A/N: I seriously have no idea where this is headed. I was trying to come up with an original plot idea and well, there's nothing currently out there about the lives of animals at Hogwarts (despite, I suppose, 'It's not easy being green' by Flittermouse which you should all go read before you even think of wasting your time on this common bit of dribble because that story is GENIUS GENIUS GENIUS). So, here's my attempt at analyzing the magical lives of the cat community at Hogwartz. This is probably going to stay light and sophomoric, but bear with me if you want to. And if you have any ideas, please don't hesitate to R+R.

The Adventures of Spartan, Severus's Fire-Breathing Cat

There were times when the Christmas holidays bothered Severus Snape. Where was the logic behind the magical community celebrating the chief holiday of a religious group that persecuted them? Christianity was the core reason why wizards and witches were not welcome in the mundane world and yet every December, come what may, the students were released to wreak havoc on civilization and Albus got his much needed excuse to decorate the great hall with levitating tinsel and candy canes. Severus sipped his tea. And here /he/ was in the staff room on Christmas morning, staring at a dead pine tree and listening apathetically to the affectionate thank yous of his peers for their pointless, gaudy presents. Any other day he would still be down in the dungeon, basking in the warmth of his own bed. What point did people see in this holiday?

"It's not /what/ we're celebrating that matters, Severus." Albus stated, reminding the potions professor about his irksome talent of answering questions that had never been voiced. "The important thing is that we /do/ celebrate. It's just something in the air this time of year. Can't you feel it?"

Severus shook his head no and took another sip of tea.

Albus grinned anyway. "Come down off that couch. I have a present for you."

"For me? In the name of Circe, why?"

Albus ignored him and rummaged under the tree for his quarry. "Minerva? Have you seen that medium sized black box addressed to Severus? I know I put it down here with the others."

Minerva lifted an eyebrow. "You mean the one that is attempting to inch its way slowly out of the room?"

The staff turned towards the door. Indeed, the said package was haphazardly lurching its way across the floor, already a few feet from the entrance. Albus clucked in dismay and reached over to pick it up. "Now, now, we can't have you running off before you're opened." He handed the box to Severus, a jubilant smile on his face once more. "Merry Christmas!" Severus took the box gingerly, cautious about its apparent talent for animation, and opened it slowly. A hesitant hand reached into its depths and came up with a diminutive ball of orange fur that mewed at him indignantly for being disturbed. "A cat," he stated stiffly, wondering what he should do with it. Suddenly the ginger tabby's eyes went red and it breathed a small puff of flame that barely missed the potions master's ear. A few hairs were singed but they were thankfully too greasy to ignite. ". . .That breaths fire." The furry menace glared unapologetically at its new owner and wriggled to get down.

"Yes!" said the Headmaster, quite pleased with himself. "I found it huddled in a corner of Daigon Alley. Something about it reminded me of you so I brought it back with me!"

"I agree," Minerva said. "There's definitely something in its character akin to Severus."

The potions master glowered. "I take it then I'm not allowed to use its tail for a potions experiment?"

Minerva looked shocked. "Merlin's beard no!"

Albus pattered her on the shoulder. "Don't let Severus rile you up. That's just his way of saying thank you."

Severus snorted. The cat jumped at his leg and got stuck in his boot.

"Does it have a name, Albus?" Professor Flitwick asked, quite excited by the energetic feline. Albus replied that, no, he was going to leave that up to Severus.

Severus picked it up by the scruff of the neck and examined it closely. This time, it didn't wriggle, intent instead on examining the potions master in turn. "I suppose Demonic Hairball With Fleas is out of the question?"

"Damn straight," Minerva growled.

"Now, Minerva. . . " Albus reminded. "I'm sure Severus will come up with a perfectly satisfactory name."

It had a rough, alley cat appearance. Half of the left ear was missing and multitudes of scars were just visible under the orange fur covering its back, sides and legs. He checked for the gender between the hind legs. Ooh. . . male. /Definitely/ male. A word battled its way to the top of his thoughts and he knew the perfect name had been found. "Spartan."

Minerva's face showed her displeasure. "That's not a very complimentary name." Sprout and Sinistra agreed. "Not much better than Demonic Hairball With Fleas."

Severus shrugged. "Then his first name can be Tibalt, Prince Of Cats, but his middle name will be Spartan and that's what /I'll /call him." Spartan mewed complacently and batted his master on the nose.

"Well, if Spartan's fine with it then I guess it's settled," Albus concluded. "Who wants eggnog?"

The day's festivities continued, but Severus Snape was happily left out of them.

After breakfast, the new cat and master stalked down to the dungeons together, Spartan trailing slightly behind as he examined crevices in the walls and chased vermin of various sizes. "So the little pest reminded Albus of me? Is that supposed to be an insult?" Severus pondered aloud. "I mean, look at him! Surely my breath isn't that bad? Certainly I'm not that grubby and weather-bitten? I know people call me a greasy git, but I've never been thought of as scruffy, have I?" A realization suddenly stopped his mental tirade. "Of course, Albus could have been thinking about other analogies and other parts of the anatomy. . . " A grin, one of the rarer Snape-expressions, traveled briefly across his visage. That Dumbledore was an irrepressible scalawag at times.

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Mrs. Norris, the undisputed sovereign of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, jumped off of Filch's lap. She smelled something tantalizingly new somewhere in the school. . . . Was that the aroma of another cat? Curiosity burned. She had to investigate.

"Something amiss, my sweet?" Filch asked as he watched his cat nudge urgently at the door. "Is someone prowling about on Christmas morn who shouldn't be?"

/No, just open this door and go back to reading your magazine/.

Filch got up and turned the knob. "Just lead the way, I'll follow."

/No, stay here!/ It was futile. As Mrs. Norris sauntered down the hallway, the unintelligent human pursued her. Perhaps she could lose him. . . . She turned left, then right, then right again, picking up speed as she went, but the dimwitted human was never more than a few dozen paces behind. Another idea formed; perhaps she could outwit him. A few passages later Mrs. Norris came to a halt, sat down and pressed her nose to the wall bordering the left side of the passageway. Filch came up behind and watched intently.

"It's just a wall, my sweet."

/Exactly./

"Walls are solid. Nothing suspicious about /them./"

/Well concluded. Now go back to your office./

"But if you're sure." Filch sat himself down on the other side the hallway and waited for whatever his cat had tracked to show itself. Mrs. Norris despaired. It was going to be a long day.

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"Aaah! Crookshanks! No!" Ron squealed hysterically and tugged what was left of his minute owl from the jowls of Hermione's cat. "You ATE Pigwidgeon! Why, why, why, why?!" He broke down to fits of tears and held a few pinfeathers in his hand reverently.

"There, there," Harry soothed, leaving his potions essay unfinished so he could comfort his best friend. He knew he probably shouldn't voice what he was really thinking: /Gee, Ron, maybe you should start getting larger pets. This is your reward for figuring it would be all right to bring Pig down here to celebrate the holidays with you./

"I thought we were through this stage! I thought he only had it in for Scabbers!"

"Now, now," Harry murmured, thoroughly appalled at what he really wished he could say: /Well, apparently we were all wrong about Crookshanks. It looks like his harassment of your pets has nothing to do with them and instead spawns from an irrepressible hatred of you./

Ron could only howl like a despondent peacock.

Crookshanks, steadily growing more and more unmoved with this situation, caught a whiff of something on the wind. /What could that alluring new smell be? Another cat?/ He trotted over to the entrance of the Gryffindor common room and waited for someone to open it. Ron obliged, and then gave him a good, solid kick down the stairs.

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Severus was less than pleased to hear a frantic mewing come from outside his door. He gave Spartan an accusing look. "You're gone and drawn attention to yourself, haven't you."

Spartan didn't answer as all of his concentration was focused on the invisible feline behind the block of wood his owner used to keep the unwanted nasties of the night out in the hall. With a resigned sigh that if this kind of thing kept up he would be at the erratic mercy of his own cat, Severus turned the knob and opened the door.

"Ah, Crookshanks," he greeted as the said cat came through to sniff Spartan more closely. "Squash-faced puss and persecutor of all things smaller than yourself." He paused and looked closer at Crookshanks maw. "Have you just eaten Ron Weasley's owl?" He nodded his head approvingly, "Good cat," and tossed him a gingersnap from his private store. "Keep up the excellent work."

Crookshanks took the gingersnap without so much as a thank you and went over to Spartan.

/You're small,/ Crookshanks commented.

/How observant of you,/ Spartan replied, eyes gazing up undauntedly at the much larger feline.

/Let's make a deal. I won't kill you as long as you stay out of my part of the castle and stick to this set of rooms./

Spartan cocked his head. /Which part of the castle belongs to you?/

/Just about everything beyond this set of rooms./

/May I suggest a different deal?/ Spartan's eyes flashed crimson.

"Spartan!" Severus yelled as Crookshanks ran about frantically with his bottlebrush tale thoroughly caught on fire. "If you're going to incinerate other cats at least do it outside so I don't have to clean up the ashes!" With that he picked up both felines and disposed of them out in the hall.

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Eleven hours later Filch fell asleep. /At last,/ Mrs. Norris sighed and went off to continue her search.

A/N: I'm going to probably bring cat-McGonagall into this at some point. PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR IDEAS.