Long before he acquired a Malfoy and a name, Felix was an odd Niffler.
Categories: Humor Fics Characters:
Written for the Fantastic Beasts Challenge.
1. Felix Meets the Malfoys by Kerichi
Felix Meets the Malfoys by Kerichi
Long before he acquired a human and a name, Felix was an odd Niffler. He didn't wriggle his way toward his mum after birth. Instead, he blindly headed in the opposite direction, following the smell of growing things until his mum picked him up by the scruff of his neck and dropped him next to his littermates. Distracted by a new hunger, he rooted for sustenance like the others. As soon as his belly was full, however, he scooted away. Not far, because he was tired and didn't have the hang of walking yet. He curled into a ball, drinking in the scents carried into the burrow by a warm breeze.
The day Felix weaned himself, he scrabbled down the tunnel to go see all the things he'd smelled. None of his littermates followed. They were content to drink milk, wrestle each other, and sleep. He alone stepped out of the darkness into light so blinding he slapped front paws over his eyes, lost his balance, and tumbled.
Down a hill.
His squeak of surprise became a squeal of joy. The world was an intoxicating blur of aromas and textures: sweet, earthy, slippery, and crunchy. Felix came to a stop on something soft and kept his eyes covered until the world quit spinning. When he lowered his paws, something gleamed, and he whimpered.
Shiny. So shiny. Instinct flared to life. He lunged toward the object he'd never seen before yet craved more than mother's milk. The unnatural ground beneath him, slick and darker green than grass, caught his claws. He whimpered in frustration.
"Look, Draco," a female human voice said. "A baby Niffler's on our picnic blanket!"
Felix froze. Humans. They were real. He'd thought his mum was trying to frighten him into staying in the burrow when she'd told stories of the bi-pedal magical creatures. Dreadfully needy, humans were. Couldn't make it on their own, not even when they mated and had young, so they forced other magical creatures to guard them and provide companionship.
"I've always wanted one," the male human--Draco--said.
The object that held Felix transfixed moved closer. It circled one of the stick appendages attached to the human's paw. Dazzled by white gold brilliance, Felix rubbed his snout against the shiny circle. He barely noticed the human's other paw freeing him from the blanket or lifting him into the air.
"Are you going to keep him?" the female human asked.
"I have Scorpy."
The female human said, "This Niffler is alive."
"And fluffy." Draco sighed. "Scorpy was the best companion on adventures a boy could have." After a pause, he said, "He still naps in a silver hammock on my bedside table. He'd be jealous."
"Then what shall we do with this little fellow?"
Draco said, "We'll give him to Scorpius."
A Scorpius, Felix discovered, was a young male human with pale hair on his head. After much excited chattering, Draco's pup, also called "son," named Felix after a constellation.
"Don't you mean Felis, darling?" Scorpius's mother--called "Astoria" and "Mum" in the human, multiple name fashion--asked in a gently corrective tone.
"I changed it because he licks," Scorpius said.
Felix continued licking his new companion's salty skin. He didn't bite, because the stick appendages with their short claw tips petted him instead of causing hurt. After Draco chanted something called a Fidus spell to make the Niffler a loyal and non-destructive member of the family, he led everyone to the garden for "tea". Another human served food and steaming dark water while Felix pranced from one shiny object to another.
"No one touches a spoon until I cast Sanitising Charms," Draco said.
"Let Felix explore the garden," Astoria told Scorpius, who carried the Niffler to a bed of blooming things and put him on the ground.
A burst of warmth filled Felix. The young human didn't order him to stay close at all times like a Niffler mother. Scorpius wanted his companion to explore. The magic that enabled Felix to understand the general meaning of other creatures' speech conjured up images of wandering wherever his Niffler nose led. He sniffed. His mouth watered. He tracked the scent and clawed through topsoil to reach his prize: a juicy earthworm. Felix ate his fill and carried the other half back to his companion.
"Do you think he wants to save the rest for later?" Scorpius asked.
Felix jumped onto the boy's knee and then onto the flat surface laden with human food. He dropped the worm in front of Scorpius.
"Isn't that . . . sweet," Astoria said. "He's giving you a present."
"Consider it payback for the presents you used to give us in your nappies," Draco added. His flash of teeth startled Felix. Did human fathers bite their young? Niffler fathers spent most of their days hunting grubs and worms and slept after returning to the burrow with food for their mate. Felix's mum, on the other hand, nipped her pups to dislodge them from her teats whenever she tired of nursing.
Draco didn't smell of milk. Astoria and Scorpius showed their teeth as well, confusing Felix further. Then the humans all made rumbly sounds. Happy instinct told him. Happy family. He bared his teeth a little to show he understood the creatures.
"He's smiling! He likes us!" Scorpius cried.
"I hope that's a smile," Draco said in an undertone to Astoria.
Felix licked Scorpius's paw.
The young human and Niffler explored the gardens, chased fairies, and, after dinner, hunted treasures called Galleons that Draco and Astoria hid inside the human burrow.
"Here, you can keep one," Scorpius said.
Felix held the round shiny to his chest with his front two paws, eyes closed in bliss, tail wagging.
"Accio camera!" Astoria said. There was a whoosh and a few clicks. She declared, "I shall title the photos Adorable Avarice."
"He's the bestest best mate in the whole world," Scorpius said. He pressed something soft against Felix's snout.
Felix licked to return the gesture of affection.
"Bath time. Right now," Draco said. "And wash your mouth with soap, son."
Human baths were different than Niffler ones. Astoria didn't lick her pup clean. Instead, she filled a milk-coloured "tub" with water. Draco helped Scorpius remove the scraps humans used to cover their bare hides.
The human pup dove into the tub. "Felix wants a bath too." Before Felix could hide in the space beneath the tub, Scorpius plucked him off the floor. Felix bit the Galleon to free his paws and leapt onto his companion's head, gripping wet human hair with his claws.
"Accio camera!" Astoria said.
Draco snagged the object that flew into the room. "No," he said. "Drawing the line, dear."
Once his panic subsided, Felix relaxed his death grip. Draco held the Niffler and allowed him to rub his muzzle against the shiny circle on the human paw. After Scorpius hopped out of the tub, he reached for Felix with wet hands and edged away from the large scrap Astoria held out for him.
"Nifflers air dry!" Scorpius yelled as he ran from the tub place into the human burrow tunnel, glancing over his shoulder with a wide display of teeth.
He crashed into an older male human with long hair.
The new human kept Scorpius from falling by gripping his shoulders. "Why is my grandson running naked through the manor with a rodent in his arms?"
"I'm pretending to be a Niffler, Grandfather," Scorpius said. "Like Felix."
"Is that so? I thought I'd made it clear inside pets are unwelcome at Malfoy Manor." The grandfather's human's cold tone made Felix shiver.
"Felix isn't a pet. He's my best mate!" Scorpius cried.
"And these are our private quarters," Draco said. "If y--you don't care for Nifflers, Father, you may leave."
Scorpius turned. "But it's Grandfather's night to tell me a story."
"Wizard Tales. They're his favourite," the grandfather said. His show of teeth was a display of aggression, not happiness.
The Niffler growled in warning. He was young, but his claws were sharp. Nothing would hurt Scorpius when Felix was around.
"Hmmm," the grandfather said. "A guard Niffler? Perhaps it has slight value." He told Scorpius, "Wizards get bedtime stories. Nifflers don't. What are you?"
"I'm a wizard!" Scorpius said.
"And which House will you be Sorted into?" the grandfather asked.
"Never forget it." The grandfather patted Scorpius on the head. "Run along and dress. I'll read to you after I have a chat with your father."
Scorpius raced away, holding Felix high. "It's a bird! It's a broom! It's Super Niffler!"
After an exciting dash through the human burrow tunnel, Scorpius darted into a space that smelled like him and placed Felix on his nest. "Tomorrow we'll play heroes. I'm the Green Knight." Scorpius rummaged around and put on scraps. He climbed into his nest and stretched out, covering his lower body and Felix with bedding material. "Stay under there. Grandfather's not used to you yet."
Felix curled around his shiny Galleon. Humans were very warm. Snuggling against Scorpius was almost the same as cuddling with a littermate. Better. He didn't feel smothered or annoyed. Scorpius wasn't pinning him down and holding him back from exploring. Scorpius explored with him.
"Ready for your story?" asked a silky voice. The grandfather. Felix growled.
"Shhh!" Scorpius whispered before answering, "Yes, sir!"
"Are you sure? I can leave if you'd rather spend the time with your best mate."
"I want to hear a story," Scorpius said.
The nest dipped a little. The grandfather sat. "Any particular one?"
"The story of the clever Slytherin who helps a hag to make her owe him a favour."
The bedding shifted. The grandfather's voice was closer when he asked, "Enjoy the thought of holding a debt over someone's head, do you?"
Stories about evil ones who hunted Nifflers came to Felix's mind. If a snake could speak with human voice, it would sound like the grandfather: mesmerizingly dangerous.
"The hag's funny," Scorpius said. "Her face turns red, and her eyes shoot blue sparks."
"I've never mentioned the hag's eye colour."
Felix tensed. Was the grandfather readying to strike?
"How interesting that you pictured them as blue." If he'd been a snake, the grandfather would be swaying to hypnotise his prey. "A Ravenclaw colour. Is it your favourite?"
"Of course it is. You're a Malfoy through and through." A short rumbly sound followed. The grandfather was happy now. He told Scorpius the story and slithered out.
Scorpius immediately stuck his head under the covers. "Best mates keep secrets. I told a lie. My favourite colour is blue." He showed his teeth, so Felix displayed his. They each made happy rumbling sounds.
There was a tap on wood, and then, "Do you think we have ghosts, darling? I hear laughter, but there's no sight of Scorpius." Felix recognised Astoria's voice.
"I believe our son has cast a Disillusionment Charm," Draco said.
Scorpius pulled down the covers. "I was telling Felix a secret, Dad. Is that pot of dirt for him?"
"Yes. In case he needs to, erm--"
"Poo?" Scorpius picked Felix up. "Let's see."
"He'll find the dirt when he needs it," Astoria said. "Put him down. He isn't a toy." She sat on the mattress and reached out to stroke Felix's back. "He's a magical creature adjusting to new surroundings and strange companions."
"D'you think he misses his family?" Scorpius asked.
Astoria didn't answer for a few seconds. "Not like you would. Felix is an unusual Niffler. Very young to have left his burrow. He has the heart of an explorer."
"I'm an explorer too!" Scorpius said. He peered into Felix's eyes. "We'll have adventures every day and be best mates forever."
Felix liked the sound of that. He licked his companion.
"Merlin, not on the lips," Draco said.
"He wants to kiss you and Mummy goodnight, too, Daddy." Scorpius held Felix up to his mum. She leaned down to let the Niffler lick her cheek.
"I can't," Draco said, "It would make Scorpy jealous. I'll shake Felix's paw." He did so before pressing his lips to Scorpius's brow.
Draco and Astoria left, taking the light with them. Humans, unlike Nifflers, didn't sleep in a tangled pile of bodies. They slept in different burrow spaces. It was a welcome change. Scorpius didn't give off as much body heat as a Niffler. His was comfortable warmth. Soothing. Felix's eyes started to drift shut.
"Tomorrow we'll explore the woods beyond the fairy garden," Scorpius said around a yawn. "Wake me when you get hungry. I'll take you out to find worms." His breathing slowed.
Felix hugged his shiny Galleon and thought of his mum. If she missed him, it wouldn't be for long. There were too many of his littermates to care for. He didn't really miss her either. Nifflers didn't need each other the way humans did. His mum was right about that; humans needed the companionship of other creatures. She was wrong about it being dreadful. His humans were delightfully needy, and gave as much as they took.
As he drifted off to sleep, Felix uttered a few contented, happy rumbling sounds. Tomorrow he would explore, and later tonight, when his belly gurgled with hunger, he and his companion would go hunt worms.
When I came across the Fantastic Beasts challenge prompt to write a story about a Niffler, I couldn't help thinking of Felix, who I introduced as Scorpius's pet way back in chapter eighteen of Our Little Secret. I hope readers enjoyed learning how Felix met Scorpius and throw me worms, er, reviews, which are shiny things prized more than Galleons! :D
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.