FIC: "Days of Cats and Cabbages" for gryffindorj Recipient: gryffindorj Author/Artist: ??? Title: Days of Cats and Cabbages Rating: NC-17 Pairings: Sirius Black/Arabella Figg Word Count: 4,257 Medium: fiction Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): *none*. Summary: When Sirius and Buckbeak escaped from Hogwarts, Sirius didn't know where to turn. Author's/Artist's Notes: Many thanks to L for the fabulous beta, and to I for the spotcheck. gryffindorj, I tried to fit in several of your favorite things. I hope you enjoy.
Sirius shivered as Buckbeak flew through a cloud. His hands were beginning to cramp from holding on. His escape didn't feel quite real. The air was so thin and cold that he couldn't help expecting the touch of a dementor.
The worst thing was that he didn't know where to go. He couldn't go back to Harry. Remus was still at Hogwarts. Merlin knew he had no relatives who would welcome him. And James was still dead.
He ran through Order members in his head. Most of them would be only too happy to send him back to Azkaban. No. All of them would be only too happy to send him back to Azkaban.
Looking down, he realized he was trending south, towards the muggle town through which he had tracked Harry last summer. That already seemed like another lifetime, when he had had a mission to drive him. Now, here he was fleeing from everything he had been pointed towards. Harry didn't seem to need him. He had been the one to send him away. And this town he was flying towards -- there wasn't anything worthwhile there. Even as Padfoot, it had been clear to him that the muggles there were no friends of Harry's.
Still, Padfoot's memories were comforting, with their rich world of sound and smell. So he let himself drift in them to distract himself from the pain in his hands. Everything always seemed simpler in dog form. There had been a nasty black cat that spat and hissed at him, just begging to be chased like a four-legged Snivellus. There had been a fat boy who threw stones and then ran when he growled at him, and a little girl who gave him half of a very muddy sandwich.
But best of all were the smells. Wafting through all the memories were the wonderful smells. He could feel it now, the intoxicating pull of rubbish bins overflowing with lovely rubbish and food. He especially liked nosing the greasy papers that had wrapped yesterday's fish and chips. But all of it smelled wonderful: the delicious bits of cold roast, the bubble and squeak with it's smell of potatoes and cabbage... Cabbage. What was it about cabbages that kept bothering his human mind?
That was it! Hadn't he smelled that squib lady -- what was her name? Figgy. He'd smelled Figgy near there. He was sure of it.
Good old Figgy. She'd hung out on the edges of the Order of the Phoenix for a little while. It had been over ten years since he'd seen her, but he was willing to bet she was still the same odd duck she'd been back then. No matter what time of day it was, she would have the look of someone who had not quite got up yet, who was just padding around the house in her slippers and meant to get dressed later.
"Poor thing," the older witches would whisper to one another. But the young wizards could not seem to take their eyes off the numerous places where buttons didn't quite meet buttonholes or fabric floated clear of skin. It was no wonder she had a reputation for being friendly with the lads.
Sirius was never sure whether she was blind to the social rules or just didn't give a damn. He supposed she just didn't need to care. Like many squibbs that came from old money, she'd been given one of the family vaults at Gringotts and was more or less set for life.
In any case, Arabella, or Figgy as they all called her, would let the "kids" crash at her London flat after Order meetings. He remembered beaded curtains and the twin smells of cabbage and marijuana. There was always food on the stove: strange stews or a big pot of soup. They'd wake up to bubble and squeak and muggle music on the radio.
Buckbeak had to be getting close to Figgy's neighborhood. Maybe she would listen to him. Or maybe he could bluff that he still had his wand and she wouldn't dare turn him in. Either way he would be there soon. Smiling, Sirius pressed with his right knee and signalled Buckbeak that it was time to start their descent.
With just the beginnings of a plan he began to feel cocky again. He was at his best improvising and making it up as he went along. Preparations were for Ravenclaws. Plans were for Hufflepuffs. And really detailed plans were for Slytherins. He was a Gryffindor and wild swoops of chance were his element.
He strained to make out individual houses. It was hard to translate his doggish memories of scent and sound into the bird's-eye view he had now, but after a little bit he identified the house that had smelled like Figgy.
Aiming for the little spot of grass, Buckbeak came in at such a steep angle that Sirius could see over his head. For a moment he thought he was going to slide right over the slick, feathered head and fall. But then Buckbeak's great feet touched the ground, talons raking the dirt as they bounced, then skidded half a meter.
And Sirius promptly fell off. He was working at untangling himself from the ground when he heard the slam of a door. Instantly, before he could even process conscious thought, Sirius the man was gone and a great shaggy dog sprawled out across the grass with its tongue hanging out.
"What have we got here, Mr. Tibbles?" It was the voice of an uncertain little girl, high-pitched, with a little bit of quaver at odd spots. It didn't smell like a little girl though. It smelt like talcum powder with the faintest hint of cabbage. And the groin that crouched down by his nose smelt adult and musky like -- like Figgy. Padfoot poked his nose at her and took a deep whuffling breath.
"For shame, dumping stray animals in people's yards. What's the country coming to?"
Padfoot took another deep breath. Definitely Figgy. He gave a sneeze and tried to look adorable.
Figgy's only response was to say, "Here boy!" and snap her fingers at him as she headed back into the house. He followed her to the door, with the cat, who must be Mr. Tibbles weaving in and out between his wobbly legs; and they both trotted into the house after Figgy's retreating scent.
Figgy set out a blanket and a dish of water. Padfoot was too tired to do more than look at the water. Surely, if he kept to dog form, he was as safe here as anywhere else in England. He began pacing a narrow little circle on the blanket, before curling up into a snug bundle of fur and drifting off.
When he woke up, daylight was spilling into the kitchen and Figgy was doing some muggle thing on one of the counters. As he stirred, Figgy put down what she was doing. She stood looking down on him with her hands on her hips. "OK, we can go on pretending you're a dog and I can feed you some delicious kibble; or you can tell me who you are and we can talk about where to put the giant bird that Mr. Tibbles says you left in the yard."
Padfoot just looked up at her and thumped his tail vigorously on the floor.
"Very well, kibble it is, but bath first."
Padfoot trailed mournfully up the stairs behind a chattering Figgy. His entire body radiated the unhappiness that most dogs associate with that horrible word "bath."
The actual bathroom was a small room with an odd padded floor and green porcelain fixtures.
"We'll be getting you sorted out now," said Figgy as she turned on the water taps and half-lifted, half-pulled, him into the bath with her.
The shower was some strange hosed contraption that Figgy pulled down from a hook. Padfoot let out a sudden startled yip, as a spray of water filled the air around him; but Figgy merely took a firmer grip on him and began rubbing shampoo into his fur. She didn't even seem to notice the water running down her own face and clothes or the way her dress began molding to her body. She wasn't the thirtysomething of his memories. Her skin had grooves it hadn't had before. As she worked the shampoo through his fur he could see a tendon working in her arm.
He pressed his dog nose into the wet fabric over her belly and breathed deep all the smells brought out by the warm water. There was his own wet scent of dog and the lemony scent of the shampoo, but there was also an enticing smell of human skin that made him want to chew through this silly fabric that was keeping his tongue away from her. If only he had hands to rip off this silly dress, hands to slide down the curve of her belly --
Then suddenly there he was: a thin, wet man in ragged grey robes, standing with an equally wet woman in a muggle bathroom.
He opened his mouth as though hoping words would fall into it. He hadn't consciously meant to change back. Surely she believed he was a murderer. Surely...
"What are you standing there for? Take them off. Unless you want me to wash them on you. Wizards! Useless, the lot of you, without your wands."
Sirius' hands froze in place for the longest time, and he realized he didn't want to undress. He'd never been shy in front of a girl before, but Figgy had known him from before. He wasn't that person anymore. He didn't -- He couldn't --
"Oh for crying out loud! You've been naked in front of half the girls in London."
And he supposed he had, after all he had the memories, but this body didn't feel like something that had ever seduced a girl. He felt ashamed and awkward and like his body was some object he'd found under his raggedy grey robes. It wasn't him.
Finally his fingers moved and followed the orders from some more logical part of his brain. Slowly he pulled the robe over his head and handed it to her. He expected her to take it and then go away, but instead she simply dropped it and put her hand on his naked arm. From a long way away he looked down at her hand on his arm and thought, "That's my arm"; and "Why is she doing that?" while she aimed the warm spray of water at his chest. He barely noticed when she let go of him to reach a clean flannel.
Yet the second she took his arm something had begun to happen. The touch went deep inside him, dancing like an electric spark, and then he was suddenly fully inside his body, hungry and wanting to be touched.
Everything rushed into him at once: the nubbly feel of the flannel on his chest, the hot water coursing over his shoulders and down his chest, the rush of blood into his cock, the wet feel of the rubber mat under his feet.
And it was so good to be back in his body. Arabella kept working the flannel over him as though nothing had happened, as though washing escaped prisoners was an everyday event.
"Figgy," said Sirius, "I'm alive." And he opened his mouth to laugh, but then her mouth was over his and suddenly he was in the middle of a hot, wet, watery kiss. "Figgy," he tried to say, but it came out as more of a groan as her tongue came into his mouth. She was pressing up against him and he was pressing back so that she moved back step by step until her back was against the wall and he was frotting against her, feeling the curve of her belly and thighs through the wet fabric of her dress. She felt so good and warm and alive.
And he felt alive in return.
His cock rose in little jumps as though it wanted to climb her. He did want to climb her. He wanted to be on her, in her, over her, under her. They were mashed together till his whole body was a map of her edges. Where she ended he began. They were working to become one body, squirming and writhing against each other.
Figgy dropped the shower head altogether. He heard a clank as the shower head hit the hard porcelain of the bath, but neither he nor Figgy paid it any mind as it sent a wild spray of water hissing and drumming off of the shower curtain. It was raining up, then sideways, as the shower head pulsed, ignored by their feet. The very air around them was the hot exhaled breath from a kiss.
His cock was pushing up and out and he frotted like a first-year in love with his mattress. He could feel his balls tighten as he strained silently towards orgasm. The only sound was the fierce drumming of the spray that drove sideways into the shower curtain and danced around their ankles.
The water was already starting to get cold as he came convulsively on the two of them. He reached a hand down to finish her off, but she pulled away shaking her head. "Dry first, Mr. Dog."
The bathroom was an utter disaster. The whole room appeared to have taken a shower. Luckily, she seemed to find the situation as funny as he did. Sirius had never cleaned anything the muggle way, but he helped Figgy cover the floor with towels to soak up the water that was squelching up through the carpet. He tried to lift up the carpet, but strangely it seemed to be attached to the floor at all points. He hadn't thought muggles used sticking charms.
Figgy had given him a dressing gown, but it wasn't any proper wizard's clothing. It was blue and pink with frills and it tied with a big fuzzy belt. For a second he'd thought she was pranking him, but then he remembered this was Figgy and shrugged it on with a laugh. She probably hadn't even noticed it was a girly thing.
They descended the stairs giggling like a couple of teenagers (though he really wasn't sure if she was laughing for the same reasons he was). Then they tucked into a hot breakfast of tea and porridge. Strangely, they ate it sitting on the living room sofa. He wondered if that was a muggle habit or just one of Figgy's eccentricities. Either way it was wonderful to eat good solid human food. When he began scraping the bowl she went back into the kitchen and made clattering noises before coming out with kippers and toast.
On his second cup of tea Sirius started eying Figgy again. She must still have been damp when she put on her -- well, whatever that monstrosity of thin but brightly flowered fabric was called. Or maybe she'd gotten it wet in the kitchen. It clung in interesting places and he could see the faint outline of a nipple making a darker shadow under the cloth.
He couldn't decide if she was inviting him or simply oblivious to him, but then everyone knew squibs were odder than a mermaid on land, so anything was possible. He reached out in the general direction of the toast, but in passing he ran his hand casually over that lovely nipple. Ahh, she was definitely interested, and probably more tasty than breakfast. He looked her in the eye as he ran his tongue slowly over his lips before sliding down between her legs. She smelled good. The cats gathered to make a silent critical study of his technique, but Figgy yowled and shuddered half off the sofa and then they were sharing a salty wet kiss that was vastly better than tea.
Figgy told him that her cats had vouched for him and that was good enough for her. So he had a small island of safety here in Little Whinging. He couldn't go outside as a human, but it was still an incredibly relaxed existence. Days drifted by. It was like a long holiday out of his school years, a stretch of time unconnected to the daily routine of classes. It was days of sleeping in, breakfast in his pyjamas (decent wizardly ones pulled down from the attic), and shagging at all sorts of times in between.
No, it was more like a long holiday out of the fantasies of his schooldays. His schoolboy conquests had always been fast shags in empty classrooms or under the quidditch stands. It had never been this slow leisurely affair of shagging in any room of the house with no schoolwork, chores, or responsibilities.
In the full spirit of taking advantage of this bounty, Sirius had started a mental list of the house's large furniture items and an even larger list of the sexual positions they made possible. It was an ever-expanding list.
Figgy said she might know of a safehouse or a way to get a muggle identity. She went into London with the declared mission of renting an owl, but he didn't take it too seriously. She was blunt, and funny, and erotically wonderful, but she wore slippers when she went out. He didn't expect great plans from her.
Arabella had a nasty time finding a place that would rent an owl to a squib. She was fairly sure they'd charged her double, but all that mattered was that the owl was winging it's way across the water to her sister-in-law's third cousin in Tunisia. She had written to ask them if they would help find a seasonal job for a friend. She was pretty sure she didn't need to explain why a young British wizard might be eager to take a low-paying job in another country. They'd just assume he had silly ideas about exploring and "seeing the world." The worry was that they might not put real effort into their welcome. So she'd been very careful to say that if they couldn't spare the time, she'd be delighted to visit and show him around herself. Needless to say that was as good as threatening to tell the entire village that their family had produced a squib. She'd made the message even clearer by writing with a muggle pen instead of a quill. It was a cruel thing to do, but needs must.
Still, she'd wait for the reply before she called the trip a success. No point in counting your thestrals before they're hatched.
The reply came sooner than Arabella expected. About a week later she arrived home from the corner shop to find all the cats staring at an intruder. A beautiful blue-breasted bird as large as a chicken was camped out on her kitchen table above the cats. When it saw her coming in the door, it leaned forward and raised it's wings as though it was considering launching itself across the room. Then it appeared to reconsider. Instead the huge bird gave a very unbirdlike bleat and and held out its leg.
There was the answer. Yes, they would be delighted to introduce her young friend around. No, there was no need for her to make such a tiring journey.
Arabella told Sirius that night. He was strangely quiet for a few silent beats. Then he cocked an eyebrow at her and declared that there was no possible way he could leave without ever having fucked in the kitchen. She laughed, but somehow they didn't get to having sex at all that night. Instead they watched a bad film on the telly and made popcorn. Sirius seemed fascinated by the idea that she could make maize kernels go all puffy without any magic at all. She wasn't sure he understood any of the film, and she knew she didn't, but they sat together in the dark and watched the moving colored shapes until the credits rolled.
Arabella woke to the feeling of something tickling her nose. She shook her head hard and a shimmering blue feather drifted onto the linens. She was sure the feather had not landed on her by itself. Looking at Sirius only confirmed her feeling. He had the look of a boy who had done something wrong and knew he was definitely going to get away with it. Merlin help her she loved that look.
Arabella stroked the feather over her hand and watched the way each strand shone in the morning sunlight. Then she looked back at Sirius. He was halfway out of the blankets, with the sunlight drawing bright lines across his bare chest. He was grinning like a kneazle that has had entirely too much cream. No, the feather had definitely not landed there on its own.
She smiled at the feather. Then she reached over and ran it oh so lightly over Sirius' chest, barely skimming over the flesh. He went still the way somebody does who is trying hard not to sneeze or laugh. There was an unnatural tightness in his muscles.
Arabella carefully traced a sunbeam down to where it disappeared at the blanket's edge. Then she burrowed under the blanket. It was a dim, warm shadowland, with only a faint light filtering through the blanket, but she could see the solid mass of his thighs and the soft line of his cock. Experimentally she ran the feather over his limp shaft.
Just as she reached the crown his control broke and blankets went flying every which way in a fit of laughter. Then they were play wrestling, neither one trying too hard, but both grinning like maniacs. They both fought dirty, tickling and touching and nibbling. Soon any loose bedding was on the floor.
Arabella was laughing as she blew noisily into his belly button, then her lips were grazing his shaft and suddenly there was silence. Aha, I've found his off button she thought to herself, as she swirled the tip with her tongue. Inch by slow inch she took him in, fingers playing soft games with his balls.
Then, suddenly she felt a soft kiss below her own belly as a finger nosed its steady way into her folds. With a gasp she pulled off of his cock. He chuckled before his own tongue went back into action, making small wet sounds between her thighs. She gasped again then set about making sure he lost his own composure. It was clearly a contest, but what the rules were, no one knew. If the goal was to fluster the other person or to lose control themselves, they were both on the road to victory. If the goal was to maintain control, they both lost in a monumental rout, as they each shuddered and then lay panting and shaking in a sweaty mess.
They'd agreed that night was the best time for Sirius and Buckbeak to leave, but it needed to be a dark night, in case any wizards were watching the sky. Of course as soon as they decided this, Little Whinging had a string of spectacularly clear nights, lit by a majestic moon.
A few extra days shouldn't have been a matter of stress, but things began to feel strained between them. They had several unusually awkward conversations that puzzled Arabella, until it finally dawned on her that Sirius was doing his gallant best to prepare her for the fact that he was leaving. It was almost sweet. It didn't seem to occur to him that she wouldn't sit here mooning over him like a schoolgirl. After all, she had been doing an awful lot of looking after him, and might like a break, not to mention a garage free of hippogriff dung. Wizards, she thought, were just like cats, sure they were the center of the universe and sure they were superior to all other life forms. It would be funny if they weren't so deadly serious.
Actually, it wasn't just wizards. Men in general were like stray cats. One took them in and fed them. They purred and arched if you scratched their ears right. Then one day they had moved on to somebody else's porch.
She didn't mind. She liked her cats and she liked her men. That she didn't really own the arrogant things was part of their appeal. So she didn't worry when Sirius began to look restless. She'd have him out of here soon, and some other creature would come drifting through before she got lonely again.
It was late at night when Arabella packed up food and supplies in an old rucksack. Sirius leaned against the garden shed, canting his hip like a muggle bad boy, cigarette dangling casually from his lip. He was just a silhouette in the dark, mouth somewhere near the red-tipped glow, and Arabella couldn't help seeing the arrogant young rebel he'd been years ago. She had always been a sucker for cigarettes and good hip bones. It almost made her nostalgic for the days when she had hung round the fringes of his crowd, hoping he'd notice her.
Well, she supposed that had happened now.
He tossed her the box of fags before mounting his hippogriff and arrowing into the sky. She stood for a long time in silence. Then she smoked her own cigarette and went inside.