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The forest

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Title: The Forest

Summary: Harry flees from Privet drive to a forest when she is ten. She lives there for six years until Draco goes camping in the same forest searching for some very rare ingredients. She leaves with him as a cat. A mock duel between Lucius and Draco compels her to change into her human form. Female Harry Potter/Male Draco Malfoy.

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter characters and related material. I do not make any money from writing this story.

Chapter-1

A strange friendship

Harry wipes her body with a leaf of a banana tree and ties few others she had borrowed from it around her upper body and hips. The leaf covers only half of her thighs. It doesn't matter though. There is no-one in this forest except her and the animals. If someone comes, she transforms into a cat and hides somewhere. Being a cat is nice. She doesn't get tired and can cuddle in small places very easily. Her fur prevents her from getting cold.

She walks towards an apple tree and plucks a juicy looking apple from it. After washing it in the river and wiping it properly, she starts eating it. Many years have passed since she came here. She doesn't even remember the last time she talked to another human being.

Life is hard in this forest but it's good. Animals in this forest are not harmful and there are plenty of fruits and vegetables. When she feels lonely, she transforms into a cat and plays with other animals. At-least she is not subjected to cruelty of her relatives here.

She sits down and leans against an oak tree, eating her apple. She is quite hungry and she knows that an apple is not enough. She will have to collect some more fruits.

"Bloody Severus." She freezes when she hears the voice. It seems a bit annoyed.

"Why did he have to send me?" The voice continues softly.

She gets up and transforms. The transformation is swift and quick. Over the years, she has done this a lot. Slowly, she walks towards the voice.

She peaks at the boy the voice belongs to, hidden in some bushes. He is blonde and tall. He seems her age and is setting up a tent, grumbling all the while.

She walks slowly to get a good look at him but her paws slip and a groan escapes her mouth. Of course, he hears it.

XXXX

Draco hates no-one more than Severus right now. The man just had to send Draco to this big and cold forest when he could have given an easier and a less messy task to him. How is he supposed to-

A soft 'meow' breaks his train of thought and he whirls around to come face to face with the most beautiful cat he has ever seen. It's completely white in color except for her eyes. Her eyes are dark green. It's not very short and not very large either. She is about 9 inches tall and so very beautiful that he can only stare at her. She is just standing there looking at him.

He wonders if she is frightened because she is backing off very slowly.

"Hey. It's okay. I am not going to hurt you." He whispers and kneels down on his knees. She stops backing off and murmurs 'meow', her eyes at him.

"Are you hungry?" He asks and she starts walking towards him. Just when is in front of him, she gives him a barely perceptible nod. He stares. She understands him. He murmurs if she is some kind of a magical creature.

"I have set up a tent for myself just over there. I was about to prepare some porridge for myself. Will you like to eat it?" He mutters and she looks at him before saying 'meow' again and walking towards the tent.

He gets up and chuckles incredulously. For a cat, she is quite intelligent. Maybe he is right and she is a magical creature. He has never seen such a beautiful cat.

Slowly, he walks towards his tent. It's quite spacious and he has made a makeshift kitchen in it. He brought an oven for himself and some utensils. He will have to use fire to cook food of course but he knows how to. This is not the first time he is camping.

The cats walks towards the oven and looks at it, as if surprised. Then it walks towards his couch. It climbs on it and cuddles, staring at him once again. He is standing at the entry of his tent, wondering whether this is real or just a dream.

"I will have to cook outside. Do you know where I can get a few logs of wood? It's quit dark outside." He asks, testing the waters and she lifts her head, as if thinking about it before nodding and murmuring, "meow' again.

He will have to write to Severus about this. If she is some kind of magical creature then they need to protect it. She looks vulnerable and so soft.

She gets off the cushion and walks towards him.

"You can sleep on the couch after we eat. Do you have a family?" He asks and she stops in front of him, lifting her small head to look at him. Her eyes are so mesmerizing. Draco has always been against keeping pets. He doesn't understand the concept of binding a living being to himself.

He wonders if she will become his friend. Draco has no friends. Slytherins are jealous of him and other houses are either angry at him or scared of him.

It would be nice to have her around to talk to. He doesn't want to bind her though. He would set it free and if she really thinks that he is her friend, then she will come back.

He shakes his head. He is getting ahead of himself. He doesn't even know if she will want to leave this forest.

"Meowww." She murmurs and he mutters, "Coming coming."

He follows her quietly at first but then he asks softly, "Have you always lived here?" There are beautiful trees around them and Draco has always liked forests for this very reason. He loves greenery.

She turns her head towards him and nods before resuming her walk.

"Alone?" He continues and she looks at him again, nodding slowly, her eyes as mesmerizing as ever.

"I bet you get bored. I don't have any friends you know and it gets boring sometimes. On the top of it, I don't have nay girlfriend. They only want to be a Malfoy. They don't want to fall in love with me. My name is Draco by the way."

She stops and he stops with her, looking at the logs of wood in front of him. Yes, these will be sufficient.

"Thank you Liz." He murmurs and she looks at him, mumbling, "meow." as if confused.

He smiles at her and mutters, "I can't keep on calling you 'cat', can I?"

Not even bothering to reply, she starts walking ahead of him. He picks up the logs and hurries towards her.

"They are bloody heavy. I hate my godfather you know. He sent me to this forest, asking me to bring red Ferocia's leaves and flowers for him. I mean, I like camping but I am always alone so it gets boring. He could have accompanied me but no he had to brew potions." Draco grumbles and Liz says, "meow' again.

Soon they reach the tent and Draco places the logs together before lighting the fire with the logs. Liz settles down beside the stone he sits on.

It's nice to have someone with him, even if it's just a cat who can only listen to his rambling.

He eats the porridge and gives it to her too. He invites her inside and she settles down on his couch. He opens his couch cum bed and lays down on it before mumbling goodnight.

"Meow." Liz murmurs and tiredness catches up with him forcing him to fall asleep almost instantly.

XXXX

Chapter Text

Chapter-2

Rambling

Harry blinks her eyes and yawns. Slowly it dawns over her that she is not sleeping beneath some tree. She is sleeping in a tent on a couch. She had forgotten how comfortable couches are, not that the Dursleys ever let her sleep on their couches. But still, sometimes when they went out, she used to rest on their couches and beds which were hundred times more comfortable then the closet they forced her to sleep in.

She stretches her paws and yawns before getting down the couch. A peak at Draco makes her realize that he is still asleep. Swiftly, she changes into her human self and checks out if her leaves are covering her properly. Initially, she hadn't been able to keep her leaves intact on changing into a human but practice has made her perfect and now the transformation has become swift and easy for her.

She could go to the nearby villages and steal some clothes but the thing is that she hates stealing and as such, she stays as a cat most of the day. She only changes when she needs to eat or bathe. So leaves do. It's not like there is anyone she needs to be afraid of. She stays out of sight of the people who venture in this forest but that is very rare. Mostly, she rests on a branch of some tree or just wanders around the forest.

She checks out the things he has brought with him, wondering if he has some fruits or not. He has been kind enough to share his porridge with her. Perhaps she can bring fruits for him.

After checking his baskets, she realizes that he hasn't brought much with him. She wonders if he is going to stay for a day or two only because the vegetables that he has brought will last that much.

When she hears him yawn, she transforms again and sneaks out of the tent quickly. She runs towards the trees she often plucks the fruits from and transforms into her human self again.

After gathering a few bananas, apples and oranges on a banana leaf, she binds it and picks it up before walking towards the tent.

From the bushes, she peaks to check whether he is outside or not. He is washing his face. The water is just falling out of nowhere on his hands.

"What is he doing?" She wonders, "Is this some kind of magic. How is he doing this?"

She knows magic. She does but she has tried to repress it. Aunt Petunia said that she is a freak because she does freakish things. She doesn't take help of magic for anything. She doesn't need it. It's strange to see water falling out of nowhere on his hands.

Swiftly, she transforms into a cat again when she notices him turn his face in her direction. Perhaps, she had wondered too loud.

Thankfully, she has already turned into a cat when he looks at her. The banana leaf which she had unbound and placed on the floor is lying in front of her.

"Meow." She murmurs and he walks towards her, amazed.

His eyes look at her and then at the fruits and he kneels down.

"Hey, you brought these for me? How did you do it?" He asks her and she licks her lips, a bit alarmed. She had not thought about this. She had not known that he will get suspicious.

"I am sure that you are some kind of magical creature. Are you?" He says and she looks at him, frozen at her spot.

She doesn't deny and she doesn't accept it. She doesn't know what a magical creature is.

"I wonder how you can understand me so well. You won't if you are really a normal cat. That implies that you are not a normal cat. What are you called?" He asks and she stares at him.

Slowly, it dawns upon her that he could harm her. She has been away from humans for years now and had almost forgotten that humans tend to be selfish. They harm others to fulfill their own desires. She starts backing off, alarmed. She had wanted to stay away from humans but it seemed nice to have company of someone who was like her.

"Hey, I am not hurting you." He murmurs alarmed and she turns around before fleeing away from him.

It had been too good and she should have known that good things don't last in her life. She is not destined to have even a bit of happiness in her life.

She has always found animals to be a better friend then humans. They are faithful. They don't stab on your back. Atleast they don't hurt their own family. Most of the times, company of her animal friends is sufficient but then there are other times when she turns into herself and finds something missing in her life.

She talks to herself just to make sure that she can still talk. There is no-one to talk to. She has gotten used to it.

But Draco.... she liked his company last night. He talks so much. Even if her transformation into a cat doesn't let her talk to him, it was nice to have someone who talks to her. 

She should have known that it was too good to be true.

She stops when she finds an oak tree and climbs on it. She sits on a branch and sulks, staring at the clear sky.

XXXX

Draco wakes up and yawns loudly before rubbing his eyes tiredly. Immediately after opening his eyes, he turns his face to check out if she is still there.

When he realizes that she has left, his face falls. He will have to wander alone in this large forest. He is already so bored. Although she is a cat, she is better then most of his year mates. At least she doesn't judge him. Back at Hogwarts, everyone thinks that he is a replica of his father just because he is a Malfoy.

Far from it, he despises his parents from the bottom of his heart and doesn't even want to stay with them. The fact that he is their only son prevents him from leaving them all-together.

He is waiting for a single mistake on their part. He will leave once they do something that is completely against his principles.

He is just biding his time. Perhaps he will stay with his godfather. Severus is really busy these days. He is busy trying to brew the potion that will help him restore Lily Potter's mind. No-one knows what happened that night. No-one knows where their daughter disappeared, their as in Lily and James's. The only fact that is known is that someone had murdered James Potter in cold blood and cruioed Lily to insanity. They could never find their only daughter. It was like she just disappeared. No one could trace her at all.

Severus hadn't lost hope though. He has finally had a breakthrough and the potion is in its last stages. That is why Severus sent Draco to gather these flowers. Draco really wishes that Lily gets well. It seems that she is the sole reason he is alive apart from the fact that he is sure that Lily's daughter is still alive.

He gets out of the bed and walks outside the tent to wash his face, wondering all the while as to why she left. He likes rambling in front of her. At least she listened to him. Apart from Severus he has no-one to talk to and Severus is almost always busy in his lab.

Draco likes the work of making potions but he dislikes the work of gathering the ingredients, mostly because he has to go alone.

When he feels someone looking at him, he turns around. Perhaps he had just imagined the flash because it's only Liz standing near the bushes. There is a leaf on which fruits are kept just in front of her.

He stares for a few moments, stunned. She can't be a normal cat. How can a normal cat collect so many fruits just by herself.

"Meow." She mumbles. She is really very cute. He is glad that she is back. She can accompany him during his hunt for those flowers. He can ramble some more.

"Hey, you brought these for me? How did you do it?" He walks towards he kneels down before asking. She doesn't respond. She only licks her lips and stays frozen. 

"I am sure that you are some kind of magical creature. Are you?" He asks and again she doesn't respond.

"I wonder how you can understand me so well. You won't if you are really a normal cat. That implies that you are not a normal cat. What are you called?" Immediately after the words escape his mouth, he realizes that he has committed a big mistake because she starts backing off

"Hey, I am not hurting you." He says alarmed and stands up but she starts running away.

He follows her but bloody hell, she is really fast. His legs are aching by the time he reaches the tree she has climbed. She is curled upon a branch and is staring at the sky.

He sits down on the grass. It's an oak tree and is really very big. He wishes he was a cat too. Perhaps then he could climb the tree and explain her.

How do you explain to a cat that you just want a friend, that even a cat will do because at-least cats don't judge you because of the mistakes that your father has done.

He sits down and spreads his legs in front of him, tired from running. He really should find those flowers and leave because he had brought clothes and supplies for only a couple of days but he thinks that the fruits that she brought will last for another few days.

"I am sorry." He calls her. She doesn't look down. She is only a cat. He knows that he can't expect too much from her.

Still he continues rambling in the hope that she will listen to him, "I won't hurt you, you know. Apart from the fact that you are a very cute little cat, I am a vegetarian. Moreover, I like brewing and do it for my godfather but only because he pays me in exchange. I don't like taking money from father. So I use the ingredients that he has but I don't harm anyone to collect them. I don't want to be a potions master. I think that I want to teach at Hogwarts. I could teach DADA. I am good at dark arts and defense against it so I could impart my knowledge. I am still studying you know."

He rambles and peaks at her. Her face is turned towards him and she is looking at him with her green eyes, her small face on her front paws. She is a beautiful little thing. Why would anyone hurt her at all.

"Severus sent me here to gather Red Ferocia's flowers. he needs them for a potion he has invented to heal his Lily Potter. I-"

"Meow." He hears and Liz climbs down the tree. Startled, he crosses his legs and stares at her. She is standing in front of him now.

"Meow." She mumbles again and he wishes he could understand her but unfortunately, he can't.

"I am sorry I scared you. I am not here to hurt you. I just wanted to be your friend and I was just surprised. You don't need to tell me what you are. It doesn't matter to me. You are a good friend and I really have no friends at all. My father is a bit of bastard you see and they think I am his carbon copy so they don't want to be my friend. I know that I am rambling and maybe you can't understand me at all but all the same, I find it relaxing. I don't have anyone who would just listen to me."

She settles down in front of him, her front paws folded beneath her and looks at him.

"So I was telling you about Lily."

"Meow." She mumbles again and Draco stares at her. What's with her and the name Lily.

"She is Severus's best friend. One unfortunate day, something happened at her place. Her husband lost his life and she was crucioed to insanity. Her daughter Harry Potter has been missing since then."

She is looking at him. Her eyes are frozen at him.

"So, Severus had always loved her and he was trying to find his daughter too but couldn't find her. He has been trying to heal Lily for years now. Finally, he has a breakthrough. I need to collect those flowers for the potion that he has invented for Lily."

Just then his stomach grumbles and he chuckles at her, "I have not had breakfast today. Come on, let's eat those fruits you gathered for us. I bet you are hungry too. All this running is bound to tire you out."

Thank god, she nods a bit and walks beside him as he gets up.

"So, I won't scare you again. Please don't leave again 4like that. I do wish that you can understand me and I have not just gone crazy. After all you are only a cat. Cats are not so intelligent."

She kicks his foot at that and he stares at her. It seems that she is glaring at him. Her face is lifted towards him and he is so very sure that she is glaring at him.

"They are not." He mutters and she kicks his foot with her paws again before mumbling, "Meow." "Meow" and how he wishes he could understand her.

"This has got to be the first time I am teasing someone. It's nice to have a friend. I wish you could talk to me." He murmurs as they resume walking. She doesn't respond to that and he walks ahead, partly sad and partly happy that she is not leaving again. At least he doesn't have to be alone anymore.

He wonders how his family and year mates would react if they see him talking to a cat and eating fruits with her.

She meows in satisfaction and he stores the rest of the fruits in a basket he had brought with him.

"So I will show you a picture of those flowers. Just point out the direction in which I could find them if you can recognize them at all." He murmurs and she nods her little head, standing at the entry way of his tent. He takes out pictures and kneels in front of her before placing the pictures in front of her paws.

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Chapter Text

Chapter-3

A decision

Harry's heart is racing wildly inside her chest because her mother is alive. This is such an incredible news. She wonders if he will help her reunite with her mother. But then again, does she even want to reunite with her mother. Sure, she wants her to get well and live happily with Draco's godfather but she doesn't really want to return.

Initially, she had been excited but now she knows that she is afraid to return back. She has not had a good experience with human beings. They have either been cruel or selfish and have always hurt her. Draco is the first person who has really wanted to be her friend.

If she does return at the end, it will be for Draco, not for her mother.

"Do you know where I can find these? He needs to complete that potion quickly, you know." Draco murmurs and Harry looks at him for a few moments. He is rather nice for a human being.

"Do you?" He mutters impatiently. Harry finds it funny because he is looking at her with creased eyebrows. He really wishes that she could speak. She can see that he regrets her being a cat mostly because she can't speak. Harry has never had a friend. She likes having Draco as a friend. She has seen these flowers. The only problem is that they are in the middle of the river. He will need to swim to get them. She wonders if he knows swimming.

"Meow." She mumbles and nods. His face lits up and his lips upturn in a smile. She wants to smile too but can't. Cats don't smile. SO she just turns around and he starts following her.

"So do you have any friends?" He asks and she shakes her head. She wonders if they look funny. A human talking to a cat who is responding to his questions.

"Why? All right. Stupid question. Cats are not intelligent enough to talk." He teases her and she stops in her tracks before kicking his foot.

"Meow." She mumbles and tries to glare at him because she is not stupid.

He starts chuckling. She kicks him again and again.

"Not intelligent. Cats are really stupid little things." He mutters between his chuckles and she narrows her eyes at him before kicking him hard. He falls down on the grass on his back and she crawls upon his chest and stands on all fours.

"Get off." He mutters. She shakes her head adamantly, trying to convey that he has to take his words back if he wants to walk again.

"All right all right kitty, you are really very intelligent." He says finally and she tries to stare smugly at him. Of course, she fails so she just gets off and starts walking.

"Wait for me." He calls and she just keeps on walking. They still have a long way to go and she for one is quite hungry. The first stop is a place which consists of some trees which bear fruits.

XXXX

Draco follows her towards an apple tree. She stands beneath it and stares at it before looking at Draco.

Draco doesn't complain because he is really very hungry.

"All right. So let's eat. I am hungry. Didn't have any breakfast. I bet you are hungry too." He mutters and summons a few apples for himself and Liz. After washing them and cutting them into smaller pieces, he sits down and eats his part. Liz eats hers.

"Hey Liz." He says and the cat looks at him.

"Will you come with me when I go back? I will not bind you. We could be friends. I have no friends there you know." He murmurs and it's really strange to request a cat to come with him. She is sitting on the grass on her paws and is looking at him. He can't understand as to what she is really thinking though he wishes that he could.

A few moments later, she continues eating the apples he had cut for her.

"Will you?" He asks again. She looks at him and doesn't respond. She only keeps on looking. He really wishes to know what she is. She isn't a normal cat. Hell, sometimes he wonders if she is a cat at all.

"I will leave as soon as I find those flowers." He says and she freezes.

"That doesn't mean that you should hide the location of those flowers from me. You can just come with me. I won't let anyone hurt you. I promise." He says and she looks at him.

The desire to understand her is so great that he can't resist from muttering, "I wish you could speak. I can't read a cat's face. Severus says that Lily was really a very nice woman and that she got tortured in her daughter's stead. He says that if they won't get the potion ready in a few days, it might get too late to save her at all." He looks down at his apples and starts eating, waiting for her response. She keeps on eating without even glancing at him.

When she doesn't respond, he just keeps on speaking, his fingers plucking the grass, "I like it here. But I can't live forever like this. I know that this is perhaps your natural habitat but I wish you would come with me. We will play with each other and you could have friends at Hogwarts. All the students have pets. I just want to have a friend."

He looks up but she is already gone. The apple has already been finished. Draco stares helplessly at the place she had been sitting just a while back.

"LIZ." He calls. The forest is not safe for a cat. He wonders if there are wild animals in this forest. They might eat her and he really really wants to her to be safe.

Why does she have to run like this.

"LIZ WHERE ARE YOU?" He screams after getting up. Desperate and frightened, he searches the trees but she is nowhere.

He walks back to the place they had been sitting and settles down. Perhaps she will come back. If she does, he should be there for her. He will wait for an hour or so at least.

This in mind, he lays down on the grass, his hands behind his head and stares at the sky wishing that the cat stays safe at least. He is going to scold her this time for running away like this.

XXXX

She knows that this is a very important decision and shouldn't be rushed but she has decided to leave with him. She could always come back of course that is if someone misbehaves with her.

She won't be able to hide there forever but perhaps it will be nice to return with him. She will get to meet her mother and she will help her get well.

So she runs as fast as she can, towards the location of the flowers.

XXXX

Fifteen minutes later she is back, standing behind the tree, gazing at Draco who is sleeping now. He is nice to look at.

She walks towards him and places the flowers beside him before simply staring at him. She has never felt what she is feeling right now and she can't really define it. He is really very handsome.

Slowly she transforms again.

"Meow." She mumbles and nudges his stomach with her nose.

He wakes up at once and sits up before yelling, "Where had you gone?"

She points her nose towards the flowers. He stares at them and then looks back at her.

"You shouldn't have run away. If you are in a hurry to get rid of me, I'll just leave." He mutters and stands up.

He gathers the flowers and starts walking away. She follows him, mumbling, "Meow" softly.

"Such a bad cat. You scared the shit out of me."

She looks at him and hurries beside him before saying, "Meow." again. She is sorry and she wants to tell him. Of course she can't.

Finally he looks at her and she looks up at him, her eyes apologetic.

"Will you run away again?" He asks and she shakes her head.

"I am not even going to ask about the flowers. I wonder what kind of magical creature you are. I am sure that you are not a normal cat." He murmurs and she looks away, walking straight ahead.

XXXX

Draco is so relieved that she is back. The million dollar question is that whether she will come with him. He has to leave now. He has the flowers and he must hurry. Severus is waiting for him.

" Are you coming with me then? "He asks and waits, full of anticipation.

After a few moments she stops walking and he realizes that they are at his tent.

" Are you? "He asks impatiently and she nods slowly.

He laughs in relief and mutters," Thank you. "

Liz starts walking towards the tent slowly. Draco follows her quietly.

XXXX