Harry stumbles out of the club, the cool night air stinging his hot cheeks.
He’s not drunk, but he’s off kilter having just rushed through the dance floor in pursuit of a flash of white-blond hair. The pounding music still thumps in his chest from the entrance, and he looks around for the object of his pursuit.
This is also why he notices a man lift off his place leaning against a wall down the street, glancing around a bit, but not noticing Harry watching as Harry has a notice-me-not cast on himself.
He walks quietly down the street into an alley, and a flash of metal catches Harry’s attention. He runs after, cancelling the spell keeping him hidden.
But when he turns into the alley himself, he’s shocked to find the man blinking dumbly at a cat sitting on the top of a fence at the end of the alley.
Harry takes the knife from his hand, Vanishing it just before the man turns to face him.
“Excuse me sir, are you attempting to mug that cat?” Harry asks blandly.
“Er, no.” The man frowns, looking back to the end of the alley in confusion.
Harry rolls his eyes, shoving the man against the wall as he’s preoccupied and patting down his pockets. Sure enough, a variety of mobiles, wallets and various jewelry are hidden in his coat.
“Alright, you’re coming with me.” Harry says, pulling his magical handcuffs out of a pocket.
“You a cop?” The man asks suddenly.
“Close enough.” Harry shrugs.
He honestly just never took the cuffs out of this jacket after he’d quit his auror position. He’d sort of forgotten they were in there to begin with, as the pockets are magically expanded.
Harry brings the would-be mugger down to the nearest station, removing the magical cuffs before anyone sees them and giving the man a rough shove inside.
“This man tried to mug me. You’ll find his pockets are full of stolen items.” Harry tells them.
“Oh.” The on duty officer says. Harry rolls his eyes.
“Sir, we’ll need a statement-”
“Fine.” Harry scribbles down his name as well as a brief description of where and when he’d encountered the man. He left out the fact that the man seemed to be mugging a cat.
“Are you a veteran?” The officer asked, handcuffing the man with regular muggle cuffs. “Usually people don’t haul their muggers downtown to turn them in.”
“Sort of. And I was in law enforcement after. Have a good night.” Harry says, sliding the page across the desk to the man.
He doesn’t pay attention to what the man says after that.
He’s still bewildered by what had led him out of the club to begin with.
The flash of pale hair leaving replayed in his mind, and he found himself back to the alley where the mugger had gone.
Strangely, the cat was still there, sitting on the fence, blinking at him curiously.
It had probably been half an hour since Harry had left, so it’s not shocking that the cat hadn’t gone, but it was odd.
The cat was delicate, slim and sleek, with white fur and large grey eyes.
“You look familiar.” Harry frowns, stepping closer. The cat kept staring at him, and Harry moved so slowly that he was nearly standing still.
Close up, he could see a smudge of black on the cat’s left front leg and a faint pink scar running across its chest.
Suddenly, the sight of the odd cat and the memory of the flash of hair collided in Harry’s mind, and he had to wonder.
He reached out slowly, gently picking the cat up. It yelped in surprise, but didn’t quite fight back, so Harry held it in front of his own face, staring deeper into its grey eyes.
“Malfoy?” He asked.
He felt ridiculous immediately. A random cat and he suddenly thinks it’s Malfoy’s animagus form. He doesn’t even think Malfoy is an animagus. But now he’s talking to it, and he knows he’ll never forgive himself if he doesn’t find out.
So Harry brings the odd cat home, setting it - him, he supposes - on a table and staring at him suspiciously.
It’s… it’s not that late yet, so Harry chances a call to Hermione.
“Harry, this is really not a good time.” Hermione says apologetically. Honestly, Harry can’t remember the last time it had been a good time.
“I’m sorry, ‘Mione, just have a quick question.”
“Alright, what is it?”
There’s a baby and a toddler screaming in the background, and Ron’s voice speaking soothingly but not quieting either child.
“You had a case a week ago about an animagus, right? Do you remember seeing Malfoy’s name on the registry?”
“Draco Malfoy? No, I would’ve remembered seeing it. Why?”
“Oh, no reason. Just curious.” Harry assures her. He knows he wouldn’t get away with it normally, but Hermione is tired and stressed enough to not ask.
“Okay. Well, I’ve got to go, Harry, I’m sorry. We miss you, though. Come visit soon.”
“I will.” Harry promises her. “Bye, tell Ron I said hi.”
Harry hangs up, lowering his head to be level with the cat.
“That’s very Malfoy of you, to be unregistered. So don’t think that this proves anything.” He tells the cat, which just blinks back at him.
Harry takes out his mobile.
“Fortunately, I have his number.” Harry says confidently, dialing it. As soon as it’s ringing, he realises he has no reason to be calling this late on a Friday, so he decides that if Malfoy answers, he’ll just hang up.
The cat meows, but Harry doesn’t speak cat so he doesn’t respond.
“Hello, this is Draco Malf-”
Satisfied, Harry hangs up.
“Merlin, why is he still so posh even over the phone. Well, I guess you’re off the hook. He picked up.” Harry tells the cat, patting his head. He doesn’t seem pleased at that, so Harry takes his hand back. He’s still a stray, after all.
“I suppose I could check the book shop Monday, but that’s hardly conclusive.” Harry says thoughtfully. He startles when he hears footsteps on the stairs.
“Harry, you’re home.” Neville yawns sleepily. “Thought you’d gone out tonight.”
“I did. Brought a mugger to the station and found this cat, which I still suspect is Malfoy. So I came home early.” Harry explains to his housemate, who is filling a glass of water barefooted and in pyjamas.
“Why on earth do you suspect that is Malfoy? Is he an animagus?”
“He’s not registered as one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he just didn’t want to register, you know how they don’t like him at the Ministry.” Harry says. Neville shrugs.
“I s’pose. Sort of looks similar. Pale and irritable.”
“Right, but there’s more, isn’t there? Same eye colour.” Harry points out. Neville squints at him.
“Why do you know Malfoy’s eye colour? Do you even know Ron’s?”
“I-” Harry sputtered. “It’s er, it’s blue. Right?”
“How would I know?” Neville says. He bends to look the cat in the face. “So white cat, er, grey eyes… yeah, must be him.”
“Look-” Harry sweeps up the cat, which cries indignantly as Harry plops him into his lap, holding up his chest. “Front left leg, a black smudge like the Mark, and across his chest, Sectumsempra scar.”
“I thought you said you’d slashed from his face down his chest. If Malfoy has scars from it, we’d’ve seen them on his face and neck, and this cat would have more than one.”
“Maybe some were healed better?”
“So why would there be scars on his chest if they healed the ones on his face?”
Neville makes a good point. Still, though. Odd.
“I wish I knew how to use the Homorphus Charm to test if he’d turn back.”
“Here, I know it.” Neville leaves the room for a moment and comes back with his wand, casting something softly at the cat in Harry’s arms, which mewls in complaint as the spell sort of ruffles his fur but doesn’t otherwise transform him.
“Okay… so that’s hard to explain…” Harry says.
“Well it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to be an animagus. That charm targets the animal’s memories and internal identity, reverting them to their true self, or their human self. But if an animagus has started identifying more with their animal form than human, or if they’re skilled in Occlumency, the charm doesn’t work.”
“Malfoy is an Occlumen, he was pretty good if I remember right.” Harry remembers. “So that doesn’t actually prove anything.”
“Okay. Well, I still don’t really think it’s him.”
“I thought I saw Malfoy at the club I was at earlier. That’s why I stepped out and found the mugger.”
“Did you see his face? Thought you only go to muggle clubs.”
“It was a muggle club, and no, I didn’t see his face, just his hair.”
“Well then why would you think Malfoy would be in a muggle club? Probably just some other tall blond, loads of people bleach their hair to be his colour.”
“It wasn’t bleached, it was natural. And he does work in a muggle shop, for and with muggles, so he’s clearly not as vehemently opposed to muggles as he used to be.” Harry points out.
That’s where he’d found Malfoy earlier this year and struck up a tentative friendly truce (‘friendly’ as in they stuck to insults based on appearance and habits).
“Fine then, so Draco Malfoy was spotted leaving the same gay muggle club you happened to also be at, and vanished suddenly, no trace aside from this suspiciously sentient cat that sort of shares his colouring. I don’t know, Harry.”
“Okay fine, it’s a bit far fetched that he’d be in the same club as me and then would wait around after I saw him in cat form and willingly come along with me. And I also called his mobile just now and he picked up, so I don’t know how he could’ve done that if he was this cat.” Harry puts the cat back on the table.
“Glad to hear you’re being reasonable now. You should get some sleep.”
“I don’t know if he’s hungry.” Harry says. “Does an animagus eat in this form?”
“I haven’t the foggiest. Ask Ron, he accidentally had a pet animagus once.”
“Already called them earlier, they’re wrestling the kids into bed.”
“Well, then just give him some milk or something. I assume that if it truly is Malfoy, he could shift back and get himself something to eat while you sleep if he’s hungry.”
With that in mind, Neville opens the refrigerator and scans his eyes over everything inside.
“Are you trying to memorise it so you can tell if anything’s gone in the morning?” Harry guesses.
“Doesn’t hurt. I don’t really think that’s Malfoy as he’s being far too polite with you right now and didn’t even try to scratch you earlier when you picked him up. I can’t imagine that Malfoy would make a cuddly cat.”
“I wasn’t cuddling him!” Harry protests.
“So if that is Malfoy, you think he’s just alright with you manhandling him and showing off his chest scar? You’ve told me yourself that human Malfoy is still dodgy about the Mark.”
“That’s a good point.” Harry says. “Then again, maybe cat Malfoy would just so you would say that and I would be thrown off the trail.”
“I think you’re reading into this too much, mate. I’m off to bed, if any of my things are destroyed by that cat, he’s going to be an outdoor cat. And if there’s food missing in the morning, you’d better have him buy us groceries.” Neville warns.
“That’s fair enough.” Harry turns to the cat again. “Don’t mess with any of our stuff or I’m kicking you out.”
The cat meows again but not with any kind of tone that makes it seem like he’s understood. Harry sighs again.
“You are a dumb cat.” Harry tells him.
The cat doesn’t react, just blinks back at Harry.
“Now I know it’s not Malfoy. He would never let you call him dumb.”
Harry has to agree with that.
Harry examines the cat again.
“I’ll go to a pet store tomorrow and pick up something you can eat. If you are Malfoy, just grab something from the fridge if you’re hungry.” Harry instructs him seriously. The cat doesn’t respond, likely due to being a cat. Harry sighs.
He eventually offers the cat some bits of Neville’s tea biscuits, breaking one apart and feeding him by hand. The cat eats the whole thing quite fast, but Harry isn’t confident that cats can even eat that sort of thing without being sick, so he doesn’t offer him a second.
Harry brings him upstairs, leaving him on the floor while he attends to his own toilette before bed.
“Well, I certainly hope you’re a friendly cat and don’t try to attack me in my sleep.” Harry says with a yawn, getting into bed. The cat meows.
He elected to sleep on top of the cushioned window seat in Harry’s room, and is still curled up there peacefully when Harry woke the next morning.
After his morning yawn and stretch, Harry rolls over to see if his new pet is up.
“Good morning.” Harry greeted him automatically. “I suppose you need a name.”
The cat blinks awake, lifting his head to gaze out the window. A bee hovered above the flower box, and the cat’s face followed it as it flew around.
“I’m gonna call you Draco.” Harry says. “Does the job.”
Draco doesn’t react, but meows unhappily when Harry picks him up.
“Can you stay on my shoulder? That would be much easier.” He says, lifting the cat to lay behind his neck like an expensive fur collar.
Harry had really bulked up as an auror, and his shoulders are broad and heavily muscled still. Honestly, it should be plenty of space for a dainty little cat to lay.
Draco meowed near his ear.
“Good, stay put now, wouldn’t want you falling.” Harry tells him, shoving his feet into the fluffy pink slippers Ginny had given him as a joke a few years ago.
“I have no idea what to feed you. S’pose I’ll have to buy food from a pet shop? Merlin, I sort of have a pet now.” Harry realises. “Do you need shots?”
The cat meowed indignantly, and Harry laughed.
“Okay Draco, no shots until I see you and Malfoy in the same room. Wouldn’t want to accidentally poison him. Or you, I guess. Getting you sterilised is also out, don’t worry. You may keep your bollocks so long as you behave and don’t get freaky with any pretty lady cats. I’d hate to find out what sort of horrors animagus-animal hybrids make.”
Another angry meow from Harry’s shoulder makes him laugh.
Harry’s mobile is buzzing as they enter the kitchen. Neville’s gone already, but the ID says it’s Hermione calling.
“Hey ‘Mione, everything alright?”
“Perfectly. I just wanted to see how you were doing, you sounded off last night when you called. I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk, really.”
“That’s alright. I know you two have your hands full. I’m doing well, I’ve adopted a cat.”
“Oh. That’s a bit of a surprise. Is that why you were asking if Malfoy’s an animagus?”
“Yeah, he just sort of acts like Malfoy sometimes, I’ve named the cat Draco in honor.”
“Well, it’s funny you should bring up Malfoy at all. Have you read the papers?”
“No, what happened?” Harry asks, on edge immediately. He’s rarely been asked that question when something hasn’t gone horribly wrong.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine, but the Manor was raided a couple nights ago. He still lives there, but he was gone when the aurors got there. They found… well, a lot of Dark Artifacts.”
“Right, but those were his father’s. We heard him talk about them in school, remember?” Harry says, looking to his cat as if in confirmation. “He works in a muggle bookshop now, he hardly uses magic. I haven’t even seen him carry a wand.”
“Exactly how much time do you spend with him that you know that?” Hermione asks in surprise.
“I don’t! I mean, not that much. I just see him fairly regularly and stuff comes up sometimes.” Harry protests, although there’s no way Draco would’ve heard what Hermione said even if he is Malfoy.
“Right. Well, if word about the Ministry’s to be trusted, he hasn’t been back to the Manor since and hasn’t been to work in a couple of days either, there’s a watch on the shop. So there’s a search out for him and the papers say to owl if anyone spots him.”
Harry looks at Draco again, frowning.
“That’s a good reason to take on an animagus form.”
“Right, but how would he know he’d need to? It was a surprise visit, he wouldn’t have been able to prepare, an animagus potion takes months to brew.”
“He could’ve already been one, my dad did it at 15.” Harry points out. “And Malfoy’s good at potions. He got really skilled in unusual magic Seventh year, remember?”
“I honestly don’t think it’s very likely that your cat is Malfoy’s animagus form, Harry. You just happened upon each other, what are the odds of the cat you brought home secretly being a wizard in hiding?”
“Alright, Hermione. Let me know if you get any more news. I was already planning to check the bookstore myself.”
“I’ll keep you updated, Harry. Take care.” Hermione says, and hangs up.
Harry summons the paper from the front porch, huffing when he reads the front page. ‘ Death Eater Flees Manor after Aurors Find Dark Artifacts: Draco Malfoy, heir to Malfoy estate, went missing from his Wiltshire home Wednesday and is wanted for possession of highly illegal items. ’
The moving photograph below the headline is one of Malfoy from his trial, which Harry assumes is just to really hammer home what a dangerous and scary Dark Wizard Malfoy is, but in the picture, Malfoy only looks frightened and thin.
“Draco, come see this.” He tells the cat, who is sitting on his kitchen counter. “And don’t sit on my kitchen counter, who knows how clean your arse is.” He complains.
The cat doesn’t respond in any way for another moment, but hops down when Harry spreads the article over the table. He looks over it for a moment, then curls up on top of it. Harry pats his head.
“I get why you’d want to just be a cat until this blows over. I’m sure they’ll check for your magical signature at your house and prove you didn’t have anything to do with those things.” He assures the cat, who purrs lightly for a moment.
Harry makes himself some breakfast, then dresses to go to a pet shop to determine what a perhaps secretly human cat would eat.