This was a plot bunny that arose out of idle chat with Garden Girl - thank you! - and might, or might not be one of a series.
The Tail of a Crup
"Boss, I really don't understand" Draco Malfoy frowned in irritation and puzzlement at Alastor 'Madeye' Moody. "Harry and I, we're aurors – not members of the Beast Division of the Ministry!"
"It may have escaped your attention, young man," he grated, "but I'm HEAD of the Auror's office, and last I heard, I was giving the orders."
"Yes, boss; but it seems an unlikely thing for anyone to have asked you to give orders about" said Draco, patiently. Moody's bark was always worse than his bite, and he did not like yes-men, even if he snapped sometimes at those who questioned him.
"Draco means, it seems a bit of an overkill to send two fully trained, albeit junior, aurors to go shake someone down about not having had the extra tail on their crup docked" said Harry.
"What he said" grinned Draco.
"Humph!" grunted Moody. "I wish you'd manage to say what you mean at times MISTER Malfoy instead of doing lah-di-dah Malfoy Manor Manner!"
This was a long standing joke, and Draco grinned.
"Yeah, posh we are, innit, boss" he said in the tones of Bermondsey.
"Don't push it" said Moody. "The reason I'm sending two of my best aurors is not just to shake down some stupid flobberworm-brained family over their blatant failure to comply with ministry regulations. The reason I'm sending you is because the pair of you have initiative – even though I doubt either of you could spell it" he tempered the compliment with sarcasm " – and the situation we have here might, or might not, be serious and well beyond failure to comply with ministry regs."
Draco elevated an elegant winged eyebrow and tossed himself negligently into a chair.
"We're all ears, boss" he said.
Harry pushed back his glasses where they were only imperceptibly sliding down his nose, ran a hand across the smooth top of his long, ponytailed hair, and sat himself in the other chair in front of the desk, nodding agreement to Draco's comment. Moody gazed at them affectionately. It never ceased to amaze him that one of his favourite young aurors bore the surname Malfoy; nor that Harry had managed to look as much as though he were a son of Severus Snape as of James Potter, by affecting Snape's long haired-style, caught back carelessly at the nape of the neck. He no longer needed the glasses, of course; Severus had performed a ritual to correct the sight, but the glasses were a trademark of Harry Potter, and it meant that by continuing to wear plain glass, he could discard them to go under cover and in doing so, completely change his appearance, so long as he wore his hair over the scar.
"The people who own the crup are not registered wizards" he said. "Not a single hint or suggestion that they have any family that we know; indeed to all appearances they might as well be muggles. That seems extremely unlikely since crups dislike muggles; so we fear a possible dark wizard using polyjuice potion to disguise himself and his followers as muggles – and possibly be ready to set up muggle-coursing or something. No magic has been detected at the house – perhaps they have a ward to hide it, or a fidelius charm within."
Harry and Draco exchanged startled glances.
"Or they might not be under polyjuice potion, boss" said Harry "But just have run foul of the ministry generations back and live as muggles – descendants of muggleborn perhaps? Who may be technically wizards, and therefore not hated by crups, but who have given up using it?"
"Well that's what I want you to find out" said Moody. "The pair of you are capable of handling any three dark wizards without breaking out in a sweat. Don't get cocky – constant vigilance!" he added by way of souring the compliment firmly.
"Great shooting, kid, don't get cocky" murmured Draco, unable to resist Star Wars to quote from.
"Aren't you a little short to be Han Solo?" misquoted Harry; and they went out laughing. Moody permitted himself an affectionate smile at their departing backs.
The lad playing with the white crup in the suburban garden was about eight or nine, skinny and with untidy hair.
"Don't go getting sentimental until we've proven you can" muttered Draco. "He might be a dark wizard who has the real kid kept under the draught of living death somewhere."
"A revelaspell will soon show that" said Harry.
"Are you MAD? If he's a powerful wizard he'll feel it cast!" said Draco.
"Then we'll know where we are, won't we?" said Harry uncompromisingly "And then we deal with the situation and bring him in. And if he isn't a powerful wizard, just a juvenile with unformed powers, then he won't feel it and we can take a more softly-softly approach."
"Rash as ever" said Draco "Though under the circumstances I can't fault your logic."
"Nor could I" said Harry "And I DO always try to think through my first, rash instincts the way Severus taught me to. It's part of what I am; and it's a part of my father, which I'm glad about, only I also have the caution of my mother that means I have a better chance of beating the odds to be an old AND bold auror."
"Being blooded doesn't hurt either" said Draco dryly.
"That too" he agreed.
Both young wizards were dressed unobtrusively as muggles in this muggle neighbourhood; and being a lot more in tune with muggles than most of the wizarding world they blended in rather than standing out like sore thumbs the way most wizards did when dressed in what they fondly believed to be muggle garb. The neighbourhood was a cut above the nearby council estate but the houses were semi-detached Victorian dwellings of the kind generally housing successful blue collar workers, or white collar workers at the lower pay scale. According to the muggle records the father of the family was a fairly successful plumber, self employed and paying tax on about two thirds of his earnings, and his wife was a part-time care worker in a home for the elderly. An unremarkable muggle family paying off a mortgage with enough over to run two cars and go out for a meal once a month.
Harry surreptitiously cast Scarpin's Revelaspell on the child, Draco holding a finger to his wand to receive impressions from his blood brother's spell.
They exchanged uncomprehending glances.
"You do it to check I'm not going barking mad" said Harry.
"All right" said Draco. "Don't know what you mean about 'going' though. You went barking mad years ago."
Harry ignored this and concentrated on feeling the spell Draco cast.
"Crumbs!" he said.
"That kid," said Draco, bewildered, "is a muggle. Possibly a low level sensitive – but no more. And the ruddy crup isn't biting him. I suppose it really is a crup not some mutant muggle mutt?"
Two more revelaspells were cast, confirming that the creature was, indeed, a crup.
"Now I'm seriously confused" said Harry.
"Doesn't take much" said Draco.
"Takes one to know one" countered Harry. "I think we ought to just go and ask where they got the dog. And take it from there."
"Well I don't have a better plan" he said.
"Hi kid," said Draco, "we'd like to talk to your parents about your dog."
The small boy put protective arms about the crup.
"If you owned Benjy's mother and let her die then you aren't having him back" he said fiercely. "You ought to have taken better care of her – he's the only pup who survived!"
"No I didn't own his mother" he said "I just recognise the breed and I need to tell your parents some of the special needs. If you saved the pup then kudos to you; how'd you manage?"
"Well I found him trying to suckle and she was dead and so were the others – under a hedge" said the boy, calming down and becoming a lot less defensive. "And he was so frightened, he tried to bite me a lot at first – see, I needed stitches!" he displayed a scarred thumb.
"Wow, you are a good brave boy" said Draco.
"I need to know about the special needs of Benjy too" said the lad.
"I think we ought to talk to your parents first" said Harry.
The child scowled and became defensive again.
"When grown ups say that they usually mean that it's something I'm not going to like, like deciding Benjy's a Pit-bull type they want to put down and he isn't" he said.
"Oh, nothing like that" said Harry hastily.
"Come and introduce us, kid" said Draco. "I don't suppose it matters if you listen in, saves going through it twice. Only please try not to interrupt too much."
The boy ran to a side door and ushered them into the kitchen. His mother looked up startled.
"Mrs Humphreys" Draco knew the name of the family, it having been part of their background work. His wand work was a masterpiece of subtlety to check that she, too, was a muggle "We'd like to talk about your son's dog; with you and your husband both, please."
The woman rinsed her hands but made no attempt to advance a hand to shake.
"He took on a stray fairly and we've been to the vet regularly – and you have the advantage of me" she said coldly. "If you're from the RSPCA there's nothing untoward. The pup is in fine condition."
"We aren't" said Harry. "This is Mr Malfoy and my name's Potter. It's a bit complex, regarding the special needs of the pup's breed which you may not be aware of. We're just concerned that he gets the best for his health, because it's a breed we recognise."
"Oh" said Mrs Humphreys, visibly calming down. "I thought it was a Jack Russell."
"There are certain superficial similarities" said Draco. "The double tail however is something of a giveaway."
"It's a genetic fault common to the breed? The vet knew nothing about it, he said it wasn't a case of conjoined twins, he thought it might be more like polydactyly – when an animal, well, or a person for that matter, has extra fingers or toes. Davy, get your father."
Shortly thereafter the plumber, a big, gentle looking man, joined his wife and regarded the young wizards with more interest than hostility. Draco and Harry both had the impression that he mostly took people as he found them but might be a man who once angered was a bad enemy; his opening comment tended to reinforce this.
"What sort of people leave a pregnant bitch to die, that's what I want to know?" he said, grimly.
"Yes, Mr Humphreys, it's something we want to know too" said Harry. "All owners of crups are supposed to be registered and licensed to own them – because of the special needs – and obviously there's no trouble accruing to you as you didn't know that, and as your son has done such a good job of caring for, er, Benjy, I think we'll probably be able to issue a license on the spot – once you're apprised of the special needs, if you think you can cope with them."
"I can afford vet bills for the lad's pet, we took out insurance too, so even if they're steep there's no discernable medical condition the vet could find" said Mr Humphreys."
"T'isn't that exactly" said Draco. He looked at Harry. "Harry, how do we tell them?"
"Straight up front" said Harry. "Mr Humphreys, Mrs Humphreys, there are many things that are not general knowledge to the majority of the public. The government IS aware however. Well, in theory; the Prime Minister is… well never mind" he added hastily.
"He's a minging little git and I wish I'd never voted for him" said Humphreys.
"Oh well, so long as we're agreed on the realities of life!" grinned Draco "He has a closed mind. All right; there's no easy way to break this."
He drew his wand; conjured a bunch of roses for Mrs Humphreys, caused the water in her kettle to boil, apparated teabags into four mugs and wafted the kettle across to pour tea.
"COOL!" cried Davy. His parents were quite paralysed in shock.
"There is a parallel world where there are those people who have an alternative way of tapping the powers and energies of the universe" said Harry. "My flamboyant friend is particularly good at locomotor charms. We call ourselves wizards and witches because that is what we have always been. Nowadays perhaps it might have been cooler to choose to call ourselves Jedi, but that terminology hasn't been around long."
"The force will be with us, always, however" murmured Draco, facetiously. "Our people have worked very hard to make wizardry a matter to be laughed at because we fear pogroms if some of the less open minded found out. Actually someone had to cast a spell to make the prime minister feel it unimportant to try as he was ready to blow our existence wide open to make us a scapegoat for the financial troubles he's got the country into as well as an unpopular war."
"Hm that sounds familiar" said Humphreys, who was still staring.
"They haven't had any opportunity to set anything up" said Mrs Humphreys. "All right, if you can do magic, can you tell me what's wrong with me?"
"With your permission?" Draco pointed his wand. She nodded; and he cast the revelaspell with more concentration on her medical wellbeing than on her blood status. "You have a growth within one breast. This is not easily treatable by conventional medicine. I can, however, remove it, and sear off the spread of it towards your spine and heart."
Mrs Humphreys gasped and paled.
"It's spread so fast?" she said "I'm due for chemotherapy…my first session is tomorrow. If you can remove it…"
Draco made a lazy movement with his wand, muttering a chant in Latin about diminishing and shrivelling. He held out his hand and an ugly fleshy mass appeared on it as Mrs Humphreys cried out and reached to her breast. He continued chanting then made a cutting motion with his wand.
"Ask for an examination before you let them treat you; tell them the lump seems to have gone" he said, casting Evanesco on the lump.
"I – there is no pain anymore" said Mrs Humphreys laconically. "I don't care how you did that, I'm grateful. However, I take it that Benjy is some kind of dog exclusive to your people?"
"Strictly speaking, a crup isn't a dog exactly at all" said Harry. "It's a canine of parallel descent and the two tails is a feature of it, the condition to ownership being that one tail is docked so that no awkward questions are asked by muggles – the non-magical. Generally they dislike muggles; I can only assume that the persistent love shown by your son to this pup at a young age has imprinted over the normal instincts to hate and fear muggles. It's a great thing that this should have occurred, but we're going to have to require you to have the extra tail docked and to be registered with the Ministry of Magic. Under the circumstances we can smooth the paperwork for you."
"Will I be able to do things like that?" asked Davy.
"Sadly, no" said Draco. "However if your parents and you are interested, when you're eleven there is a special school for those people born into our world who are not talented – an affliction to our people akin to being blind – and for those siblings and cousins of those who are born to muggle parents in whom the magic has manifested in the form of hidden genes. It is genetic. You would be able to learn to care for our magical beasts – and I think you have enough ability to be able to see them. We will gladly put your name forward and sponsor you, right Harry?"
"Right" said Harry. "This isn't compulsory; but we are always glad of friends who understand both worlds – because many of our people are woefully ignorant of, and fear muggles, and encourage their crups to display anti-social behaviour towards them. This is why they're licensed" he added. "To stop some of the more rabid idiots setting crups on inoffensive people."
Humphreys gave a bark of laughter.
"Do you know, that makes me more inclined to feel warmer towards you – that you admit to having rabid idiots. I had this horrid vision of goody-goody we-are-all-white-witches-please-be-nice-to-us wishy washy types."
"Oh not in the least" said Draco. "We have prophecies too – which are probably mostly so much hogwash until someone believes in one and then it's not good, Harry here grew up as the object of a prophecy and spent most of his schooldays having our wizarding Hitler trying to kill him. We won the war against him however" he added. "Harry and I are what's called aurors; policemen but with limited judicial powers."
"Like Judge Dredd!" said Davy.
"Well, not such sweeping powers as him but kinda sorta" said Harry. "No cool bikes though."
"Bite your tongue! I'm going to get a cool bike!" said Draco.
"Malfoy poseur" said Harry, amicably. "We can sever the extra tail now with no pain or distress to Benjy; I know how."
"The vet said it wasn't causing any harm" said Davy.
"No, but it might cause harm from the more rabid idiots of our people" said Draco. "This is to comply with our regulations. I don't think the vet needs to know why though – I think it might be better to alter his perceptions slightly to believe that he told you it should be removed and that he did it."
"I don't like this glib talk of altering memories" he said.
"No, and we don't like using it," said Draco, "but the alternative is to be open at all times, and do you really think the people a couple of streets west of here are, on the whole, going to take our existence with equanimity?"
"I can't see half our neighbours taking it with equanimity, let alone the Starhall estate people" said Mrs Humphreys. "To be honest I heard one of those Starhall boys laughing about it, and I dread having them beat up Davy for having a peculiar dog. I was going to ask the vet to crop it on grounds of not getting the boy bullied."
Draco and Harry exchanged a look. A mass confundment to just forget to think about the dog was in order.
"Very well, my dear, if you think it's wise – I don't think it's polite though" said Mr Humphreys.
"I'd rather be impolite than have our son bullied for having a wizard's dog, and frankly, good as our vet is, if Mr Malfoy and Mr Potter can perform an operation as cleanly and painlessly as Mr Malfoy removed that lump – and by the way, I didn't realise that it was making me breathless until now, when I'm not – then I'd rather have them do it. Can you do it now or do we need an appointment?" asked Mrs Humphreys.
"Bring him here, Davy lad" said Harry. "I'll make him drowsy, so" he gazed into the pup's eyes "And then a quick Diffindo and episkayo and it's all done."
The second tail fell off, the site of the wound healed and Benjy sat up, wagging his single tale and covering his young master's face with doggy kisses.
"COOL!" said Davy. "And I can keep him?"
"We'll move heaven and earth, talk very fast and if necessary blackmail the Minister of the Beast Division" promised Draco.
Alastor Moody spluttered.
"A crup? Owned by Muggles? And you're letting them KEEP it? Preposterous!"
"I don't see why not" said Draco, calmly. "I got Forsythe in the Department of Mysteries on my side as it's plain that the hatred of muggles is as much a matter of nurture as it is of nature, and therefore this experiment of having a crup reared by and with muggles is proof positive that they can be trained better, to more aptly comply with the Statute of Secrecy."
"You think you have all the answers, don't you, boy?" growled Moody.
Draco grinned and Harry coughed.
The cough said,
Moody threw up his hands.
"Well you managing pair have it all done and dusted, discovered that the bitch's owner died and left no heirs to care for the crup, and the boy's name down for Rowan House School… it could have been worse. There might have been something very nasty going on. Well, go and look at the board to see what the next job is; do you think you get paid for lounging around congratulating yourselves?"
Draco and Harry exited the office laughing.
Just another day in the life of an auror.
Bermondsey: the wrong side of the river and notorious for its criminal gangs. The birthplace of the 'wide boy' with concomitant accent…