Tom stared across the Great Hall at the Ravenclaw table. Liam Liddell sat with his back to Tommy talking to several other Ravenclaws. He knew that there was something about Liam that wasn’t right. Something just beyond his reach, but it was right there taunting him and it was maddening. It was all he could think about. Why did he just happen to be at the pub on New Year’s? Why did he just happen to be in Hogsmeade when they returned to school, especially when everyone else usually took the Hogwarts Express?
“Are you even listening?” Bill’s voice brought him back to reality.
“Huh, what?” Tommy shook his head clearing it.
“Where the hell were you for the past like,” Bill looked at his watch, “five bloody minutes.”
“Oh, mate I’m sorry.” Tom sighed as he rubbed his eyes. “I was just working through something and just kinda…”
“Flaked out?” Bobby laughed as he heaped shepherd’s pie onto his plate. “Geez and people thought I was spacey.”
“Oh you are so very funny.” Tom pulled a platter of roast beef near him.
“I try.” He said his mouth half full.
“As I was saying before you went off to, wherever it was,” Bill shook his head, “did you finish that ruddy paper on the goblin council of sixteen thirty two?”
“Oh lord that stuff puts me to sleep.” Bobby laughed.
“I am so bloody glad I dropped that class.” Tom laughed as he looked in between his two friends’ heads at the back of Liam’s.
Bill turned his own head toward the Ravenclaw table. “You better not be looking at a girl over there, I would hate to see Céilidh shipped to Azkaban for killing you.”
“I dunno… for some reason I think she knows how to kill and not get caught.” Bobby laughed.
Bill nodded, “He has a point.”
“It’s not another girl you gits.” Tom picked at his plate.
“Is it a bloke?” Bill arched his eyebrows.
Tom looked up. “Really?” He said sarcastically as he pulled a chunk off of the roll that lay on his plate and shoved it in his mouth.
The other two both shrugged.
“Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Tom’s eyes narrowed. “It’s not a bloke, and it’s not another girl. My mind was just wandering.”
Bill looked over his shoulder. “To the back of Liam’s head?”
“I can understand,” Bobby shrugged, “He does have a nice head of hair.”
The Gryffindor prefect laughed. “Sometimes you really worry me Bobby.”
“What?” Bobby stabbed his fork back toward his plate. “A man can’t enjoy another man’s hair now?”
“Oi, will you to gits give it a bloody rest.” Tommy glowered at the other two.
“Oh wait don’t tell me,” Bill filled his goblet full of pumpkin juice, “this is about your mad Liam Liddell is up to something idea that’s crept into your head since beginning of term isn’t it?”
“Oh I haven’t heard this yet,” Bobby leaned in and grinned. “This anything like that time…”
“Get bent, both of you.” Tom snarled as he picked at his roast beef.
“We’re just giving you a hard time.” Bobby reached across the table and gave Tom a light shove.
“Yeah,” Bill nodded. “But lad you gotta admit you don’t have any proof, other than strange coincidences.”
Tom opened his mouth to speak but closed it again. He knew they were right . As much as he hated it, without proof he was just chasing his tail.
Liam stood up and left the hall. Tom’s eyes followed him out of the hall. Tom excused himself saying something half heartedly about having to work on a paper for Professor Flitwick and dashed out of the Great Hall.
He was almost half way up the first set of stairs by the time Tom skidded out of the great hall. He desperately needed to follow him. Looking around quickly to be sure no one was paying attention before turning into a cat and racing up the stairs toward the Charms corridor and his next class with Professor Flitwick. Tom slinked down the corridor and past him completely unnoticed. Luckily Tom had a free period this afternoon and could afford to wait and watch. As the bell rang again and the hall emptied into the classrooms.
Looking around, Tom found himself a closet to hide in and wait. The door pulled open with creek. Inside the closet were your usual non flying brooms, mops, buckets and other cleaning supplies. This was the perfect place. Tom slipped inside. He would wait here and when Liam came out of Charms, he would follow him as a cat again until he caught him. he would get him for sure now.
As Tom waited, there was the tiniest of scratching sounds came from the back of the closet. Tom shrugged it off as the sound of a mouse in the back of the closet. then came the softest, buk.
Tom turned toward the back to the closet but it was too dark to see. He turned his attention back to the crack he had made in the door. A few moments later there was another buk behind him, this time much louder and followed by more buk’s getting louder and louder. Tom could feel beads of cold sweat build and trickle down the back of his neck. He knew he should turn around and look, but he just couldn’t. He knew if he turned around it would be there. He could feel something like hot breath on his neck.
The door to the closet burst open and Tommy busted running panicked from the closet. A loud
brrr-awk screeched from behind him as a jet of flame belched out of the closet, as a fire breathing chicken chased after him.
Céilidh sat on the couch in the common room flipping through a well read copy of Which Broomstick as the portrait hole swung open. Her green eyes looked up from the magazine and widened as Tom, his school uniform smoldering slightly, trudged in.
Her mouth opened to speak but Tom silenced her with a look. “Don’t ask.” He mumbled as he headed toward the stairs toward his dorm.
Several hours, and a change of clothes later, Tom was sneaking up the stairs toward the Ravenclaw common room. When he was close enough, he changed into his animagi form again and snuck in behind a first year who was returning from the library. Tom had been in Ravenclaw tower several times in the past, but never from this angle. Even though he was a larger cat than most in his wildcat form, he could still pass for a house cat albeit with brilliant blue eyes. As Tommy wound his way around the furniture toward the back of the common room where Liam sat huddled with Brett Douglas and Moira Brennan. Tom’s heart felt like it was about to leap out of it’s chest as he crept closer and closer to the table.
“What a cute little kitty…” A pair of pink fuzzy socks, complete with the feet and the rest of the body of Ambrosia Sheridan, stopped in front of the furry intruder. “…that doesn’t belong here. Are you lost pretty kitty?” Before the kitty could get away, she reached down to gather him up and cuddle him in her arms.
“Look, Danny,” she called to her friend. “Isn’t this the cutest kitty who isn’t Monkey? Don’t you just want to love him to pieces?”
Danny peered at the large cat then laughed involuntarily. “Tha’s nae a kitty, hen. It’s a Tom cat.”
Tom let out a frustrated and strangled meow as he struggled in Rose’s arms trying to get back to the table where Liam sat. “And he’s so cute!” Rose answered her housemate with a wicked grin, stroking Tommy from head to tail with enough pressure flatten his hair.
The cat gave Rose a murderous glare.
“Ah’m wonderin’ gif the poor dumb beast kin breathe.” Danny had gotten himself back under control and his face showed no sign he recognized Tommy. “Ye micht want tae loosen yuir grip.”
“Oh no.” The blonde’s eyes sparkled with mischief. “I’m never letting this cutey-face go. Just look at him…” She held Tommy out, still keeping a firm grip in case he tried to twist away. “Don’t you just want to hug him to death? After all, I’m sure he came in here because he was lonesome and needed some lovin’.”
Danny raised his eyebrow. “Let’s nae get too friendly wi’ him. Micht hiv fleas gif he’s aw lee lane.”
Tommy hissed. and struggled against Rose, making sure not to use his claws.
“Naughty boy!” Rose’s shoulders shook from the effort of holding in her laughter. She set the cat firmly in her lap and held him there. “If you’re going to wander into strange rooms you should at least be polite.” Something between a strangled laugh and a snort finally escaped her lips. “Or I’ll go get the hair bows.”
“Mrrrrrrrrrrr.” the Tomcat moaned. I’m beginning to think this was a bad idea.
The blonde’s eyes grew wide. “Ohhhh!” she exclaimed in sudden understanding. “He has to go potty. Don’t worry, everyone,” she announced as loudly as possible to every Ravenclaw within earshot. “The kitty just needs to go potty. I’ll take him out.” Then, satisfied that she’d been mean enough, she lifted her friend over her shoulder and began to walk toward the door.
Another meow came from Tommy, this time one of agreement. Scratching his head, Rose grinned back at Danny. “You’re going to help me. You’re good with cats,” she told him, giving him no choice about accompanying her.
Dan heaved himself off the blue and bronze couch with a sigh, a wry smile still on his face. “Awricht, but Ah’m nae cleanin’ up after him.”
The cat’s eyes narrowed on Danny as they went out the door of the Ravenclaw common room. Once the door was firmly shut behind them and the tower stairwell was checked and rechecked for any other signs of life, Rose set the angry cat down on the stone floor and prudently took a step or two backwards.
“You really are a cute kitty,” she giggled.
With a slight pop the cat turned back into Tommy. “That was bloody uncool.” He hissed kind of like the cat he had been moments before. “And was quite a bit embarrassing.” He grumbled.
“Ye fergot,” Danny said, interspersed with laughter, “bloody hilarious.”
The blonde leaned against her friend and co-conspirator. “It really was. You made it so easy… sneaking around our common room like that… without even giving your friends a heads up…”
“And if I had said Hey I’m gonna sneak in and spy on Liam is that cool? you would have said…?” Tommy crossed his arms.
“Ah’d say we shoud let Monkey do it an’ ask him later,” Danny said with an eyebrow wiggling. “An’ failing that, Ah’d say gae ahead. Ah kin he’s been a wee bit stalkery wi’ ye an’ Foozle. Nae tae mention Nic an’ Ginger.”
“He’s still been perfectly nice to me. But I told you… if you suspect him of doing things, I support you.” Rose shook her head. “But I don’t know what you expected to hear in there. Our common room isn’t the most exciting place in the world.”
Tom sat and thought about it. “Yeah well,” he sighed, “you never know what people will say in their common rooms.”
Chuckling as he thought about how he found out about Nicolette and Foozle, Danny nodded. “Or whit they micht do…” The Ravenclaw Gent paused for a moment. “Foozle was tellin’ me aboot some muggle film he’d watched… some sort of secret agent used something tae listen in on his target. Would that work?”
“I wouldn’t think anything muggle made would work in the castle. I remember it saying something in Hogwarts: A History that…”
“Ah meant the knuts, brither,” Danny said rolling his eyes. Tommy knew he’d never read the book about the castle they called home for half the year.
“Oh…well…” Tom looked down at the floor, “I hadn’t thought of that.”
Rose wrapped her arms around her friend in a gentle hug. “Well, Danny’s the one to talk to if you want any help thinking of brilliant things like that,” she winked at her housemate. “I would have told you to hold a cup against the wall or something.”
Tommy rolled his eyes as he hugged Rose, “Ravenclaws.” He said with a laugh.