The inhabitants of Grimmauld Place were fast asleep, unaware of the poorly maintained house that was squeezing in between numbers 11 and 13. Once the house had fully appeared, the shabby-looking man standing in front of it quickly walked up and stepped through the door. Once he was inside, Number Twelve disappeared again, the houses flanking it seeming to envelop it completely.
Remus Lupin brushed the dust off of his coat and tiptoed quietly across the hallway, not wanting to make too much noise for fear of waking Mrs. Black's portrait. A plump, red-headed woman opened the kitchen door to see who was in the hall, and smiled upon seeing him.
"Remus!" she exclaimed softly. "I didn't expect for you to be back so soon! You must be hungry- come in and sit down, supper's almost ready."
"Thank you, Molly," Lupin replied. "That sounds lovely. Are the others here yet?" She shook her head in a negative as he took a seat.
"Dumbledore and Snape should arrive in a few minutes," Molly explained, briskly stirring a cauldron of vegetable stew. The aroma wafting from it made her guest's stomach growl; he hadn't eaten anything substantial in days. Remus looked sheepishly at the table. With a knowing smile, Molly Weasley grabbed a bowl from the cupboard and ladled a spoonful of stew in, setting it and a soup spoon in front of him.
By the time the other members of the Order of the Phoenix had arrived, Remus was feeling a good deal better than he had upon arrival, as he had already devoured two bowls of soup.
"Wotcher, Remus!" his co-worker of sorts, Nymphadora Tonks, greeted.
"Hello, Tonks," he replied cordially. With a short word from Dumbledore, the meeting began.
"… and now, Remus has been contacting a recently discovered group who might be willing to help us," Dumbledore explained. Remus cleared his throat and wished that he had shaved.
"I just came back from Northamptonshire," he began. "There is a hidden community in a remote area there called the Jellicle Tribe."
"Tribe of what?" Hestia Jones questioned.
"A tribe of Jellicles- they have sent a delegation here to meet you," Remus explained simply.
"And what, per say, are Jellicles?" asked Arthur Weasley, Molly's devoted husband. At that moment, the doorbell rang, and a wail went up from the portrait of Mrs. Black. Sirius went to silence her, and Remus stated simply,
"That'll be them. Whatever you do, please don't make any comments about their appearances." With that, he stood up to go answer the door.
He returned a minute later with some of the strangest-looking beasts anyone in the room had ever seen. The few parts of them not covered by trench coats, hats, and scarves were furry. As they took off their coats (with Remus' permission,) they were revealed to have distinctly feline features- cat-like eyes, ears, and tail, as well as walking with a strangely slinking motion. Even the bounciest, clumsiest of the delegation- two orange-furred twins and a very old, wise Jellicle- were graceful and aloof.
"May I take a seat?" the old one asked politely in a smooth, deep voice. Molly, who was feeling quite flustered by the unexpected guests, hurried to pull up several chairs. The old, gray one sank into his with a sigh of relief.
"Thank you," he said. "I'm not accustomed to walking such distances, though Mistoffelees and Quaxo attempted to help us by Apparating." He gestured to two identical tuxedo-furred males, one of whom was vaguely sparkly.
"I presume you are the Jellicles?" Dumbledore asked politely.
"Yes; I apologize for not explaining sooner. My name is Old Deuteronomy, the Jellicle Patriarch," the old one explained. "We wish to help in the fight against Lord Voldemort."
"How do we know they can be trusted?" Severus Snape inquired shortly.
"You can rest assured; we hate him as much as you do." Old Deuteronomy's face twisted into an expression of scorn at the thought of the Dark Lord. "He is the one who forced these forms upon us. We were turned into his 'practice dummies' during the First War; he would test spells on us. Once the war ended, various wizards tried to restore our original bodies, but to no avail. We were shunned from society, and the Ministry herded us into a restricted area." Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully.
"The question is not if you can be trusted; what do you have to offer in the fight against Dark Wizards?" he questioned.
"We can guard people of importance," Deuteronomy explained. "We can spy. Coricopat and Tantomile here," he gestured to the silver tabbies sitting nervously beside him, "are accomplished Legilimens. Tantomile can see the future at times, and her brother can read auras. They also have excellent memory."
"And what are the auras you mentioned, if you don't mind my asking?" Tonks asked. This time, it was Coricopat who spoke.
"They give detailed physical and psychological information about people: how fit they are, their mood, whether or not they're lying…" He trailed off. "They're very useful."
"Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer-"
"That's us!" chirped the tiger-tabby twins.
"- are excellent spies, and they could be used to secretly retrieve important objects. They're very athletic and quick on their feet." Old Deuteronomy smiled gently at the two before continuing. "Quaxo and Mistoffelees are magical Jellicles; they can perform magic without the use of wands."
"Really?" Dedalus Diggle squeaked excitedly. In response, Quaxo elegantly transfigured a toothpick into a rose, which he proceeded to give to Hestia.
"That is quite an asset," Dumbledore stated. Deuteronomy beamed at him happily.
"Except…" the Jellicle Leader started. "We have a very large tribe, and every hand is needed to help with the work. Also, our kittens- who are all witches and wizards- need training. And, of course, there is the matter of…" His voice dropped to a solemn whisper. "Macavity." The Jellicles present stiffened at the name.
"Who is Macavity?" Hestia asked curiously.
"He is the Napoleon of Crime," Deuteronomy explained sadly. "He was changed into a Jellicle, like us. But he turned evil, and was exiled. He has been causing trouble for us ever since." Dumbledore thought for several minutes without speaking.
"As for the kits," Dumbledore began, "They can be taught at Hogwarts, the school where I am the current headmaster. Also, if Molly and Sirius agree, of course, we could perhaps shelter your tribe here? We could perform an Extending Charm on some of the rooms upstairs. You would be safe from Macavity here." He looked at Molly and Sirius.
"It's alright with me," Sirius said cheerfully. He would be happy with having extra company.
"Well…" Molly began nervously. "I'm already feeding a lot of people…"
"The cupboards are enchanted, Molly, remember?" Sirius stated.
"And I'm sure that some of our queens would love to help you cook," Old Deuteronomy assured. "I think you would get along quite well with Jennyanydots and Jellylorum." Molly, unable to find a convincing argument, sighed.
"Alright," she agreed. "But Mad-Eye is going to have a heart attack with the security."