Teddy knew exactly what she wanted when they got to Familiars. She'd wanted a ferret her whole life long. They reminded her of herself: they were hyperactive, and tough, and they loved getting into trouble. House had been as excited as Teddy when she'd mentioned it back home. Wilson had been more reluctant, but had agreed that a magical ferret would be okay. They, at least, could understand humans, and could be taught not to get into trouble.
Teddy figured Wilson was being overly optimistic-if he and House hadn't managed to tame her, they weren't going to have any luck with her pet-but for once she'd managed to keep her mouth shut. When they pulled into Familiars, Teddy surged forward. She felt House coming behind her, but that was all right. He was cool about the whole ferret thing. She was just glad Wilson was staying helping Hermione with the whole bird issue. She knew that once she fell in love with a pet, Wilson wouldn't be able to say no. He might not have the same qualms ahead of time if he saw ferrets wrestling with each other in the cages.
The ferret cages were on the second floor. There were tons of them. Ferrets of every shape, size, and color imaginable climbed up and over bars. Teddy approached one row of cages. She stuck the index finger of her left hand between the bars of the closest cage. The two ferrets arguing inside, a mean-looking black-and-grey one and a pink-eyed albino, turned and stared at her. The albino one swiped a paw at her angrily; Teddy yanked her hand back.
"Well, hello to you, too." She rolled her eyes.
House laughed. "They don't know you. How would you like it if some giant stranger reached through your bedroom window and tried to poke you."
"Pet," Teddy said. "Not poke."
House cocked his eyebrows at her.
"Yeah, yeah." Teddy shoved her hands in her pockets. "How'm I supposed to figure out which one likes me if I can't pet them, though?"
"I thought you liked ferrets because they're tough," House said.
"Well, then," House said, "you're going to have to learn to deal with that toughness."
Teddy scowled at him.
"You weren't exactly welcoming when you first met Wilson and me," House reminded her. "We had to get to know you first. And you'll have to get to know your familiar."
"But there's so many." Teddy gestured towards the cages. "You didn't have a choice with me. You were handed an angry, grumpy ferret that you have to tame. I'm looking at a gazillion angry, grumpy ferrets and I have to try to pick which one's angry-grumpiness I can work with."
House chuckled. He squeezed Teddy's shoulder. "You'll figure it out."
"That's it?" Teddy said. "You're not going to help me? Where's that fatherly advice?"
"You've been calling me Dad for over a month now," House said. "I don't have to try so hard any more."
"Daaaad." Teddy thumped her forehead against House's sternum.
House squeezed her shoulder and then steered her gently around. "I'm gonna go look at some of the other displays. Take your time."
Teddy sucked on her lower lip. She felt rather than saw House leave the display area, and she was left surrounded by ferrets. She stepped further into the room, leaving the one that had swiped at her behind her. Whatever House had said, she figured that being swiped at by a ferret was not a good beginning.
The cage furthest from the door contained baby ferrets, some so small that they could have fit into Teddy's palm. She smiled down at them. One yawned up at her. Another rolled onto its back and shifted against the floor of its cage. Teddy squinted at them. They were kind of cute. She thought a baby ferret might be the best idea anyway. They were easier to train when they were little-like puppies.
Something wet touched her forearm. Teddy turned. A ferret was poking its nose through its cage at Teddy. It was a dark chocolate color with creamy white paws and a shock of white down the front of its forehead.
"Hey." Teddy smiled at it. "You're pretty cool, huh?"
The ferret jumped up onto its hind legs, resting its forepaws on the edge of the cage.
Teddy gently patted its left forepaw. When it made no mew of protest, she reached in and gently scratched an ear. The ferret clamped a jaw on her finger and chewed lightly on it like an infant with a pacifier.
"You're adorable," Teddy told it.
Seeming to take the words as an insult, the ferret turned its head and clamped down harder.
"Ow!" Teddy said. "All right, all right, you're not adorable. You're a vicious beast. You'll rip me to shreds with your canines."
The ferret cocked its head to the side, seemed to nod in agreement, and went back to chewing gently on Teddy's finger.
"I'm gonna call you Dabnar," Teddy said. "I don't know why. You just look like a Dabnar."
The ferret released her finger and rubbed his cheek against her knuckle.