A/N: Thanks for your reviews!
The next few weeks were spent in the same manner. Lying sleeping all day, keeping an eye on the Not-A-Rat, comforting my pet where I could, and spending my evenings and nights attempting to chase away the Not-A-Dog.
He was persistent certainly, and was there every evening in the grounds, actually seeking me out, as though I would help him. He followed me, whining, repeating the same phrase over and over again (probably the only phrase he knew how to say) and trailing in my wake, pathetically hanging on, acting very much like the animal he was pretending to be.
He seemed to refuse to acknowledge the phrase: Get lost. He completely ignored me, begging for help again and again. I hissed at him, spat at him, clawed him, but still, he stayed. He put up with so much abuse from me I almost began to respect him.
Things were not progressing well with the Not-A-Rat either. I could not get to him. The Ginger-Kitten had him in his pocket at all times, or locked in his room where I could not reach him, and I began to despair of ever killing him.
The Ginger-Kitten still hated me, and I still hated him. He scowled at me wherever possible, and aimed kicks at me whenever I went near him, though he never actually made contact. Weak fool. No courage to actually take action. No wonder cats are superior.
My pet was still struggling, and I spent a great deal of time with her. She was good to me, much better than my old pet had been, and always had time for me, even when she was buried in her books. The Ginger-Kitten didn't deserve her friendship.
The Not-A-Rat was under such constant guard, I spent hours at a time trying to figure out a way to open the lock to the male kitten's bedroom, but to no avail. I persisted however, determined one day to finally be able to open it. I lurked in dark corridors, following the male kittens into their bedroom before the door shut, but the damn Ginger-Kitten always spotted me, and kicked me out.
I'd get him back for this one day. Stupid fool didn't know I was trying to help him.
Times like these were when I considered recruiting the Not-A-Dog to my campaign; surely he was large enough to break down the door? But I always shied away from the thought, repulsed with myself for even considering it. He was just as bad as the Not-A-Rat; if he was half the size, he'd be in danger too.
I was mulling this over one evening as I stalked the corridors, searching for spiders or mice to eat, trying to avoid the caretaker's cat, that seemed to have taken a shine to me, when the stench of the Not-A-Dog met my nostrils. I froze, and then immediately raced off, following my nose, outraged that the creature had dared enter my castle.
I entered the corridor that led to the rooms slept in by the kittens and stopped just a short of the portrait of the fat Two-Legs with pink fur, and saw not a dog, but a man. Immediately, I realised the truth of the situation. The Not-A-Dog had changed into his Two-Legs form. It was difficult to see which form was the more attractive. The Two-Legs was just as dirty, smelly, matted and skeleton-like as the dog had been, and acted just as stupidly. He seemed to be arguing with the fat Two-Legs.
"Come on! Let me in!" he was yelling, his voice sounding like a bark.
"No entry without the password!" the fat Two-Legs was saying, her voice squeaking with terror in the same way the Not-A-Rat did whenever I came near.
"You know me! I used to come here! I'm a Gryffindor! Please, help me!"
"I can't. No entry without the password!" the fat Two-Legs continued, her voice quivering with fear. A mad light came into the Not-A-Dog's eyes. He brandished a dagger at her, one of those foolish weapons Two-Legs seemed to find superior to having claws.
"I'm warning you, let me in!" he said, his hand shaking on the hilt.
She screamed and threw her hands above her head. "No!" she cried. "I will not let you! You've killed before, and I won't let you do it again. I won't let you harm the Potter boy!"
Potter? I knew that name; it was the Four-Eyed-Kitten's name. This Not-A-Dog was after a friend of my pet? Now I was happier than ever that I had not trusted him.
The Not-A-Dog seemed to falter, and a dead light came into his eyes. "Harry …"
"Leave this castle, you murderer!"
The manic light was back again, and he waved his knife again. "Oh, I'm no murderer. Not yet at least."
And he slashed his knife at the portrait, sending the fat Two-Legs running into an adjoining portrait as fast as her bulk could carry her, screaming hysterically. Though she was long gone, the Not-A-Dog continued slashing at the portrait, crying in frustration, great strips of canvas dropping to the floor like confetti. He sobbed hard, and dropped the dagger, clutching at his head, pulling at his hair in torment.
He slumped to the ground, and crouched on his knees.
"I need to find you, Harry," he mumbled to himself. "I need to find you …"
My suspicions had been confirmed. He was after the Four-Eyed-Kitten, and possibly my pet as well. I wouldn't stand for this. I remembered the conversation on the scarlet vehicle that had brought us to the castle, the conversation the white owl had been so concerned about. This was the Two-Legs that was trying to kill the kitten.
I crept towards him, claws at the ready to attack him at his most vulnerable. I inched closer and closer, feeling the fire within me growing as I anticipated sinking my teeth into this imposter. He was a Two-Legs now, his teeth could not harm me in this form.
Then, something made me stop dead.
"The rat," he mumbled, clutching his dagger tightly. "I need to get to the rat. That scheming, stinking, filthy, no-good liar. I'll kill him for what he did. You see if I don't, James."
I had no idea who James was, and neither did I care to be honest, but … he was after the rat? My interest was piqued. I slunk into the shadows. Why on earth would a Two-Legs imposter be after another Two-Legs imposter? It made no sense.
After a while, the Two-Legs came to his senses, and hearing people in the distance, transformed into a dog, and sank into the shadows and crept away. I followed, determined to get my answers.
I waited until he was out of the castle, out of the grounds and far into the forest before making my move. He had curled up in the clearing before us, whining as he tried to get comfortable on the ground, resting his miserable head on his paws. I stepped out before him.
He leapt to his feet and growled, and I realised he was not in a good mood, but I stood my ground. I had the upper-hand here, and I was determined to let him see that.
You want the Not-A-Rat? I tried to ask him. He looked confused, as all dogs do, and seemed to frown. He spoke, his words still slow and uncertain as he adjusted to communicating like an animal.
A Two-Legs pretending.
Immediately, his hackles rose, and he came towards me, looking eager. I stared levelly back at him, claws at the ready.
What do you know about him?
I paused a moment, unsure whether to trust this Not-A-Dog.
My pet is friends with the Ginger-Kitten.
The Weasley boy?
… yes. That is what she calls him.
He looked excited now.
You know he's not a real rat?
I spat with displeasure. Of course! I am not stupid. Just as I know you are not a dog. Why do you want the Not-A-Rat?
He growled, and looked so menacing I almost took a step back. His eyes seem to darken.
He killed my friends. He threatens my godson. I want him dead.
So do I, I responded. I will not let you stand in my way. Two-Legs who impersonate animals deserve what they get.
He bounded forwards.
Bring him to me. Let me kill him. You have access to where I cannot go.
I want to kill him. I need to protect my pet.
I need my revenge!
I spat at him once more. I will not help a Two-Legs imposter. Get to him yourself. My only concern is myself and my pet.
He growled, but I was beyond caring, and sauntered off through the woods, leaving him frustrated.
Having the Not-A-Dog on my side may be helpful, but I'd be damned if I'd make it that easy for him. I'd keep him waiting until I was ready. Until I had figured out how to make the best use of my new ally.
"You know, I reckon Ron was right about you," the Four-Eyed-Kitten told me, after catching me trying to sneak into his room. "There are plenty of mice around this place, go and chase them. Go on, leave Scabbers alone." He nudged me with his foot, his foot. Oh, the indignity.
I wasn't best pleased about being grabbed by the tail and dragged backwards, especially as it continued to happen the rest of the morning every time I tried to sneak back up into the dormitory. I eventually decided to give up. The Four-Eyed-Kitten would almost surely tell my pet on me if he saw me attack the Not-A-Rat. I sat on the chair opposite instead and eyed him carefully, thinking over everything new I had learned about him in the time that I'd been meeting the Not-A-Dog in the grounds.
The Not-A-Dog had told me everything, though his 'speech' was still hard to understand. The Four-Eyed-Kitten was his godson, and the Not-A-Rat had framed him for the kitten's parent's murders. He wanted revenge on the Not-A-Rat, and the chance to get to know the Four-Eyed-Kitten. To be honest, I wasn't sure why he was bothering. This kitten was just as stupid as his ginger friend.
The Not-A-Dog begged me every evening to help him capture the Not-A-Rat, but I had still not decided to help him. I wanted to kill the Not-A-Rat, but the Not-A-Dog wanted to do it too, and we couldn't both be satisfied. The Not-A-Dog begged me, telling me that it was his right to kill him, and I suppose it made sense, and I was almost inclined to help him. Almost.
And I was still wary of trusting someone who pretended to be an animal.
But strangely, the following evening when next I met him, he was less concerned about the Not-A-Rat.
Is Harry alright? He asked as soon as he saw me.
I yawned and stretched. How should I know?
He fell fifty feet from his broom during the Quidditch match. Is he hurt?
I'd imagine so, I answered, not knowing or caring what Quidditch was.
I eyed him with annoyance, and cast back my mind to what I'd heard my pet and the Ginger-Kitten discussing earlier.
He is in the … Hospital Wing, but alive. The broom hit the Moving-Tree though. It is matchwood.
The Not-A-Dog whined. Poor Harry. If he's anything like his father, he'll be devastated about that broom …
I curled up on the ground, not listening. What did I care for the Four-Eyed-Kitten and his broom?
The Not-A-Dog had turned his attention back to me.
Have you agreed to help me?
I purred with a smug smile. Not yet.
How long will you take? Peter could hurt Harry or his friends at any time! That includes your pet, you know!
Despite myself, I flinched. My pet, stressed by the work she was doing needed no further complications to her life.
I don't trust you, I said instead. You are as much an imposter as the Not-A-Rat. Why are you any better? Why do you insult me by turning into an animal?
The Not-A-Dog growled slightly, but settled back on his haunches, and looked down at his paws.
It was to help a friend. We turned so we could help him, me, Peter and Harry's dad. He turned into an animal involuntarily every month, and we wanted to be by his side.
Ah, the Wolf-Man. Lupin.
You know him? The Not-A-Dog had turned on me. Is he here?
Yes, he looks after the kittens. He lives here.
The Not-A-Dog seemed to bark in delight. Excellent, then Harry is in good hands. I always knew Moony would make a great teacher.
I began licking my paws, bored by the turn in the conversation. I didn't care about the Wolf-Man. But I was intrigued that he had turned into an animal to help a friend.
The Not-A-Rat, he wanted to help this friend too?
But he turned against you. Killed the Four-Eyed-Kitten's parents.
Yes, he did. He betrayed us all. He has no honour.
My anger increased as I heard this. Cats are naturally self-serving creatures, but this was beyond even the most ambitious of cats.
And why should I help you?
The Not-A-Dog fixed me with a long stare.
Because you are not as carefree as you pretend. You love your pet, and Peter's presence endangers her as well.
He had a point. I carefully finished my bath, and rose to my feet, stretched and yawned, not letting him see how his words had affected me.
I'll think about it.
And think about it I did, for a long while. I lay stretched out before the fire one evening in the common room before the fire, when I heard my pet and her friends discussing the very creature I had been thinking about: Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew, the Not-A-Dog and the Not-A-Rat themselves.
They spoke about betrayal, and murder and a whole host of other things whilst I stretched and preened my beautiful fur, enjoying the quivering of the Ginger-Kitten's pocket as it sensed my presence.
Was he listening right now? Did he hear his name and regret what he had done? Did he feel guilty for ripping away the parents of his pet's closest friend? Evidently not.
I listened, and listened and listened as the Four-Eyed-Kitten talked about everything, having apparently swallowed the lies told to him about his godfather and the Not-A-Rat. I heard the pain in his voice, the anger, the grief.
And then I heard my pet, almost in tears, pleading with him not to do anything stupid. She cared about him, she really cared about him, in a way that she didn't care about me. She loved this Four-Eyed-Kitten, and the Ginger-Kitten (though I had no idea why) and she wanted to protect them both.
But they all were mistaken. The Not-a-Dog, Black, he had done nothing wrong (well, except impersonate an animal), and he was the one they hated. The true villain was the one lurking in the Ginger-Kitten's pocket. He was the one who had caused the Four-Eyed-Kitten such pain, he was the one who was causing my pet so much grief on his behalf.
And none of them had any idea.
Hours later, I crept out into the grounds to find the Not-A-Dog waiting for me. I sat before him, and casually began grooming my paw.
Perhaps you are right, I said to him. My pet is in danger. I must protect her. I will help you.
The Not-A-Dog's tail began to wag, making him look dopier and ungainly than ever.
I'm doing this for my pet, remember. The Four-Eyed-Kitten is up to you. I will help you get the Not-A-Rat. That's all.
Agreed, but can you do one favour first?
I meowed my displeasure as I padded through the village, a piece of salvaged and crumpled parchment in my mouth with some scribblings on it in stolen ink, making my way to the building with all the owls, feeling like an owl myself. This was the last favour I did for the Not-A-Dog.
I had no clue what a mail-order form was, nor a Firebolt, nor a Gringotts vault, but I wasn't happy about being used as a messenger-cat.
I pushed my way into the owl-building, deposited my parchment on the counter before a very astonished Two-Legs, and scarpered, before any of them could attempt to stroke me with their ink covered hands.
This Not-A-Dog had better not make a habit of getting me to do favours like this.
I was in this to get that Not-A-Rat away from my pet.
She was all I cared about.