The Grim Godfather

The Grim Godfather
Prompt 005: Pets
Summary: Good intentions lead Xander into a bit of trouble

Xander had never felt so short as he did now, wandering through the crowds of Diagon Alley.  He hadn't truly realized how small his Boy-Who-Lived frame was before he was exposed to so many people but he now fully appreciated and completely missed his former height. 

At the Dursley's it hadn't really mattered too much as it was just Vernon, Petunia, Dudley and then Marge and they didn't really count as people as far as Xander was concerned.  Now though, the crowds in Diagon Alley made him feel every inch the thirteen-year-old, rather short student wizard he now was and Xander didn't like it one bit.

Xander had arrived only yesterday at the Leaky Cauldron after the complete nightmare that had been his first ride on the Knight Bus.  Buffy drove like a blind bat out of the Hellmouth but she had *nothing* on Ernie, the obviously psychotic driver of the Knight Bus.  Xander and Padfoot had practically leapt off the bus after it screeched to a halt in front of the Leaky Cauldron, Xander dragging his trunk and Padfoot sticking close to him. 

The obviously relieved Minister of Magic had immediately greeted them.  Despite the number of times that he had read the Harry Potter books, Xander was completely surprised at how smarmy Cornelius Fudge really was.  The man was a politician through and through and Xander was currently someone he wanted to impress so Xander got the full VIP treatment and attention of Cornelius Fudge. 

Though he hadn't planned on meeting the minister this soon, Xander had already considered how he would act if he did meet Fudge face to face.  Politicians were the same no matter what dimension you were in and Xander had learned during his time as the Director of the North American Watchers Council how to suck up with the best of them.

As he shook hands with Fudge, Xander widened his eyes and looked completely impressed with the man, stuttering and looking completely flustered.  Ah, Dawn would be so proud of him!  He just hoped he had the chance to tell her how much her lessons had paid off.

All in all, the encounter went well.  Fudge was happy to let Xander get away with accidentally blowing up his Aunt and Xander was happy to tell Fudge what a great minister he was for British wizards and witches everywhere and maybe some day, Xander would grow up to be just like the wonderful Cornelius Fudge.  The young wizard wondered if he hadn't laid the praise on a little thick there at the end but Fudge certainly seemed happy and Xander was given a nice room at the Leaky Cauldron with admonishments from Tom, the proprietor, to please keep his dog quiet and that he'd send some supper up directly.  Xander made sure to ask for a lot of food, as he was really hungry and maybe some soup too.  Tom just nodded with a grin saying as how kids were always hungry.

Xander closed the door with a relieved sigh and laid his head against the wood for a moment.  He mumbled something similar to 'bloody politicians' under his breath before he finally turned back to the room to find a thin, almost emaciated man with thick, matted hair that hung down to his elbows and pale, waxy skin.  The only life showing in his pale face came from dark blue eyes in sunken sockets shining from behind his dark hair as he stared almost hungrily at Xander.

"You look like your father," he rasped as he took a hesitant step towards Xander.  The boy stared for a moment before he moved across the room and carefully hugged his weak and weary godfather. 

Xander didn't quite know *what* to feel at this moment.  He'd only been in this world for a month or so and he still had trouble keeping his memories separate.  But this man represented someone very important to the Boy-Who-Lived part of himself. 

He hadn't known many of his father's friends in Sunnydale and went out of his way to avoid those he did.  But this wasn't a friend of his Sunnydale father.  This was a friend of his wizard father, a best friend, and someone Xander knew he could trust.

"I'm glad to see you, Sirius," he said softly.  Sirius hesitated only a moment before his arms went tightly around the younger wizard.   "I know you weren't the one who betrayed my parents and we're going to get the rat who did."

"How?  How do you know?" the older man croaked as he laid his forehead in Xander's messy hair.  "How did you know Padfoot was me?"

Xander looked up at the man's pale, stark face and sighed.  "I just do, Sirius, and I can't tell you how right now."  Xander stepped a back a little and guided the man into a chair away from the door and the window.  "At the moment, you just need to rest up and eat."  He gave his bewildered godfather a grin.  "Please just trust me.  Believe it or not, I know what I'm doing."

Sirius gave a faint smile.  "You don't know how many times I heard your father say that very thing," he said softly.

A loud knock caused the man to flinch away and his eyes darted to the door. 

"It's just room service," Xander said as he gently touched his godfather's shoulder.  Sirius glanced up at him as a voice echoed in the hallway, "Room Service, Mr. Harris."

A moment later, Padfoot sat at his feet and Xander reached down to scratch behind his ears.  Then he opened the door and allowed the witch to roll in a small cart loaded with various foods.  Xander stared at it with wide eyes before he looked up at the grinning witch.

"Tom said yer a mite 'ungry so I brought up a little bit 'o everythin' we had in the kitchen, Mr Harris," she said with a wink. 

Xander just smiled.  "Thank you, ma'am, it smells wonderful!"

She beamed back at him and then motioned to a large covered bowl.  "We even found some kibble fer yer dog," she said as she glanced at the large, shaggy canine sitting just behind Xander.

Behind him, he heard Padfoot give an almost insulted whoof but Xander just smiled wider.  "Thank you very much, miss, I appreciate your thoughtfulness.  Padfoot just *loves* kibble."

"Good good," the witch said with a nod and a curtsey.  "Jus leave the cart outside yer door when yer done, Mr. Harris."  Then with another beaming smile, she left, shutting the door behind her.  Xander crossed to the door and locked it before he turned back to find Sirius hovering over the tray of food with a blissful expression on his haggard face. 

"It's been so long since I had anything decent," the older wizard said, "years, I know."

Xander wanted to tease him about the kibble but he wasn't sure Sirius was up to such things yet.  He'd only been out of Azkaban for a week at most and from the looks of him, he'd spent most of that time trying to get to Xander without much regard to his own health.

"Then you should stick with the light stuff," Xander suggested as he joined his godfather beside the cart.  He reached over and took the cover off a bowl of fragrant soup.  "That's why I asked for soup.  You've been without good food for so long, it'll take your body awhile to adjust."  He handed a soupspoon to the older man.  "Have a seat and eat *slowly*.  Otherwise you won't be able to keep much down." 

Xander picked up the warm bowl and put a piece of bread in a napkin before he guided the man to the seat he used earlier.  He handed the bowl of soup and the bread-filled napkin to Sirius.  After he made sure his godfather was settled, Xander went back to the food cart and fixed himself a plate of delicious-smelling dinner.  He was very hungry considering the events of the day and filled his plate full.  Then he moved over to sit on the bed and smiled at Sirius who was still watching him with intense dark eyes.

"Eat, Sirius, I know you're hungry," Xander said as he stuffed a piece of warm crescent roll in his mouth. 

The older wizard smiled faintly as he watched his godson.  Then he, too, began to eat.  He ate slowly as Xander had suggested and appreciated each warm bite of bread and soup, as he never had before his stint in Azkaban.  He soon found he wasn't able to finish more than half of the soup, however, before he felt very full and he set the spoon in his bowl and just watched Xander as he plowed through what seemed to be half the casserole dish on his plate.  He was busy licking his fingers when he noticed his godfather's gaze.

"What?" he asked, his mouth full of bread and Sirius genuinely laughed for the first time since he'd been sentenced to prison.  Xander just looked puzzled.  "What?" he asked again.

"Nothing, Xander," Sirius began as he absently stirred the remains of his soup.  "It's just that since I've met you, you've acted so much older than I would expect of someone your age, so...mature, I guess, although that's not a word I'd ever have associated with anyone with the last name of Harris."  The older man chuckled softly as he took a bite of his bread and he didn't see Xander freeze for a moment before he looked up again.  "You played that bastard, Fudge, like a violin though I can tell you don't much like the prat and I thought, this boy has grown up way too fast."  Xander swallowed carefully as his godfather continued, a smile growing on his wasted face.  "But then I sit here and watch you shovel that food in like any other starving thirteen-year-old and I think maybe you haven't grown up too fast after all."

Xander blinked for a moment before he studied to decimated remains of a meal on his plate.  Then he shoved another bite of bread in his mouth.  "Are you insulting my table manners?" he asked, making sure to open his mouth wide on each word and Sirius laughed softly again.
"Just like your father," he said, shaking his head gently as he stood and returned the bowl to the food cart.  He eyed the desserts that the kitchen had sent up before he decided with a regretful sigh that he probably shouldn't attempt it. 

"You'll have time to work back up to desserts, Sirius," Xander said quietly as he set his own plate back on the cart.  "I promise you that."  The man glanced down at his godson, surprised that Xander had read him so easily, but the boy just smiled at him.  "Would you like some tea or pumpkin juice before I put the cart outside the door?" 

Sirius glanced at the teapot with an almost longing gaze and Xander chuckled as he poured a cup of still-warm tea, which he handed to his godfather.  Then he picked up the small pitcher of water along with a cup and a bowl, which he set on the table beside his bed.  "I'm keeping this.  I hate not having something to drink in the middle of the night."

"I know exactly what you mean," Sirius responded as he took a long sip of tea after he doused it with milk and sugar.  He would never take his food or tea for granted again he vowed silently as he savored the taste of his drink. 

Xander looked at him for a moment before turned back to the cart.  He studied it for a moment before he reached out for the still covered bowl containing Padfoot's kibble.  He pulled off the napkin and looked at the dry dog food piled in the bowl.  The waitress must have thought Padfoot was starving.  He looked up at his godfather with a smirk.

"Sure you don't want this?" he asked, holding out the bowl.  Sirius just looked at him over the rim of the teacup and then raised a brow.

"Would you like your first up close and personal exposure to the Mauraders to be as an accomplice or as a victim?" he asked dryly.  Xander nervously covered the bowl. 

"Right.  We just need to find someplace to get rid of this then," he said quickly, glancing around the room.  "We don't want anyone to think you didn't eat your very yummy kibble."

"Just banish it," Sirius suggested as he sipped his tea.  Xander looked exasperated.

"Pads, I can't do magic outside of school," he whined.  "I've already had one warning."

The older man looked curious for a moment before he set down his teacup.  "Then give me your wand and I'll do it."

"Don't they track wand usage?"

"Of course not," Sirius said as he stood and stretched.  "They'd have to track thousands and thousands of wands and then there's wands from people traveling in England who aren't even registered with the Ministry.  Mainly, they just watch for bursts of magic in non-magical areas, trying to make sure no muggles are exposed to magic.  Though I'd guess they've been watching you in particular since you were sent to the Dursleys." 

The boy grimaced as he fetched his wand from the bedside table.  "They must not have been watching too closely," he muttered as he remembered some of Vernon's reactions to accidental magic.  They may have been Harry's memories but Xander remembered the pain just as clearly as if it had happened to him.

"Why do you say that, Xander?" Sirius asked as Harry handed over his wand.  The younger wizard just gave him a goofy grin.

"If they had been, they'd have known it was a house elf that caused the burst of magic they sent me a warning for," he said with a shrug.

"The muggles have house elves?" Sirius asked surprised. 

"No, it was Dobby.  The psycho elf who stole my mail last summer.  I'll tell you about him later."  Xander gave a half-smile.  "He's very eager and helpful.  Just hope he never tries to save your life."

Sirius eyed his godson for a moment and then just said, "Right."  Before he flicked Xander's wand to banish the kibble.  It worked quite well.  It banished the kibble, the bowl and most of Xander's sleeve.

Xander just stared at his naked arm for a moment before he looked up at his companion in surprise. 

"Humm, yes, so I guess it's been awhile since I last did any magic," Sirius said somewhat sheepishly as he handed back the wand. 

"Er, yeah, thanks," he said, his lips twitching with the effort not to smile.  "I didn't care much for this shirt anyway."

Xander turned away and grinned as he pushed the cart to the door.  He stopped to listen for a moment before he carefully opened the door.  When he verified that there was no one in the hall, he quickly pushed the cart out the door and then closed and locked it for the night.

They spent the remainder of the evening chatting.  Xander told Sirius about his first and second years at Hogwarts while staying completely away from any mention of philosopher's stones, basilisks and his time with the Dursley's.  Sirius was predictably excited about Xander being a Seeker on the House Team his first year and sympathized greatly with the pain of having Severus Snape (the greasy git) as a Potions teacher. 

They hadn't talked long, though, before Sirius was nodding off, exhausted from the day's activities and having a full stomach for the first time in years.  Xander suggested he resume his Padfoot form in case anyone should come in without warning.  That way he could sleep on the end of the bed and keep Xander's feet warm.

"And," Xander said as he snuggled down into the bed and watched as Padfoot made himself comfortable, "you need to get a good night's sleep.  We're going to Diagon Alley tomorrow and Padfoot is getting a bath."

Padfoot's large, black head jerked up from the comforter he'd burrowed into and glared at his godson. 

"Hey, don't look at me like that," Xander said with a smirk.  "You need a bath and you can't use the bathing room here."

Padfoot actually lifted his lip and then snorted before he buried his head again.  Xander just snickered again.

"Yeah, we'll see who gets a bath tomorrow, Big Guy," he said as he burrowed into his covers and snuggled into his pillow. 

The next morning, Xander spent quite a while convincing his furry godfather that, yes, he *did* need grooming badly and no, Xander wasn't going to shut up about it.  Once they went down to breakfast, however, and a few people (Tom, the waitress, the witch sitting at the next table, the wizard on the other side of the room) made remarks about the fact that Xander's dog had a definite odor, Padfoot glared and snorted resentfully but followed Xander into the alley. 

A few minutes later, they entered the Magical Menagerie and Xander inquired about getting his dog shampooed.  The shopkeeper recognized Xander at once and fell over herself to call out their primary groomer to take care of dog of the Boy-Who-Lived.  Xander just rolled his eyes and dropped to his knees beside the large dog.

"See Paddy, they'll take really good care of you," Xander said as he scratched behind Padfoot's ears.  "You'll feel a lot better after a bath."

Padfoot just glared and lifted a lip to snarl. 

"*Spirits*!" a voice cried and Xander jumped as a tall, thin man dressed in dark blue robes stepped out from a doorway behind the counter.  He marched right up to Xander and Padfoot and circled the dog with a distressed expression on his face.  "What *happened* to this poor animal?"

"Er...," Xander began.  "I found him and decided to keep him.  I...ah...think he got in a fight and then wandered around for a while until I found him."

The man leaned down and lifted Padfoot's chin, looking into his eyes then pushing his chin left and right before he checked the dog's ears and, before Xander could stop him, checked Paddy's teeth.  The dog snapped but the man just grabbed his snout and thumped his nose.  Xander thought that this was the second time he had seen Padfoot with that exact gobsmacked expression but this time he kept that comment to himself as Padfoot was now glaring fiercely at him.

"Now, now, none of that," the man stated firmly before he pulled a lead out of a pocket in his robe and wrapped it around Padfoot's neck.  He then stood up and beamed at Xander.  "I'm Tomlin McLean and the head groomer here at the Magical Menagerie.  We'll take good care of your doggie, Mr. Harris, make no mistake about that."

Xander had a sinking feeling about the whole thing but gave the man weak smile.  "Yeah, thanks.  How long do you think it'll take?"

Mr. McLean looked over an obviously steaming Padfoot with a dark expression.  "I'd give us about three hours, Mr. Harris.  We'll give him the complete treatment - shampoo, conditioner, brushing, clipping, a complete grooming - he'll look like a different dog when you come back."

That was when Padfoot tried to make a break for the door but Mr. McLean had obviously had experience with pets reluctant to avail themselves of his services and expertly maneuvered him towards the back room.

"Three hours, Mr. Harris," he said cheerfully as he dragged a howling Padfoot into the back rooms.   Xander just stood there, chewing his lower lip for a long moment before he ran for the door. 

Padfoot was going to kill him but at least the dog would smell better.

Now, three hours later, Diagon Alley was much more crowded and Xander was having a tough time getting through the mob of people.  He kept his head down for the most part as he pushed towards the Magical Menagerie, muttering under his breath about the things he would do to a certain wish demon should he ever encounter the being again.  He could understand the demon guy doing his job and sending Xander to an alternate dimension.  He had, after all, made a very stupid wish.  But there was absolutely no call to make him so short even if he was thirteen.

Xander sighed in relief as he spotted his destination and walked through the doors.  He was relieved to find were only a few other people in the store.  He immediately went to the cash register and inquired about Padfoot and the woman beamed at him.

"Oh, Mr. Harris, it shouldn't be long now.  Tomlin was just finishing up the final touches when I checked a few minutes ago.  Your little doggie looks so sweet.  I think you'll be very happy." 

Xander blinked and wondered if maybe he should just move on to the next shop.  Padfoot was definitely going to kill him.

"Er...thanks very much.  I'll just look around while I wait."

The young wizard wandered nervously around the large room, eyeing the different animals on display.  Cats, owls, rats, lizards and towards the back, a few glass cases showing off snakes. 

Xander had considered getting a snake since he came to HarryPotterLand.  He didn't know if snakes were even allowed at Hogwarts but he thought it might be wicked to have a snake familiar that twined around his neck and looked dangerous.  Maybe he could even train it to hiss at Malfoy.  

So he strolled over to stand in front of a large aquarium holding several snakes of all different colors.  Some slithered around the tank while some curled around various rocks he thought might be spelled for warmth.  A sign nearby noted what types of snakes they were but Xander had no idea if they were magical or mundane. 

He watched them for a few minutes, listening with interest to their odd conversations with each other.  Some spoke about missing the grass they used to crawl in or about the annoying fact that they were on display.  Some spoke of what they expected to have for dinner and whether they'd get live mice this time or some that were half-way dead.  Xander just squinched his nose at that comment.  All in all, these snakes seemed quite talkative and Xander began to consider seriously if he wanted to purchase one.  After all, the more babble the better to Xander's mind.

As he was considering, one particular snake slithered up to the glass wall separating it from Xander and stared up at the young wizard.  It glanced back at his companion and after a moment, seemed to continue a conversation.

*One has mentioned this before but here is a prime example.  Just look at him,* it said in a somewhat disgusted tone.  *Staring at us like some sort of paralyzed toad.  If one were out of here, one would have no trouble biting him.  Humans are such stupid creatures.*

Xander's eyebrows rose high, his expression quite offended.  He replied in parseltongue without even thinking about it.  *I am not stupid, you persnickety snake-guy, you!* he said in a heated tone.  *You're the one stuck in this case, waiting to be sold.  Who's the stupid one now, buddy?*

All the snakes in the case turned to stare at the boy, their heads rising to get a better look.  Xander just glared back at them. 

Finally, a long and slender gold snake seemed to give a dainty kind of hissy sniff.

*And now they try to speak the True Language,* she hissed, and Xander knew it was a she, there was no doubt about that.  *Humans can be so uppity, it's quite annoying.*

*Trying to slither around in the World as if they ruled it,* another snake, a thicker, shimmering green one, stated with a sigh.  *One is quite disgusted with their ambition.*

*And his accent is *quite* atrocious," came a third voice.  *One would think they would at least *try* to speak properly.*

And with that, Xander did an about face and strode away from the display.  The books never mentioned how pissy snakes were but then, Harry hadn't spoken with that many snakes had he?  Xander wondered if Harry had been as disillusioned as he had been.  And snakes seemed like such cool critters!

Well, that *would* explain Malfoy and his Slytherin groupies.

And speaking of....

"What do you mean, you're out of Athena's Superior Owl Treats?" a young voice demanded across the store.  "Those are my owl's favorite and you'd *better* find some now!"

Across the counter, Amily stammered and flushed as none other than Draco Malfoy glared up at her.

Xander had wondered exactly how he'd handle his first meeting with his arch-nemesis.  Everything from sarcastic words to outright dueling had crossed Xander's mind. He'd brushed up on the wand movements of several possible spells just to be ready.

But now the time was here for meeting the infamous Malfoy Jr. and all Xander could think was, *thank you God for making Malfoy shorter than me!*

"I'm sorry Mr. Malfoy but we don't have any Athena's Owl Treats.  We're supposed to get some this afternoon...."

"That's not good enough!" Malfoy snarled.  "I demand to see the manager, at once!"

Xander shook his head and snickered to himself.  Draco was so unreasonable.  Xander suspected it was because he had nothing better to do with his time but there was no reason for him to harass poor sales clerks. 

So, with a sigh, Xander wandered over and tapped Malfoy on the shoulder.  The boy whirled around, his expression already angry.  On spotting Xander, however, his gray eyes narrowed even more and his lips curled into a sneering smirk.  Xander was struck by how familiar Malfoy's expression was.

He'd intended to tell Draco to lay off Amily as there was nothing she could do about his stupid owl snacks.  What came out, however, was quite different.

"Malfoy, you didn't happen to have a great uncle named William who was turned into a vampire sometime in the late 1800's, did you?"

Draco had been ready with a harsh retort for just about anything Xander Harris, the bloody Brat-Who-Lived to plague decent Slytherins everywhere, could have said.  But this question blindsided him completely and his mouth hung open for almost two whole seconds before he snapped it shut.

"What the bloody hell are you talking about, Harris?" he demanded hotly as he turned to face his school rival. 

"Well, you look just like Spike, I mean William the Bloody, all ferrety and pale and git-like though no-one would dare say that to Spike on account of his fangs and his tendency to rip your face off when he hadn't had his Blood and Wheatabix with a good smoke. But I swear, you *have* be related somehow cause you have the same sneer."

Xander tried to reproduce said sneer but didn't think he'd been very good at it.  Malfoy, however, brought up the family sneer effortlessly and Xander nodded.

"Yeah, just like that."

Malfoy stared at him for a long moment.  "You spent the first part of the summer being dropped on your head, didn't you?" he asked, his eyes looking the Boy-Who-Lived up and down.  "You've obviously been rolling in the dirt somewhere given the state of those clothes, though I'd think that was your natural habitat."

Draco had spent two whole years perfecting the art of Baiting a Harris and knew exactly what hot spots his rival had and how to progressively wind the other boy up until he was ready to draw wands. (He ignored the fact that Xander held the same abilities in regards to himself as, after all, a Malfoy never allows himself to be baited).  Draco prided himself that he knew exactly how Xander Harris reacted to certain insults and how to bring the boy to the point of a frothing fit.  And to find this opportunity in the middle of a rather boring summer was quite delightful.

Draco did not, however, expect his opening salvo to be met with a raised brow and a smirk.

"We can't all be so fortunate to dress like you, now, can we, Drakes?"

Malfoy blinked for a moment before he growled, "What did you call me?"

"Where are your sheep, by the way?" Xander asked, glancing past Draco's shoulder, obviously looking for someone else.

"My sheep?"

Xander glanced back to find Malfoy's expression showing part anger and part confusion now and he cheered inwardly.  Oh yeah, keep him off balance and he'll go down quicker.

"Yeah, you know.  Thing-One and Thing-Two?  Crabbe and Goyle?  They usually lead you around, don't they?"

Draco's mouth dropped open in outrage.  "No one *leads* a Malfoy around, Harris!" he responded furiously.  "We lead and others follow!"

Xander held his hands up and tried to suppress his snicker.  "Oh right.  My mistake."  Xander covered his mouth and leaned forward. "*cough cough Voldemort kiss ass cough cough*"

Draco's face flushed hotly and his hands fisted at his sides as Xander leaned back and continued.  "Of course, I meant *follow* you around.  They usually *follow* you around."  Xander smiled.  "Like sheep."

Xander sighed happily as he heard Draco's teeth grinding.  He had an intense moment of nostalgia and briefly wished that Spike were there.

"I don't think you have any reason to talk considering you usually have the Weasel and the Mudblood hanging on your robe tails," Draco replied between his teeth.

Xander's smile didn't waver at all but for some reason, Draco almost stepped back as the other boy's expression seemed to get sharper and his brown eyes hardened into brown diamonds as he stepped into Draco's personal space.

"Malfoy," Xander said in a gentle tone that held shades of an American accent.  "You're such a racist bigot.  I understand that you blindly follow your father's words without so much as a thought of your own but one of these days, you're going to open your eyes and see that things are not so black and white, not so good and evil or even so pureblood and mudblood as you think they are.  The world is so much bigger than that and small-minded people don't survive happily here."

Xander held his rival's wide, silver eyes for a moment longer before he stepped back with a goofy grin.

"Besides, I'm really hoping your grow beyond the same old insults and taunts.  I mean really, you've been mouthing *that* one off all last year."  Xander sighed.  "How plebian."

"*Plebian*?" Malfoy snapped, purposely pushing Harris' previous words to the back of his mind until he could figure out what the hell he'd meant.  "Malfoys are never *plebian*!"

"Hey, I call 'em like I see 'em," Xander replied with a shrug.  He grinned to himself as he thought he heard Draco growling under his breath.

"What the hell are you doing here anyway, Harris?" Malfoy finally asked as he crossed his arms.  "Aren't you supposed to be off in the muggle world, somewhere, to maintain that half-blood status you're so proud of?"

"I brought my dog in to be groomed.  He needed a shampoo and I didn't want to have to do it," Xander replied, glancing towards the door where Amily had made herself scare when Xander had engaged Malfoy.

"A dog?" Malfoy smirked as he shook his head.  "You have a *dog*?  What kind of dog?  I bet it's some kind of yippy little yap dog, isn't it?"

"No, it is not," Xander said trying not to get ruffled.  He'd been doing so well in maintaining his calm.  "*My* dog is quite a smart and manly dog!" he insisted, glaring at Malfoy's skeptical, sneering expression.  "In fact, my dog might even be a *Grim*!  He's big with thick black fur and very scary.  Lots of teeth.  He's very grim-like."  The Boy-Who-Lived crossed his arms and looked smugly at Draco. 

"Right, Harris.  You have a Grim, one of the worst of the Wizarding World's omens of death.  And you brought it to the Magical Menagerie to be groomed."

"Well, he was a very dirty Grim," Xander stated firmly.

The bickering pair was interrupted when Mr. McLean proudly escorted Padfoot back into the main room.  Xander blinked once and then again, hoping against hope that his eyes were deceiving him. 

"Oh my god."

"Oh yeah, Harris.  My mistake.  That is certainly a Grim," Draco managed to sneer and snicker at the same time.

Padfoot stood beside a beaming Tomlin.  He had been shampooed, conditioned, brushed, clipped and his fur coat gleamed in the store light.  There was also a very large, very pink, velvet bow tied around his neck.  Xander shuddered even further when he realized that Padfoot's long, sharp toenails had been painted a bright shade of pink.

When Xander reluctantly met Padfoot's eyes, the dog was glaring very evilly back at him. 

"Mr. Harris, what do you think?" Tomlin asked as he walked over to Xander, Padfoot trotting by his side, an evil gleam shimmering in his deep blue eyes.  Xander restrained himself from putting Draco between him and his obviously angry godfather. 

"Um.  He looks...great, Mr. McLean," Xander stammered out as he tried to not imagine exactly what Sirius was going to do to him when they got back to the Leaky Cauldron.

"Oh, his fur was just in terrible shape.  We had to condition it quite heavily.  And, Merlin, his teeth!"  The man threw up his hands in frustration.

"His teeth?" Xander squeaked.

"They were in horrible shape!  We had to do a full cleaning."

"Oh god."

"But they look much better now," Tomlin rambled on.  "Would you like to see?"

"No!" Xander yelped as he held up his hand at the low growl beside him.  "That's quite all right."

"Well, once we'd finished his teeth, we cleaned out his ears and swabbed his paws, shampooed him thoroughly and *that* took the better part of an hour just getting his fur cleaned and detangled.  But isn't it so soft and shiny?  And then we clipped his nails."  The man glanced back at the shopkeeper with a smile.  "Amily, there, painted his nails herself."  He leaned forward and said, "She's a manicurist in her spare time so she likes to get the practice in."

"And doesn't that bow just look so *darling*?" Amily chimed in from her post at the counter.  She'd mysteriously appeared as soon as the bill was to be paid.  "We've spelled it to make sure it won't come off until you untie it, Mr. Harris.  It really looks good against that black coat of his."
Xander felt like he was going to hyperventilate.     

"We've been brushing him for the last fifteen minutes or so, making sure he was completely dried and ready to go.  I'd like to recommend you get a specific type of brush, if you don't mind," Tomlin noted confidentially.  "He's got such thick fur, he really needs to be brushed every day.  And a nutrient potion or two to help keep his teeth and bones strong.  Such a fine canine certainly deserves the best treatment."

"Of course, he does," Draco said, looking at Xander with a mocking smirk.  "I know Mr. Harris will want only the best for..." Draco's words faded as he looked at Xander with a questioning expression.  "What is his name again?"

"Padfoot," Xander squeaked again and then cleared his throat. 

"Padfoot," Draco nodded, his tone quite derisive.  "A very manly, Grim-like name.  We might want to warn the public before you take him out of the store, Harris.  Such a fierce animal might frighten people."

Xander glared at Draco for a moment before he turned to the groomer with a forced smile.  "Mr. McLean, he looks wonderful.  Really."

The man gave Xander a bright smile.  "I'll just get all these things together and Amily can settle your bill.  Oh, and don't forget the collar.  We've made up a tag just for him."

Tomlin walked off leaving Xander, Draco and Padfoot staring at each other.  Xander's eyes darted from his godfather, who had yet to do anything but glare fiendishly at his godson, to Malfoy, who was studying the black dog intently.

"I think the nail color really is quite fancy.  Pink is so in fashion these days," he finally noted, his sneer firmly in place again.

"Eep," Xander said intelligently as Padfoot started a low, rumbling growl.

"And the pink, velvet bow really sets off his fur, don't you think?" Malfoy finished with an outright snicker.

"Malfoy, this is no time for jokes.  I'm about the be the Boy-Who-Was-Mauled-To-A-Painful-Death by his justifiably homicidal dog." 

"Really?"  Draco looked hopefully at the pissed off canine.  "Can I watch?"