Title: The Dog
Age-Range Category: Five
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Severus Snape, Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Ronald
Beta Reader(s): roseofthewest
(Highlight to View) Warning(s): None.
The first time Severus Snape saw the dog, it was inexplicably sitting on the stone wall that surrounded his property. He was about to go out and see if he could get it to come down when it leapt after a butterfly and yelped as it fell. There was something vaguely familiar about the feminine voice that informed the dog that if it continued to do stupid things it deserved the pain it caused itself.
The second time, Severus was in the shower, when he saw the dog leap into the pond in the corner of his yard, somehow getting through a locked gate and the wall. He went out to see if he needed to drag it out, when it hopped back out, looking very pleased with itself, and holding an old ball in its mouth.
Severus walked over to it, and checked the collar. The tag simply said "Ronald" and had a phone number on it. Severus pulled out the Motorola Star-Tac he'd had since 2000 (he'd bought it used at a boot sale and managed to keep it running) and dialed the number.
"Hello?" a feminine voice answered.
"Your dog, Ronald, is in my yard."
"In your yard? Where is your yard?"
"Bibury. Last house on the lane out of town."
"Darn it. I'm in London. Do you think you can hold on to him until I can get home? I live in Cirencester. He must have decided to take a walk."
"Fine. But I do hope he is house-trained. I need to do some work on a project and I can't keep chasing him out of the pond" Severus replied with a sigh. He hung up and turned around. "Very well, Ronald. I need you to behave, as I have a very delicate potion brewing."
Ronald cocked his head, raised his left ear and gave Severus a very doggy grin.
"Oh, and don't chase the cat. It is in reality a kneazle and trust me, Isolde will have your balls for cat toys if you try."
Severus was a bit startled when the dog nodded, but shook it off and went into the basement where he had his lab. He was working diligently when his phone went off. He ignored it, as he was in the middle of a very intense stirring pattern. He didn't even notice when the dog, hearing the phone, went upstairs and let himself out of the front door.
A bit later, when he had come to a place he could stop, Severus looked for the dog, but it was gone. Instead he found a text on his old phone. "Thank you. Ronald let himself out, he told me you were busy."
"How does a dog tell anyone anything? Well, never mind," Severus thought to himself. "I'm sure everything was just a fluke."
For a couple of weeks, nothing notable happened. Until very late one Friday night when Severus was awakened by a couple of rough looking boys. "Do you have a big dog? He's stuck in your cherry tree."
"I don't own a dog."
The boys turned to go help the dog. Severus heard them pull off the lane and into the park behind his house. He decided to put some clothing on and go see what exactly was going on. Dogs don't generally climb trees. At least not in very Muggle Bibury.
Severus opened his back door, only to see a very sheepish looking Ronald trying to figure a way from the limb he was standing on back to the wall. "Oh for Merlin's sake. That is the nuttiest dog I've ever seen." He called out to the boys who were trying to get the dog down, while simultaneously taking pictures with their iphones, "I have his owner's number, let me get my phone and call her."
"Hello?" a very sleepy voice answered.
"Hello? Is this Ronald's owner? He's stuck in a tree in my yard."
"What? Are you joking? No, no, of course you aren't, he's crazy enough to do that. Why is he in your yard again?"
"How would I know? This is the third time he's been here now. I need to get my ladder to get him out of the tree," he replied.
"Oh, don't bother, I'll come round the corner with my wand and take-- oh, bugger." The sleepy feminine voice trailed off.
"You are magical? Lovely. Distract those stupid want to be heroes who are busy filming and I can get the dog down with MY wand."
"I'll be right there, let me just get something on."
Severus decided he wasn't going to think about naked witches living around the corner as he headed back out.
"Hello, boys! Thank you for trying to rescue my dog. Here's some money for a pint. My neighbor and I can manage from here!" The lovely voice carried loudly over the wall.
As soon as Severus heard the truck drive off, he pulled out his wand and levitated the dog down into his yard. "You are a silly thing, aren't you? What were you doing in the tree?" Severus didn't see the dog catch Isolde's eye and wink.
"Oh, I didn't know any magicals were here in Bibury," the lovely voice started to say as Severus opened his front door. "Professor Snape!"
"Ah, Miss Granger. Why am I not surprised that you have an Irish Setter named Ronald? Did his namesake break your heart?"
Severus was utterly taken by surprise when Hermione started crying. He was more startled when the dog went over and nuzzled her, then pulled her fully into the room. He went to get some tea, to calm himself and to hopefully calm the crying woman in his parlor.
He handed her the cup of tea, which she took, and he decided it was the correct thing to do when she took a deep breath and attempted to smile at him.
He sat down in his favorite chair which was opposite the sofa she was sitting on. He looked at her, and raised an eyebrow.
"It's Mrs. Weasley, actually. Ron and I got married right after I finished my NEWTs in 1999. Two weeks later, when we returned to Britain after our honeymoon, Romilda Vane hexed him in the Atrium at the Ministry. She then threw some sort of potion or something on him. The two together seemed to keep him in this shape. She's in Azkaban, but this is my husband. After seven years of not being able to return him to a human form, the Ministry declared me a widow, and ended my marriage. But, regardless, Ronald is mine and I his, and well, other than his tendency to jump the fence to go on adventures, he's a good dog, I guess."
Ron just whined, put his head down, and covered his eyes with his front paws.
"Has anyone tried to communicate with him?" Severus asked. "If this is not an Animagus change, then he very well might just be a rather intelligent dog by now."
"I know that! That was why they declared me a widow. By the seventh year he was no longer able to answer written questions, or point to correct words. They decided he was too far gone."
"I'm very sorry, Mrs. Weasley. You are a good person to keep the dog, all things considered."
"Thank you. Harry thinks I'm martyring myself, and Molly just cries, so I rarely go see them anymore. The only person who seems to understand is Luna, to be honest," Hermione replied.
"Miss Lovegood is uncannily good at understanding," Severus answered.
Hermione looked at him, and then giggled.
"I remember those articles that the Quibbler put out wondering if Rita had such good access to the Ministry because she was having an affair with Dolores Umbridge," she said.
"She published those the day before Rita was going to publish an 'expose' on my relationship with Dumbledore," Severus answered. "The Prophet refused to publish it after that."
"You know, I believe she has a potion patented that lets an Occlumens attempt conversation with an animal," Severus replied.
"I know. But no one has managed to contact Ron. All they get are fuzzy images," Hermione said.
"Contact her tomorrow. I'm willing to try," he said. "Now, I think you both need to get home and get some sleep. Do I need to escort you?"
"No. Ron is a very good protector," she said. "And he doesn't mind Apparating."
The next day Severus was sitting in his chair reading The Quibbler with his second cup of tea when he heard a bark at his door.
He got up to open it, only to find Hermione, Luna and Ron looking at him expectantly. "I see you are all here bright and early. Well, come in. Better to get this done quickly, I imagine."
"Ah, this house is full of nargles. I adore it!" Luna stated, as she pulled a small vial out of her left shoe.
Severus nodded at Hermione, then took the vial from Luna, uncorked it and drank it down. After a brief moment of seeing--Nargles?-- Severus's vision cleared and he lowered himself to his knees, calling Ron over. He looked into the dog's eyes and suddenly, images flooded his mind.
The man known as Ronald Weasley was gone. But he was a very happy dog, proud of his ability to take care of the love of his life, because doggy Ronald adored Hermione even more than human Ronald had. He was also amazingly proud of his ability to scale walls. There was no spark of humanity left to ask if he wished to be returned to his former shape.
"I'm sorry, Hermione. Ronald Weasley the wizard is truly gone. But Ronald the dog finds you to be utter perfection, and himself to be the best wall-climber in the general area," he said. "Now, I'm uncertain of what you have been doing lately, but I find myself in need of a partner."
"A partner?" she asked.
"Those are some happy nargles," Luna said.
"I need someone to work the Arithmancy for my personalized potion line. I was going to write to you the day Ronald jumped in my pond," he replied. "Draco had recommended you."
"I think I would like that," Hermione said.
Ronald woofed softly in agreement, from his place by the fire, Isolde curled up between his paws.
Severus smiled. It had taken a while, and possibly some nargles, but he finally had found contentment.