Harry Potter: Neko's Mate @vancemcgill
The Grangers

Chapter 10
The Grangers

Warning: Drs. Granger bashing. You probably won't like Hermione's parents this chapter. But their opinions will change eventually.

Monday, December 28th, 1992 – Evening

Minerva McGonagall's brows furrowed as she read through the letter written to Hermione from her mother. Earlier that day, Minerva had received her own letter from Hermione's mother, but it had been a short, simple acceptance of the lunch invitation at the Leaky Cauldron, and nothing else. She had been pondering Hermione's parents' reactions about their daughter's condition all day, and now she finally had her answer.

She was currently sitting in a chair near Hermione's hospital bed, where the young Neko was relaxing, and Harry was in a chair on the other side of the bed.

When she had arrived at the Hospital Wing that evening, she had congratulated Poppy Pomfrey on the successful removal of the fur from Hermione's face and body. Then she had commented positively to Hermione on her new appearance. Hermione thanked her, and had looked very happy. Then Hermione had given her the letter from her parents to look over.

While Hermione's parents' reactions weren't unexpected to Minerva, that didn't mean that she wasn't shocked to read the words. How could parents of such a smart and beautiful young woman value their jobs over their own daughter's well-being? Was it because she was a Neko?

She remembered the first time she had met the Grangers. It had been at their home, when she visited to inform them that their daughter was magical, and to introduce Hermione to the wizarding world. Hermione's father had been rather confrontational about the whole thing, and had some doubts that Minerva had been telling the truth until she used magic as evidence to prove what she said was the truth. Even then, he still looked doubtful.

During her career as a Professor, Minerva had privately met upwards of one-hundred Muggleborns over the years, and their parents, at their homes. Sadly, there had been several parents who were very confrontational about their child being magical. Some hated magic, and there were some who wouldn't let their children attend Hogwarts. But those who allowed their children to attend Hogwarts always had a good opinion towards magic. Minerva had hoped that Hermione's parents would help her with her new lifestyle. They seemed like such loving parents.

But this... Minerva couldn't believe it. Removal from Hogwarts – she had heard that several times before from Muggleborn parents. But for her parents to suggest Muggle surgery to remove the abnormalities. That was something she never expected from Hermione's parents.

"What do you think, ma'am?" Hermione asked.

"I don't think your parents completely understand what has happened to you," Minerva said. "I fear my explanation about Nekos must not have been too great. I didn't know how to explain it in a simple letter. That is my fault, and I promise to remedy my mistake tomorrow when we meet your parents. Perhaps then they'll understand that this goes far beyond your appearance."

"What if they don't, ma'am?" Harry asked, "What if they refuse to let Hermione remain in Hogwarts, in the wizarding world?"

"I'm afraid if they are resolute, then that is their choice," Minerva said. "It is out of my hands."

"But not mine, ma'am," Harry said. "According to you, I am going to be a Lord of an Ancient and Most Noble House. More than one! Surely that means something! Hermione's my girlfriend, my mate!"

Minerva raised her eyebrows, as a thought crossed her mind. "There may be one solution. Unfortunately, if that happens... you would upset your parents, Miss Granger."

"They upset me already, ma'am," Hermione said. "I know that's an immature response, but they would deserve it."

"They would no longer legally be responsible for you," Minerva said.

"I would still consider them my parents," Hermione said. "But if it would stop them from taking me from Hogwarts... from Harry..."

"It would," Minerva confirmed.

"Then tell us," Hermione said. "Please, ma'am."

"Mr. Potter," Minerva said, "It is quite possible that tomorrow you'll gain your Lordship, as well as Emancipation. That means you will be seen as an adult, Mr. Potter. You would not have to return to your Muggle relatives, and the Trace would be removed from your person: you would be able to perform magic legally, as long as it isn't in the view of ignorant Muggles."

"Brilliant!" Harry said, "What does that have to do with Hermione?"

"If you gain your Lordship," Minerva said, "If you are the Head of your House, you will be able take on a Vassal."

"But... a Vassal means servitude in return for protection!" Hermione said.

"You're thinking about it too much, Miss Granger," Minerva said, "By definition and technicality, it certainly does mean that. But I doubt Mr. Potter would define it as such when it comes to you. You are his mate, after all."

"I'd offer protection without servitude," Harry said.

"The Vassal Ritual would not expect servitude if that is something Mr. Potter prefers, Miss Granger," Minerva said, "As his Vassal, you would be protected through his House. This means that if someone tries to control or manipulate you, Mr. Potter can step in. Of course, as a Neko, that is unlikely. Also, if someone were to challenge him to an official duel, they cannot make you the so-called 'spoils of their victory', which has been known to happen in the past. Also, if Mr. Potter gives his permission, the Trace would be removed from your person. You could use magic legally outside of Hogwarts, but not in the view of ignorant Muggles."

"Would I be Emancipated?" Hermione asked.

"Not technically," Minerva said, "But as a Vassal, you would be seen as in the guardianship of the House of Potter."

"Would I still be able to marry Harry?" Hermione asked, then blushed, "I mean – if and when it comes to that in the future."

Minerva smiled. "Of course, Miss Granger. Vassalage would not prevent that."

"I'll do it," Hermione said, "If my parents threaten to remove me from Hogwarts, I'll accept Vassalage towards the House of Potter."

"Very well," Minerva said. "Your parents accepted a meeting at around noon tomorrow at the Leaky Cauldron. After Harry finishes his Metamorph lesson, we'll come by and pick you up from here. Then we'll go to the Leaky Cauldron and meet with your parents. I sent an owl to Tom, the barman and owner of the Leaky Cauldron, reserving a private room for lunch, and to expect your parents, Miss Granger. After the meeting, we'll go to Gringotts. When we're finished there, we'll do some shopping in Diagon Alley, including clothes shopping for Rose."

"Hopefully I don't go into heat during any of that," Hermione said.

"Me too," Harry said.

"I share those sentiments," Minerva said, "Madam Pomfrey would probably hex me if it happened while you were away from her care. Has she given you The Talk yet, Mr. Potter?"

Harry blushed; while his cheeks were pink, Minerva was happy to find his hair color was normal. He was doing well with his training already.

"She says she's going to give it to me before I leave the Hospital Wing tonight," Harry said.

Hermione giggled. "I promised him I'd be with him during the discussion."

"That sounds like a wonderful idea," Minerva said. "I must be leaving now. I need to prepare for tomorrow's 'field trip'."

She said good evening to Harry and Hermione, who echoed her sentiments, and she left the Hospital Wing.

Tuesday, December 29th, 1992 – Late Morning

At a quarter-til-noon the following morning, Harry was with Professor McGonagall in her office with Hermione and Dora. He had a knapsack on his back, with his feminine outfit inside, since he planned on letting Rose emerge during the trip.

Dora had met Hermione only a few minutes ago. She had been rather surprised to discover that Hermione was a Neko, and just as surprised to find she was Harry's girlfriend and mate. She told Harry and Hermione that she thought they made a very cute couple. She had no issues toward Hermione being a Neko – she said Hermione actually looked rather cute with cat's ears and a tail.

Professor McGonagall had given Hermione a coat with a hood to hide her ears and tail from people she didn't want to know about her new lifestyle. Because it was likely going to be chilly day in Diagon Alley, nobody would find it odd she was wearing the coat. It had taken Hermione a few minutes to make her tail comfortable in her clothing. At the moment, it was wrapped around her waist inside her jacket. She commented that while it wasn't entirely comfortable, she would get used to it anyway.

"Alright," Professor McGonagall said, "My Private Floo is available for travel to the Leaky Cauldron. We will use this Floo to get there and come back. According to Madam Pomfrey, Floo travel should not affect you, Miss Granger, but you may want to make sure your tail remains wrapped around you so it doesn't get harmed in the Floo."

"Yes, ma'am," Hermione said.

"Have you all used the Floo before?" McGonagall asked.

Harry, Hermione and Dora confirmed they had. Harry decided not to mention that the last time he had used the Floo, he had arrived at the wrong grate. He knew how to be more careful this time.

"The password to the Leaky Cauldron is – no surprise – 'The Leaky Cauldron'," McGonagall said. "When we return, the password is 'The Cattery'." Remember to speak very clearly. I don't want any of you to end up in the wrong grate."

Harry wondered if McGonagall had found out about his mishap from that summer.

"Dora, if you will go first," McGonagall said, "You can be there to greet Harry and Hermione. Then I will arrive last."

"Yes, ma'am," Dora said.

She approached the Floo, then took a handful from a sack on the mantel. She stepped into the green fire, and turned around. She winked at Harry and said in a clear voice, "The Leaky Cauldron!" She dropped the powder, and disappeared in a flash of green flame.

"I'll go next," Harry said.

He squeezed Hermione's hand, which he had been holding since they had left the Hospital Wing, let go, and approached the Floo. He took a handful of the green powder, and stepped into the green fire, which harmlessly licked at his ankles and legs. He smiled at Hermione, who smiled back at him.

"The Leaky Cauldron!" Harry said, in a clear voice, dropping the green powder.

Instantly he was lifted from his feet as he started traveling through the Floo. The journey was rather long, which wasn't surprising since he was traveling from Hogwarts to Diagon Alley in central London. A brief thought of how amazing Floo travel could be swam through his mind before he concentrated on simply traveling through the Floo to the correct destination. Soon, he landed on his feet and stumbled out of the Floo.

"Easy there, mate!" Dora's voice rang out said, giggling as she caught him in mid-stumble.

"Thanks, Dora," Harry said, "This was only my second use of Floo travel. Last time I landed in the wrong grate. Ended up in Knockturn Alley."

"Well, then this one was far more successful," Dora said, "Let's step out of the way so your girlfriend doesn't run into you."

Harry grinned and looked around the Leaky Cauldron. It didn't look too different from the last time he had been there. There was one big difference, however. The restaurant area was still adorned in the holiday decorations. A large Christmas tree adorned with fairy lights that appeared to be real live fairies, and other decorations, stood near the bar. There were also several patrons enjoying a mid-week lunch.

Hermione arrived a minute after Harry did, and Professor McGonagall followed her a minute later.

"Follow me, please," McGonagall said.

McGonagall led them over to the bar, where Tom was washing glasses.

"Madam McGonagall," Tom greeted when he saw the Professor.

"Have the Drs. Grangers arrived yet?" McGonagall asked the barman.

"Yes, ma'am," Tom said, "They are already seated in the private room you requested. They had no interest in ordering food, however. Something tells me they don't plan on being here very long."

Harry could not see Hermione's expression, because she was looking down at the floor, her face hidden in her hood. She obviously didn't want Tom to see her eyes.

"Very well," McGonagall said. "I think we'll take our orders for lunch here, then we'll meet the Drs. Grangers."

Tom proceeded to take the group's orders, Neither Harry nor Hermione ever had butterbeer, but they both ordered it when Dora suggested it. They also ordered the Special, which was BLTs and Chips. After their orders were placed, they followed Tom toward the private room. When they arrived, they found Hermione's parents sitting at a large table. No one said a thing until Tom left. McGonagall nudged Harry and Hermione forward.

"Dad, Mum," Hermione said; she had not removed her hood yet, "This is Harry Potter, and this is Dora Tonks. As you already know, this is Professor Minerva McGonagall, my Transfiguration Professor. Harry, Dora, these are my parents, Drs. Daniel and Emma Granger."

"Hello, sir, ma'am," Harry said; he decided to be polite for the moment – if he was hostile to start out, then Hermione's parents would not be surprised at his planned defense for Hermione, if it became necessary..

Dora and Professor McGonagall greeted Hermione's parents as well. The Drs. Grangers quietly greeted them in return.

"Well, come on, Hermione," Dan Granger said, "Let us see these disfigurements."

"Disfigurements, sir?" Harry asked.

"If my daughter is hiding her appearance, then it is for a reason," Dan said.

"You assume I do not like my so-called 'disfigurements'," Hermione said. "I am wearing this simply because I do not want to parade my appearance around. I like my privacy as long as I can have it. Only a few people know about it."

"Please, Hermione," Emma Granger said, "Show us, so we know what we're dealing with."

Hermione grumbled under her breath. She allowed Harry to help her out of her coat. Once her coat was removed, her ears flickered in their reunited freedom from the hood, and Hermione unwound her tail from her waist and let it wave behind her. Emma gasped at the sight of her daughter, and her eyes misted over with the beginnings of tears. Dan's expression was hard.

"Sit down everyone," McGonagall said.

Harry was the first to sit in a chair across from the Grangers. If Hermione's parents thought their daughter was going to sit with them, they were quite wrong. They gave both her and Harry curious and wary expressions as Hermione sat down next to him. Dora sat on Harry's left, while Professor McGonagall sat down on Hermione's right.

"Why are these two with you and our daughter, ma'am?" Emma asked, looking at Harry and Dora. "I assumed this was a private meeting between us, yourself and our daughter."

"Please, do call me Minerva," McGonagall said, "I assume I can call you Dan and Emma? We are also here on other business as well as what we hope is a fine lunch. However, Harry does have a reason to be here at this meeting, as you will soon understand. Dora is simply here as my guest. I invited you to lunch to discuss Hermione's new predicament."

"Do you remember the first time you met us, Minerva?" Dan said.

"Of course," McGonagall said.

"You promised us that day that our daughter would be safe and healthy at your school," Dan said. "A year ago, when Hermione came home to spend the Christmas holidays – something she did not do this year – she told us all about an incident involving a troll. Something we should have heard directly from you, ma'am. She told us you were there during the incident."

"I was wrong," Hermione said. "At the time I believed she was there, but I recently discovered that was a fabricated story I was made to believe due to enchantments. Professor McGonagall didn't know much about it, because the Headmaster declined to tell her."

"I don't think Headmaster Dumbledore would have considered telling you either," McGonagall said, "I think he was simply trying to hush it up."

"Be that as it may, she promised us that she was fine," Dan said, "And since we couldn't find any evidence that didn't support that, we were okay with her returning to school. In June, she told us about one of her friends – this young man here in front of us – encountering a rogue Professor, and how he had nearly been killed by the man. It took me a good month to allow Hermione to return to Hogwarts this year, because of that. From what I can assume with most of Hermione's letters it appears that she has had a rather safe and productive time this term at Hogwarts. But now I can see I was wrong."

"Daddy," Hermione said.

"Because it was you, Minerva, and not my daughter who wrote us a letter about Hermione's new predicament," Dan said, "Well, if I was a betting man, I would believe that she had simply decided to stop writing about all the terrible things that happens at the school. Or perhaps she was forced to do keep it from us."

"Forced, sir?" Harry asked.

"If the Headmaster was trying to hush something up," Dan said, "Then why shouldn't I believe that he'd force the students from doing the same?"

"Perhaps, sir," Harry said, "Hermione is just afraid you'll take her from the school. You threatened to do so in your latest letter to her, in fact."

Dan merely frowned in Harry's direction. Harry did not look away from the man.

"Harry's right," Hermione said. "I have come to a point where I'm scared to write to the two of you anymore. One slip up in my letter and you'd demand I would come home. Demand I'd leave Hogwarts!"

"With good reason!" Emma argued, "Look at you, Hermione!"

"Yes, look at me!" Hermione said, "I don't know what Professor McGonagall said in her letter to you, but I am responsible for what happened to me! Not Harry, not Professor McGonagall, not anyone else at Hogwarts! I was the one who brewed the Potion, I was the one who mistook a cat hair for a human hair. I was the one who drank the Potion which turned me into this! Nobody else! It wasn't a troll, or a rogue Professor! It was me!"

"You would have not brewed the Potion that placed you in this position if you weren't in that school," Dan said.

"Name one school in England where a student hasn't had an accident where they injured themselves," Hermione challenged. "I can see what you're thinking, Daddy. This wouldn't have happened if I wasn't a witch, or didn't go to that school. How long would it take to heal a broken arm in the Muggle World? Harry broke his arm playing Quidditch earlier this year. He was healed by Madam Pomfrey, the Hogwarts nurse, in one night."

"If the Hogwarts nurse is so talented, why do you still look like this?" Emma asked.

Next to Hermione, Professor McGonagall sighed. "As much as I like a good debate, this is getting absolutely nowhere. Drs. Granger, I am afraid that I was not very descriptive about Hermione's condition in my letter, and therefore I deeply apologize. I don't know what you read in your research about Nekos -"

"We didn't tell you we researched –" Dan said, "Have you been reading my daughter's letters?!"

"I showed her the letter, Dad," Hermione said, rolling her yellow eyes.

"You researched Nekos?" Dora asked Hermione's parents, "Exactly what did you find? I would like to know. To Muggles, Nekos are comic-book characters, and Halloween costumes."

"Young lady, I don't know what you know about Muggles," Dan said.

"My father is a Muggleborn, sir, like your daughter," Dora said, "and his parents – my grandparents - are Muggles, much like yourself. So I think I know a fair bit. Are you going to deny what I said about Muggle interpretation of Nekos?"

Dan glared at Dora, and turned back to McGonagall.

"As far as I can see, my daughter is a giant cat," Dan said, "Are you going to tell me she's not?"

Hermione hissed at her father, exactly like a cat. Both Dan and Emma looked taken aback, and Harry was doing his best not to laugh.

"Do you know what a werewolf is, Dr. Granger?" McGonagall asked.

"Everyone knows what a werewolf is," Dan said, "Even us ignorant Muggles."

"Nekos are in the same category as werewolves," McGonagall said. "But are far less violent and dangerous than a werewolf. Nekos are actually welcomed in magical society, at least to those who don't oppose half-breeds."

"Half-breeds?" Emma asked.

"Hermione isn't a half-breed, ma'am," Minerva said, "Her condition was caused by a Potions mishap. However, most Nekos are considered half-breeds. Those ignorant of what happened to your daughter would feel as if she is a half-breed. Or they'd simply disapprove of her because she isn't technically human anymore."

"It will be similar to what bigots think of Muggleborn," Hermione said, "I've dealt with that before."

"Saying all of that," McGonagall said, "Nekos still get far less hate than werewolves do, As was alluded to, she experimented with a Polyjuice Potion, and accidentally used the hair of a feline. Using a human hair in Polyjuice Potion is quite safe. When you mix feline hair with Polyjuice Potion, it has the chance of turning the drinker into a Neko. That is what happened to your daughter. Madam Pomfrey has done what she can to help Hermione, but your daughter is now a Neko. You can't change that, not even with magical medicine."

"Maybe Muggle medicine could," Dan said.

"I read your letter your wife to your daughter, Dr. Granger," McGonagall said, "Because Hermione showed it to me. She wanted me to know why the letter upset her."

It was a low blow, Harry knew, but he decided he probably would have said the same thing. The upset look on Hermione's mother's face was worth it.

"I was very disgusted with the letter," McGonagall said. "Muggle surgery? You suggested Muggle surgery to remove Hermione's cat ears and tail? Take a moment to look at your daughter, Dan! See how her ears and tail behave?"

Hermione's ears were flattened; she was obviously annoyed, angry, or upset. Or possibly all three at once. Her tail was waving around violently.

"They react like that in tune to Hermione's emotions!" McGonagall said, "They are a part of your daughter now. Now... forget the fact that if Muggles were to see her ears and tail moving around like this, it could very well break the Statute of Secrecy. You're talking about mutilating your daughter! I thought you worked in the medical field!"

"Mutilation is a strong phrase, ma'am!" Dan said, his voice raising slightly.

"Would you cut off your arm?" McGonagall asked.

"Professor?" Dora asked, "I think the better question is would he cut off the thing that makes him a man."

Harry and Hermione snickered at the look of horror on Dan's face.

"As crude as Dora's words are," McGonagall said, "She is also correct. However, even though it would be gone, would you deny you're still a man?"

"Not at all," Dan said, his voice was slightly weaker than before.

"Removing Hermione's tail would remove a piece of her that makes her what she is," McGonagall said. "I'm sure that is the general idea, right? Remove the abnormalities on her body, give her contacts so she doesn't appear to have cat's eyes, and you believe she'd be your normal girl again."

"And I'd like to see how a doctor could make my tongue unlike a cat's," Hermione said, opening her mouth and showing her fangs, and tongue. "It is rougher than it used to be."

"Mutilating her," McGonagall continued, "would not remove Hermione's other new talents. Nekos have better eyesight, better hearing, better sense of smell than Muggles, and even most magicals. Can a doctor remove those?"

"Those wouldn't be noticed by Muggles, madam," Dan said. "You said it yourself, didn't you? If Muggles saw my daughter, your Statute of Secrecy would break. Shouldn't you support my ideas because of that alone?! You were the one that handed us a pamphlet about maintaining that Statute of yours! We live in a Muggle neighborhood, ma'am. Muggles see my daughter every day when she's at home. We have family who sees her during Christmas, family reunions, birthdays, and what-not. All Muggles. You were the one who told us that only direct family – meaning Emma and I – could know about her magical side. No one else. How are they going to ignore this?!"

"Hermione doesn't have to avoid all Muggles, mate," Dora said. "Ever heard of fur bars - nightclubs designated for furry lovers, and Cat-Girls like dear Hermione here. Most of them are Muggles too. I've been to a Muggle bar or two where Hermione would probably be the highlight of the place. They'd merely believe she has a very advanced costume. What about Comic-book conventions? The Broadway play, Cats! She'd fit right in with the crowd there. I'm not trying to make fun of you, Hermione. Sorry if it sounds that way."

"I know," Hermione said, grinning, "You're proving a point."

"While I can't argue with that, ma'am," Emma said, "Those aren't places Hermione hangs out."

"No, they're places you don't hang out at," Harry said. "You're thinking only about yourself again!"

"Again?" Emma asked.

"Yes, 'again'!" Harry said, "Frankly, ma'am, your letter to Hermione was one of the most selfish things I've ever read!"

"Excuse me?" Dan asked.

"Did you, or did you not, say you're more concerned about your business than you are your daughter?" Harry asked. "And I quote – 'Think about our business, dear! What would our clients say if they found out about this? We could be ruined!' Were those your words, Mrs. Granger?"

Emma frowned. "I suppose I did write that. But I never -"

"You want to know what I've never done, ma'am," Harry cut in. "I've never got the chance to know my parents. I was fifteen months old when they died. I don't remember them. I have no memories of them. I have some pictures a friend of mine gave me. Those were the first pictures I ever saw of them. I was never tucked into bed by my mother or father, then listened to them read me a bedtime story. I could give you a whole list of things I've never done. Things that you did with Hermione that seem like small stuff.

"I know this however. If my parents were alive, they would have never put a business or a job over their own child! How do I know that? Because my parents sacrificed themselves for me. Hermione's a very lucky young woman, Mrs. Granger. Because she has her mother and her father. At least that is what I used to think. Reading that letter you wrote her, seeing her tears and her heart break while reading it. Now I'm not so sure anymore."

Emma's eyes were shining with tears. Dan looked rather uncomfortable, but still had a stony expression in his eyes.

"You want to hear a story of how it was like when I grew up," Harry said. "I didn't know what my real name was until I was about five years old. I thought it was 'Boy!' Or possibly 'Freak!' That is what my Aunt and Uncle called me. Freak!"

He did not look at anyone's faces around the table. He didn't want to see their reactions.

"One of the first things you said to your daughter when she came in today," Harry said, "was that you wanted to see her 'disfigurement'. You didn't really even say 'hi' to her. Or told her you had missed her. You wanted to see her 'disfigurement'. Her 'abnormality'. This summer, when I saw Hermione with you two here in Diagon Alley, I was envious. I yearned for a relationship like that. A child who knew their parents, who had grown up with them. Who was loved by them. I never would have thought you'd be like my Aunt and Uncle. That you'd believe your daughter was a 'Freak'."

Harry glanced at Hermione who was looking down at the table. Then he turned back to her parents.

"I wouldn't be shocked at all if Hermione was thinking right now," Harry said, "that she doesn't ever want to live with you again."

"Hermione?" Emma asked.

"Yeah, Mum," Hermione said, "Harry's right. You know, when Professor McGonagall first talked to me about me being a Neko, when she said she was going to have to write to you, I begged her to let me do it. She let me. I sat there looking at that blank piece of parchment wondering what on earth I was going to write to you. What could I say that would not end up with the two of you pulling me out of Hogwarts? That was what I was afraid of.

"I shouldn't be afraid of writing to my parents. I shouldn't be upset about a letter from my parents that doesn't inform me of a death in the family. I let Professor McGonagall write the letter because I was hoping I wouldn't have to read the reply. Because I knew what it would say. Oh, I hoped the two of you would immediately accept me for what I am. Because I am your daughter. But no... over the past year, I've had to live with the fear that you would take me out of Hogwarts.

"Ever since I read the letter, I thought about what I would say to you. I've come down to one conclusion. Keep your practice, and your clients. There's no need to worry about what they or our neighbors will say if they ever saw me like this. Because I refuse to live with you anymore."

"That is not your choice, young lady," Dan said, "We are your parents -"

"Yes," Hermione interrupted, "You are my parents. But I am no longer your responsibility."

"That isn't your choice either," Emma said.

"Actually, it is," Professor McGonagall said, "The Head of House Potter has taken on Hermione as a Vassal. Hermione has accepted the offer. As such, he is her guardian."

"Who is this Head of House?" Dan asked, "I'd very much like to speak with him."

"Speak then," Harry said, smiling, "I am the Head of House Potter. Or I will be in the near future."

"You," Dan said, with a sneer that resembled something Harry usually saw on Snape, "Do you think I was born yesterday? You can't be much older than Hermione."

"Actually, I'm younger than her," Harry said.

"Continue to prove my point," Dan said. "Don't play an adult's game, little boy. Hermione will be leaving with her mother and I, we will remove these abnormalities, and we're going far from this blasted wizarding world of yours."

"No, actually she's not," Professor McGonagall said. "Harry Potter, here, is first-in-line for the title of Lord Potter, Head of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Potter. His parents are dead, and he's past the age of eleven years old. By the time we leave Gringotts today, Harry will have gained Emancipation, which makes him the Head of House Potter. As Head, he can accept Hermione in the role of Vassalage, and take her under his wing."

"Vassalage," Emma said, "You'd sentence her to a life of servitude?"

"Never, ma'am," Harry said. "I would never treat my girlfriend like that."

"Girlfriend?" Dan echoed. "Absolutely not. I forbid it. I see what you've done. You've enslaved my daughter, boy! What's your game? Love Potions?! Vassalage? Ha! Life of servitude on her knees, right? Is that how you see my daughter?"

"Mr. Granger!" McGonagall said, loudly, moving to her feet. "I don't know what you're trying to pull here, but you've gone too far. Love Potions? Harry would never ensnare your daughter with such Potions. For your information, your daughter could have been ensnared with Love Potions, as could her boyfriend. I recently discovered a plan where that was a possibility. But Harry would not do that."

"No, he would not," Hermione said.

"Hermione is a Neko, Mr. Granger," McGonagall said, "And Harry is her Mate. A Neko's Mate is far more special than a boyfriend and girlfriend. These two will defend each other to their death. They will be Mates for life, and even beyond life if I had to wager."

"You have insulted not only me, but also my intended Vassal, Mr. Granger," Harry said. "I don't really care if you insult me. I've had far, far worse. But you will not insult Hermione. If you were a wizard, I'd challenge you to a duel right here."

"I'd be your second," Hermione said.

"Third," Dora said.

"Leave," Hermione said, glaring at her parents.

"Hermione," Emma said.

"Leave!" Hermione hissed, her ears flattening. "I do not want to see you right now! I'm going nowhere with you! Leave!"

"And don't think about trying to take this to the Muggle Courts, Mr. Granger," Dora said, "My father is a Lawyer in both the Muggle and Magical World. He'd instantly support Harry. You'll never win against a highborn Lord."

"Your Lords aren't accepted in my society," Dan said.

"We'll see what your Prime Minister has to say about that," Dora said. "Try it. One whiff, and my father would be all over you."

Dan huffed and stood up. He walked over to the exit of the room. He turned back to look at Emma, who was still in her seat, looking at her daughter with tears in her eyes. Hermione simply hissed at her like a cat again. Emma jumped, then stood and walked over to her father.

"I'll see them out to make sure they don't do anything stupid," Dora said, "I'll be right back."

Dora stood and followed Hermione's parents out of the private room. When Hermione choked back a sob, Harry opened his arms. Hermione moved into his arms, and he hugged her as she cried quietly into his chest.

"I am very sorry, Miss Granger," Professor McGonagall said. "I had very much hoped it would not have turned out like that. The Vassalage option is the smart option. I don't know whether that is unfortunate or not."

"He called me a giant cat," Hermione muttered against Harry. "Even without fur, he thinks I still look like a cat. I'm a Cat-Girl! I look human, with a few additions!"

"Yes, you do," Harry said, "And I think those additions are bloody brilliant!"

Hermione giggled and backed away, wiping the tears from her cheeks.

"Thank you, Harry," Hermione said, "You did brilliant."

"I must agree," McGonagall said, "You stood up for your beliefs and for Miss Granger, even in front of a challenging individual. However, Mr. Potter, I noticed something in your argument. I am quite curious about your home life..."

Harry stiffened. "I don't want to talk about that right now. Hermione gets to know first, and I'm waiting to tell her until the right time. This isn't that time."

"Harry," McGonagall said, "Whatever happened to you -"

"I know it wasn't my fault," Harry said. "I don't want to talk about it."

McGonagall frowned, but did not reply. Dora walked in at that moment, carrying trays.

"Tom saw me and gave me our order," Dora said.

She shut the door, and walked over to the table. Dora sat down and everyone collected their meals.

"Are my parents gone?" Dora asked.

"Yep," Dora said. "No offense, Hermione, but good riddance. No father has a right to behave like that. My father would kick his arse... Muggle style!"

Harry snickered at McGonagall's expression in reaction to Dora's language.

Hermione smiled softly. "I'll probably write to my parents occasionally. But I was completely honest: I refuse to live with them anymore."

"You can live with me," Harry said.

"Where, Harry?" Hermione asked. "Where will we live?"

Harry opened his mouth to reply, when he realized for the first time – he wasn't sure about that answer. Where would they live in the summer? Definitely not with the Dursleys, and not with the Grangers. So... where?

"I don't think you need to worry about that," McGonagall said, "I think you'll find that out while we're at Gringotts."

McGonagall did not inquire any further, and merely held a mysterious expression. Harry could not wait to see what would happen at Gringotts, but first he had a meal to eat. He soon discovered one of his new favorite things. Butterbeer was delicious!

That chapter was satisfying. Usually I like the Grangers. I just decided to be mean to them in this story. I've killed them off in stories, more than once! But they've always been loveable. This meeting was a fun way to change that up. Fun fact: Dora wasn't originally involved in the conversation, but I decided to involve her. She brought in some nice commentary.

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