#A Harry Situation
By Jill Weber
Characters Owned by J.K. Rowling and used without permission or intent to make a profit.
Harry Potter stopped at the foot of the stair and debated the wisdom of bolting back to his room. He'd thought he'd risen early enough to avoid the Dursleys, but he could hear Aunt Petunia in the kitchen, crooning in that saccharine way that meant she was talking to Dudley. Harry could not imagine what apocalyptic phenomenon could get his cousin out of bed at six o'clock on a muggy July morning, but whatever it was, the crack of dawn was too early to deal with it. He refused to contemplate the end of the world while most of said world was still asleep.
He was just about to beat a retreat when Aunt Petunia's actual words became clearer. "Now little missy had better finish her breakfast before Vernon and Duddy-kins get up for breakfast." Harry cocked his head. So, who was 'Little Missy' and why did she have to eat before Uncle Vernon and Dudley got up? Curiosity piqued, Harry tightened the belt of his colorless, shapeless bathrobe and moved silently down the hall. He paused, then gently pushed the door open.
Aunt Petunia was talking to a calico cat. Harry removed his glasses, rubbed his glasses, rubbed his eyes, and then resettled the glasses on his nose. Aunt Petunia's companion remained a cat. Harry couldn't believe that his Aunt Petunia would do something so human as to own a cat. Apparently the age of miracles was not yet over. Harry snorted and turned to go back to his room. He didn't think Aunt Petunia would appreciate being spied on.
"BOY!" Uncle Vernon's bellow caused Harry to jump backward and fall against the door. Vernon's meaty fist grabbed the front of Harry's robe and jerked him forward. "Fix my breakfast, you good-for-nothing lay-about! I have to get in early today." He shoved Harry through the door.
Harry went sprawling onto the linoleum that he had so vigorously scrubbed the previous day. Petunia Evans Dursley leaped to her feet with a small shriek. The cat shrieked and leaped from her lap. Then it bounded up to the kitchen counter, sending crockery crashing to the ground.
"What the devil…?" Vernon sputtered. Then he spotted the cat. "What the devil is that CREATURE doing in my house??" he roared. "Petunia, you know I'm allergic!"
"I… I didn't…" Petunia, on the verge of saying she hadn't known Vernon was awake, trailed off.
Vernon put his own interpretation on the words. "BOY!" as Harry gained his feet, he aimed a swat at Harry's head. "How dare you bring a filthy cat into my house!" His face was beginning to take on that peculiar shade of puce it always did when he had to deal with Harry.
Harry ducked easily. "That's not…" he cut off his denial mid-sentence at Petunia's pleading glance. He was never sure afterward why. Perhaps because it was the first time his mother's sister had ever looked at him with anything besides loathing. Besides, Vernon wouldn't believe him anyway.
"That's not what, Boy?" Vernon growled.
Harry hunted around for a lie that his uncle might believe. "It's not… a cat." he finished.
"WHAT!" Vernon cried. "Do you think I don't know…"
"What is it, then?" Petunia blurted. "One of those nasty creatures like my sister had? A…" Now it was Petunia's turn to come up with some sort of believable lie. "A… pixie, was it?"
"Yes, Aunt Petunia," Harry said. "It's a pixie." Of course, the calico cat looked nothing like a pixie, but Vernon wouldn't know that.
The color drained out of Vernon's face. For a moment, Harry wondered if he was going to have a heart attack. Then Vernon got a grip on himself and the front of Harry's ratty robe. "Boy, that… THING had better be out of my house by the time I get back… or… or… it's back to the cupboard with you!" Then he stormed out of the house, muttering about getting breakfast on the road.
Harry let out a sigh of relief and adjusted his robe.
Now it was Harry's turn to feel like he was going to have a heart attack. He gaped at his aunt for several minutes, never in fourteen years with the Dursleys had he heard those words go from her mouth to his ears. "Excuse me?" he said, voice somewhat higher than it had been five minutes ago. "Did you just thank me?'
It was a ridiculous thing to say, but Petunia actually looked abashed. For a long moment, she didn't say anything. "I've always wanted a cat," she said. "But my parents were allergic, and so are your uncle and cousin. I was hoping…" She shook her head and sighed. "Obviously, I can't keep her. My family has to come first. But where can we send her?"
"How about Mrs. Figg?"
Petunia sighed. "I got her from Mrs. Figg. Somebody gave it to her, but she said that Missy and her cats didn't get along. She's too old to have to worry about breaking up cat fights."
"Erm, I guess I could send her to one of my friends," Harry said. "Hedwig has carried heavier packages."
Now it was Petunia's turn to be pushed the brink of cardiac arrest. "You wouldn't let that creature eat Miss?" she shrilled.
Harry gave her a disgusted look. "Of course, she wouldn't. Hedwig's not a creature! She's my friend!"
They glared at each other, then looked away. There was a long silence. Suddenly, they were both tired of this game, but neither really knew how to end it, nor what to replace it with.
"How will your owl carry her without hurting her?" Petunia asked finally.
"I have no idea," Harry confessed. That was followed by another long silence.
"If you clean up the kitchen and fix Dudley's breakfast, I'll buy a cat carrier when I do the shopping," Petunia said.
"Deal," Harry agreed.
Petunia returned that afternoon with a soft-sided cat carrier. Her Duddydums was at the cinema with his friends, so he wouldn't see his mother consorting with the enemy. Petunia's mouth thinned as she thought about her disgraceful behavior that morning. Imagine, she'd actually felt kindly toward that unnatural brat of her sister's! She marched upstairs to the bedroom they'd been forced to let Potter use and barged in without knocking. For the second time that day, she almost had a heart attack.
Potter was sitting at Dudley's spare desk, stroking Little Missy and writing something with a feather. Little Missy, that traitor, was rubbing her head against Potter's hand, trying to get his full attention. The white owl was watching them benignly. Petunia snorted. Like an owl could have emotions like benign.
Two pairs of jade green eyes and one pair of autumn gold eyes turned toward her.
"Good, you got it," Potter said. He stood. "I was just writing to Mrs. Weasley. She's the red-headed woman you've seen at the train station."
Petunia snorted. "You think she'll take Little Missy in?" she asked, hardening her heart. The cat obviously liked that freakish boy. She'd probably be just as happy with the freak family. Stupid to get attached to an animal, especially something as vaguely unnatural as a cat. She held out the cat carrier. "You're sure the owl can carry her?" she added.
The owl hooted scornfully. (No, animals cannot feel scorn, Petunia Evans Dursley. That was just a fancy of your freakish sister's!)
"Yes, Aunt Petunia," Harry said. "Hedwig can easily carry a small cat like Pixie. Mrs. Weasley will be sure to find a home for her." A note of irony entered his eyes and voice. Molly Weasley is very kind to strays, as I should know."
Petunia felt a flash of shame, then she stifled that emotion. It wasn't her fault that her freak of a sister had got herself blown up! She dropped the cat carrier. "Good, and you can consider the cat carrier your birthday AND Christmas present this year." She stomped out of the room without a backward look. She had no time for cats, owls or freaks. She had work to do.
"Ginny? Ginny, dear! You have an owl!"
Ginny and Ron exchanged incredulous looks. "I do? From who?" she called as she ran down the stairs.
"Ooo, ickle Ginny-kins is a poet!" Ron jeered after her.
Any reply Ginny might have made was forgotten when Mrs. Weasley answered. "It's from Harry, dear."
"Hey!" Ron protested. "Why's he sending her an owl! He's my best friend!"
"Hedwig brought a package," Mrs. Weasley said.
"That doesn't answer my question," Ron replied sulkily.
Freed from her burden, Hedwig flew over to a perch. Absently, Ron filled the water dish and stroked Hedwig's snowy feathers. "What is it?" he asked.
Ginny opened the cat carrier, and Pixie answered for herself. "Awww!" Ginny cried. She picked the calico up and began cuddling her. Pixie began to purr. "Hello, kitty!"
"Oh, how adorable! How sweet of Harry to send her!" Mrs. Weasley said, coming over to pet the cat.
"Why'd he send you a cat?" Ron demanded, but he was more curious than sulky by now.
With some reluctance, Ginny set the cat down and read the letter. "Dear Ginny, I need your help. This is Pixie and she needs a home. I'm hoping you will want to keep her or that you can find a home for her. I appreciate your help. Cheers, Harry. P.S. Tell Ron to stop scowling, I'll send him a letter as soon as I have an owl available, this was an emergency. -- HP."
Ginny picked up the cat again. "Oh, can I keep her, Mum? Please?"
"Yes, please let her keep the cat," Ron said, grinning now. "Our reputation as kind hearted rescuers of orphans is at stake." He reached out at stroked the calico's head.
Ginny shot him a sideways look, but Ron looked sincere.
Mrs. Weasley was smiling. "Of course you can keep her, dear. Why don't you see if she wants something to eat?" She shook her head. "I wonder why he named her Pixie? She doesn't look anything like one."
"Since Hedwig's here, I'll write Harry a note," Ron said, ignoring the question. He bounded out of the room and thundered up the stairs, ignoring the abundance of quills and parchment that were scattered around the rooms downstairs.
Ginny shrugged. "Who can figure boys?" she told her mother, striving for a casual tone. She carried Pixie into the kitchen. As soon as she was alone, she sat down and gasped for air. This was a cat from HARRY POTTER! She felt like her heart was going to explode from sheer happiness. He had thought of her! She tickled her new cat and said: "Hello little Pixie. Can you use your pixie magic to make Harry interested in me?"
Pixie bumped her head against Ginny's knee and purred.