Chapter 1 : Buying a Kitten
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“Okay, can any of you tell me whose stupid idea it was to go outside, without any coats or jackets, and build a snowman using my flowerpot as its hat?” Hermione asked testily, looking down at her two unruly children with her hands on her hips. When she turned her head to look out of the window, she could still see their infernal creation.
Hugo skulked behind Rose and glanced at his mother sidelong while his sister had clasped her hands behind her back and was smiling up at her mother angelically. Both of them rested safe in the knowledge that neither of them would tell on the other to Mum.
A couple of seconds later, their father’s footsteps could be heard shuffling down the stairs. When he saw the tableau in front of him, he stopped before coming forward and wrapping his arms around Hermione’s waist.
“Don’t even bother,” Ron told his wife as Hugo made a face and Rose grinned even harder. “They’re both guilty.” Hermione rolled her eyes, and the grin on Rose’s face dropped like a dead fly.
“How do you know?” Hermione asked, but she turned away and kissed her husband on the cheek. Hugo pretended to puke, and Rose smacked him and whispered that he’d better not make Mum angry again after she’d just calmed down. Hugo nodded at his older sister’s advice before skipping over to the door and looked out at the snowman that he’d built with Rose.
He had a misshapen body, and three stones were placed in a crooked line on his torso. Two small twigs stuck out the sides of his body, and Mum’s prized Appleworm Flutterby flowerpot had been emptied and balanced on his head, the fragile contents dumped in a corner of the front yard.
In hindsight, perhaps that hadn’t been the best idea. But the smooth red flowerpot contrasted nicely with the snowman’s white lumpy body, and Hugo thought that the overall effect was quite fetching.
Hermione walked into the kitchen and checked the contents of the fridge before stalking back into the living room.
“I need to go to Diagon Alley and Muggle London and get the food we need for our Christmas dinner tonight,” she announced. She placed her hands on her hips, standing in a similar position to when she was reprimanding her kids a moment before, and narrowed her eyes at the four family members in the same room as she was. “Who’s coming with me?”
To everybody’s surprise, Rose jumped up from the windowsill. “I’ll come,” she volunteered. Everyone else relaxed. Hermione’s shopping trips were gruelling, and very hard on everyone except herself.
Hermione extended a hand to Rose in a clear indication that she was about to do some Side-Along Apparition. Reluctantly, Rose walked over to her and took her hand.
Squeezing her hand slightly in warning, Hermione turned on the spot, dragging Rose into the awful darkness and pressure that always came with Apparition. With a loud crack an instant later, they both landed in Diagon Alley where Rose promptly fell down, dizzy.
A helping hand she vaguely realised as belonging to her mother helped her up.
“I – I – I should say, um, sorry,” Rose stuttered, flustered and rattled from the Apparition and finding herself on the ground. “It looks like I’ve gone and fallen over. Silly me.”
“Shush you,” Hermione told her with a smile. “Are you okay?” Rose nodded, her eyes slowly refocusing.
“I think so.”
Hermione nodded and looked up and down Diagon Alley. “We’ll go to Gringotts first,” she decided. “I can trade my Galleons for Muggle money there.” She looked down at Rose. “Why did you want to come?”
Rose blushed slightly but didn’t deny it. Looking both ways as if this was a government secret, she tugged her mother down and stood on his tiptoes to whisper in her ear.
“I want to buy a cat.” Hermione arched a brow and looked at her eldest child.
“You want a cat? Why? To go to Hogwarts?” Rose was going to attend Hogwarts next year, but Hermione had always thought that she’d wanted an owl. Rose shook her head.
“No, for Hugo. His Christmas present,” she replied in a normal voice. Hermione started walking down Diagon Alley, holding Rose’s hand tightly. “I have enough pocket money,” Rose assured her.
“Why, though?” Hermione asked, manoeuvring between a pregnant witch and a kissing couple. “Sorry. Excuse me.”
“Because I’m going to Hogwarts next year,” Rose said matter-of-factly. “Hugie’s going to be lonely because he’ll be the only one who’s still at home.”
“So you want to buy him a cat?” Hermione asked absently. Rose nodded and looked back at the kissing couple. They looked like they were eating each other’s faces off, she observed. Breathing must be a very awkward matter when you’re kissing someone. Especially if your breath smelled like Hugo’s.
“Can I, please Mummy?” Rose asked, looking back at her mother. “Maybe a cat will be good company for Beetlebob. He’s getting old.”
“I don’t know, Rosie. We already have one cat.”
“But Mum!” Rose protested, seeing her careful plans to tie a ribbon around the new kitten’s neck and stick it under the Christmas tree flying out the window. She had spent an entire afternoon breathing steadily underneath the Christmas tree to gauge whether a kitten would be able to survive a night underneath all the baubles and branches. She’d even practiced tying ribbons around Beetlebob’s neck to make sure that she’d do it right.
“I don’t think Hugo will be that lonely. He has those classmates from his primary school, remember?”
Rose’s alarm was growing with each word her mother said.
“But, but, he’s going to miss me,” she protested. “I want to give him something so he can remember me.” Hermione frowned.
“Let me think about it,” she said.
“But Mum,” Rose complained. Hermione threw her arms up, and Rose yelped as her hand was dragged upwards at such force that her shoulder almost dislocated.
“Sorry,” Hermione said. She sounded exasperated. “Fine, after we go food shopping we’ll came back here to try and look for a kitten. Okay?”
“So can we get a kitten?” Rose asked eagerly, clutching her mother’s hand and balancing on her toes.
Hermione shrugged. “I suppose one more cat won’t be any harm. We already have Beetle. He’ll teach a kitten to behave well,” she said, thinking out loud. She made the mistake of looking down into Rose’s big pleading blue eyes.
Hermione stayed silent a moment longer. “Alright then,” she agreed eventually.
“Yay!” Rose sang joyfully. “Thank you, Mum!”
Thankfully for Rose, the actual buying of a kitten was quite easy.
The Magical Menagerie was a small, cramped shop where every inch of each wall was filled with cages containing more magical pets than Rose could think of. It seemed to Rose like every single animal had made it their personal mission to make as much noise as they possibly could, and she resisted the urge to put her hands over her ears.
“Excuse me?” Hermione called, and a flustered looking shop assistant hurried out of the back room with a scratch bleeding on her cheek. Her name tag had been ripped so that it now read ant.
When Hermione and Rose had explained that they wanted to buy a cat for Rose’s brother’s Christmas present, the shopkeeper nodded and led her two customers over to a section of the shop which was filled with cages of cats.
None of the cats really stood out to Rose as someone that Hugo would want to spend time with. She looked carefully at them all – most of the kittens were sleeping, curled up in tiny balls of fluff.
There was silence for a bit, as the adults let Rose look over all the kittens there.
“Do you need some help?” the shopkeeper asked after a minute or two. When Rose nodded and turned, she continued. “Why don’t you describe your brother to me?”
Rose looked slightly puzzled, but complied. “Well, he has brown hair, and blue eyes-”
“No, no, I meant his personality. What kind of person is he?”
“Well,” Rose thought. “He’s smart, but dumb sometimes. And he loves strawberries, and he likes learning Muggle things. He’s sarcastic a lot, and Mum doesn’t like it but Dad says he doesn’t mind, but he takes really good care of animals. I know, because once he found a bird with a broken wing and Mum healed it but the bird stayed with Hugo for a long time and he always made sure it had food and water and there’s a birdbath in the backgarden. The bird’s gone now,” she added as an afterthought, “but sometimes it comes to the birdbath and washes itself, and Hugo always makes sure to give her sesame seeds.”
“It was a her?” the shopkeeper asked interestedly. Rose nodded.
“He says that when he goes to Hogwarts he wants to have a cat who will stay with him no matter what,” she told the woman. “And he says that he wants a cat he’ll get along with.”
“I think a Kneazle would be a good choice here,” the shopkeeper said, addressing both Hermione and Rose. “Kneazles love most young children because of their innocence, and a bond formed at a young age is hardly ever broken.” Hermione nodded in agreement as she came forward to look at the cages.
“I think she’ll be good,” the shopkeeper said at last, unlocking a cage and lifting out a small black kitten and giving her to Rose. Hermione nodded, apparently ready to take the shopkeeper’s advice. “Her name’s Fluffernutter.”
Rose giggled at the name and the kitten stirred in her hands, her long plumy tail waving gracefully. As Hermione payed the shopkeeper Rose tried to estimate how much ribbon she’d need to get around Fluffernutter’s neck.
Once they were outside the shop, Hermione slipped Fluffernutter into her purse (“Undetectable Extension Charms are really so useful, I don’t see why Angelina doesn’t like using them.”) and Apparated Rose home.
“Hey,” Ron called from the living room, where the sound of excited Quidditch commentators could clearly be heard. “I tried to make myself some toast and the toastie exploded, I think you might want to have a look at that. I couldn’t put it back together with Reparo.”
Hermione sighed quietly before calling back. “It’s a toaster, Ron, and what did you do to it? All you needed to do was press a button!”
“Bloody hell, I don’t know!” Hermione rolled her eyes before fishing Fluffernutter out of her purse.
“Here,” she told Rose, waving her wand so that the kitten was enclosed in a cage. “Put her under the Christmas tree, okay?” Rose nodded.
Hermione bustled into the kitchen, and Rose looked furtively into the living room, where her father was sitting on a couch, his eyes glued to the Wiz-telly. Since she didn’t see Hugo there, she slipped inside and stuck the small box under the Christmas tree.
“Now shh,” she told the kitten quietly. “Hugo can’t discover you until tomorrow morning.”
“Mew?” Fluffernutter asked, looking up at Rose with huge blue eyes like Hugo’s.
“Shush,” Rose scolded.
“Rose. Rose, Rose, Rose. Wake up.” Vaguely registering her brother’s voice, the girl in question waved her hand in the direction of the voice, forgetting that the best method to get rid of Hugo in the mornings was to pretend to continue sleeping.
A half-formed thought about burying her head under her pillow flitted through Rose’s mind, but she recalled that the last time she’d done that she’d ended up nearly suffocating.
Hugo grabbed her hand and pulled, hard, hauling Rose into a sitting position.
“Wha?” she asked. “Go ‘way, Hugo,” she told him, flopping back down. “I’ma sleepin.”
“It’s Christmas Day!” Hugo whispered loudly in her ear. “We’re going to Nana Molly’s in the afternoon! Come open presents with me!”
The word present stirred Rose’s thoughts. “What’s the time?” she asked, opening her eyes. Hugo looked slightly sheepish.
“Um, six thirty,” he told her. “But it took ages to wake you up so it’s probably seven o’clock by now,” he finished hastily. Rose shut her eyes again and turned over.
“Go back to sleep,” she said. But Hugo was not about to give up without a fight. Jumping onto Rose’s bed, he started bouncing up and down as she moaned in complaint. When he judged her to be sufficiently unbalanced, he grabbed her duvet and tumbled off her bed, giggling wildly.
Rose sat up, indignant. “Hugo!” she exclaimed, and her brother jumped up, snatched her pillow and whacked her in the face with it. Rose was knocked down flat again. “Fine!” she said quickly, raising her arms to protect herself from more pillow hits. “I’ll come with you to open presents. But we have to wake Mum and Dad too.”
Hugo nodded eagerly and rushed into their parents’ room, where the muffled noises of protest emerged soon after.
By the time Rose stumbled down the stairs and into the living room, Hugo and Hermione were already there, and Ron joined the group a minute later. Hugo was indeed a force to be reckoned with when he got it in his head to wake someone up.
“We’ll go youngest to oldest this year,” Hermione said, and Rose knew that her mother was just as excited to see Hugo and his new kitten as she was.
Hugo practically bounced over to the tree and got down on his hands and knees to get his wrapped gifts.
The first box he got was the one containing the kitten, although Rose wouldn’t have put it past her mother to have put a spell on it so that it was the first box Hugo got.
“Mew?” Fluffernutter asked, and Hugo froze, nearly dropping the box. He cast a wide-eyed glance at the rest of his family before reading the label. To Hugo, with love, from Rose.
Slowly, he opened the box, and Fluffernutter, who had apparently been sleeping, gave a big yawn before climbing out onto Hugo’s arm.
“What – Rose – kitten – what?”
“Mew?” Fluffernutter asked again.
“She’s yours, Hugo,” Rose said. “I don’t want you to be lonely when I leave for Hogwarts. Her name’s Fluffernutter,” she tacked on. Hugo rushed over and hugged her.
“Mrow,” Fluffernutter said irritably, climbing onto Hugo’s shoulder to avoid being squashed.
“Fluffernutter!” Hugo exclaimed. “Fluffie for short,” he told the cat, lifting her off his shoulder and holding her up to his eye level.
Fluffie decided that she liked this boy, and purred in his hands.
A/N - Hello again! This is also different, because I tried to make this as fluffy as possible, so I'd love it if you could spare the time to tell me whether I succeeded or whether I was just obnoxious.
This oneshot was written as a Christmas gift for my Secret Santa, Gina (justonemorefic.
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