The Cat in the Rafters by Erin B.L.
This story is one of the winners of the Harry Potter Fan Fiction Contest. Congratulations!
“MREOW!!” the kitten yowled, “MREOW!!”
Mundungus Fletcher walked quickly through the streets of Diagon Alley, holding a bag full of ginger Persian cats. He tried to look unconcerned and casual, but his glances back and forth, quick steps and ducked head showed that he had just stolen. Inside the bag, six kittens and a mother squirmed and wiggled. Five kittens had ginger and white stripes, pug-like faces and bright blue eyes. But the sixth kitten was obviously the leader. He was larger than all of the others, but where his brothers and sisters had slightly flat features, his face looked like it had been smashed with a frying pan. There were mats in his soft long fur, and he switched his long tail from side to side as he climbed to the top of the bag.
All of sudden, the kitten and his brothers and sisters were dumped out onto the counter of Magical Menagerie. The store was stuffed with cages. It had a musty smell and it was dingy and loud with meowing cats and kittens, skittering rats and the low croaks of frogs.
“Here they are, only ten Galleons each” Mundungus said.
“Ten Galleons!” said the witch at the counter. “You're Mad!”
“They're champion bloodline kittens Ma'am, the price I'm offerin' is very cheap!”
“Well, they're very pretty,” she said. And then she held up the largest of the bunch “Except this one.”
“Yeah ma'am I don't know what to tell you about that one, it looks like 'is face has been smashed with a frying pan.” “Want 'em or not?”
“Sure, sure I'll take them,” she said. She paid ten Galleons for each. Mundugus left right when the money touched his hand.
The witch held up the largest kitten. “You remind me of that famous picture of the Prince Regent I saw, George Cruikshank drew that.” “I'm going to name you Crookshanks.”
Over the next few months many of Crookshanks' brothers and sisters were bought. Every time someone wanted to look over all the kittens when they got to Crookshanks they would grimace or point and say “What's wrong with that one?” “I'm definitely not getting that one.” When all of Crookshanks' family was gone he became very lonely and started to hang out up in the rafters of the store.
One day a man with his hood pulled up came in and asked for some rat poison. Crookshanks suspected something, he sensed evil. Without even thinking twice Crookshanks jumped from the dark rafters and landed on the man's head. The man shrieked and tried to throw Crookshanks off, the witch yelled angrily “Crookshanks, Crookshanks!! You bad cat!!!” Crookshanks scrambled down the man while fighting off the two pairs of hands. He was rapidly clawing up down and all around the man looking for something to prove that he was evil. Finally he got to the man's sleeve, he clawed it up and on the man's sleeve was a skull on top of a very large snake. The witch gasped and the wizard pulled his sleeve down and tried to run. But the witch spun on him with her wand, shouting “Petrificus Totalus!” Then, she tucked her wand into her robe, stuck her head out the window and screamed for Aurors to come. The Aurors grabbed the man and took his wand.
“Name?” the first Auror asked.
“Pius Thiknesse” the man uttered.
“Well Thiknesse looks like Azkaban for you,” said the second Auror.
What!?” said Pius. He glared at Crookshanks as the Aurors grabbed him by the arms and apparated from the shop.
“Hmpf…maybe you're a good cat after all Crookshanks, you're definitely a smart one,” the witch said. She picked him up and hugged him. Crookshanks purred with affection and tried to hug back, but it was hard without opposable thumbs.
Crookshanks always loved the witch but sometimes she could be a pain in the tail. She thought since he had been there the longest he had to stay quiet and never have some fun. She would never let him tell the other cats scary stories to make them crazy or chase the rats for dinner. Most of the time Crookshanks lurked up in the rafters. But when he sensed the evil he would jump down onto the person's head and pull down hoods and pull up sleeves looking for something to prove they were evil.
On a drizzly day, just before the Hogwarts term was set to begin, a red-haired teenage boy was wildly yelling “Scabbers!” as he ran through the streets of Diagon Alley, his eyes darting right and left along the ground. Another boy with messy hair and glasses followed him, he also looked along the ground as he ran.
The one they were chasing, the rat Scabbers, scampered into Knockturn Alley and hid behind a trash bin. Seconds later a small man with shifting eyes and a twitching nose looking very nervous joined two other men in the alley.
“I'm here” Pettigrew said nervously, “let's get down to business, that stupid kid is chasing me down.”
“Here it is,” said a lean young man with straw colored hair and freckles. “There's a cat at Magical Menagerie - whenever one of us Death Eaters goes into there that cat catches them, we need to kill that cat.”
“Not easy Crouch,” said the third man. “I've seen that cat, he's up on the beams most of the time, we can't just levitate him down.”
“Quite,” said Barty Crouch, Junior. “You'll need to get in there Amycus, when the store is crowded – but you have to get him before he sees you and makes a scene.”
Amycus Carrow, who looked rather like a frog, blew out a frustrated breath. “All right, I'll get him.”
“No,” said Pettigrew. “Ron is about to go in there to get Hermione an owl, I'll go with him, then slip away and transform back to myself and kill that cat” Pettigrew stuttered. He morphed back into a rat and scampered away.
“Scabbers, I found you!!” Ron cried.
“C'mon guys there's a magical creature shop down the street, maybe you can get something for Scabbers, he looks horrible” Hermione said as they walked down the street.
From high up in the rafters of the magical menagerie, Crookshanks heard the shop door open. Three teenagers walked in. Crookshanks thought “more Hogwarts students.” He had seen many that day, and he was tired of their comments “Look at his face!” “That's one ugly cat!” “What happened to that one!” He was about to curl up on his favorite beam when something caught his eye. The red-haired boy carried a rat that was twitching and trembling. Crookshanks fur stood up along his back – the rat – there was something about him. He was filled with evil.
“How old is he?” the witch asked as red-haired Ron handed Scabbers over.
“Dunno,” Ron said. “He's quite old, used to belong to my brother.”
“Hmm, here's some rat tonic” said the witch.
“Thanks,” said Ron.
Meanwhile, Scabbers thought “I got to find a way to get that cat, what should I do?” “Well first I could start by getting out of these sweaty hands!!!” Scabbers wriggled and clawed at Ron's hands.
“Scabbers no!” Ron yelled.
The door creaked again and Amycus walked into the store with his wand poking out of the pockets of the robe, his hand over the top of his wand. His eyes darted upward searching the rafters. “Ah! That must be him,” Amycus thought, as he stared at the huge orange cat pacing and swishing its tail. “And with that boy yelling, it's the ideal time to act.”
Amycus, sidled over, positioning himself directly under the huge cat.
The fur on Crookshanks back began to tingle. He stared at the frog-like man below. He could see the man slowly pulling his wand upward. “But that rat,” Crookshanks thought “I can't run.” Yet he backed along the beam, trying to escape the spell slowly forming on the man's lips as he pointed his wand up.
“MREOW!!!” Crookshanks jumped.
“Ow!!” Ron screeched as the huge cat landed on his head. He jumped backwards right into Amycus. Amycus stumbled backwards and his wand dropped from his fingers. Amycus stumbled to pick up his wand.
”Bloody Hell!!” said Ron.”I'm so sorry!”
“It's OK” seethed Amycus trying to be calm. Meanwhile Crookshanks was trying to claw his way back up Ron to get Scabbers. Scabbers finally escaped Ron's palms and ran off. Ron threw the cat off him and then he and Harry sprinted out the door and into the streets of Diagon alley after Scabbers. With everyone in the store staring at the commotion, Amycus moved slowly out. He would return again another day.
“Oh!!” I'm sorry!” the witch yelled and picked up Crookshanks. “I'm so sorry,” the witch told Hermione.
“It's alright,” Hermione answered. “What a handsome cat,” she cooed.
Crookshanks looked over at Midnight, a sleek black cat who had jumped on top of the cash register to get a good look. He flexed his claws and hissed. Of course, the bushy-haired girl liked Midnight--Crookshanks was overlooked again.
“That ginger is a lovely color,” Hermoine said as she stroked Crookshanks.
Crookshanks turned his head and looked up at Hermione with bulging eyes. “No one's ever called me handsome before!” he thought.
Crookshanks jumped into Hermione's arms and started purring. He wanted to protect her because he knew the rat was with her, and that rat was evil – she had complimented him – how could he let her go?
“How much do you want for him?” Hermione asked the witch.
“Well, he's been here an awfully long time, five galleons.”
Hermione stuck her hand into her beaded bag and pulled out five galleons.
“Thank you,” said the witch.
“Why are you thanking me? I should be thanking you.” Hermione said. She picked up Crookshanks. He rubbed his face on her arm as she headed for the door.
The witch called out “Goodbye Crookshanks, I'll miss you.”
Crookshanks was sad to be leaving his home, but happy too to have someone at last. But the rat, how had he let it get away? Crookshanks snuggled against Hermione. Surely at Hogwarts with this wonderful girl, he would never see anyone evil again.