. “Stands on its back feet and everything.” Harry nearly dropped the spade he was holding as he covered his mouth with his other hand to cover up his burst of laughter.

“You were afraid of a little frog?” he asked after a few seconds grinning widely.

“Hey! Touch Mes are one of the worst monsters there is! They turn people into frogs if they touch you,” Zack said defending himself. “You can’t use weapons or magic when you’re a frog. They can also put people to sleep if they hit you with Frog Song.”

“I guess I can see where that would be terrifying,” Harry mused.

“Damn right, when you’re a frog you are an easy lunch for other monsters in the area,” Zack said with a nod of his furry head. “Only way to turn back is the Toad spell or use a Maiden’s Kiss. Needless to say, Maiden’s Kisses were Gongaga’s number one export.”

“I guess you had personal experiences with those Touch Me things then,” Harry said.

“More times than I like,” Zack grumbled softly. He had one too many run-ins with the tiny monsters growing up in Gongaga, his Ma had to keep a bunch of Maiden Kisses around the house to turn him back. Zack was terrified of frogs and toads because of them, evil little things.

“Still I think it would be fun to live in a jungle. Did you swing from vines like Tarzan? Where there apes?” Harry asked as he quickly got back to working on the flowerbed when he spied Petunia looking out the window in his direction.

“What’s an ape? And who’s Tarzan?” Zack asked tilting his head to the side curious. “As far as swinging from vines, yeah we use to use the vines hanging off trees to swing into the lake outside the village.” Harry thought that sounded like so much fun, he really wished he could see Zack’s home it sounded so much better than here. “We use to have contests to see who could swing out the furthest. My cousin Sophie use to kick all us boys butts all the time at that.”

“Zack… do you miss your family?” Harry asked softly. Zack huffed softly and laid his head down on his paws.

“Of course. I felt trapped there and really wanted to be a SOLDIER so I could be a hero so I ran off as soon as I was old enough to join but I still missed my Ma and Pa and all the rest of my family,” /Zack said. /“I made me a new family at Shinra of course, Ang was like a big brother and uncle rolled into one and Cloud was like my little brother. Man I wish I was able to take them and Aerith home to meet my Ma, I hate my girl met my parents after I died and she couldn’t even tell them we were together.” /Harry reached over to give Zack a comforting pat on the head hearing the sad note in the dog’s mental voice. /“Hee, thanks kiddo. But don’t worry about me, what’s done is done. I’ll see them all again at some point, right now you’re my little bro!” Zack jumped up and playfully pounced on Harry, licking the boy’s face as Harry laughed and started to playfully wrestle with Zack.

There were things Harry knew Zack shied away from. While he talked about his mentor Angeal, he never said how the man died but it was clear it caused him great pain. He never talked about his final days at Shinra or what had happened after. He never talked about someone he mentioned a couple of times called Sephiroth. And he never talked about how he died. All these things still hurt Zack’s soul greatly and Harry didn’t think he was ready to hear any of it anyway.

Petunia’s screeching voice telling Harry to get back to work had the boy sighing heavily as he pulled away from his playing and went back to working on the garden beds. Zack huffed, he hated that woman and her voice could make Scarlet sound downright pleasant.

*****

Every time Zack laid his eyes on Vernon Dursley his hackles raised. He couldn’t help it; the man just oozed sleaziness and bad news. The comments he made about Harry, not even bothering to hide it, tore at Harry’s self-esteem though Zack thought he was doing a pretty good job of soothing the pup over. The elder Dursley male was too afraid to do more that grumble under his breath, flinching just slightly when Zack turned his glowing eyes on the man and showed a little teeth. But Zack was sure soon the man would work past his fear of Zack, he reminded the former 1st class of Heidegger though Zack was sure Heidegger was smarter.

Zack had taken to sleeping in front of the door when Harry went to bed at night, guarding his young charge from his so-called family. Zack had heard Vernon’s heavy footsteps plenty of times stop outside the door to the smallest bedroom and had even attempted to open the door. Zack’s weight pressing against the door meant it didn’t even move an inch and a quick growl was enough to send the man scurrying away.

But the last few days… Zack could see a hint of malicious glee entering those squinty eyes and a start of an evil smirk. Yeah, Dursley had something cooking alright. He had seen that look too many times at Shinra. Zack had to start thinking of a way to get his little charge out of this hell hole.

Petunia was behaving at least, a couple of times she had received a note delivered via an owl of all things that smelt like Snape. Whatever the man wrote in the notes had Petunia paling and shaking in rage before burning the letters before Zack got a chance to get a glimpse of them. Too bad too, Zack would have love to have known what the dark man had said to get Petunia all steamed up. Their porker of a son was leaving Harry alone as well, either on orders of his parents or afraid of Zack it didn’t matter to Zack as long as Dudley and his little gang left Harry alone.

Zack’s ears perked up as he heard Vernon’s heavy footsteps come up the stairs and stopping outside the bedroom door, the same as many other nights the man did this. He glanced over at the too small bed where Harry slept with his stuffed dragon encased in his arms. The boy had tuckered himself out doing his chores, having very little time to play and be a kid.

When he heard the doorknob start to rattle, Zack leaned all his weight against the door and growled just loud enough for Vernon to hear him. The rattling stopped just as quickly as it started and Zack heard an intake of breath.

“Ruddy dog,” Vernon grumbled under his breath and Zack heaved a relieved sigh as the fat man finally resumed walking down the hallway toward his bedroom to join his wife.

‘We’ve got to get out of here,’ Zack thought to himself once again, feeling a bit trapped and disappointed in himself that he wasn’t able to do more to give Harry the sort of life the boy should be having instead of being trapped in a house with people who hated him.

******

Angeal’s strong powerful legs had him all but flying over the ground as he followed the pull toward Neville. Like Zack, Angeal had only stopped when he had to sleep or eat and drink. The man ignored everything else as he headed toward where he was needed. He had only broken into a run when he felt a spike of panic and fear through the bond, so strong Angeal knew he was close and the boy needed him now!

The large black dog broke through the tree line of the forest he had been running through, seeing a grand, old house in front of him surrounded by old trees and gardens. If he hadn’t been in such a hurry, Angeal would have admired the gardens and mused how much the house reminded him of the Rhapsodos’s manor house where his best friend Genesis had grown up, the house surrounded by groves of Dumbapple trees that the Rhaposodos’s owned.

But Angeal saw none of that. No his full attention was drawn to movement in a window on one of the higher floors. He sharp eyesight could make out an older man holding a younger boy, the child shrugging and fighting the man as the man tried to push the boy out of the window. Angeal snarled and ran toward the house, leaping and pushed off the side of the house then off a tall tree just outside the windows of the floor the pair were on.

Howling like a hell hound Angeal crashed through the window next to the one the man and the boy was in, turning and lunging at the man, clamping his teeth in the man’s ass and pulling him back.

“OWCH!” the man screamed in pain, losing his grip on the boy who screamed in terror as he tumbled out the window. Angeal quickly released the man and dove out of the window after the boy, the buzz down the bond telling Angeal this was Neville. Kicking off the wall so he could get under Neville, Angeal caught the boy on his back.

“Peace child, I’ve got you,” Angeal said soothingly, feeling arms wrap around his neck as Neville clung to his savior. The added weight of the boy and Angeal not completely use to his new body had him unprepared to get them safely to the ground but Angeal was determined he would be the one to land first to break Neville’s fall. Neville’s terror brought his magic to the surface wrapping around both of them so when Angeal and Neville hit the ground they both bounced landing head over heels, or paws in Angeal’s case, in the flower bed. Neville was shaken but unharmed as was Angeal.

Neville sat shaking in the flower bed he landed in, his breath coming in quick gasps. Angeal quickly jumped up and nuzzled Neville gently.

/“Shhh, you are safe Neville,” /Angeal said in a deep soothing tone, licking the tears off Neville’s cheeks. It took a moment for Neville to come down from his fright to register Angeal.

“W-what? A-are you t-talking t-to me?” He whispered. ”H-how is that…”

“My name is Angeal,” Angeal said as he sat in front of Neville. “Your grandfather Adair sent me.”

“M-my grandfather?” Neville asked, his grandfather died a few of years ago and the boy missed his grandfather greatly.

“Yes, I am… I believe the word is familiar? I am something like that,” Angeal explained. “I am here as your friend and protector.”

“Oh Merlin… you’re my familiar? R-really?” Neville whispered in awe, he was use to his relatives telling him he was nothing more than a squib at best. But Neville knew they were wrong now! Only witches and wizards had familiars!

/“That is the closest that I can explain it as. You and I have a bond formed by your grandfather,” /Angeal said. Tears filled Neville’s eyes as he did feel a warm feeling in his heart, had felt it for a few days now but had no idea what it was. And his granddad did this? From beyond the grave?

“W-what did you say your name is again?” Neville asked as he wiped at the tear tracks on his cheeks.

“Angeal,” the former SOLDIER said gently. He held up a paw for Neville to shake making the boy laugh and take the paw to shake. Angeal panted and gave the boy a doggy-grin. “I am pleased to meet you Neville.”

“Neville!” an older woman wearing old fashion robes ran out of the manor house, the man Angeal bit right behind her.

“Gran!” Neville quickly stood and tried to brush the wet dirt clinging to his pants off.

“Neville are you alright? What happened?” Augusta Longbottom said as she started checking her grandson over. “How did you fall out of the window?” Her attention was quickly drawn to the side as the large black German Sheppard started growling loudly, teeth gleaming in the afternoon sunlight as he advanced toward Neville’s great-uncle Algie. Algie was sweating heavily and was backing away from the dog, holding his hands over his rear end. “Hold still Algie,” Augusta hissed while pulling Neville behind her and pulling her wand out of a holster on her arm, pointing it at Angeal.

“No!” Neville ripped himself from his grandmother’s grip and ran over to Angeal, wrapping his arms around the dog’s neck. “Don’t hurt him!”

“Neville, what is the meaning of this?” the Longbottom matriarch questioned, Algie took the chance to escape back into the house.

“Gran, you can’t hurt him,” Neville said shaking in nervous fright as he had never stood up to any adult in his family, or anyone before, much less his grandmother. “He’s my familiar, he tried to stop Uncle Algie from dropping me out the window.” Augusta’s eyes narrowed at that, she would be having words with her uncle-in-law she thought he had stopped trying to scare Neville’s magic out of him after the boy had nearly drowned after being thrown off the pier at Blackpool. (3)

“And just how do you know he’s your familiar?” she asked her grandson still eyeing Angeal warily.

“Don’t tell her I can speak to you,” Angeal warned Neville.

“H-he… ummm… I can feel the bond, here,” Neville said holding his hand over his heart. Augusta hummed then lifted her wand again. Neville squeaked in fight but stood protectively in front of Angeal.

“I’m not going to hurt him Neville,” Augusta said calmly. “I am only going to test if what you said is true.” She waved her wand and cast the spell softly, watching as the bond formed in front of her eyes. A smile spread over her lips as proof that her grandson was indeed right and it was proof once and for all that Neville was no squib as so many of the others in the family had feared. “Well, that’s that, but you are responsible for him Neville, having a familiar is a very big honor and you are in charge of him.”

“His name is Angeal,” Neville told her relieved that she was accepting that Angeal was there to stay.

“Fine name,” Augusta said with a nod then narrowed her eyes. “Neville, how did you survive being drop out of the window?”

“U-um… Angeal tried to catch me but we ended up… bouncing when we hit the ground,” Neville said blushing. Augusta shook her head but smiled slightly, more proof her grandson had magic.

“Head inside, let the House Elves check you and… Angeal… over for injuries,” she ordered then growled. “I have a few words to have with your uncle.”

Neville gulped and tugged Angeal toward the house.

“You’ll like it here,” he whispered. “I’ll show you all my favorite spots in the gardens and the greenhouses, I hope you like plants.”

“I love gardening,” Angeal assured him as they went inside.

*****

(1) Neville’s grandfather is mentioned in book 5, it isn’t clear who’s father the man is so I made him Frank’s father and named him Adair which means ‘oak tree ford’ or something like that.

(2) Angeal is a black German Sheppard, I wanted him to be a large dog but smaller than Zack who is a Great Dane mixed with another breed so his fur will be a bit long so it will spike up. And I thought German Sheppard would fit Angeal pretty well.

(3) Algie dropping Neville out the window actually happened when Neville was 8 years old but for this story it happened after he turned 10.
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