Disclaimer: I don't own the Harry Potter series - one can say that's the reason why the story is published here. Thanks to my beta Gemenied who's often right :-)
A Cat's heart
"A heart is a fragile thing. That's why we protect them so vigorously, give them away so rarely, and why it means so much when we do. Somehearts are more fragile than others. Purer, somehow. Like crystal in a world of glass, even the way they shatter is beautiful." ~ Narrator from 'Everwood'
The sun was already setting when Dougal MacGregor came home after a long day he had spent on the fields. Even under Scottish conditions it was an unusually dry summer this year, and so hot that it gave him and his cattle a rough time. Not that it needed much to make his life worse than it already was. The cattle and the threatening drought was the least of his problems. His life was a mess and he was responsible for it.
At lonely moments like this he couldn't believe that he had been married more than a year now. Fourteen months earlier he and Fiona Campbell had exchanged their vows in Robert McGonagall's church and four months ago, Fiona had lost their first child. A boy. He smirked sourly. Things had gone downhill from there and the downward spiral didn't seem to end.
He had always wanted children, but when Fiona told him about her pregnancy only four weeks after the wedding, he was in shock. Everything was just happening too fast for his taste. His experience with things developing too quickly was a rather bad one, but what choice did he have? Then, just when he was adapting to the changes in his life, she lost the baby and to his shame, he felt relieved. Of course, he fought the feeling, but he sensed that Fiona knew that he didn't mourn the child as he should. Just as she knew that he hadn't married her, because she was the love of his life. Like many other weddings his was one of convenience. She was the only daughter of Walter Campbell and the old man was dying from cancer. Marrying another farmer's son and bringing both farms together was a way of ensuring the girl and the family's future. And if it hadn't been Fiona Campbell that cold spring day in the church, it could have been anybody else.
Dougal had never cared for the woman he would marry once, because the woman he still wanted above all, had left him over ten years ago. He had written hundreds of letters, had begged, hoped, prayed, she would return to him, which of course she never did. Whenever Minerva McGonagall made a decision she stuck to it, no matter what. If he just knew why...
Sometimes it amazed, even scared him, how much he still wanted her. It shocked him to realize that if given the chance, he would abandon his wife, his children, and even his farm, just to be with her.
Tired he sank on the bench next to the front door of the old farm house and lit up a cigarette. It was an old habit of his. This was his last cigarette for the day, before he would have dinner with his wife and her parents. He smoked slowly while listening to the birds in the trees and the wind. He looked forward to these moments, lived for them, because they granted something he cherished above everything. Solitude. Solitude and a certain moment of peace nobody else knew about. His secret. The one thing that belonged to him. He smiled. He was sure, he wouldn't have to wait much longer.
The peculiar thing about his evenings was the visitor he received over the last few days. A beautiful tabby cat that always seemed to appear out of nowhere. He had grown to love this cat. He had never seen anything like her and she only showed up, when he was alone, and suddenly vanished shortly before someone else appeared in his environment. She was exceptionally trusting, the way she snuggled up against his legs and allowed him to pet her.
Tonight was no exception. His smile brightened when she sneaked up around the corner.
"Hello there," he greeted her friendly and with one quick move the cat jumped on his lap and meowed in satisfaction when he stroked her back. As always when her eyes, that seemed nothing like the eyes of an ordinary cat, met his, a pleasant shiver ran down his spine. The cat fascinated him. She had these strange quadrangles around her eyes and she seemed to follow every word he said.
"You're one of a kind," he mumbled tenderly. "Why do I always think you know exactly what I'm telling you? You know I would ask you in, but Fiona's allergic to cats..."
Dougal groaned. The little figure on his lap was stealing his heart, or what's left of it, but he couldn't keep her. Besides, she looked far too well taken care of and clean to be a stray cat. All he could do was spending some time with her, while she rolled up in his lap and watched the sunset together with him.
He felt so peaceful, so at ease, that the mere idea to get up to have dinner with his family made him sick. Here on this bench with the cat the world seemed all right and full of opportunity, but his time was running out. As soon as the sun vanish behind the glowing skyline he had to go. And it was setting fast.
"I have to go now," he said in a quiet and a sorrowful voice. "Dinner's waiting for me."
The cat meowed again, stretched against his hand as he fondled her fur and jumped from his lap.
"See you tomorrow," he said, as she vanished around the corner and was finally gone as silently as she had appeared.