Harry whimpered as petunia dragged him down privet drive, nails digging into his wrist. It was Dudley's birthday that day and uncle didn't want him ruining the party with his 'freakishness' so they were leaving him with as per usual for these situations. Finally his aunts grip relaxed as they stopped in front of the old widows house. Ringing the door bell, quickly smoothing down her hair and clothes as the sounds of footsteps approached, petunia smiled gently as the door opened to reveal the form of .
"Hello dear," the kindly old widow greeted with a welcoming smile "i suppose you would like for me to babysit young harry again yes?"
"Well if it isn't any trouble..." Petunia simpered, not noticing her neighbours slight grimace
"No, of course not, harry will always be welcome here!" said, waving harry inside
"I'm sorry i can't stay any longer, but its my darling duddydums birthday today and i just couldn't bear to miss a moment."
"Oh yes, didn't mean to keep you, give dudley my congratulations" Arabella responded in an obvious dismissal. Giving one last thin lipped smile, petunia began to make her way back down the street.
Arabella sighed as she closed the front door.
"What a horrid woman" she grumbled, going deeper into her house in search of her 4 year old charge. She had told Albus that day, that now seemed so long ago, that nothing good would come of this and she had been right. Four years later, harry potter had sustained more injuries than children five times his age in his short lifetime, now to mention the emotional and psychological abuse. She thanked the gods everyday day the abuse hadn't yet progressed far enough to scar him irreparably. So far she only had to deal with severe bruising and the occasional fracture, not to mention malnutrition, but she had no doubt that he would be coming in with broken bones soon enough. She had never forgotten the first day that harry had come into her home. She had sat him down with a colouring book and a glass of orange juice and asked for his name and the little boy, a mere three years old at the time, had turned to her and told her his name was boy. If she had magic, she doubted all of the Dursley's would be alive today. Sadly given her lack of magic she had to resort to breeding kneazle-cat hybrids, not that she didn't adore the creatures, but she would have loved to be able to do some of the magnificent feats she had seen others perform on a daily basis. Finding harry sitting in the corner of her living room she stopped stunned. Gathered around the child, draped over his legs and shoulders, was every single one of her kneazles. Even the den mother was there and she was the most discriminating of them all. Suddenly noticing harry expression, she quietly backed out of the room, retreating to her kitchen so as not to disturb him. Sitting at the kitchen table, Arabella gave a small, regretful smile. That expression, she had never seen such a beatific, delighted grin on the child's face. The sad part was that it was more than likely because he had never received anything with the slightest semblance of love, this unconditional acceptance was probably the closest he had ever seen and it wasn't even from a human being. Arabella had longed to hold him, to soothe away both of their fears, but she knew without a doubt that if harry expressed any happiness at the thought of coming to her house the visits would stop. Hours passed like this with her only interrupting to feed harry lunch, watching as the kneazles took small nibbles from his plate. Hours filled with wistful regret.
Harry laughed delightedly as one of the kitties licked at the corner of his mouth. He saw aunt petunia kiss dudley all the time and this seemed a lot like that. This was the best day ever, he thought in childish glee, no one had yelled at him, he was fed and thanks to all of the kitties sitting around him he was very warm. He wished it would never end. There was a knock at the door and aunt petunias voice travelled through the house. Harry sat up in shock, ignoring the displeased yowls of his feline companions. He didn't want to go home where he would be pushed around and left in his tiny little room under the stairs, here he was fed, warm and loved! The kitties didn't scream at him or call him a freak, they didn't hit him and didn't make him clean the house. They loved him! Scrambling to hide under the couch, harry found that he was having trouble fitting into the small space and began to panic. If he couldn't fit under, aunt petunia was going to find him and take him back, if only he was smaller! As if in response to Harrys fear, there was an uncomfortable tingling through Harrys body and he tumbled under the couch. Just as he managed to completely conceal himself under the piece of furniture, and aunt petunia came in.
"He's been here all day playing with my cats, such a quiet boy"
"Oh yes," petunia agreed "when he isn't out destroying property and pushing around my little dudders and his friends, he's really quite shy. Don't let that fool you though, a little hellion he is, completely out of control just like his father." The pair stopped at the corner where he had played the whole day
"He was just here a second ago..." Arabella said nervously, hands fluttering at her sides
"Don't worry, he's just likes to hide to make more trouble for me. I'll have to ask vernon to have a little talk with him for me" petunia replied, rolling her eyes, not seeing her neighbours dark scowl. The pair searched the house for a good hour, calling harrys name, looking over beds and cupboards and every manner of places that could fit a small boy. By the end of this, petunia was furious and they had to call it quits.
"Don't worry yourself" petunia seethed before she stormed out of the house "the brat runs off all the time. He'll turn up sooner or later, and when he does he'll get whats coming to him"
Arabella gently closed the door behind her 'guest' and shuffled back into her house. Reaching for the cans of tuna in the cupboard above the stove, she opened them and mashed the fish together with various kibbles and treats in smooth, practiced movements, setting it on the floor in a bowl. As usual, her kneazles were already there, and leapt forward, hastily crowding around their dinner, each determined to get more than the others. Particularly ravenous, she saw, was a small black kneazle, that she frowned as she struggled to place. She could have sworn that there was only eight kneazles yet now she was counting nine. Recounting and coming to the same number, she resolved to have a check up soon. She could have sworn that the kneazle wasn't there that morning, but all of the generations upon generations of cats did tend to blur into each other after a few years. Perhaps her old age was finally getting to her? Seeing that they were done and moving into their after dinner grooming, she picked the black kneazle up and placed him on her lap, her gentle strokes, inciting the occasional purr from the semi-magical feline.
"I don't blame him you know" she said, laughing when the creatures ears perked up
"no child should ever have to live like that, i would have ran away too", lowering the creature back down to the floor, she gasped as it looked up at her with luminous green eyes.
"You kind of remind me of him actually... In fact, i think i'll call you harry" Arabella said, smiling when the newly dubbed 'harry' purred in agreement.
"Go on and play with the others then" she laughed, shooing the kneazle away. Getting up to turn on the kettle for her favourite earl grey, Arabella grinned. When harry was found she would have to introduce him to the kneazle. Harry potter and harry the kneazle, what fun the two could have together!
Harry smiled as she shooed him away playfully, joining the rest of his pride. He couldn't believe his luck. His freakishness had turned him into a cat. Now he would never have to leave. He could stay with the other kitties forever! This really was the best day ever. Little did harry know that it was this day that would set the pace for the many years to come.