The Cat's Pyjamas
by Healer Pomfrey
All recognizable characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
The translation of the Pangur Ban poem is from an unknown author (chapter titles).
A huge thanks to JB5391 for her absolute brilliant beta-ing!
Warnings: Mentioning abuse!Dursleys, completely AU, partly OOC, adoption&name change, plays not at Hogwarts but in the USA, magically handicapped Harry
This story is dedicated to my wonderful friend and beta Mushcorn - Happy birthday, Musha :-)
1 - I & Pangur Ban my Cat
It was a bright Saturday morning at the beginning of June, and Minerva McGonagall let out a long sigh as she made herself as comfortable as possible on the stone wall next to the Dursleys' garden. Ever since Albus Dumbledore had placed Harry Potter on the Dursleys' doorstep, had Minerva spent her weekends on the wall, in her Animagus form of course.
From the time when Harry had been three years old, Minerva had observed him spend the days doing chores. Sometimes, when the Dursleys left their house for several hours, Harry used to come to where she was sitting on the wall and pet her. He always spoke to her in a quiet voice, and Minerva often regretted that she was not able to communicate with him.
She also knew that the Dursleys did not treat the child overly well, but at least they seemed to not harm him, and Albus Dumbledore insisted that he had to remain with his relatives for safety reasons.
Minerva glanced through the kitchen window and watched six-year-old Harry clean the kitchen, before his aunt sent him out into the garden. Through the open kitchen door, she heard how Petunia Dursley informed the boy that she and her husband and son would leave for the town and only return in the evening.
"Yes, Aunt Petunia," Harry replied obediently and began to do his garden work.
'How can she leave such a small child alone the whole day and make him work in the garden in this heat?' Minerva thought angrily, noticing that Harry took small pauses to wipe the sweat from his face every now and then.
'I'm thirsty,' Harry thought and slowly approached the kitchen door, only to notice that his aunt had apparently forgotten about him and had locked the door. He sighed in exasperation, before a small smile began to play on his lips upon seeing the tabby cat on the wall. 'Oh right; it's Saturday,' he thought happily. The cat was his best, no, his only friend, and he felt always happy when she came to visit him. Somehow, he knew that she came because of him.
"Hello Pussy," he said and carefully petted her under her chin, knowing from experience that she liked to be petted there most.
The cat purred contentedly, before she let out a series of meows. "I'm sorry, Pussy," Harry said sadly. "I can't understand you." When the cat looked at him and meowed again, he thought in desperation, 'She is the only living being that willingly speaks with me. I want to understand her.'
Before Harry knew what happened and how it had happened, he felt a sharp pain run through his entire body, and all of a sudden, his sight had expanded greatly, but at the same time, he was closer to the ground than before.
=My, you're a wonderful little kitten,= the older cat's gentle voice penetrated his ears, causing Harry to look at himself in surprise.
'Orange and white fur, and lots of it; I am a cat,' he realised in disbelief. =I'm sorry; I didn't mean to,= he stammered, noticing in confusion that the other cat smiled at him.
=What did you not mean to do, sweetie?= she asked kindly.
=To do freaky things,= Harry replied in a barely audible voice. =My uncle always tells me, but sometimes I can't help it,= he added sadly, averting his eyes to the floor.
=Harry, that's all right,= the old cat said in a soft voice. =You're not a freak; you are a wizard, and every wizard does magic every now and then. That is completely normal,= she explained, unaware of the fact that for little Harry not everything was as normal as it was for other wizards and witches.
Harry spent several hours talking with the other cat, before he remembered, =I need to do my chores, before the Dursleys come back. But how can I do them if I'm a cat?=
The older cat chuckled as she told him, =Since you became a cat by wishing to be one, you should think that you want to be back to your human form.=
Harry nodded gratefully, wishing himself back into the form of a small boy. However, all his efforts remained in vain. After thirty minutes of intense trying, he was still a cat. =It doesn't work,= he said, lying down on the wall in exhaustion.
Minerva eyed the smaller cat in concern. 'He must either be a natural Animagus or possess a very strong wish magic,' she mused. 'Maybe he depleted his magic by his earlier transformation that was indeed spectacular.'
=Well, I'm going to help you,= she said gently, =but you must not tell anyone that I am human, too.=
=I won't,= Harry promised, observing in disbelief how the cat jumped from the wall and in the shadow of the garage changed into an old woman, dressed in a dark green, long one-piece. Instants later, he was back in his human form, noticing gratefully that it hurt less than the earlier transformation.
"It was nice to be able to speak with you, and I'm very proud of you, Harry. You did the transformation really well," Minerva told Harry. "I'll be back tomorrow." With that she changed back into her cat form and resumed her spot on the wall.
When Minerva returned on Sunday morning, there was no sign of Harry, nor did she see him on Monday and Tuesday, when she returned to the spot on her wall in concern what might have happened to the little boy. Only on Wednesday, he was cleaning the kitchen window, when she showed up.
During the following few weekends, Harry spent every few minute keeping Minerva company in his cat form. Minerva told him about Hogwarts, magic, and even about his parents, whom she had known well. Sometimes, Harry unobtrusively followed her when she left the Dursleys' garden, observing how she strode around two corners, transformed into her human form and completely vanished from the sight.
One day, Harry was very desperate. Usually, he tried hard to suppress his magic, because otherwise, he would have to fear his uncle's wrath. However, sometimes he happened to fail, ending up in a huge outburst of magic, which usually caused his whole body to become very sore and hot for a few days, and in spite of the fact that he felt miserable from the after-effects of his outburst, his uncle used to punish him.
On the day before, he had to paint the brown garden fence white, although it was raining cats and dogs. Unfortunately, the rain washed the colour off the fence, so that Harry had to re-do his work over and over again. After painting the fence for the third time, Harry glared at the fence and it turned into a bright neon green colour that turned out to be resistant against the rain. His uncle gave him the belt, which he used to do in such cases, and in addition to feeling miserable from his outburst of magic, Harry now had a very sore backside.
=May I come with you?= he asked the older cat, giving her a pleading look.
The older Animagus let out a long sigh. =I am really sorry, sweetie. I'd love to take you with me and raise you myself, and I have often enough spoken with the Headmaster about the matter. However, he insists that you have to remain here with your relatives,= Minerva explained in a soft voice, sadly looking at the smaller cat. 'I'll tell Albus about this. Maybe I'll manage to convince him at some stage,' she resolved as she took her leave and swiftly made her way to her usual apparition point.
Unbeknownst to the older cat, Harry followed her in his Animagus form. Knowing that she used to vanish from the spot an instant after pulling the strange stick out of her robe pocket that she called her wand, Harry waited until she pulled it, before he jumped, attaching his claws to the dark green fibre just before Minerva apparated away. He felt the world spin around, and by the time the fast movement stopped, he felt utterly nauseous.
"Harry," the elder woman blurted out in disbelief at his sight. "What are you doing here? I told you that I can't take you with me." Seeing that he remained unresponsively on the ground, she bowed down to him and carefully picked him from the floor. "Are you feeling all right, sweetie?" she asked kindly, gently petting his fur.
Harry let out a miserable meow. If he had felt awful before, the strange way of travel had not helped his condition. Fortunately, this did not go unnoticed by the professor, who was feverishly pondering if she should take him back home or take him with her to Hogwarts. 'His paws are very warm,' she noticed and decided to ask her best friend, Poppy, to check on the child.
"Harry, I'm going to take you with me to Hogwarts for the time being, although I'm afraid that you'll have to return to your relatives' home later today," she said soothingly and swiftly carried the small cat to the castle.
"Minnie, what brings you here?" Madam Pomfrey asked in surprise, knowing that her friend hardly ever willingly entered her domain and she usually had to visit the professor for tea in her quarters.
Minerva glared at her friend, before she moved her arm, revealing the small cat that was nestled deep into her robes. "Harry followed me, but I think he is not really well. Anyway, I'd like you to take a look at him. I think he is a bit too small for his age and very skinny." Turning to Harry, who had blearily opened his emerald green eyes, she said soothingly, "Harry, I'm going to put you onto the bed here and transform you back into your human form."
Instants later, the small boy was lying on the bed right next to Madam Pomfrey's office. 'This is so soft, feels good,' he thought, closing his eyes again upon noticing that the bright sunrays that flooded the hospital wing aggravated his headache even more.
Minerva and her friend exchanged a concerned look, taking in the beads of sweat on the boy's forehead and his deeply flushed cheeks. The Mediwitch waved her wand over the boy, casting a complicated diagnostic spell that caused a long parchment to emerge from the tip of her wand. Minerva eagerly looked over her shoulder to study the parchment.
20 % under size
30 % under weight
Fever 39.0 degrees
Headache 2nd degree
Bruises on 20 % of body
Welts on 20 % of body
1 broken rib
1 broken finger bone
"Poppy..." Minerva spoke up in shock, noticing that her usually calm friend, who could not easily be shaken, was wearing a grave expression.
"Minerva, how do these people treat him?" the Healer asked in disbelief.
"I had no idea that it was so bad," Minerva replied, paling visibly. "Harry never complained. What exactly is wrong with him?"
"What is not wrong?" Pomfrey scoffed. "Apart from the fact that he is clearly abused and neglected, Magica Incensio is a very rare but unfortunately incurable illness, caused by restrictions on a child's magic." Ignoring Minerva's terrified expression, she continued, "Harry will probably have problems to cast spells at school, and if he does magic that turns out too strong, he will become sick and only be able to do magic again a few days later. This will be a problem at Hogwarts. We need to inform Albus about this."
"No," Minerva protested quickly, "at least not yet. He doesn't know that I brought Harry here."
Poppy waved her wand over the child to heal his bruises and welts, noticing that the boy's lips stretched to a small smile as the pain from his back vanished. "Does that feel better, sweetie?" she asked kindly, realising from the lack of speed, in which he opened his eyes, that the still had to be in quite an amount of pain. She fetched two small phials and instructed Harry, "Let me help you to sit up for a moment. You need to take these potions for your headache and the fever. You'll feel better soon."
Harry's eyes wandered from the Mediwitch to Minerva in silent question. "It's all right, Harry. Do as Madam Pomfrey says," Minerva reassured the boy, gently taking his small, warm hand into her own.
Harry obeyed, realising in surprise that he felt much better. He hesitantly answered a few questions for the kind witch, who had been so kind and given him medicine. 'She probably doesn't know that I'm not allowed medicine,' Harry mused. 'She is very nice.'
"No adult has the right to hurt a child, sweetie; will you tell me who did this to you, so I can see to it that the person will be punished?" Pomfrey asked straight away.
Harry quickly shook his head, shocked at the thought that anyone would tell his uncle that he had spoken about it and even received medicine.
"Harry," Madam Pomfrey's voice brought him back to reality as she said in a soft voice, "we'll speak with the Headmaster and ask him if we may keep you here at Hogwarts. Would you like to stay here with Professor McGonagall?"
'That's the cat lady,' Harry thought as he absentmindedly nodded. 'I really like her, and both of them are very nice, much nicer than Aunt Petunia.'
"You must not do any magic for the time being. You're still running a slight temperature and need to take it easy," the Mediwitch continued to speak. "I will give you more potions tomorrow morning."
"Yes Madame; thank you," Harry replied, looking anxiously at Minerva.
"Now Harry, do you feel well enough to accompany us to the Headmaster's office?" Minerva asked softly. "Or do you want me to call him here?"
"No," Harry replied quickly and scrambled out of the bed, looking up in surprise when Minerva pointed her wand at him.
"No Minerva," the other witch said, holding her hand out to stop her friend. "Don't transfigure his clothes into robes; let Albus see what rags they gave him to wear. I will accompany you."
"All right," Minerva agreed and pocketed her wand, before she gently led Harry out of the huge, bright room.
Harry looked in amazement at the paintings along the corridors. 'The people in the paintings move,' he thought in awe. 'That's absolutely cool.' Soon they stopped in front of a gargoyle, and Minerva mumbled something that caused the gargoyle to open and let Minerva, Poppy and him through to a moving staircase. 'That's magic,' Harry thought, feeling absolutely delighted. 'I want to stay here. I don't want to return home,' he resolved, eyeing the old wizard with the long, white beard with anxiousness.
"Hello Minerva, Poppy," the Headmaster greeted his colleagues, turning to Harry. "And who are you my boy?" he asked gently, causing his colleagues to roll their eyes as he queried the obvious.
"My uncle calls me boy, my aunt freak, Professor Monagall Harry, and Madam Pomfrey sweetie," Harry replied in a small voice, shyly averting his eyes to the floor.
"Albus," Minerva threw in, sounding very angry. "Harry has been abused and neglected by his relatives. You can't send him back there."
As to confirm her friend's statements, the Mediwitch placed a copy of the parchment with the results of her earlier scan of Harry in front of the Headmaster. The old wizard let out a long sigh as he skimmed the parchment, offering Harry a lemon drop when he was done.
"I am very sorry, my boy," he said in a grave voice, "however, it is important that you remain with your relatives. Your..."
"Albus!" Minerva threw in angrily. "You can't send him back there."
The Headmaster eyed his deputy from over the edges of his half-moon spectacles. "I can and I will, Minerva," he said firmly. "Either you can take him back now or I will." He turned to the pile of parchments on his desk, clearly dismissing the small group.
By the time Minerva, Poppy, and Harry reached the entrance hall, Minerva stopped walking and turned to her friend. "Dumbledore thinks he is the cat's pyjamas. He even looks like them, when he is in his stupid baby blue robes," she said in such an angry voice that Harry felt extremely relieved that her anger was not directed to him. "Poppy, I'm going to leave Hogwarts," Minerva decided in determination. "Will you come with me?"
You can find a story graphic as well as notes with explanations to this story on my facebook notes page (Please write 'FFNET' to your request, if you want to add me). I will post the story graphic to my Yahoo newsgroup once I am recovered from my latest lung infection. To my Lord of the Wind readers: Sorry for the delay!