Third Time's a Soul Bond?

BY : Wilde_Guess
Category: Harry Potter > Slash - Male/Male > Harry/Ron
Dragon prints: 1537
Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter franchise, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

The usual disclaimers for Harry Potter Fanfiction apply. While I will minimize direct quoting, a FEW direct quotes from the US Hardcover Editions of the Rowling books will occur under "fair use." This is also somewhat inspired by the fanfiction story "The Red Knight" by "Demon Eyes Laharl." However, since his work is still a WIP, my "ending" to his story will be different from HIS ending.

Chapter 1. "Back again, Ron?" where Ron goes back again, outs a rat, and gets a cat.

I tried to tell Azalea Harriet Potter that having Hermione Granger paroled from Azkaban was a bad idea. Rather, I succeeded, but Harriet being Harriet and the Girl Who Conquered simply ignored me and persuaded Minister Shacklebolt to release Granger to her custody. "Harri" claimed that Granger's repeated attacks on my person and family were merely "temporary and transitory insanity," and would not return.

Once she vanquished Voldemort, there were very few things that she wanted that Harri couldn't get. Unfortunately, I was one of them. It wasn't entirely her fault. It wasn't mine at all. Because of whatever evil shite the "other-Ron" had pulled in this world, and neither Harri nor Granger had the common decency to even tell me, things just couldn't work out.

Not that they would have been easy, anyway. Harri and Hermione had discovered one method of time travel, and had used it repeatedly to get to the point of defeating Voldemort for good. They didn't quite make it on the first repeat, or the second, or the third, or the fourth…

Needless to say, all of that time-looping left them both somewhat "loopy," particularly Granger. Between what they did to each other and themselves, and what they did to "their" Ron Weasley, my alter-ego appeared to have "popped a cog" even sooner than they had. In their last "spite-loop," they somehow managed to destroy his spiritual existence entirely, and they accidentally kidnapped me from my dimension to take his place. Lovely.

Because of the similarities, and more importantly the differences between this second lifetime and my first, I knew "just enough" about what was going on to be dangerous both to myself and others. Harry being "Harri" was only the tip of that iceberg. Fortunately, in my first fifty-six years of life, I had also learned to be flexible and to adapt quickly to changed or mistakenly observed circumstances.

Since Harri and Granger couldn't be bothered to tell one "Ron Weasley" from the next, I was not available to be courted. Instead, for my own safety, the Sorting Hat deliberately "mis-sorted" me into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor. The hat did it so I wouldn't be murdered in my own bed. Waking up alive each morning was actually one of my more favourite habits, so I had no quarrel with the hat sorting me away from certain death.

Somehow, I managed to help ensure victory from the Serpent House. My aiding Harri and Granger in helping Tom Marvolo Riddle shuffle off the mortal coils was actually in spite of Harri and Granger's best efforts rather than because of them. They just refused to accept that we were on the same side!

I also became enmeshed with the Greengrass family in such a way that short of total incompatibility, I was obliged to marry Daphne, Darius and Mariana Greengrass's eldest daughter. Incompatibility was the farthest possible thing from what actually happened. Daphne and I were friends before the end of first year, and dating before the start of third. We married shortly after the defeat of Voldemort in 1996.

"Enmeshed" is also too negative a word. I had neither sought nor dreamed that I would receive Darius Greengrass's sponsorship. But once we met, I treasured every minute I spent with them. Darius, Mariana, and I always got on quite well, and I treasured their company every bit as much as they enjoyed mine. Darius was truly a mentor and second father. Mariana was the mother my second lifetime otherwise denied me, since my gender made me a "failure" in the eyes of Molly Weasley. Whether I was a failure myself, or her failure, it didn't matter. That Molly Weasley blamed me, and I was the one who paid.

The timing of Daphne's and my marriage, and Granger's incarceration were part of the same incident. Harri was deep in her cups at a Ministry function celebrating Voldemort's defeat. To be blunt, Harri "put the moves' on me again and blatantly so. I was not amused in the slightest. Granger and Daphne were even less so.

Granger decided that this was my fault, as she always did, and this time started firing killing curses like they were candy. It took Professor McGonagall, Minister Shacklebolt, Remus Lupin, and me transfiguring like mad to keep Granger from killing anyone. Harri herself finally stopped the mêlée with an overpowered stunner after almost a full minute, which in a wizarding battle of that level was damned near an eternity.

It would seem that Granger was not and never would be the type of woman to "share." At the time, it seemed fortunate that Granger was only stunned and taken into custody. We were also lucky that no one else was killed or seriously injured.

Daphne was also not the kind of woman who would share. Except that where Granger went with killing curses and over the top violence, Daphne went with tears and cunning. I tried my best to sooth Daphne that night. It was not my idea to break an engagement with a woman whom I loved full stop. I definitely wouldn't do so in favour of a woman whom I could "maybe eventually" love with a psychotic lesbian genius girlfriend who wished me dead. Consoling led to kissing, which led to her placing me in a body-bind with my clothing banished...

Darius was furious, but far more with Daphne than me, though he was angry enough for both of us. After I assured him that I had not wanted Harri Potter's attention at all, he calmed down towards me. When I assured him that I would still stand by Daphne and still loved her, he calmed down enough for me to reason with him.

He was displeased all over again when he discovered that Daphne had only completed her June menstrual cycle two days before the party, and had missed her July "monthly." He was more upset still that he was only finding out in mid-October. She became a "December Bride," and Molly Mariana Weasley came into the world on my birthday the following March.

Molly was the perfect birthday gift. She had her mother's colouring but the build of a Prewett girl, and my eyes. She was also wicked smart. She made different cries for being hungry, needing her nappy changed, being tired, and so on in less than a month. She took even less time than that to get on a regular schedule. She was talking in complete sentences by two, and reading by three. Like her two half-siblings from my first lifetime, she also "knew" when I was home from work or wherever.

She was also scarily precocious. Rather than learning from private tutors like her Mum and Auntie Astoria, she wanted to go to a school with other kids. At the age of four, she wrote a letter requesting an entrance exam and interview to the Dragon Pre-Prep School in Oxford, of all places. The truly scary part is that it actually got there, without violating the Statute of Secrecy. The first that Daphne and I were aware of it was when she brought the return letter agreeing to a meeting, so we could "hide the magic from the Muggle teacher."

She had very good control of her accidental magic. She was also able to come up with Muggle-worthy excuses for what happened even better than Daphne and I. So, we decided to try her out as a day student. Even with their demanding curriculum, she was in the fifth grade the last I knew.

Going back to the "party," it was the last straw for me going "back" to Croaker at the DOM. Harri (and Granger before she popped her cog) were directly appointed to the Auror Corps for their service against Voldemort, as was I. I had also been training "off the books" under Alastor Moody since my third year at Hogwarts.

However, I did not want to be stuck between two jealous women because of the attentions of a third, even if one of them was serving what was advertised as a life sentence in Azkaban. So, I transferred from DMLE to DOM and once again worked as a Battle Mage, along with Milli Bulstrode, who transferred with me and remained my partner at work.

This worked quite nicely until May of 2015, when Shacklebolt signed off on paroling Hermione Granger to Harri's custody. I objected as much as I could get away with. So did Darius, and even Algernon Croaker, the head of the Department of Mysteries and my boss; all to no avail.

However, Harri had indeed worked the "Potter Magic," along with using the Black clout and money. Shacklebolt himself couldn't be bought. However, the people around him that made his professional life liveable or not, and who basically helped him figure out what he would do or say, could be. So several cha-chings later, Granger's otter was moving around the Monopoly board of life once again.

Besides, Granger was a war hero, after all. It was Hermione Granger who stood at the shoulder of the "Girl Who Conquered" and sent "He Whose Self-Chosen Name Was Even More Stupid than What the Daily Prophet Called Him to Avoid Using That Name" off to his eternal reward. The ginger kid was just a supporting player, don't mind him. Besides, he's a pureblood, and wasn't it them who started the whole mess in the first place? Never mind that the "ginger kid" destroyed more Horcruxes than they did, or that most of the Death Eaters the "Dynamic Duo" didn't face had the misfortune to run into a guy from Devon with a nasty temper and very quick and deadly aim.

Granger would also be seeing a mind healer for the next five years or longer on a twice-weekly basis, or so they claimed. She would be in the direct custody of the greatest war hero to date, which certainly stopped her before. Since she hadn't actually injured or killed anyone, Shacklebolt concluded, justice was best served with mercy by paroling Granger to Harri's custody.

Harriet got her lover back, and she was at least somewhat happy. But the "temporary insanity" as Harri described it wasn't nearly so temporary at all. To give Harri some credit, she might actually have believed that Granger would behave and not attack me. Like the "original" Harry, she was more than willing to give many extra chances to those she loved that had hurt her. I myself had benefited from the original Harry's willingness to forgive. Providing Granger stayed well away from me and mine, I would be happy for the both of them.

Granger's "insanity" returned with a vengeance inside of a month. Said vengeance included knocking me out, kidnapping me and taking me to the Department of Mysteries, and throwing me through the same malfunctioning presence that pulled me into this barking world in the first place.

Actually, it's that world now, since I was now being squeezed down Mum's birth canal a third time, which is frankly twice more than I care for, thank you very much—especially since I actually remember the second time.

This time, once I finally came out and was cleaned up, they handed me to MUM. Not the indifferent to slightly hostile woman who birthed me in that world and sort of raised me, but MUM, who actually loved me, like well, a Mum.

In my second lifetime, that "Molly Weasley" had been so desperate for a daughter that she blamed me for being a boy instead of a girl, and didn't make that much of a secret of it. I eventually "got over it," more or less. And in fairness to that "Molly Weasley," my rose-tinted memories of my original Mum would have been tough to compete with, even if she had tried. Of course, the more "unreasonable" side of me said that if she wanted to bear a daughter that badly, then maybe should have fallen in love with a man who didn't have seven generations without female siblings in the male line.

But now, for the first time in almost twenty-five years, I was truly happy. It was the First Day of March in the year 1980, I was alive, and Mum and Dad loved me. All was right in the world, at least for right now.

Of course, I was also a newborn. I couldn't sit up on my own for months. I couldn't even hold my own head up at first. I was totally helpless. I even had to wear nappies again. Some things really are best if they are forgotten.

Still, things could have been worse. And as much as Daphne and little Molly needed me, they were just as far beyond my help if they needed it as I was beyond being able to help them. So, I cried tears of anger and pain as well as happiness. Once again, through no fault or action of my own, I had lost a family that loved me, and that I loved in return. Of course, being an infant, crying, eating, soiling my nappy, and sleeping were about all I could do.

§§§

Actually, for the first nineteen months or so, things were great! Mum loved me, Dad loved me, and all was right with the world. Unlike my first unwilling jaunt to "a" past, I was actually able to remember everything. That meant that whatever Granger had done hadn't followed me this time. So, while I knew that this lifetime would probably be different from the first two, I at least had a chance of finding the "surprises" this life had to offer before they found me.

Even better yet, my magic did follow me, and didn't insist on my having a wand before I could use it. While I didn't try to "show off," especially not at first, this did make my life even easier. Instead of waking Dad up if I woke up hungry at two in the morning, I could "zap" Mum with just enough of a stinging hex so I didn't have to make my "hungry cry" all that loud. I got fed, since Mum insisted on nursing me instead of feeding me formula, Dad got to sleep in, and everyone was happy. If I just needed a dummy or wanted a different stuffed animal, I could summon it. If I had "extra solids" in my nappy, I could just banish them and go back to sleep.

Of course, with an adult soul and mind working through a toddler brain, I wouldn't exactly be debating with Hermione any time soon, but I was doing all right. While I wasn't trying to show off, I could say enough words to be getting on with for a young toddler, and I even managed to say "mummy and da" for my "first" words. I made both of their days.

The "life vs. brain" issue would at least be less of a surprise for me in this lifetime. While I had all of my life experience, I was still funnelling this knowledge and experience through the physical body of a child. Even with my magic accelerating my brain growth and shape a LOT in my second lifetime, a lot of my actions were driven intellectually rather than biologically. This doesn't mean that I didn't act "older" than my age. Two lifetimes worth of habits aren't easy to break altogether, particularly with those habits being "good" ones.

In other cases though, particularly if I was sick, hurt, very tired, or scared, I acted almost EXACTLY as I would if I were purely my biological age. Those times embarrassed me even more than if I were actually "that age" since I couldn't shake the feeling that I actually knew better than to do whatever I did.

I had already made my mind up, though. Beyond what I "had" to do to act my age, most of which actually felt natural, I would be me. After that cold "cluster" known as my second childhood, I would not turn my nose up at an extra hug, cuddle, or kiss, since I pretty much had two childhood's worth of that to catch up with.

I also hadn't a clue how I was supposed to act at any given age. I figured that if I only did the least acting I could to get by, that I had that much less of a chance of messing up and really attracting attention. If Mum and Dad believed that I needed a Mind Healer, they would find a way to pay for one. But if "Little Ronnie" was merely a "gifted" child, they would have no complaints, and neither would I.

I also decided that I would keep using my wandless magic unless or until it went away; and if it never did, they would "get used to it." If "Little Ronnie" always did wandless magic, then that would be the way it was. Our family always had a "sense," if you will, of not bragging if the bragging could hurt the family, particularly Mum and Dad. I had also yet to meet a wizarding family that would tell their child that they were doing "too much" magic.

I would also get a second shot of "life vs. libido" to go with that, since I had no intention of being celibate for an entire lifetime. One could argue that dating girls my "biological" age would be creepy as hell because of having lived two previous lifetimes. Dating those of my "experiential" age would be creepier still, and would attract far more critical notice. I had thought about remaining celibate at times during my second childhood, particularly after finding out that "second Granger" wanted me dead, and would rather see the entire human race die off than go out on a date with me. Daphne and puberty "cured" me of that mindset.

The biggest problem I had opening up to Daphne emotionally when she made me start dating her was that I was experientially "older" than she was by a number of years larger than her father's age. I was lucky that our dating was far more her idea than mine. I also told her that I had involuntarily time-travelled as soon as I realized that I actually liked Daphne and was starting to fall in love with her, rather than waiting. I was still scared as hell when I told her, and even months later was still prepared to Obliviate her of the memory of that conversation if I suspected that the romantic part of are relationship might end.

If a person went around claiming that they were a time traveller, they would typically be branded "crazy" and locked up in St Mungo's. Worse yet, though, if anyone with power believed them, then they would at best have their minds read so thoroughly that they would likely need a stay at St Mungo's as well. If a Death Eater were to find out that I was on life number three, and had helped defeat their master twice, they would kidnap me, pull every bit of knowledge from me they possibly could, and by the time they were done I would welcome the death they would have on offer for me. So while I would eventually tell someone, and in fact would tell several someones, that wouldn't be any time soon, or anybody that I didn't trust with my life and being able to trust with a deadly secret.

§§§

The first serious threat I faced in my "new and improved repeat childhood" came in mid-November. That was when Percy brought in The Rat. The Rat is evil incarnate in ANY lifetime. And, to hell with the timeline! He was probably Obliviating me in my second lifetime, and may well have been messing with Mum's mind too. So, Peter Pettigrew had to go. I would send the git packing every bit as quickly as he had arrived.

We were in the kitchen. Mum was holding me while five-year-old Percy had tears in his eyes as he begged her and Dad to let him keep his newly found pet. I actually didn't begrudge Percy having a pet really. I just didn't want Percy keeping a pet Death Eater.

So, in my seriously cute nineteen-month-old voice I shouted, "Evil Rat Man." I pointed at The Rat, and silently forced Pettigrew back into human form. I also banished his left sleeve, so his Dark Mark was plainly visible. Wandless magic is a bear even for a grown wizard. However, with genuine terror for an inspiration, I got the job done without quite passing out.

Mum and Dad did what any Weasley family parents would do with the sudden appearance of a Death Eater on their kitchen table. Mum screamed, Dad swore, and they both stunned the ever-loving shit out of Pettigrew. Seriously, when the stunners hit him, he literally shat through the seat of his trousers! I managed to say "no kill, trial" before taking an unplanned nap from borderline magical exhaustion.

§§§

The rest of my toddler and preschool years were fairly "boring." I learned to speak as quickly as I could manage, and was "potty trained" before age two. I wasn't trying to show off. However, life is much easier if you don't go to the loo in your pants and if you can actually communicate with those around you.

I also learned my letters, numbers, and how to read before age three. Like all wizarding homes, we didn't have a telly, only the Wizarding Wireless. So, if you wanted entertainment, you had to find it on your own. With everything I needed to learn to help Harry, I had two needs that complimented each other nicely. First, I needed to read and study a lot. Second, I needed my family to find it "normal" for me to read and study a lot. So, I learned my letters and numbers, and "figured out the rest."

Percy also "taught" me how to play chess. Bill and Charlie didn't have that much time, and the Twins didn't have the patience to learn the game. Percy quickly came to regret teaching me, though. My chess game had only gotten better over the years, and I had a lot more years than Percy did. After "dumbing down" my game for a few weeks, which still left me very competitive, I worked my way up to playing at my best. And, my best was actually good enough to compete on the professional circuit. But, I wasn't exactly looking to be famous, and there wasn't quite enough money in professional chess to make up for the turmoil it would put the family through if I were to complete professionally.

I also built up my confidence in wandless magic, especially once I realized that it was never going to fade. I certainly had genuine "accidental" magic, since I was that young. However, my family gradually realized that not all of my magic was accidental, and it wasn't fading.

The Twins quickly realized that if they teased "Little Ronnie" too much, then Little Ronnie would raise his hand, and they would get a Knockback Hex or a Stinging Hex, and that my Stinging Hexes left welts. They also learned that Little Ronnie could cast a Shielding Charm, and that if Little Ronnie had to cast a Shielding Charm, the Stinging Hex would follow closely behind.

Mum discovered the Shielding Charm just as quickly, but for a different reason. If she had Ginny and me at the table at the same time, Ginny would sometimes start throwing food at me, particularly when she first started eating solid food. While I never retaliated, I also didn't care to get pelted with food, and after a while just started raising a shield when Ginny started chucking mashed peas, applesauce, or whatever.

Ginny herself would get the occasional tickling charm. Percy would occasionally get a cheering charm if I thought he was sulking too much. I was sparing with those since they actually change your mood. Sometimes he needed one though, and I had more than a few to spare.

I also tended to keep my room more neatly than most kids my age, or so I later learned. At the time though, I didn't see a problem. I was able to find things quickly, and I wasn't getting talked to by Mum for having a messy room. With the books I was starting to accumulate, I was able to find the book I was looking for more easily if my room was neat, and the books were properly shelved when I wasn't reading them.

§§§

I didn't learn until I was four and thought to ask that Pettigrew actually was tried. The full Wizengamot exonerated and freed Sirius Black. They convicted Pettigrew, and sentenced him to fourteen consecutive life terms in Azkaban plus one-hundred-fifty years. I didn't learn most of the details until a few years later.

Delores Umbridge was in charge of the Dementors when the Wizengamot summoned Sirius for trial. She had the Dementors try to kiss Sirius Black no less than a dozen times in less then four hours between when he was removed from Azkaban and when he was actually brought for trial, barely alive.

Arcturus Black, the then Head of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black was not amused in the least. When it came out that Delores Umbridge was Peter Pettigrew's aunt, he was even less than amused. The Aurors and guards caught her actually having the Dementors try kissing Sirius twice before anyone decided to do anything about it. They only acted when they did because people actually realized by then that Sirius was completely innocent!

Umbridge went to trial that afternoon, for her "unique" method of controlling Dementors. The Wizengamot had just exonerated Sirius completely. They sentenced Pettigrew to fourteen Life terms in Azkaban plus one-hundred-fifty years for his crimes. They also had Pettigrew branded with an anti-Animagus-transformation rune set without the aid of a numbing charm to minimize his chances of escaping. While they hadn't expected to hold more trials that day, the world was watching. So, they got on with it.

Umbridge was instantly branded a "hostile witness," and stuffed to the gills with Veritaserum. Even with Lucius Malfoy interfering with the questioning as much as he could possibly get away with, Umbridge implicated Obliviator Cornelius Fudge, Auror John Dawlish, and almost implicated Malfoy himself.

The Wizengamot was forced to make a "special" example of Umbridge. She was not only complicit in Sirius Black's erroneous charging, but deliberately tried to murder him with the full power of the Ministry behind her. Even Lucius Malfoy stated that she had gone too far, though he was privately more upset that the Aurors caught her. The rest of the Wizengamot Members were far less forgiving. They decided that her fate needed to make the history books as an object lesson in why a Ministry functionary shouldn't overstep their bounds, and that the Wizengamot itself should take care not to abuse its authority.

The Wizengamot sentenced her to receive the Dementor's Kiss right then and there, with no appeal or delay. Then, both her now truly soulless body, and the Dementor that had kissed her, were forced through the Veil of Death.

The Wizengamot had already awarded Sirius the equivalent of twenty year's salary as an Auror tax-free for his unlawful incarceration without trial. They also awarded him a pension of one hundred percent of his gross salary as an Auror, again tax-free. They set his pension to increase every time the Aurors themselves got a raise. He was also awarded lifetime payment of all medical and dental healing anywhere in the world where Sirius or his guardian (for the first six months or so he did need one) decided that care should be provided. They immediately raised Sirius's immediate compensation up to fifty-years' salary, plus all of Umbridge's assets and vaults.

The Wizengamot convicted John Dawlish of knowingly helping Umbridge both in framing Sirius, and trying to have him kissed repeatedly. He lost all of his assets to Sirius and got the veil, after they publicly stripped him naked in open court for "betraying his badge and uniform." They also tossed his clothing and wand through the veil, though this was more symbolic, since wands and clothing passed through the veil unharmed unless worn by or carried by someone who was not dead. The Fiendfyre chamber got the job done that evening.

Fudge got off comparatively light, since he didn't have anything to do with the Dementors. But since he was complicit in the unlawful incarceration, they fined him one hundred thousand galleons, and they sentenced him to five years in Azkaban. The Ministry also gave him a lifetime ban from any employment with the Ministry, and a ten-year bar from being allowed to carry a wand after his release from prison.

What the general public did not know was that after Sirius got of Saint Mungo's long-term ward eighteen months later; he had a falling out with Dumbledore. Dumbledore had a restraining order placed on Sirius keeping him away from Harry Potter until our first year at Hogwarts.

But I'm getting just a bit ahead of myself. I didn't ask before then because I was trying to be a prodigy without being that much of a prodigy, if you can follow. I was also growing up.

I asked about what happened when I did because Percy was finally going to get a pet. It took Percy three years and a month after The Rat was exposed before he finally worked up the courage to ask for another pet. Despite having a younger brother who was friendly with him, he wanted a companion animal, and one that was only an animal.

"Mummy, I'm happy that Percy is getting a kitty. But why are we getting it today?"

"Ronnie, Percy thought he found a pet a few years ago. But something happened to it. He's only now willing to have a pet again."

"You mean the Evil Rat Man? Did he get his trial?"

Mum answered honestly, simplifying things for a very precocious four-year-old. She silently prayed to Merlin that I would forget. Fat chance of that happening, but anyway…

"Yes, he got his trial. An innocent man was also freed."

"Good, Mummy. Can we go get Percy's kitty now? Percy doesn't smile enough."

Mum choked back a sob, and nodded. Since this was a Saturday, Dad had the day off, and was carrying Ginny. Bill and Charlie were both at Hogwarts, and wouldn't come home for Christmas Break until the following Saturday evening, the 16th. Mum had frog-marched the Twins to the Lovegoods to be baby-sat not half an hour earlier.

Percy was eight now, and more than old enough to use the Floo by himself. He would have been happy to tell you that himself had you been there, too. Mum went through first carrying me, then Percy came through, and Dad brought up the rear with Ginny. We walked out of the Leaky Cauldron, and into Diagon Alley. We were off to the Magical Menagerie in search of an inexpensive Kneazle for Percy.

What Mum and Dad had kept from the rest of us Weasley kids, or at least the Twins, Ginny, and me; was that Percy had developed a phobia against rats. He also wasn't too comfortable around any other animals. The healers told Mum and Dad that they needed to get a companion animal such as a Kneazle or cat to help Percy get over his problems.

This Saturday ended up not being a good day for that, though. We walked into the store, and Percy froze in abject terror next to the large cage full of magical rats. Mum set me down on the floor next to the row of Kneazle and Crup cages. She told me not to move while she went to Percy's aid.

I herd a faint and desperate "mew" from under the rack of cages. I looked under the cages. There, I saw a very small grey kitten. His eyes were open, but he was only two weeks old at the most, and certainly shouldn't have been under the cages instead of with his mother. I said, "Hurt kitty under the cages," reached in, and gently scooped the kitten up.

As soon as I touched the kitten, I felt a jolt to my magic. Not really being a four-year-old, and being no stranger to a familiar bond forming, I gently scooped the kitten up and held him to my chest. He was cold when I picked him up. But he warmed back up before I even finished cuddling him to my chest. He also became livelier, though he was in no hurry to leave my hands even if he were able to.

The guy running the shop turned from one troublesome Weasley boy to the other. He said, "Young man, the kitten is dieing. His mother has rejected him now three times. He hasn't nursed well or at all in the last day. Please hand him to me so I can stop his suffering."

Even if I had really been four, I knew what the shopkeeper meant by that! I stood up and said "No! The kitty is only sick, he is NOT dieing. Percy can nurse the kitty…"

"I can't!" Percy sobbed in a whisper.

"Ok," I said. "I can nurse the kitty back to health! I can be responsible too, right Daddy?"

Dad was not happy being cornered like that. He was much more concerned about having to spend money on a kitten that probably wouldn't last the day, much less the week. He was even more worried about having to console a heart-broken four-year-old when "the inevitable" happened.

He crouched down with Ginny still on his hip watching quietly. He spun me gently by the shoulder to face him.

He asked me, "Are you sure about this, Ronnie? The shopkeeper knows a lot more about kitties than you do. He just doesn't want your feelings hurt when the kitty dies."

"I know, Daddy. But the kitty won't die if we take care of him! Even if he does, he'll die knowing that someone loved him…" I started to sob, and real tears at that.

Even being over seventy, you get stuffed in a four-year-old body. You'll start crying over anything, really. Imagining how this poor animal would have otherwise spent his last hours on earth was truly beyond sad. And, I could feel for certain that this helpless kitten understood exactly what we were all saying. At least he seemed to get the gist of it. The kitten uttered a low "mew" as if to say, "yeah!"

Dad looked me in the eye for a moment. He said, "If this is what you really want, you can try to nurse the kitten back to health. But he isn't a toy! He's a living creature, and will be totally dependant on you for weeks. Even after that, you will need to put food and water down for him. You will also need to change his litter pan so he has a place to go to the bathroom when he can't go outside. Are you sure you can handle this?"

I nodded, and whispered back "Yes, Daddy." I looked down at the kitten and told him, "I'm just a human kitten myself. But I will help you get well and grow up to be big and strong, if you'll let me. Please?" The kitten gave another loud "mew" as his answer.

The shopkeeper cleared his throat. He said, "Mr. Weasley, It's on your head, and I had nothing to do with it! I already cast the detection spell. Your son has a familiar bond with the kitten already, which I've never seen happen with human or animal so young."

He set four tiny baby bottles, a box of formula powder, and a small jar of strengthening solution on the counter.

He continued, "The kitten is on the house. So are the bottles, formula, and strengthening solution. Add one drop of the strengthening solution per bottle for the first week. If the kitten dies, bring back the dead kitten and whatever of the formula and stuff you didn't use. If the kitten lives, bring him back at three months and six months for his check-up visits and potions, which are also on the house. If the kitten makes six months, I'll give you his papers as well.

"Unlike most of my customers, you actually have your Kneazle License application in order. Better yet, the one and only mistake you made helps us out. You forgot to put little Percival's name on the application, so putting little Ronald's name on will be easy. You were also smart enough to leave the reason blank as well…"

Dad said, "The healers wanted Percival to get a purebred Kneazle kitten to bond with. I didn't want to use that reason unless there was no other way…"

Dad tailed off, and Percy continued to shiver in abject misery in Mum's arms. He would not be selecting a pet this afternoon. He might not quite be up to selecting his own supper later on.

The shopkeeper spoke again. "No worries, Mr. Weasley. It doesn't look like young Percival would be able to choose well in any case. I would recommend a private breeder and a Kneazle-cat cross for him, anyway. Arabella Figg out in Little Whinging does both pure-Kneazle and Kneazle crosses, and all of her animals are particularly docile.

"I don't like the animals that pass through my shop dieing young. If young Ronald nurses that kitten back to health, he'll have earned the formula for that, at least in my book. Your new kitten is a purebred Korat Kneazle from a show-champion line. If he were in good health and at the regular age for sale, you could not have afforded him. If the familiar bond carries the kitten through, he is one lucky cat and your son is one lucky boy."

I looked up at the shopkeeper and quietly said, "Thank you, sir, and Daddy. I'll take good care of him." The kitten gave a strong "mew" in agreement. I looked down at the kitten and asked him, "How does 'Lucky Boy' sound for a name? That way, we'll both remember today." Lucky Boy mewed and purred in agreement. So, he was named, and mine. He was also still sick, too young otherwise to adopt out, and not suitable for travelling via the Floo. I asked, "Daddy, how are going to get Lucky Boy home?"

Dad answered, "I will side-along you home with Lucky Boy, and have you sit at the kitchen table. You will sit there while I Apparate back here to get Ginny and Lucky Boy's formula. After I get Ginny back home, your Mum will Floo home with Percy." Flooing is normally easier than side-along Apparition, but with a sick Kneazle kitten is out of the question. So is leaving a four-year-old alone for the extra time needed to Floo with Ginny or leave mum with both Ginny and Percy, who was still on the verge of passing out from seeing all the magical rats.

Dad picked me up. He made sure I had a good hold of Lucky Boy. He held me to his chest, and one uncomfortable squeeze later, we were home. Dad sat me on my booster chair with my now un-happy kitten and popped back out to get Ginny from Mum. I looked down at the kitten and told him "You aren't big enough yet to go through the Floo, Lucky Boy." He mewed back in understanding.

Dad was back in two shakes and a crack of Apparition. Mum decided to avoid Flooing with a still distraught eight-year-old. She and Percy came back just after Dad.

Percy had barely come around by the time supper was ready. Mum had Floo called Pandora, and she agreed to keep Fred and George overnight after Mum Floo'ed their pyjamas and clean underwear over. Percy looked at Lucky Boy shyly.

He asked me, "May I pet him, Ronnie?"

I looked at Lucky Boy. The Kneazle gave me a confused "mew."

I answered, "You may, Percy. But just a little. He's tired and hungry, and wants to bond further with me before he gets friendly with the rest of us. He's not well either since his Mummy quit feeding him."

Percy petted him gently a few times before he went upstairs to wash his hands for supper.

Mum handed me the first of what would be many bottles of formula Lucky Boy would go through before he was big enough to get by on solid food alone. She also handed me an old flannel.

She said, "After you feed him, you'll have to gently rub his belly towards his tail to encourage him to 'go potty.' His mum would do that for him if he was still with her.

Mum ended up feeding me, while I fed Lucky Boy. He put away a second bottle of formula before he and I went to bed that night.

Percy still wasn't quite himself the next morning. But, he was close enough to be getting on with. Mum retrieved the Twins from Pandora, and made absolutely certain that they knew not to mess with either the kitten or me. Fred and George were never truly mean or cruel, though they could be unrelenting enough in their practical humour to get the same results without meaning to. So, Mum took no chances. Neither did they once they realized how fragile the kitten was at first, come to that.

Lucky Boy was now a member of the family. Percy would go another seven years before he got a companion animal of his own. That would be a post owl, and he would be more interested in the content of the return letters than the company of the owl itself, though he was kind and attentive to it.

§§§

So, Percy's "early Christmas kitten" became my "early Christmas kitten." I gently carried him everywhere for the first six weeks. This was just as much necessity as it was loving to carry him, since it was my magic that was helping him get well and grow. After that, he stayed by my side almost like a shadow until he was six months old. Even after that, he was always good company. He was also very smart. He learned how to use the loo without making a mess instead of a litter pan from watching us use it. He also knew what "fixed" meant.

Mum, not knowing better, suggested we get Lucky Boy fixed before he started marking his territory throughout the house. I did know better, and didn't want my familiar's family jewels removed, thus possibly threatening the usability of my family jewels once I hit puberty again.

"But won't that hurt me, since he's my familiar and not a pet?" I asked.

Mum paled, and answered, "I forgot about that. Just make sure that he doesn't pee all over inside the house."

I replied, "I'm sure Lucky Boy will behave, Mummy. He's also scared, and I don't think we'll see him for the rest of the day."

Sure enough, we didn't, though I could feel him looking at me from on top of the china hutch beneath a self-cast disillusionment charm. He stayed hidden on top of the china hutch until well after Mum and Dad went to sleep that night. He woke me up at half midnight by meowing directly in my ear and slapping my face repeatedly with his tail.

I quietly reassured him that no magical animal healer would do that to him, and we couldn't take him to a Muggle one at all. He forgave me, particularly since it wasn't my idea in the first place. But, I still had to give him half a kipper along with the rest of his late supper after I carried him down to the kitchen to feed him to get back in his good graces. He also refused to be in the same room alone with Mum for almost a month.

That Kneazle was so smart that every Weasley except me cast the Animagus revealing charm on him at least once. But, he was just a very smart, very magical Kneazle. We were all just slightly paranoid as well. Magical rats and ordinary ones don't really look different from each other. "Scabbers'" long life just didn't register with any of us. There are wild magical rats, after all. Pettigrew behaved exactly like one would have done, under the circumstances.

§§§

The other "present" I got for Christmas was actually one of Ginny's gifts. She got her first "Harry Potter" book. And, it was Harry Potter, not Harriet. The Boy Who Lived was actually a boy! Sadly though, as well I knew, there were no castles, servants, or adventures in Harry's life beyond surviving the decidedly un-posh life he led in western Surrey.

Of course, I thought about him living with his Aunt and Uncle. While they didn't torture him, they did abuse him. His bedroom was a boot cupboard infested with spiders, he was deliberately dressed in clothes that didn't fit, and while not outright starved, was never allowed to eat his fill, all while helping cook the food his relatives ate, and all this while the relatives could well afford to treat Harry decently.

Vernon and Petunia Dursley also rewarded Dudley for bullying Harry and keeping him from making any friends at primary school. So long as no incriminating marks were visible while Harry was dressed in Dudley's cast off clothing that Harry was obliged to wear, it was more or less "open season." The school never quite realized what was going on with Harry and his relatives, though Merlin only knows why.

The Dursleys did lead the school into thinking that Harry's parents were not exactly "high-class," which might explain some of it. And, Harry knew better than to complain. He got at least one square meal per day between September and June, and was usually in a different class from Dudley. While the few teachers that cared had an inkling that Harry could do much better than his homework and test scores suggested, Harry was also clever enough to hide just how poor his eyesight was even while wearing glasses, which the school assumed came from an optometrist instead of the charity bin at the local church.

The Dursleys begrudged every cent Harry's presence cost them, and made sure he was aware of this. They also made out quite well financially. While they let Harry know in no uncertain terms how "expensive" he was for them, they also applied for, and got every last pence the Muggle Government had on offer for fostering a child. The Muggles were actually paying a well-off corporate Managing Director the princely sum of £20,800 per year to sustain yet abuse their nephew.

The worst parts about that were that provided you could keep Harry safe from his idiot relatives, the blood wards their and his presence together powered actually were keeping him safe from the Death Eaters and Death Eater sympathizers. In my first lifetime, Harry and I later learned that there were at least three known attacks against number 4 Privet Drive before Harry started Hogwarts. The wards fended off every attack without any of the occupants being any the wiser.

I could also think of nothing to make his situation any better until we both started Hogwarts in the fall of 1991. The Dursleys were convinced that they could "stamp the magic" out of Harry, and were trying their best to do just that. If I tried to send anything material via the Muggle Post, the Dursleys would either destroy it, or given to their "ickle Diddums." Trying to insert myself directly into Harry's life would have ended poorly at best. So, I could do nothing for Harry directly.

But what I could do in the mean time was the same thing I did during the second go-around. I could train, train, study, and train some more. Between wandless magic, physical fitness, getting even better at studying and schoolwork, and so on; I could actually be the friend I should have been the first time around, and the friend I wasn't allowed to be the second.

I would also save Luna Lovegood's mum again. It would be the right thing to do. Provided Pandora Lovegood didn't go too far with the gifts afterwards, and with Mum actually loving me this time around, things should work out fine. So I hoped, anyway. Besides, other than my siblings, Luna was the only magical child around close to my (physical) age. Without the desperate edge from bullying and bereavement she had in my first lifetime, she was genuinely fun to be around.

So, as time meandered (again for me) through the late summer and early fall of 1985, I trained, studied, and trained some more. I played with my siblings, familiar, and our near-neighbour Luna. I enjoyed life and childhood, but this enjoyment was tempered by the fact that I couldn't share that enjoyment with the one whom I most desired to share it with, and who needed that enjoyment far more dearly than I.

So long as I didn't waste any though, time was on my side. Providing I hadn't landed in some truly messed up timeline where Pandora Lovegood would die much sooner, I had four entire years, plus several months of "tailings" of 1985 and 1990 in which to get ready, not just to save Pandora, but to lower the finial bill for Harry finally "putting paid" to Tom Marvolo Riddle.



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