At least they were following me, which was something, although I had to slow down so that they could keep up. Once we got to the Shrinking Sack I left them behind and went on to warn Siri they were on the way. Ohron was laid on the floor, looking rather pale.
Yes, I did feel a bit sorry for him; I'm not completely heartless.
'Right,' I said to Siri, 'They're going to be here soon. Shall we get this over and done with?'
He shook his head. 'Want Hairy to know, about me...about rat. My friends he killed? They Hairy's parents.'
Oh, I hadn't realised he was an orphan too. Maybe I should have been nicer to him...on the other paw, he could have been nicer to me. Anyway...
'Look, it might be easier if you changed to a human, so you can talk to them.'
He nodded. 'Good idea.'
'Of course it is! Another thing, talk to my servant; she's the most intelligent one of them. Hairy...he can be a bit impetuous.'
Siri popped into human shape and I stretched out on the bed. It had been a long day and I was tired. I hoped that, whilst they had a nice quiet chat, I could have a bit of a snooze.
Siri relieved Fluffy and Hairy of their twigs as soon as they got to the room – he'd already taken Honestlyronald's. That was quite sensible of him; I've never understood why wizards are so keen to give them to kittens in the first place. They swish them around without a care in the world; the number of times I've seen someone's eye nearly taken out...
Then he, very calmly, tried to explain what was going on. It didn't work. Hairy started shouting and screaming. Fluffy, Apedemak bless her, tried to keep him under control but Ohron kept encouraging him.
'If you want to kill Hairy, you'll have to kill us, too' he ranted.
I put my paws over my eyes. 'What are you going to do? Hop him to death, you stupid kitten? For once in your life do as you're told. Lay down and shut up.'
Hairy was obviously over tired as he was getting very fractious. 'HE KILLED MY MUM AND DAD' he bellowed, as if we were all three fields away, instead of being in the same room.
Then he leapt at Siri and, for a scrawny little thing, surprised me by managing to knock him over. Siri tried to calm him down, admittedly by grabbing round the throat, and would have done so if Fluffy hadn't kicked him. I was shocked! My servant using violence on my friend; I would have to have words with her once this was over. I was tempted to dismiss her from her post out of paw, I can tell you.
There was a lot of rolling around and one of the twigs went sliding across the floor. Hairy made a grab for it. That was not going to be a good thing, so I decided it was about time somebody took control of the situation. I leapt at him and sunk all ten claws into his arm. He managed to jerk me free, so I went for the twig, but now he started with the kicking and I had to jump out of the way.
He grabbed his twig and pointed it at Siri. Oh, this was not good. It wouldn't have surprised me if he did something silly and somebody ended up getting hurt – apart from Honestlyronald, who doesn't really count.
I jumped up onto Siri's chest. He tried to push me off, but also learned cat's claws are stronger than a human's hands.
'Right, young tom, we all know you aren't going to use that twig, so put it down and stop being silly. This has all gone far enough.'
Hairy didn't put the twig down, and he had a gleam in his eye I didn't like the look of. I gulped, my fur gulped. Even my whiskers gulped. Start warming the milk, Mother; I'll be there shortly.
Then there was a noise downstairs and Fluffy was shouting, 'WE'RE UP HERE! SIRIUS BLACK – QUICK!'
A human rushed into the room. Well, I say human; it was the werewolf who'd been on the train with us. It seemed a lifetime ago now, but I can honestly say I was pleased to see him. He shouted something that made Hairy's twig fly across the room, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
I tried discreetly pointing at Honestlyronald with my tail. 'He's already injured, won't put up much of a fight. I wouldn't bother with the molly; she's probably a bit stringy.' Well, it was getting late, I was hungry, and I didn't fancy catering for myself.
The werewolf gave me what I can only describe as an "old-fashioned" look before turning his attention to Siri, whom he helped up. I was so surprised at that I forget to hold on, and fell to the floor. Dropped gracefully to the floor – this is me, after all.
'I DON'T BELIEVE IT!' Fluffy screamed, right in my ear and almost making me jump out of my skin. Be still my beating heart. What, in the name of Narasimha, had got in to them all?
As Siri sat down I climbed onto his lap just in case Hairy got any more ideas. By now I'd given up even trying to sleep, so lay there listening to them talking backwards and forwards. They'd got into a stage of what I can only describe as - stating the bleeding obvious.
Fluffy started rambling on about how she'd been covering up for the werewolf and not told anybody...
Hairy and Honestlyronald did their own bit of wild-arsed theorising and accused the werewolf of helping Siri get in to the castle...I kept my head down during that part. Least said, soonest mended and all that.
Then the werewolf – I really wish I could remember his name, Loopy or something – and Siri came out with the stunning revelation that the rat was actually an animagus called Pitter-patter-pew...
Having worked that out for myself the previous September, I tried not to look too smug. If only they'd listened to me.
That shut the kittens up for a moment. Only a moment, of course; they were still young, so always had a lot to say on any given subject – especially if they don't know anything about it.
Even Fluffy, whom Loopy said was the cleverest witch of her age he'd ever met, managed to get it wrong. It wasn't her fault; she'd obviously been hanging around with the other two for too long and their lack of brainpower was probably draining her, like a spider sucking a fly dry. Even at the time it did worry me that, given a few years, she could end up like them.
Loopy asked Ron if he could see the rat. It was wriggling and scratching, but I knew we had him now and took great pleasure in telling him. Siri decided it was his turn to get over-excited and made a leap for the little traitor and I, once again, found myself on the floor.
This was all getting a bit too much, and I was seriously missing my dinner. I was half tempted to sneak out whilst they carried on arguing and talking for what seemed like hours, completely ignoring me.
Then they all got a shock and it served them right. I kept trying to point out there was somebody listening just outside the door, but they wouldn't listen. Loopy almost got the message, even going to have a look in the corridor at one point It surprised me he couldn't see through the invisible cloak. Maybe werewolves are the complete animals I'd always assumed them to be.
Or purrhaps Loopy wasn't typical. After all, he'd been in the room for ages and hadn't even tried to rip anybody limb from limb.
So, back to the human outside the door. I didn't think much of him, to be honest. Snipe by name, apparently, but Peacock by nature. I'm sure you know the sort; all substance - no style. His entrance, in my opinion, was far more dramatic that the situation required. He might as well have leapt through the door shouting 'Look at me! Look at me!'
Then he started waving his twig around like a kitten, and joined in with the apparently fashionable "WE'RE ALL DEAF SO I'LL HAVE TO SHOUT EVERYTHING VERY LOUDLY" – although I was impressed when he tied Loopy up without even having to touch him. Maybe there's more to theses twigs than meets the eye. I wonder if it'd work on voles?
Of course, him waving his twig around encouraged the kittens to get over-excited, so they had to join in and the room was suddenly full of flashes and bangs. Then the inevitable happened, just like I predicted; and Snipe ended up getting hurt. Serves him right. Nobody seemed particularly concerned about it, apart from Fluffy. She was worried they'd get into trouble for attacking a Professor. I decided I'd have a quiet word with McGon-yowl when we got back to the school, pointing out it wasn't my servant's fault and all that. Always look after the staff.
Finally, we could get down to business. Ohron, to credit his loyalty if not his intelligence, was still trying to defend his rat saying that he'd been in the family for years. Then he tried to blame it's poor state on ME! Oh, the dead animals he was going to get left in his shoes!
Siri, I could have hugged him. He told them all I'd been helping him and said I was – and I quote -
"The most intelligent of his kind I've ever met. He recognised Pitter [patter-pew] for what he was straight away. And when he met me he knew I was no dog. It was a while before he trusted me. Finally, I managed to communicate to him what I was after, and he's been helping me...'
I welled up at that, even though the end part was maybe a bit cheeky. Then I had to blush when he let on I was the one who'd got the squiggles from Novel.
Despite all that, Hairy still had to be helped to understand what was going on, after he'd done a bit more shouting. He's never has been the brightest star in the constellation, for all that his father was allegedly a god.
Well the proof of the nestling is in the eating, as they say. Siri and Loopy grabbed the rat and waved their twigs at it. There before us stood...a human, supposedly. And you think you're at the top of the evolutionary tree?
It looked better as a rat. In fact, I thought the transformation had been incomplete. It – he, no...it had ratty little eyes, and a ratty little face. It begged and grovelled and I wanted it to turn again so I'd have a chance of killing it before anyone else could. Funny, I'm not normally like that but I'd make an exception for this one. No nobility, no style. He wasn't even really a convincing rat, you know.
I've only ever hunted them when I've been really hungry as they aren't clean feeders, so they don't taste very good. But, one time when I was living out on my own I cornered one and the result was never in doubt. You know, that rat looked me in the eye and told me he wasn't going down without a fight. He didn't, either. It was almost an honour to eat him.
Pitter-patter-pew...I'd rather starve.
I couldn't believe my ears when Hairy told them not to kill him. He wanted the rat to spend the rest of his days in Azkaban. No milk for the rest of your life, not even at Christmas, and guarded by Dobermans. Maybe a fate worse than death isn't better than dying.
I led our little party back along the tunnel to the waving tree. Now all the excitement was over we were all quiet, subdued. And hungry. I hoped Fluffy was going to get me something good for dinner.
I pressed the knot on the trunk so they could all get out safely and started walking towards the castle.
We'd been in the Shrinking Sack for longer than I'd realised, because it was full night-time now. Yet it wasn't completely dark; the full moon lit the way well enough even for humans to see.
'Everybody! Stay where your are! Siri, don't let them come out! SIRI!'
Oh hell's hounds and ingrown claws – he was in human form, so couldn't understand me!
Dinner was probably going to be slightly delayed.