K+ – General, Humour – HP, SS – Complete
Summary: Silly little response to Challenge #17 in the Potions and Snitches Fic Fest. During OotP, Harry comes across an injured kitten. Its owner isn't too happy about this.
Disclaimer: HP is JKR's.
A/N: "Bother," said Pooh, as he was AKed by Voldemort.
'Abandoned' by his friends (Hermione had prefect duty and Ron was at Quidditch practice), Harry decided that studying by himself was no fun and shrugged his cloak over his shoulders. Dodging an energetic pillow fight that had spilled out into the hall (the twins' fault, no doubt), he wandered outside, hands in his pockets, and headed for the lake. Someone was shouting excitedly on the Quidditch pitch and Harry smiled wistfully, wishing he still had his broom, and headed in the opposite direction, slouching along the lake edge with his hands in his pockets.
He came across the giant squid, which had come up into the shallows and was poking curiously at something on the shore with one thick tentacle. With nothing better to do, he went to investigate, but as he neared the bank the squid was studying he heard a strangled, pathetic cry rise up from under the tentacle. Three quick steps brought him to the bank, and he gently but firmly pushed the tentacle out of the way. The squid eyed him with indolent pique, but didn't fight him, letting him search the grass unimpeded to find a little kitten half buried in the earth. It looked like the animal had been exploring a rabbit hole that had collapsed on it. The kitten looked up at him with big, woeful eyes and mewed plaintively; the squid jabbed him in the shoulder.
"Yes, yes, all right." Batting away the tentacle, he started digging gently with his fingers, easing the dirt off the small body and unearthing the kitten. Soon he managed to get it free, and lifted it down from the bank. The lake water lapped at his trainers a moment as the squid tried to heave itself further up the shore for a closer look. The kitten purred, butting at his fingers in a friendly fashion before licking at its dirt-encrusted fur. Its little nose crinkled in distaste and it stuck its tongue out in comical horror. Laughing, Harry set it down; it tried to stand but one leg faltered and it gave a sharp cry. The squid nudged it worriedly, and stared at Harry expectantly. The kitten tried to stand again but failed.
"Hey, hold still." He put his hand on its back, keeping it down, and waved off the tentacle again. Gently parting the soft grey fur, he examined the leg, finding a long, shallow gash. The leg didn't look broken, so he pulled out his wand (almost) confidently; the kitten looked at him trustingly. "Where's Hermione when you need her?" It mewed inquiringly. "Hermione. My friend. She's a genius, she'd know what to do." He frowned at the leg. "All right, I think it's just a gash, so hold still." The kitten squirmed, trying to watch his wand. "Hey, hold still. I'm just going to heal you." The squid patted the kitten's head, and it settled down.
Harry cast the spell successfully, thinking he must remember to thank Hermione for insisting they practise, and the kitten's head went up alertly. It cautiously lifted itself to its feet, warily testing the just-healed leg. Realising it was well again, the kitten jumped around happily, pausing every now and then to butt Harry's hand or have its chin scratched. The squid waved its tentacles in apparent happiness, and slowly sank back into the black water. The kitten kept dancing.
Harry laughed a little. "Yeah, all right. Let's go find out who you belong to." He scooped it up and held it against his chest. It really was a tiny thing, as light in his hands as the snitch, but it made up for that with a gigantic purr. Walking back towards the castle, he rubbed its nose and it leant eagerly into his fingers.
"Athanasius!" called a familiar voice. The kitten abandoned Harry's fingers, ears pricking up. Harry choked. It couldn't be his kitten! The kitten sprang from his arms and bounded up to its unbelievable owner, who said, "There you are, Athanasius," with audible relief, and picked it up with surprisingly gentle hands.
Really, Harry thought in disconcertion, Athanasius? What kind of name was that? It was bigger than the cat!
Severus Snape, tiny grey kitten in his arms, scowled down at Harry. "Potter," he spat.
"That's your kitten?" Harry couldn't help asking, half wondering if he was really in the hospital wing and this was some strange, delirium-induced dream. Was Snape going to suddenly realise he was standing in sunlight and melt? (Or whatever it was happened to vampires.)
"Don't try to play innocent, Potter, you knew that." The kitten grinned obliviously at Harry over Snape's protective hand; obviously no help was coming from that quarter. "Detention for attempting to attack a teacher's pet."
"What-?" He checked himself and turned away, shoving his wand angrily in his pocket and trying not to react. He should be used to Snape's unfairness by now.
Besides, it was worth a detention to not only know that the big, bad Head of Slytherin House had a cute little kitten, but to actually see it in his arms.
The squid peeped above the lake and winked at him, and Harry tried to muffle his laughter before he got another detention. It was hard to get angry at the man when what he really wanted to do was collapse in undignified and unmanly giggles.