Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. This story was written for fun, not profit.
One of these days Hermione Granger was going to find whoever invented Murphy's Law. Preferably when she had a lot of time on her hands and a few small, sharp objects.
"MICHAEL JAMES POTTER!"
There was the sound of stampeding feet somewhere upstairs, as if a certain twelve-year-old was trying to hide. This was followed by explosive giggling, a shriek, and a loud crash. If Hermione was any judge, her desk lamp had gone the way of the vase currently sitting at her feet. Not that this was the only destruction visited upon her living room. Sofa cushions were strewn everywhere, someone had lodged what looked suspiciously like a Quaffle in the ceiling, and the disassembled parts of a radio were scattered across the carpet like small, serrated booby traps.
Wonderful. Just wonderful. She was not amused.
Muttering to herself, Hermione left the living room for Harry to discover and marched up the stairs, intent on descending on the culprits like some kind of bushy-haired avenging angel. She worked in the Ministry's Department of International Cooperation, which meant she treasured her rare afternoons off and had been looking forward to a few quiet hours with a book, a cup of tea, and not a single diplomatic incident in sight.
Clearly she had been suffering from delusions. Quiet was a precious commodity during the summer, when Michael had the run of the house.
She stepped over the fake wands and Quidditch figurines littering the hallway and stopped in front of her son's room, hands planted on her hips. Posters of the Chudley Cannons covered the door, as did several photographs of Michael with his partners-in-crime at Hogwarts. Normally the little pictures of Michael, Frank Longbottom, and Janna Weasley bounced around their frames, giving each other rabbit ears or making faces at whoever happened to be watching them. Now, sensing her mood, they were trying to duck behind each other. They looked like a big Gryffindor-colored knot.
Hermione shook her head bemusedly and banged on the door, then stepped back to listen to the flurry of activity that told her the trio was busy hiding something she wasn't sure she wanted to know about. After a solid minute of frantic shuffling and muffled, panicked whispers, the door finally swung open and a pair of innocent green eyes blinked at her.
"Yes, Mum?" Michael asked. He was almost as tall as she was, with flyaway black hair and a snub nose, and just then he could have put a cherub to shame.
Ignoring her son's who-me act, Hermione glanced over the top of his head at the other two children piled onto his bed. Round-faced, brown-haired Frank was not-so-successfully hiding the lump of blankets he had stuffed behind them. Janna, grinning from ear to ear, was sprawled near them and utterly failing to stifle giggles. Aside from the fact that her eyes were blue instead of black, she was the mirror image of Padma.
Hermione turned her attention back to her son and folded her arms across her chest. "What are you hiding?"
Michael contrived to look hurt. "Mum! I'm shocked! What makes you think I'd hide anything from you?"
The bundle of blankets meowed.
"Besides that," he amended.
Hermione's lips thinned into a bloodless line. She pinned all three children with a look that sent even the most belligerent ambassadors scrambling for cover. Sure enough, Frank yelped and got out of the way as fast as dignity allowed. Janna, utterly unafraid of her godmother's wrath, gave up all pretense of seriousness and rolled off the bed in a fit of giggles. For the time being Hermione ignored her. Instead she reached over and snatched the blanket off the bundle.
It was a kitten. It had to be a kitten. Sewer rats didn't grow that large.
"Isn't it great?" Frank asked once he had worked up enough nerve to approach Hermione. "We found it when Janna's dad took us to Quality Quidditch Supplies and he said we could keep it -- "
"Oh he did, did he?" Hermione vowed to have words with her best friend, who was probably enjoying a good laugh with Padma at that very moment. She scowled at the horrible, wrinkled, squashed-faced kitten again. This was obviously Ron getting back at her for something. It had to be.
Janna poked her head up from the other side of the bed, giving the quote-unquote kitten a huge smile and a scratch behind the ears. "Frank says he might be a Kneazle."
"You both think he's a Kneazle," Frank muttered, but there was no particular menace behind his words. He was petting the kitten too.
Hermione fought down the urge to disinfect all of them -- or, failing that, to introduce Ron and Padma to the concept of justifiable homicide. She glared at her son, who was standing as far away from her as the room allowed and attempting to look contrite. "And what makes you think I'm letting you keep that?"
"Because you're wonderful and the best mum ever and I'll never ask for anything ever again cross my heart honest?" Michael planted his hand over his heart and stood earnestly at attention. This was what Hermione got for letting George baby-sit him when he was young and impressionable.
She sighed and scrubbed her face, peering between her fingers at the kitten. It looked at her cross-eyed, a scruffy little ball of furry malevolence. And Michael adored it. She could see him getting all misty-eyed when he looked at the horrible thing and -- oh, hell. He was doing the face. The heart-warming, last-puppy-in-the-window face.
Hermione could feel her defenses starting to give. The kitten wasn't really that bad, at least not if she squinted. It hardly resembled a rat, and with a proper bath it might even look normal --
"MICHAEL JAMES POTTER!"
Harry had found the living room, apparently.
While her son and his friends tried to hide again, Hermione marched into the upstairs hallway and leaned over the railing. "He's up here, Harry! And watch out for the -- "
" -- Quaffle," Hermione finished, and then clapped her hands over her mouth to stifle her giggles. Her husband, hero of the wizarding world and vanquisher of the most dangerous dark wizard in history, was stomping up the stairs, bristling with self-righteous wrath. The fact that he had a hand clapped over his head and a dented Quaffle tucked under one arm undermined the effect.
"It fell on me," he grumbled, rubbing his head and giving an unrepentant Hermione a wounded look.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "You played Quidditch for seven years. You'll survive." She patted his head and pointed down the hallway toward their darling son's room. "You haven't seen the worst yet."
"Worse than that thing with him and the Swedish ambassador and -- "
"Not quite that bad," Hermione amended. Nothing would ever be as bad as what the entire Ministry had taken to delicately calling Michael Potter's Unfortunate Swedish Incident. Rather than elaborate, she snagged Harry's arm and tugged him over to their son's room, where the three twelve-year-olds were trying to hide the horrible kitten.
Harry, bless him, looked around cluelessly. "I don't see any property damage."
"Oh, for the love of..." Hermione planted her hands on her hips and pinned Michael with one of her glares. Thankfully he hadn't recovered his wits enough to try the face again. "Show your father that...that cat."
"Cat?" Harry echoed, and then promptly forgot any further questions as the horrible furry lump was hauled into view. It made a half-hearted attempt to claw Michael's eyes out before settling for giving Harry what could only be called an evil eye.
Harry stared at it, and then laughed so hard he collapsed against the wall.
That had not been the response Hermione was looking for. "Harry! This isn't funny! It could be diseased!"
Harry took a deep breath and managed to get a grip on himself. Sort of. He got as far as, "It looks like Crookshanks!" before he started chuckling helplessly again.
"That thing does not look like Crookshanks!" Hermione couldn't believe her ears. Her husband, light of her life, had just insulted her cat. This meant war.
Harry didn't seem to sense the danger he was in. "Of course it looks like Crookshanks. Look at it!"
I will not kill my husband. I will not kill my husband. She closed her eyes and counted to ten. Nope. Not helping the wrath any. She settled for glaring at Harry. "How does that thing look like Crookshanks?"
"They're both all squashy," Frank said.
I will not throttle Ginny's son. I will not throttle Ginny's son. This time Hermione let herself count all the way up to fifteen before she risked frowning at her son. "We'll discuss this later, Michael."
"But Mum -- "
"Later," Hermione said. She plucked the -- the thing away from her son, snagged her husband by the arm, and escorted them both out of the room with one last, "And don't you give me that look!"
Somehow she waited until the door was shut behind them and they were down the hall before she scowled at Harry. "Are you insulting my cat?"
Her husband held up his hands -- possibly in surrender, but more likely because she probably looked like she was about to fetch the Quaffle and bean him with it. "Of course not, but..."
"Hermione, there is a bit of a resemblance."
This was clearly going nowhere. With one last hmph, she turned her back on Harry and held the kitten at arm's length, absently turning away as it tried to take her nose off. It really was quite ugly.
She heard Harry chortling again and lowered the kitten long enough to give him a sidelong look. "This is Ron getting back at me, isn't it?"
"That's the same look Michael makes when he tries to tell me he's cleaned his room."
Harry let the innocent face drop and shrugged sheepishly. "I think he's getting back at you, yeah." Then, more quietly, "And it does look like Crookshanks."
"You two have the same taste in cats. It's genetic or something."
Hermione opened her mouth. Shut it. Frowned down at the kitten, which was still happily trying to disembowel someone. The little thing didn't look like Crookshanks at all -- that her husband was suggesting otherwise made her question his sanity -- but, well, she wasn't sure what to do with it. Michael seemed to be attached to it for reasons best known to himself. And if she did keep it, that meant she had something noble and self-sacrificing to lord over Ron and Padma later.
"I suppose it wouldn't hurt to keep it for a while," she said at last. "Hopefully it will grow out of the -- "
"Do you want to sleep on the sofa?"
"Can't. There's debris on it."
"Hmph." She absently stroked the kitten -- honestly, what was she thinking, she was probably going to get some kind of disease -- and permitted herself a small smile. "So what should we give Janna to take home to her parents?"
Harry didn't have to ask what she was talking about. There were some things the two of them could communicate perfectly, and revenge was definitely one of them. "I was thinking a Niffler."
"A muddy, mangy Niffler," she amended.
"I like the way you think," he said -- and ignoring the kitten's irritable yowl, he kissed her cheek.