Ch1: Felony is such an Americanism

Arabella stared without blinking at the newly installed television in the bakery in town. She'd merely gone to pick up a loaf of bread for dinner, but had ended up with her eyes glued to the wretched box as she watched the most dramatic news story unfold in real time.

It seemed that a group of young hooligans had managed to commandeer a tan Volvo; one that looked suspiciously like the car that Arabella had leant to Molly for the day to pick up the children from the station. She couldn't be quite sure, until the camera from the helicopter zoomed in on a medium-sized boy with messy black hair, who had climbed out onto the roof of the vehicle and was now making terribly rude gestures at the pursuing police vehicles. The glimpses of red hair from inside the car confirmed it. Molly was going to have kittens, Arabella thought. A moment later, the boy she was sure was Harry, threw something and the entire roadway was near instantly engulfed in a thick grey smoke.

When the smoke cleared a minute later, the car was nowhere to be seen. Arabella sighed, finally paid for her bread and began the walk home, trying to think how she was going to tell Sebastian that his favourite not-nephew had committed another arrestable offence. She shuddered involuntarily. When would the boy learn a sense of the law? She prayed once again that she wouldn't see her ward end up in Azkaban.

As it turned out, Arabella didn't have to say anything as it seemed Molly had arrived at the house with Percy, and had informed her uncle of at least the fact that the boy had stolen the car. As Molly was just finishing up, the squealing of tires could be heard as the wanted Volvo skidded to a stop.

"That was so wicked! I can't believe Arabella didn't tell me there was an invisibility booster installed," Harry yelled. Arabella's eyebrows shot up in silent accusation at her brother. She certainly hadn't put an invisibility booster on the car. "Ron, we're home. Ron, wake up!" Harry continued yelling. The occupants of the house were still as they watched and listened to the chaos that was just deposited outside the door.

Harry wrenched open the rear door of the car and Ron tumbled gracelessly to the pavement. "OW! Whadja-do-that-fer" Ron mumbled incoherently, trying his best to wake up.

"Ron, you can't possibly tell me that you managed to sleep through that entire thing, can you?" Fred asked, his voice dripping with disbelief.

"Why not? It was just Harry driving a car. Not like we were being hunted by dark wizards, fighting massive snakes, or trying to outrun Muggle Please-men."

"Ron… we were outrunning Please-men," George informed him. "There were sirens, and Harry was driving like a drunken sailor."

"At least until he climbed out the window and let Ginny drive," Fred amended.

"Oh no, mates, I must have really just been knackered," Ron shrugged. "Why were we running from the Please-men, anyway?"

"That is a very good question, Ron. It is certainly something I'm going to have to speak with Harry about," Sebastian called out. "Now, you lot get home. I have some things to discuss with the little car thief, here." Even Harry recognised the sure-fire signs of an impending parental lecture, and so he shuffled into the house slightly less euphoric than he had arrived.

When he passed Mum Weasley, she merely shot him a look of utter disappointment. She didn't appear to be too angry with him, though, so he supposed that was one small victory. Harry walked into the familiar living room, removed his trousers and sat cross-legged on the large squishy armchair that Mum preferred when she was nursing a new litter of kittens.

"Why did you remove your trousers, Harry?" Sebastian asked, with a weary note clearly evident in his voice.

"It is kind of warm, Sebastian. I don't like clothes that much anyway."

"Well, I didn't bring you here to discuss your clothing habits, boy. I hope you understand what, exactly, you've done with Arabella's car."

Harry looked at the older man, confused. "I drove it and we ran away from some bad men. Was there something I missed?"

"Harry, you stole it."

"I borrowed it with liberal intentions, Uncle. I did bring it back."

"Firstly, that's semantics. Secondly, calling me Uncle is not going to butter your way out of the fact that you committed a felony."

Harry stared, perplexed. "What's a felony?"

"It's a… well… it's an Americanism-thing for something bad."

"So since we're in Ottery Saint Catchpole, that means I'm not a felon," Harry retorted.

"Listen, Harry. You stole Arabella's car. Which, in and of itself, I can understand. I stole my father's car to go for a joyride nine or ten times, myself. However, I did not get caught by the police."

"You mean Please-men."

"What? I don't think…" But Harry interrupted.

"Muggle men in blue uniforms, they're called Please-men. Arthur said so, and he works with Muggles every day, so I should think he knows. Besides, they weren't real please-men anyway."

"What do you mean?" Sebastian asked quickly. His mind was already racing with possibilities. Had someone decided on trying to kidnap his ward? Were dark wizards getting cleverer? Was Harry really a nutter? All were distinct possibilities.

"Well, we pulled over, because that's what Fred said we were supposed to do, and when the please-man came up he asked me for a license thingy, but I asked him if we might go. He said no. So I asked him if we please might go. He still said no. I said please a few more times, but he told me no and then said to get out of the car. I knew right then that he was a fake. They didn't respond to please, and I'm quite sure they were going to steal the car from us. To top it all off, Ron was sleeping, what was I supposed to do?" Harry finished his tone clearly exasperated.

"What does Ron sleeping have to do with anything?" Sebastian demanded, throwing his hands up in the air.

Harry raised one eyebrow sceptically, "Have you ever tried to wake him up?"

Sebastian ran his hands over his face once more. "Harry, I've tried my best to teach you right from wrong, and I understand your parents did, too. We aren't always the same on everything, but really, you can't just go flaunting the law as though it doesn't matter."

"I would have paid attention if they were real, Uncle."

"They were real, Harry."

"Then why didn't they respond when I said please?"

"Because they are Police, Harry, not please-men."

Harry stared, perplexed. "I don't understand. Can I go unpack my trunk now? I need to say hello to Mum, Father and the others."

Sebastian waved his hand dismissively. "I suppose. When you get back, you'll have to tell us the whole story of this year. We've only heard pieces from Arthur and when I came to visit you."

Harry nodded vigorously and hopped off the chair. A moment later he was on four legs, speeding towards the corn crib.

"My adopted nephew is a felon," Sebastian muttered.

"Felon is such an American term, brother," Arabella interjected as she entered the room. He didn't do any real harm, not that I'm excusing his behaviour, but perhaps we should wait until he gets into real trouble before worrying."

"Bells, I'm trying to make sure he doesn't get into real trouble. At least not trouble he can't get out of. I don't want the boy in Azkaban."

"I should hardly think that's likely, brother."

"You didn't think it was likely he would steal your car."

"He didn't steal it. It is parked outside. He borrowed it liberally."

"He's getting to you."

"No, it is just so much fun winding you up," Arabella smirked. With that, her brother threw his arms in the air, stood and marched into the kitchen to find something to eat.

'Harry is here!' Several of the younger toms mewed, and at once he was set upon by a dozen of his siblings.

'Let him get his bearings,' Father chided. Harry was released from the cat pile almost at once, and stood up. To his shock he realized he was nearly nose to nose with his father. 'You've grown. You're nearly a full-grown tom.'

Harry began purring involuntarily at the praise. 'Where are Merlin and Agrippa?' Harry asked. His two litter mates were surprisingly absent.

Father gazed at him for a moment, the silence imparting the serious nature and Harry began to fidget. 'Agrippa found a mate. He left a few days before you got back. Merlin came off the worst in a fight with a pack of local dogs.'

'Is he… dead?'

'No, Arabella has him in the house, but he lost an ear, an eye and most of his tail. I don't think he'll be hunting anytime soon.'

'I'm glad he's not dead at least, but Agrippa found a mate? He's too young for that!' Harry protested.

'Not all my kittens take as long to mature as you do, Harry. It was time and she was quite fit. Big powerful paws, wide hips, and the sleekest coat I've seen on any molly besides your mother. He made a right fool out of himself the first time she came on the property, but they got on alright in the end. Which reminds me, my young tom, even as a human you'll be coming into a special time in your life soon. We need to have a talk, tom to tom. '

'Yes, Father,' Harry replied, silently wondering what on earth his dad would want to talk to him about.

'Now, your Mother is waiting in the den with a surprise for you.'

Harry mewed happily and rushed in to see what it could be. He skidded to a halt a paws width away. His dear Mum was lying on her side, with three kittens, their eyes still closed from birth. Kittens weren't new to him, of course. He'd seen several new litters come into the world, but it never ceased to amaze him when they did.

'Welcome home, my little tom.' It was obvious she was still exhausted from the ordeal. 'I tried to ask them to wait, but they were insistent that they be here when you got home.'

Harry chuckled to himself. 'I'm okay with that, Mum. How are they? Does Arabella know, yet?'

'They're as lively as can be expected. Arabella hasn't seen them, yet, but you can tell her if you want.'

'They're beautiful,' Harry marvelled. They were all three mollies, perfect calico triplets. Only their smells marked them as different. 'They all look the same.'

'I know,' Mum replied. 'I think it's a sign. My mother gave birth to my two sisters and me the summer before Isis took her. We all looked the same, too.'

'Mum… what are you talking about? You're still young. I heard Arabella say we could live to be thirty or more.'

The matriarch closed her eyes and lay back once more. 'In a cage or a house we can, but not here in the wild. We live longer because we have a human to protect, but I was not a young mother when you were born, son. I've lived ten or eleven summers since then. When I go, don't be sad. All Kneazles go to sit with our lady.'

'I always pictured you fighting with Bast, Mum.'

'Our lady's warrior guard? You give me too much credit, my boy. Only the bravest and fiercest Kneazles can saunter into battle with Bast to do battle with our lady's enemies.'

'You're the bravest mum I've ever known.'

'Thank you, son, but no more of this sad talk. Tell me, how was the forest this year?'

Harry smiled half-heartedly and lay down on his side. 'That bad?' Mum asked. Harry merely glared and began his story.


"What are you boys doing up there?" Molly yelled. She was beginning to get unnerved. Harry was spending considerably more time with her twin boys than she was really comfortable with, especially when it got quiet. She was used to the explosions and little bangs and pops that frequently emanated from their room, but she was always worried when things were too quiet.

"They're helping Harry with his potions work, Mum," Ginny said as she bounded down the stairs. "Blimey, what's for breakfast? I'm famished."

Molly shook her head. "You're getting as bad as your brothers, you know that?"

Ginny huffed indignantly, "I am not! I have table manners."

Molly laughed lightly. "And a good thing that is."

"What did Mum Weasley want?" Harry asked Fred.

"Dunno, but I think Ginny took care of it. Now, you want to be careful when adding your crushed beetles to this bit. We've found that if you add them too quickly the whole thing goes sideways."

Harry nodded and focused on following the older boys' instructions. Fred and George had been gracious enough to continue Harry's tutelage of Potions outside of school, provided he helped them with a few of their more basic designs.

"What does this one do, again?"

"This potion is the key ingredient to the smoke bomb you threw when we were speeding home. Now, just a few more counter clockwise stirs… perfect! Now we just let that simmer for a few more minutes and we can take it off the heat. Add a little corn starch and pack it in those small clay jars. Works every time."

Harry beamed at his success. True, he needed more guidance than Hermione would, but he was sure he'd do better when he returned to Snape's dungeon. "These things are brilliant. When do you try and sell them to the Ministry?" Harry asked.

"That's the trick, Harry. We can't try and propose a sale without enough product to let them try it, which we have, but then we'll need the capabilities to make a lot more, quickly. All told, it isn't going to be easy and it isn't going to be cheap. We'd need at least a thousand Galleons to start. Two thousand would be even better. We don't have the money, and no goblin is going to lend a couple school kids two thousand galleons. So, until we can raise the money, we're a bit stuck."

"On the bright side," George continued. "Bill sent us back a couple of the products he tested in Egypt. Seems like all the curse breakers are mad for theJinx-Repelling Cloak and Detection Knut."

"What's a Detection Knut?"

"We charmed a Knut to light up when there is an active ward or jinx in a certain area. Apparently it saved them nearly a whole day on one tomb, because they didn't have to go yard by yard checking for ancient magic. Allowed him to move along smartly and get the treasure out. Bill hasn't told the Goblins how he did it, yet. We think he's angling for a raise first. The rest of his team went nutters for them, apparently. So we might have a bit of a market there."

"Sounds good, mates. Can I ask you something else?"

"Sure, Harry. What's up?" Both twins replied in unison.

"Why has your mum been so obliging this summer? It's been three weeks and I've already run through the yard naked twice, blown up your room and lit myself on fire. Yet, she hasn't said a word the whole time. She'll give me disapproving glances now and then, but she never says much."

"If I had to guess, Harry, she feels badly."

"About what?"

"Bloody Hell, Harry, from what Ginny said she cracked you across the face, twice. If you knew our mother like we do, you'd know she never has hit one of us."

"Might have kept us on the straight and narrow, though, so I can't say it's all for the best," Fred joked. Harry merely glared at him.

"Right, well, she cracked you a couple of good ones, didn't she? I heard she tried to apologise at the station, but you stole the car so she couldn't do it then, and apologising isn't something that comes naturally to Mum. I'd say she's trying a little repentance because of what she did, but I wouldn't push it."

"She also recognizes what an outstanding influence you are on us."

Harry shrugged his shoulders. "If you say so. Truth be told, it was just unnerving me. It isn't mum if she isn't yelling at you or swatting you off windowsills. I thought something bad might have happened to her."

"It really didn't bother you?"

Harry shrugged. "She was right in a way, and it isn't the first time. Try getting picked up by your scruff when you're eight. That's uncomfortable."

"You're one odd bloke, you know that, Harry?"

"So I've been told."

At that moment, the door burst open to expose a breathless Ginny. "Come on, Harry! You told me you keep up with my hunting lessons this summer. We've only been twice in three weeks."

"Alright, alright, keep your shirt on, Sparkplug."

"I wonder how long he'll keep saying that?" Fred whispered none too quietly. Ginny's face flamed bright red, and George punched his brother in the arm.

"That's our sister, you git!" Before the situation could devolve into a total sibling brawl, Harry followed Ginny down the stairs.

"Bye, Mum. Harry and I are going out for a bit."

"Stay close, dears. Don't go any further than Aunt Arabella's house."

"Sure thing, Mum," Ginny called out as she raced out the door. As Harry made to follow her, a strong hand landed on his shoulder. Turning, he came face to face with Molly.

"Do keep an eye on her, will you, Harry?"

"Of course."

"Thank you. Puts my mind at ease. Don't forget, dinner is in three hours."

"Yes, Mum Weasley." With that, Harry sprinted out after the retreating form of his human.

The days became a pattern after that. Mornings were spent training with Sebastian, who had insisted that Harry become as fleet footed on two legs as four, and so he had built a rather large obstacle course in the back yard. Harry would try to run through it as quickly as possible, without losing his balance. After a few warm up laps, Sebastian began shooting non-lethal hexes at the boy, who then had to contend with not being struck as well as not falling. The afternoons were spent hunting with Ginny or helping Fred and George with a potion experiment, and the evenings were for family. Harry tried as best he could to make up the fact that he was gone nine months out of the year and spent a great deal of his time simply recanting tales from his days at Hogwarts to his wide eyed siblings.

Mum was shocked to hear that he'd flown, and Father was mildly concerned about his friendship with a car. 'Motor vehicles can't be trusted. They'll as soon run you down as look at you,' he'd said, but Harry paid him no mind.

Thus it was rather unusual when Ginny came bounding into Harry's morning obstacle course. "Paws! Paws… you… won't… believe… what… dad… got…" she panted.

Bounding off the greased balance beam, the young teen rushed to his friend's side. "What happened, Ginny?"

"Dad got us tickets to the World Cup!"

Harry and Sebastian both looked at each other and shrugged. "Come again, Sparkplug?"

"Paws, you're prat. England is hosting the Quidditch World Cup this year, between Bulgaria and Ireland. Dad got us all tickets!"

"Even me?" Harry asked.

"Yeah, apparently Mum really pushed to make sure you could go."

Sebastian chuckled a little. "Molly, you're not a bad mother," he muttered.

"What was that Uncle S?" Ginny said.

"Nothing, dear. Come on in, I suppose you'll be looking for Ron, next."

"Yes, where is he?"

"The same place he's been for the past month for most of the day, escaping your mother."

Harry rubbed his head thoughtfully, "Truth be told, I haven't seen him much, but we've been so busy I've hardly thought about it. Where is he?"

"With your brother, Merlin, upstairs in the guest room and before you ask, you're finished for today. Lord knows I won't get anything more useful out of you."

Harry nodded and sprinted after his human who had already made a mad dash for the house.

"Ron!" Ginny exclaimed. "You'll never guess what Dad just got."

Ron looked up slowly at his sister and with an exaggerated motion put a finger to his lips. "Shhhh…. You'll wake him."

"Wake who, Ron?" Harry asked, as he bounded into the room.

'Me, you inconsiderate arse,' Merlin meowed as he lazily stretched.

"Well, I guess it doesn't matter now," Ron muttered. "Now what brought you rampaging in here like Goyle with a good case of the clap?"

"Dad got tickets to the World Cup!" Ginny squealed.

"Sweet… oh dear… best dad ever," Ron concluded and then sat back in the armchair and smiled, petting the Kneazle on his lap rather vigorously.

"How long have you been coming up here, Ron?" Ginny asked.

"Since a few days after term ended. I came over to borrow a cup of sugar for Mum and auntie roped me into helping put medicine on this poor sod's ear. Helps to stop the infection. Not that this little bugger appreciated it. Uncle S only found me a month or so ago, but I've been here a little longer than that."

'It hurt you nitwit,' Merlin scoffed. Harry smiled ruefully. He was all too aware that Ron couldn't understand Merlin any better than he could understand Mermish. Ron merely glared at the Kneazle as he dug his claws a little harder than necessary into Ron's leg.

"And you've been hiding here all this time?"

"Hardly hiding, Ginny. We've been spending quite a bit of quality time together. We also go for walks and get out and about. Healers said I need to stay active to help my leg, and this poor bugger can use another set of eyes. Do you think Trelawney would let him in class if I told her he was my third eye? Or maybe my seeing-eye Kneazle?"

'Harry, please tell my human that his jokes are both tasteless and dull.'

"I dunno, I thought they were kind of funny," Harry replied. Merlin merely rolled his eyes and began taking a bath.

"Oi! Don't you bathe at me in that tone," Harry growled.

Both Ginny and Ron were staring at him with extreme scepticism. "What on earth are you talking about, mate?" Ron asked.

"You don't… never mind. Why do you associate with this flea ball again?"

"Well, I figure he and I, we're the same, yeah? We both got hurt by some bad things and we're half of what we were. Together though, we're stronger than that, and we're both survivors. Isn't that right, Merlin?"

Merlin flicked his tail in mild agreement. 'Yes, now if you want to continue surviving you'll see that I get a treat later.'

"Ron, I think your friend wants a treat," Harry observed, mildly.

"You think so? I forget you can talk to them. What does he say?"

"All sorts of things, mate, but you'll have to figure some of that out for yourself," Harry replied.

Ron merely smiled and stood slowly, the metal brace on his leg making a ponderous creaking noise. "Mum said she was going to get some Dervish and Wallbanger's Magical Squeak Remover. That stuff makes all the squeaks go away," Ginny observed.

"I know, but I have to wait until this evening, don't I? I can put up with a little noise until then; I've put up with worse."

Both Harry and Ginny nodded at Ron's sage words. A loud screech and the rapid fluttering of wings ended the impromptu introspective analysis of their feelings. "Pigwidgeon!" Ginny exclaimed.

"I really hate that name," Ron muttered. As much as it pained him to disagree with his human, Harry had to agree. Pigwidgeon was a dumb name, even for prey.

Merlin watched the small owl with interest. 'I think I may keep this human, Harry. He orders takeaway.'

"Ron, your friend wants to eat your owl."

"Damn!" Ron cursed. "You know what, Ginny, keep the bloody bird. I can't do a thing with him and he prefers you anyway."

"Ron, you don't have to do that," Ginny mumbled, shocked at the suddenness of her brother's declaration.

"It isn't like I can have the little bugger around with Merlin, and I can't get the letter off his leg!"

Ginny shook her head, and then grabbed the owl. He immediately stopped hooting and carrying on. She gently untied the letter and then gave firm instructions that he should return to The Burrow.

"What does it say?" Ron asked.

"Nothing much, just that Mum expects us home for dinner in half an hour."

Rising laboriously once more, Ron groaned. "I guess that means we should get going then, doesn't it? You coming, Harry?"

"No, I don't think so. I promised I'd help Mum with dinner tonight. She can't hunt because of the kittens and Dad and a number of the others are investigating the potential of a group of foxes that moved into one of the hedgerows in the next field over. So, a couple of us are all that are left to get moles for tonight."

"Why moles?" Ginny asked, knowing her friend's strong predilection for squirrel and rabbit.

"Mum always asks for mole when she's nursing."

"How are the little fuzzballs doing?" Ron asked.

"The kittens' eyes are open now, and I think Mum will be taking them to meet Arabella soon."

"That's good, but Ginny and I had better be off. Come on, Merlin," Ron called. Merlin merely raised one eyebrow, and gave Ron a steely glare.

Ron returned it equally. "If you want any of George's steak and kidney pie, you'll hop along smartly."

At the word 'steak', Merlin was off the chair and by Ron's side. 'Why didn't you say so in the first place, human?'

"Why not Percy's?" Ginny asked quickly. Ron winked.

"Because, dear sister, the whole family has been picking on Percy since he was old enough to know how to spell the word 'git' and as such has become quite astute to such mundane things as nicking food from his plate. George, on the other hand, is a prankster whom no one has dared to challenge and he never sees it coming. I don't get put next to Percy anymore, anyway. He usually sits between you and Mum. Now come on, there will be food waiting for us when we get there."

Merlin mewed his agreement.

AN: Thus, dear readers, begins the next installment of Kneazle Harry's life. This chapter has been put up rather quickly due to the fact that GUK has received over 1000 reviews! Thanks to each and everyone. I am asking, politely of course, that if you have a Fanfiction account please leave signed reviews. I want to try and respond to as many as possible, especially any questions you might have. Another huge thank you to all the members of TEAM UPDATE allowing UPDATE MAN to strike quickly. I hope this satisfies.