The Sugar Quill
Author: Jack Ichijouji (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Animal Instincts  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Animal Instincts

Disclaimer: [ERROR LOADING WITTY DISCLAIMER 17-D REBOOT]


Dedicated to the following: all y'all.


Hermione Granger was not having a nice day. She wasn't particularly surprised, as it was the latest in a string of rather un-nice days, the first of which happened some weeks ago when she tricked a teacher into insulting centaurs and followed one of her best friends to the Ministry of Magic only to have his surrogate father figure killed before his very eyes.


Harry was, admittedly, probably having a worse time of it than she was. But at least Harry didn't have a cat.


Crookshanks was a smart cat. Not only that, but he was intelligent, which is much rarer among both cats and people. But regardless of the power of his brain, it was still cat shaped, and it convinced him to do cattish things.


Which was why Mrs. Smith was in her living room, telling her in gruesome detail all about how Crookshanks had violated her sweet, darling little Muffy-Boo-Boo-Kins, and what was wrong with cats today, and what was wrong with teenagers today, and how you don't get the same sunrises you used to get back in her day.


“Go away,” Hermione said finally, in an exasperated and almost begging tone of voice.


“What?”


“Erm...” That was more of a Ron or a Harry thing to say. Fortunately, the older woman was at an age where she couldn't talk and listen at the same time. “I said... it's getting rather late in the day,” she finished lamely.


Mrs. Smith looked at her watch. “Oh, it is! I'm going to miss all my programs!” She hurried to the door, but just before leaving, added, “You just keep that... beast away from Muffy-Boo-Boo-Kins!”


Honestly, thought Hermione as Mrs. Smith shut the door. It wasn't as if Crookshanks could help it. It was just the kind of things cats did. She'd read a very interesting book to that effect: A Pet Society: Cats, Dogs, and the Rules That Bind Them. Besides, she knew for a fact that Muffy-Boo-Boo-Kins was out every night on Mrs. Smith's fence, yowling for various paramours.


Her parents had spoken with her about Crookshanks' romantic escapades, with subtle questions about how the Ministry would feel if a part-kneazle went around siring other part-kneazles. She had explained that the Ministry probably wouldn't care or notice and, at Hogwarts, Crookshanks had what one might call a feline harem. His pick of the prime pussy, if you will. (Not that Hermione would, but Ron might. Not to say that Hermione gave a damn what Ron thought, or would indeed give a damn given the opportunity.) It's only natural that he would assume the same to be true out of school.


But, even Hermione had to admit, perhaps it was going a bit too far. Mrs. Smith was the only the latest to complain. Fortunately, she was the loudest, and generally thought to be a few tacos (i.e, all of them) short of a combo platter. It was only a matter of time, though, before the coherent voices overtook Mrs. Smith's, and asked inconvenient questions, such as, “What kind of cat is he, anyway?” and “Where is this so-called gifted school you disappear to every year?” and “Anyone else notice the owls always around here lately?”


Perhaps she should look into getting Crookshanks... fixed.


She sighed. This wasn't a problem at Hogwarts. Almost as soon as the school first started, according to Hogwarts, a History, Salazar Slytherin had put up a ward to assure that no living creature could procreate on Hogwarts grounds. It generally made life easier, though the other founders had supposedly complained that it encouraged the “wrong kind of behavior.”


Like having a kitty harem, Hermione thought. Right, she decided. As soon as the Doctors Granger returned, she'd have a talk with them about getting Crookshanks neutered. Hermione frowned. Neuter was such an ugly word. Perhaps... making gender a moot point.


Hmm. She'd think on it later.


~*~


“Yes, Dr. Sinclair. Male. I'm not entirely sure about the breed. It's just that he's been... spending a lot of time with the other cats in the neighborhood. Oh, you can? Tomorrow? Wonderful. Thank you, Dr. Sinclair. Good-bye.”


Hermione's parents had not only given her the money to have Crookshanks de-gendered, but also money for a taxi, money for lunch, and likely would have arranged for a small police escort if she had asked. Apparently they were just as tired of the complaints as she was.


The next day, she was awoken by an incessant tap-tap-tap on her window. She opened her eyes reluctantly and looked to see what had woken her. It was a small owl, and clutched in its tiny talons was a letter, presumably addressed to her. Pig, her brain reminded her. It took a moment to realize she had to get up to let him in.


She rolled out of bed and opened the window. Hermione wondered what Pig was doing there so early, as it had to be before seven, since her alarm hadn't yet gone off. She checked the alarm clock. 12:00. 12:00. 12:00.


Hermione froze. Her clock must have got unplugged during the night! She ignored Pig for the moment, who was buzzing merrily around her bedroom, and following the alarm's power cord to the wall. Indeed, it had come loose—just loose enough, in fact, to reset the clock but keep it on. Odd.


Another odd thing: Crookshanks wasn't sleeping in his usual spot, but right next to the outlet that had fed her clock.


Hermione shook her head. There was no time to investigate anything but the time. She dashed out of her bedroom and into the kitchen. The microwave said it was eight forty-three.


She did some quick math. If she called the cab now, she could get dressed, put Crookshanks into his carrier, and perhaps beat her hair into submission by nine, and still be at Dr. Sinclair's office for the ten o'clock appointment. She'd have to skip breakfast, but at least she had money for lunch.


Hermione called the cab company, who promised to be there in fifteen minutes or less. Then she hurried to her room and dressed, only paying marginal attention to what she put on. She was vaguely certain the outfit as a whole involved pants in some way.


Next came the hard part. “Here, kitty,” she said, hoping it would work. Of course, it didn't. In fact, she had no idea where he was. He had been sleeping next to the outlet, but there was nothing there now apart from a few ginger hairs. “Here, Crookshanks, kitty,” she said sweetly as she unmade her bed, looked underneath, and checked her closet.


Pig, who had long since dropped Hermione's letter somewhere, was circling around her school trunk which, she remembered, hadn't been locked. With cat carrier in hand, she opened it, only to find the slightly guilty-looking cat sitting on her robes. She ushered him into the carrier before he could think about objecting.


Pig, who now felt helpful, gave a happy hoot and flew around Hermione's head. She opened the window again so he could get out. She then grabbed the letter from the floor and left, foregoing the hair-taming.


~*~


Cats don't keep journals. Not simply because they lack the opposable thumbs requisite to write in one, but also because they generally have better things to do with their time, such as eat, sleep, and/or engage in feline relations.


However, if Crookshanks did keep a journal, the entry for this day would look something like this:


Mistress has foiled my plan to hide. Would have gotten away with it if not for that meddling owl.


Come to think of it, owl ruined first plan to sabotage alarm. Must add revenge on owl to things to do list.


1) Save genitals


2) Revenge on owl


Am now in cab to the butcher. Hope last-ditch effort will not fail. Am rather attached to lower bits.


Music: radio is playing, not sure of song


Mood: frightened for genitalia


~*~


Poor Crookshanks, thought Hermione. It wasn't fair, really. But all the other male cats in the neighborhood had been... degendered, so it wasn't as if he would be alone in his suffering. Besides, there might be some sort of spell to, erm, regenerate, she added mentally.


She was filling out papers and allowing her mind to wander as she filled out the obvious parts: name, address, telephone number, and so forth. Then she reached “What type of animal? _Cat _Dog _Other (please specify)” After a moment's hesitation, she checked “Cat.” It was technically true. He was mostly cat. Only a little bit other, as far as she could tell.


She felt a tap on her thigh. Crookshanks was reaching through the bars of his cage. Quite suddenly, she felt terrible. She wanted to just take him home give him a can of tuna and forget the demale-ing. But she couldn't, she knew. If she didn't do it today, her parents would probably do it themselves tomorrow. “I'm sorry, Crookshanks, I really am,” she said, slipping the cat's paw back through his cage door. “You won't feel a thing, I promise.”


Hermione quickly finished the papers and gave them to the nurse. When she returned to her seat, she found that Crookshanks had elected to face the back of his carrier, as if offended. “Poor kitty,” she said.


~*~


Crookshanks was, indeed, offended. But he was also thinking. If he'd been human, one might have described him as brooding.


Plan to guilt mistress has failed. Only hope now is to destroy butcher.


Still blame owl. Will destroy it.


~*~


“Herm... Hermyown? Hermeeonay? Herm... Miss Granger? Dr. Sinclair will see you in room three.”


Dr. Elliot Sinclair was one of those people who it is difficult to imagine middle-aged. He looked as if he had gone from young to old with no middleman. Also, the shape of his head was mildly off putting: he looked like he'd been last in the line for chins, but only because he'd gone through the forehead line twice.


He was currently waiting for a girl he had decided to call “Miss Granger” soon after he'd seen the forms. When she walked in, he was surprised, if not a little frightened. Not of the girl, but of the carrier that she had. It looked large enough to hold an adolescent tiger. When the girl placed the cat on the table and the doctor peeked in, he was very nearly sure that it did.


“So, Miss Granger,” Dr. Sinclair said, making a mental note to try to sedate the cat from a distance, “you look as if you have questions.”


“It won't hurt him, will it? And I read about personality changes due to neutering, how much of an effect will that have? There aren't too many side effects, are there? Could there be complications? How many times have you performed this?” The girl asked all these questions very quickly, giving Dr. Sinclair the very correct impression that one should never ask Hermione Granger if she has questions.


He gave himself a second to allow his brain to catch up with her inquisitive attack, and grabbed a pamphlet from a nearby wall and handed it to her. “You'll find most of those answers in there.” After a moment, he added, “Owners generally prefer not to be present during this type of thing.”


“Of course,” Hermione said distractedly, already absorbing as much knowledge as possible from her “Veterinary FAQ” pamphlet.


After she left, Dr. Sinclair readied the sedative and opened the small cage door. He then reached in to retrieve the cat, which would prove to be the greatest mistake of his professional career.


~*~


Apparently, Hermione had learned, she would have to leave Crookshanks overnight. This worried her slightly, as Crookshanks had never been separated from her for any length of time. One should note that, like most cat owners, she ignored the fact that Crookshanks spent most lengths of time separated from her.


She read the pamphlet quickly, as there wasn't much of it to read. Apparently, people only frequently asked five questions, none of which were what she had asked the doctor. She'd have to ask again tomorrow. Rather crossly, no doubt.


When Hermione entered the waiting room, she noticed a rather odd-looking girl. It wasn't the way her chin and nose seemed just a little too pointy, or her eyes a little too large for her face, but that her hair was, against all reason, plaid. And, despite the summer heat, she wore a sweater. A sweater that, from the great black “T” on it, could only be a Weasley sweater.


“Wotcher, Hermione,” said Nymphadora Tonks.


Hermione snorted quietly. “Do you not believe in subtlety?” she asked sarcastically. Before Tonks could answer, though, Hermione added, “What're you doing here, anyway?”


“In order? No, and I'm picking you up. Ron wrote you, didn't he?”


Hermione remembered the letter in the back pocket of her jeans. She opened it and read.


Hey Hermione!


Sorry to spring this on you so quickly, but we only just found out! Dumbledore said that it would probably be a good idea for you to spend the rest of the summer at the Burrow, because of your closeness to the situation, or something like that. He said he'd get hold of your mum and dad and tell them, so you should just be ready for Tonks to pick you up.


See you soon!


Love, Your friend, Your--


-Ron


Hermione gave a little sigh at her and Ron's generally confused state, and then remembered that Tonks was sitting right next to her. “How'd you even know to come find me here?” she asked.


“Dumbledore.” She said this as if it were a fact, as opposed to a person. “Shouldn't you get Crookshanks?”


Crookshanks! She'd completely forgot! She hoped the doctor hadn't started yet.


She dashed back to room three, Tonks close behind. The sight that greeted them was surprising, to say the least.


It looked as if they had just missed Chaos Incarnate. The carrier lay on the floor beside the table, which had been turned over. In fact, most everything that could be turned over looked as if it had been, including a supposedly spill proof mug proclaiming its owner to be “#1 Vet.” Crookshanks was on top of a cabinet, just out of reach, not that the doctor was reaching for anything. He had apparently stabbed himself with his own needle and was taking a nap.


The cat, noticing Hermione, hopped gracefully onto the sleeping doctor and crossed the room, taking a seat near the cat carrier.


“Oh, dear,” said Hermione, ever the queen of understatement. “We should go then.”


“Don't you want your money back?” asked Tonks, for whom a room like this seemed normal, at least by the time she got done with it.


“I think they need it more than I do.”


~*~


Crookshanks wasn't quite sure what had happened. After vanquishing the doctor, the Mistress had apparently decided that his genitals should be left well enough alone, which suited the cat just fine. Now he was in a cab with the changing girl and the Mistress.


“We're going home for a minute, Crookshanks,” the Mistress said, “and then we're going to go see Ron.” After a moment, she added, “And Harry, of course.” Crookshanks could see the changing one smirk.


Ron, Crookshanks would have thought, given proper cognitive faculties. The mate of the Mistress. The owl's Master. He liked Ron. Especially because he had delicious looking pets.


Crookshanks would enjoy his summer.


Fin


I think this is my longest one chapter Harry Potter story yet. Proud? Yes, yes you are.

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