The Heart of a Ferret
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, nothing is mine. Everything belongs to JKR
Warnings: Violence, adult language, slash-y elements (HD, naturally)
Summary: Harry's life drastically changes as he is turned into a ferret and captured by Lucius Malfoy, a man who just might have an ulterior motive behind his actions. Furthermore, there is another ferret sharing Harry's cage. How does Draco Malfoy fit in, and what role will he play, as the unlikely pair fight not only with each other, but themselves and for freedom? The story of the heart of a ferret.
A/N: This story is not yet complete, but will be completed. A big thank you to my absolutely brilliant beta Keir aka iamanevilgenius! Without her magnificent advice and comments I would be very lost.
Chapter 1. Two Ferrets, One Cage
"Always sticking your nose into other's businesses, aren't you, Mr. Potter?"
Startled, Harry whirled around at the familiar drawl airing behind him. As he gazed into Lucius Malfoy's faintly amused, grey eyes, the 17-year old wizard soundlessly cursed his reckless and stupid curiosity into the deepest hell. Why did he have to go explore by himself after seeing some suspicious figures in black slipping into a lonesome alley? Why didn't he call out for Hermione and Ron, who were searching for the correct books nearby for their upcoming seventh year of school? Why didn't he think before he acted? Because now here he was, in a deserted back street in Diagon Alley, caught with his back against the rough brick wall. He had tried to peer over the wall just moments ago.
"Well, what can I say? I'm a curious boy." Harry tried to edge his hand towards his wand, tucked away in his pocket, while keeping his eyes on the Death Eater in front of him, but Lucius, with his own wand already out, was faster.
Harry's wand flew from his robes effortlessly, straight into Lucius' waiting hand. Harry cursed again. Lucius spared a cursory glance at the wand before throwing it over his shoulder, making it clatter against the ground far away from the pair. "Tut tut, Mr. Potter. I'm disappointed, really."
Harry glared at him and pursed his lips tightly together, trying to keep his nerve-gripping anxiety away. This was not good, not at all. If he could just delay Lucius for a moment, maybe his friends would notice he was gone and start searching him... "Oh, I can make up loads of things you should be disappointed of. Like... how about your son, being bested by a Muggle-born every single year at school? Being bested by a Gryffindor in Quiddich? Again, every single year."
Lucius' left eye twitched dangerously. Harry inwardly grinned, this was certainly striking the blond man's nerve. If he could just rile him up some more... "Or what about your precious lord you're oh-so-eagerly worshipping? A mere baby and an uneducated teen have outwitted him, countless of times? And let's not forget -"
"Enough!" Lucius snarled with such vigour Harry took an involuntary step backwards. "That's enough of this childish ruckus! Avery, take him!"
Harry belatedly noticed that there were others in the street. Arms grabbed him from behind, sneaking their way around his twisting torso. "Hold him still!"
Harry struggled in the suffocating hold so hard he almost didn't hear the murmured intonation. Trying to squirm away didn't help, and the brilliant shot of white light from Lucius' wand hit Harry squarely in the chest, fully enveloping his whole body. Harry yelped in fear and horror as he began to shrink uncontrollably – the ground rushed to meet him – fur sprouted everywhere as his very bones shifted and lurched underneath his moulding skin -
It was over as soon as it had begun. Harry stared at the dirty street, suddenly only an inch away from his nose, his heart beating with a painful tempo. What the ... With complete befuddlement, he twisted around to take a look at himself. He saw a long, lithe body of black, shiny fur, a flicking tail and four short legs attached to it. Harry promptly dropped down on his hindquarters from shock. He was a ... ferret? A ferret? A ferret!
Before Harry could get over his momentary stupor, rough hands seized him from the middle and he was lifted into the air. Harry let out a frightened squeak, wriggling to be released from the iron hold. If he could free himself, he would be able to scamper away and hide from the Death Eaters until he could find Hermione, who could change him back to human again... But, alas, the fates had other plans. With a rush of tingling magic, Harry felt as he was being squeezed into a narrow tunnel – and they Apparated.
Harry halted his furious squirming for a moment to lift his head a little in order to take a look at his new surroundings. They seemed to be at the edge of some kind of forest, inside a smallish area surrounded by hefty stone fences. Some sort of... court-yard, perhaps. The ground was covered with rough plates of rock and smooth pebbles. A large house, or a collection of several smaller houses, was situated at the back of the yard. A part of the court-yard was covered with a deck stretching from the roofs of the houses, supported by stone pillars.
The owner of the hands carrying Harry began to walk towards the houses, snapping Harry abruptly out of his thoughts. He returned to his robust twisting and writhing, letting out savage hisses until he finally was able to curl his long body enough to latch onto the offending hand with his tiny, yet razor-sharp teeth. There was a startled yelp, and Harry was suddenly hanging from the hand he was viciously biting into. However, before he could consider letting go and dropping to the ground, a hand grabbed the loose skin on his neck and pulled. Harry resisted for a second before relinquishing his hold, and he was left dangling in the air. "Bad ferret."
Harry hissed his fierce objections but there was nothing else he could now but to swing there as his holder - Lucius, Harry guessed - carried him. They stopped under the deck, in front of a strong-looking, wooden table with a ... cage on top of it? The cage was small, about the size of a normal desk, and a cloth had been carelessly thrown over it. Lucius lifted the blanket, and with his free hand, opened a hatch situated on the roof of the cage and promptly dropped Harry inside the metal bars and wires.
Harry bounced to his feet quickly, surveying the humble cage carefully. Some old rug covered the floor and there were some pieces of ripped paper loitering around. A small water bowl inhabited one corner, and near the bowl, a nest-like pile had been formed from cloths and torn paper. Harry threw a suspicious glance at it, and made to turn around. It was that moment he noticed he was not alone in the cage.
There was another ferret, staring at him intently from the other side of the space. It was a white one, a bit skinny but still slightly bigger that Harry's own ferret form, with stormy, grey eyes. When their gazes met, the ferret with pure white fur cocked its head and advanced on Harry. It crept closer and closer fearlessly, until its wet nose butted against Harry's cheek. Heart pounding, Harry just stood there rigidly. He was petrified. What if the ferret considered the cage its own territory and attacked him? What if -
'Potter, is that you?'
'AAAHH!' Harry yelped in his mind, while his ferret-self let out a shrill squeak, and jumped from surprise at hearing an odd voice inside his head. The white ferret winced a little.
'Merlin, tone it down a little, will you? You're making me deaf!'
Harry stared at the other ferret, wide-eyed. There was something familiar in the voice echoing inside his mind, it was a smooth, yet snobby and superior... 'I – I can hear you!'
The ferret managed a very human-like snort. 'Of course you can, you dimwit. We both are humans, after all, only transfigured to animals."
No, it couldn't be... Yet, the voice, the white fur of the ferret... Harry had already seen the ferret once, in his fourth year. 'Malfoy?'
Somehow, the white ferret succeeded in smirking. 'The one and only, Potter.'
What the hell? Harry was now officially lost. 'What... What are you doing here? Where are we? And – and how did you know it was me?'
'I'll answer the last question first, as it the easiest.' Draco the ferret nudged his head closer again. 'There is a white patch of fur between your eyes, roughly shaped like a lightning bolt. And your eyes are green. I don't think any real ferret could have that green eyes.'
'Right.' Harry would have loved to frown, but he didn't think he would be able to. 'And the other two questions?'
He thought he heard a sigh inside his mind. Draco looked around wearily. 'Well, to make a long story short, I refused to become the Dark Lord's follower and this is how I was punished. The Dark Lord wanted to kill me, but father convinced him to change me into a ferret, instead.' Draco flashed his teeth. 'How wonderful, isn't it? I'm going to live the rest of my life as a filthy animal. Well, I'm lucky ferrets have a shorter lifespan than humans. If the Dark Lord doesn't change his mind and decide to finish me off, I might have only a few years to suffer.'
Harry gaped, completely floored. All rational thoughts suddenly abandoned him. 'I – you – Voldemort – you refused Voldemort?'
Draco gave him a long look. 'No, I'm just enjoying my summer as a ferret because I like having fur all around me, four feet, and a tail. Of course I refused him, Potter. I never had any intention of following that half-blood. I am a Malfoy, Malfoys shouldn't bow to anyone.' He sneered. 'Somehow, father has managed to forget that. I show him how Malfoys should live, proud, free and independent, and how does he reward me? He goes and changes me into a ferret. Oh do stop gaping, Potter, that look doesn't look good, not even in your ferret form. I'm not a Death Eater and never will be. I'm on my own side. Now, what was your second question?'
Harry tried to collect himself. Deep breaths, there you go... He looked into the silvery eyes again. 'Fine. Do you know where we are?'
'In some kind of Death Eater hide out,' Draco told him, uninterestedly. 'I don't know the exact location. There are some Death Eaters always running about, with those ridiculous robes and masks of theirs.'
Harry hesitated. 'Does... does Voldemort come here often?'
The white ferret looked at Harry sharply. 'Not that I know. I haven't seen him here.'
'How long have you been here? As a ... ferret?'
'What day is it?'
Harry told him the date. Draco scratched his ear absent-mindedly. 'About three weeks, then. I've been here from the beginning of August.'
Harry stared at the worn rug in his feet. He clawed at it meekly, pondering about the absurdness of his current situation. Not even an hour ago, he had been merrily shopping with Ron and Hermione, and now, he was a ferret, locked in a cage in a Death Eater lair with Draco Malfoy, also a ferret, and not to mention his sudden detachment of the Dark Lord, as his company. Merlin. Just how crazy was the world?
'So.' Draco's voice broke through Harry's gloomy thoughts. 'Care to tell me why you are here? I don't remember sending you an invitation.'
Harry sent him a dour look. 'Do I look like I want to be here? Your father caught me from Diagon Alley, changed me into this and, bang! I'm suddenly locked in a cage with the prince of Slytherin.'
Draco looked incredulous. 'You're saying that Lucius Malfoy, the notorious Death Eater and villain of the wizarding population, marched into the bright and sunny Diagon Alley, straight in the middle of the shopping masses, snatched the famous Saviour and walked away, unscathed?'
'Er... ' , Harry rubbed his nose, looking anywhere else than the white ferret. 'I might have wandered off to the back streets.'
Harry now chose to play with his whiskers, batting at them with his small paws, all the while successfully avoiding Draco's gaze. 'Mmm – maybe - yeah.'
There was a small silence before Draco's disbelieving voice exclaimed loud and clear in Harry's mind.
'How stupid can one get?! I mean, I know you're a Gryffindor, so there can't be much intelligence roaming around inside your tiny head, but to stray away alone when you're the most wanted wizard by the Death Eaters?'
'Yeah, well, I thought I no-one would see me,' Harry defended himself with a scoff. 'Besides, why do you care? It's not your business what I do.'
'It is, as long as you inhabit my cage and my space,' seethed the Slytherin, emitting low hissing sounds. Harry looked at him strangely.
'Territorial much, Malfoy?'
Draco just snapped his teeth at him, clearly irritated. 'Whatever, Potter. Now, here are the rules of this cage: listen closely or you will suffer.'
Harry watched him shuffle towards the corner with piles of cloths and paper. Draco then proceeded to push some of them away from the heap and peered at Harry sharply. 'That is your cot. You can build it by yourself.'
Draco pointed with his noise towards the other corner, furthest away from the nest. "Over there is the toilet, you see the newspapers?' Draco sneered, 'Daddy dearest is gracious enough to magically clean this place once a day, so it shouldn't be a problem. He also gives out the daily food portions. You are not to bite him when he offers something to eat, or there won't be any food for us. You will, also, not mess this place up with your Gryffindor-ness ways.'
The silvery button-eyes were fixated on Harry. 'Do you understand?'
Harry just looked at him disdainfully, quite like the way Draco himself would glance at the ones who were not "lucky" enough to be born as pure-bloods, and travelled to his scattered pieces of nest. 'Yeah, yeah.'
He pushed and pulled at the cloths and papers, rearranging them carefully with the help of his mouth and paws until the pile looked pretty much the same as Draco's. It was, however, smaller, and Harry frowned. All the same, he shrugged it off, knowing that Draco might have denounced Voldemort, but he remained a git. A big one.
Harry let his ferret-self size the nest critically up and down, making small changes, until clambering on top of it and settling down comfortably. It was not the best cot he could have, but it would have to do. He didn't know how long he would have to put up with living as a ferret and a prisoner, (he tried to avoid the mental image of Nagini swallowing a small, black ferret whole), but he would make an effort to make that stay as well-to-do he possibly could. At least he wasn't shivering in some kind of damp dungeon, hanging from the ceiling. Harry shuddered.
'Are you just going to lie there? It's not even noon yet.'
Harry nearly fell of his cot from surprise, having almost, almost, forgotten the presence of the other ferret in the cage. He glared at Draco darkly. 'Well what else do you want me to do? Perform some magic tricks? No, wait, I can't. You know why? Because your father wanted to have his little son of a ferret little company, that's why.'
'Aren't you in a good mood, Potter.' Draco sounded almost... amused.
'That's what you get if I'm changed into a bloody ferret and stuck in a same cage with Draco bloody Malfoy.'
'Hey!' Draco exclaimed, snorting. 'Did I specifically ask for your company? Hell no. So stop complaining. It's bloody annoying.'
Harry suddenly grinned widely in his mind. 'Really now? Well then, prepare for some more complaints - for I am not finished yet!'
'Stuff it, Potter.'
'You started it.'
'No, you did!'
'I did not!'
Harry scowled. 'This is stupid.'
'You should be in your own element, then. I reckon being stupid is the thing you do the best.'
Draco was subjected to a scornful glare. 'Whatever rocks your world, Malfoy. Will you be quiet and let me think?'
The white ferret snorted haughtily again. 'Think, you? Now there's the mission impossible of the year.'
Harry gritted his teeth and didn't answer, dismissing Draco with a swift movement of turning around.
The blissful silence didn't last long.
'Do you think they've noticed you're gone, already?'
Harry spun around. 'What is it with you and chattering?'
'For your information, Potter, I haven't talked with anyone for three weeks. So excuse me for finally wanting to converse about something. Obviously, holding a conversation is beyond your abilities.'
'A conversation?' Harry cried out, appalled. 'You call trading insults a conversation? What a weird world you're living in, Malfoy.'
'Will you just answer my question?' Draco's tone was definitely annoyed. 'I don't suppose it wasn't too difficult of a question, such as basic Potion learning.'
Harry huffed mentally, the ferret letting loose a riled sound. 'There you go again. But, to humour you, I'll answer your question to get rid of your voice in my head.'
'Why thank you, Potter, you must be the most gracious person in the whole world.'
'Stop your drawling and be quiet, alright?' Harry slapped a threatening paw towards the white ferret. 'Or I won't say anything to you ever again.'
'Now wouldn't that be a lovely image, my dream come true - okay, okay! Stop hitting me, you plebeian!'
'Do you want to hear what I have to say or not?'
For a moment, Draco looked like he would retort snarkily, then he merely licked his tiny teeth. 'Fine. Share your wisdom, if you please.'
'Er... What was the question again?' Harry quickly ducked as Draco flung an angry paw at him. 'Just kidding, just kidding! Merlin, you just can't understand humour, can you? Anyway, I'm sure they've noticed I'm gone now. I mean, I was shopping with Ron and Hermione, and they've bound to find out I'm missing the moment they step out of the shop. I was supposed to wait for them outside.'
Draco's nose scrunched up. 'What if they just think you've wandered off to some other shop?'
Harry shook his head. 'No, I promised them I would wait for them until they would come out: we were supposed to go to lunch somewhere. And besides, my wand's back in the alley. They know I wouldn't leave voluntarily without my wand.'
'How would they find your wand on some deserted back street?'
'My wand has a tracking charm, for my own safety. Remus Lupin can access it. I reckon that, after finding me missing, Ron and Hermione have gone to Remus, and he'll locate my wand in the alley.'
'Remus Lupin?' Draco scrunched up his whole face now. 'Wasn't he the werewolf that taught us in third year?'
'Yeah.' Harry's tone got defensive. 'He's a good friend of mine so I'd suggest against insulting him.'
'I didn't say anything!'
'You were going to,' Harry accused. 'I know you were.'
Draco lifted his nose up haughtily, making his long whiskers twitch. 'Don't assume things, Potter, it's not becoming.'
Harry groaned quietly. 'Are you teaching me manners, now, Malfoy?'
The white ferret looked up and down the other one shrewdly, and Harry regretted his -a rhetorical one, mind you- question. 'Well, now that you mentioned it... You'd need some teaching, obviously. After all, you come from a Muggle family and live in that filthy tower full of Gryffindorks... '
'Not being a pure-blood doesn't mean that one cannot behave themselves, Malfoy,' Harry argued, almost tiredly. 'Sometimes, it's the pure-bloods who act poorly.'
'Speak for yourself.' Draco snorted, once more, to show his contempt. 'Magical folk with Muggle history don't belong to our world. They just can't blend in without bringing their own unfit culture with them.'
'So I don't belong to your world, either, then?' Harry asked, blankly. 'I'm just a half-blood. Shall I retreat back to Muggle world and leave you people to deal with Voldemort? Should I take Hermione, the most brilliant and intelligent witch Hogwarts has seen for decades, with me?'
'Potter - '
'No,' Harry said in a heated manner. 'It is you who just doesn't understand. You cannot decide who deserves to be a wizard. You pure-bloods, don't you see how narrow-minded you are? Can't you realize that without mingling with the Muggle world, there won't be any wizards and witches left? There are too few pure-blood families who aren't already related. This way, if pure-bloods only marry other pure-bloods, the magic will also weaken in time. You're digging your own grave.'
Draco was eyeing him with narrowed, grey orbs. 'I'm not saying I'd like to marry some cousin of mine, Potter, I'm just saying that Muggles and wizards don't mix. We're too different. Muggles aren't worth a -'
'Don't say it,' Harry warned with a furious snarl. Draco, however, ignored him and went on.
'- worth a shit, basically, so that means that mudblood friend of yours -'
That did it. With an enraged war cry, Harry leaped from his nest and violently pounced at the white ferret. Draco let out a shrill squeak as he suddenly found himself pinned under a savagely hissing form of snapping teeth inches away from his face. 'From now on, you will not say that word. Understood, Malfoy? That's the only rule I have for you, and you better obey it or Merlin, will I kick your ass to Hell and back.'
Green eyes bore into grey ones for a moment in stunned silence. Then Draco began to squirm his long, lithe body and buckled Harry off course, sending the smaller ferret flying until he landed with a pained oof. 'Ouch, you son-of-a-bitch!'
'You were the one who attacked first, mind you.' Draco scowled furiously, the hair on his back all frizzy and his tail rigid. Harry would have laughed at the comical appearance of the usually slicked and groomed Draco Malfoy, but found no strength to do so. Instead, he sighed a small, jaded ferret-sigh and scrambled to his short feet. He had spent barely couple of hours in the company of the most insufferable Slytherin and already he felt like he could just roll over and die. The blonde was plain impossible, constantly getting on Harry's nerves with his snide remarks and beliefs.
'I'm tired, tired of you and of the world right now,' he bluntly informed the other ferret. 'I need a nap. I think ferrets like to sleep, yeah? So, I'll go to catch some Z's while you do whatever you do, chase your tail, ride some imaginary merry-go-around, sit there and stare at nothing for all I care, take your pick - just do it quietly.'
Having said that, Harry padded over to his nest and curled around the pleasantly warming cloths. His furry tail gently tickling his nose, the black ferret allowed his eyes to droop closed. Maybe it wasn't wise to kip in the presence of the most annoying wizard-boy in the premises, Draco could be potentially dangerous as well -all this might just be some clever plot. But Harry, tapping into his ferret senses, could hardly care less. He just wanted to snooze a bit. It had been a stressful start of the day, after all.
To be continued...