Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter or anything recognizable to the HP-Universe - JK Rowling does. I'm not making any money from the writing of this fanfic.
"Hermione?" Severus called out to his wife, trying to get a better look at what she was doing. If he didn't know better, it looked like she was strangling her familiar. "Hermione?" he called again, touching her shoulder in concern.
"Oh. Hi, Severus." Hermione beamed at him and stood up, dusting cat hair off her jeans.
Crookshanks gave her a yellow-eyed death glare. The wide collar he wore made his hair stick out around his face. And the pansy-nosed tom looked even more like a flower. Instantly, Severus pitied the old boy.
"Dare I ask?" Severus inquired.
"The twins' most recent experiment. We're testing it out for them. The collar is supposed to read his thoughts and broadcast them so we can communicate." Hermione explained in an enthusiastic tone that didn't match Crookshank's ire.
"Crooksy," she cooed. "Would you like to say something?"
The bandy legged tom gave her one more glare, flicked his tail, and trotted off giving them a clear view of cat-butt.
"Oh well," she sighed weakly. "He'll come around, I hope."
Crooks didn't come around.
Hermione wasn't exactly sure where he was hiding, but his lurking skills were par excellence. Only the empty cat food bowl indicated he was still stalking the house. Severus didn't bother calling for him like she did. The wizard had suffered enough indignity himself to let Crookshanks be.
Two weeks later, Severus' bladder woke him in the middle of the night. His fingers gently pulled the Hermione-hair clinging to his cheek, pried her arm off his waist, and shuffled out from under her thigh. He sat on the edge of the bed and looked back at the sleeping form of his wife. Sleeping and sated, even with her mane of god-awful frizz and a bit of drool in the corner of her lip, she was gorgeous.
Severus heaved himself up and padded off to the loo. He had just found the light switch when a low rumbling voice spoke.
"Close the door! No you idiot-man, get in here and close the door."
Severus' heart was hammering in his chest. It had been years since he had to carry his wand just to take a piss, and now… now that he'd been lulled into a false sense of security – respectability, a home, a wife – now it was all going to be snatched away.
"Will you move? And for fuck's sake, close the damn door."
Severus' eyes traveled around the bathroom, blinking at nooks and crannies and peering into the folds of the hanging shower curtain before he looked down.
"You," Severus whispered, stepping into the bathroom and closing the door.
He swore the ginger cat rolled his eyes.
"Listen, mate," the Tom spoke up without moving his mouth. "I don't interfere in your life, and you don't interfere with mine, but I think it's high time I gave you some friendly advice. Yeah?"
Severus dumbly nodded.
"Your form seems good enough, but your technique is all off, mate."
"Pardon?" Severus asked, finding his voice.
"Will you pay attention? I said, your technique is off. You'd think I was talking to myself here."
"I don't understand."
Crookshanks flicked his tail several times. "Well, that's evident. Basts' bubbies! I can't believe we're having this discussion."
"That would be two of us," Severus murmured.
"Fine, I'll spell it out, squirrel-brain," Crooks said in a voice that tinged on exasperation. "You're not biting her."
When it was evident that the wizard was not following, Crooks' tail swished again.
"Her neck," he gritted out. "You have to bite her neck first."
"I really have no earthly clue what you're talking about."
Severus sighed, wishing Hermione was there to deal with her familiar, but at the same time he had a creepy feeling that she needed to be excluded from this men-of-the-household discussion.
In a voice wearing thin on patience, Crooks slowly enunciated, "No wonder you're doing it all wrong. You have to bite her neck first and then she'll ovulate. How else do you expect to have kittens?"
Severus stared at the orange beastie for an indeterminable moment and broke out into peals of laughter. Crooks stood up, offended, walked in a circle, and plopped down. He then stuck out a leg and began to clean his bits until the dark haired wizard stopped making a fool of himself.
"Crookshanks," Severus recovered, still chuckling, "Biting her neck won't get a witch to ovulate. That's only for cats."
Crooks looked up from his crotch and blinked. "Well, how do they do it then? I don't like her upset about not having a litter."
All remaining chuckles stilled as the wind was kicked from his gut. "She's said that," he whispered.
"My original assessment stands, wizard. You are an idiot-man."
Crookshanks stood at his feet and looked up at him with wide-eyes that begged, 'pick me up,' and Severus obliged. Once the two dominant males were face to face, Crooks said in a very clipped voice, "Now take this fucking collar off."
That night Severus poured out the remaining vials of the sterility potion he'd been dousing himself with.
The next morning Hermione found Crookshanks munching happily at his bowl and the tattered remains of his collar strewn about the house.
"I don't know how he did it," she remarked, mystified, fingering a chewed piece.
Original prompt from Stefdarlin: 'Basically, HP character of your choice makes an experimental collar for, animal of your choice (it can be someone's familiar or someone's animagus form) to wear. What happens?' Written for Sat Night Drabbling with TPP.
Many thanks to Christev for beta'ing. She rocks my socks.