AN: This little one shot is a gift to a moppet that is as cute as can be. I do hope she enjoys it! Yen was nice enough to edit this one for me as well.
A Wren's Choice
Wendyll flicked her wings as if to shoo away the dark that was attempting to cling to them. With an annoyed chirp, the brown wren flitted her way down out of the trees that she was occupying to the rafters over the train station. Settling in the spot she had long ago learned afforded her the best view of the children as they exited the train, she waited.
The red locomotive's whistle blew, announcing the Hogwarts Express' imminent arrival. Wendyll shifted just slightly, blinking her eyes and prepared to find this year's child. The train doors opened and the robed children poured out of the doors.
It took but a moment to spot Amy Spivey, seventh year Ravenclaw. The girl had bloomed under her friend's care. Amy had once been a scrawny first year with no confidence and no support to be found here or at home. Wendyll knew she still had no home support but it didn't matter much, she had ample support here and that had made all the difference to the girl.
A red head drifted by and Wendyll gave a mental grin. Bartholomew Brinkely was her pick from last year. He was a Hufflepuff who would rather no one knew he existed, at least that was his goal before he came here. Still was if what she could see was true. The boy was hustling through the crowd, his head low, his eyes on the pavement, and his shoulders hunched. She would make sure that her friend knew to see him tomorrow morning or all their work last year might have a serious setback.
Flipping her wings, she shifted to watch the first years that were starting to cluster around Hagrid. There, near Hagrid, that was the one she wanted. Sailing off her perch, she made circles above the boy's head, making sure he was the one. A dark feel rolled off the black-haired boy. He was hiding something, much as the others she had chosen once did. When they made it to the boats, she was positive that this boy would only survive his home life and thrive here if her friend took care of him.
Spiralling lower, she landed on his shoulder and gave a quiet chirp.
Harry started when a small weight landed on his shoulder. Shifting his eyes just a touch, he spotted the tiny brown wren that was making herself at home there. A grin popped out at the greeting. "Hello yourself. You want a ride over the lake? Just stay quiet and don't let anyone else see you, okay?"
Harry followed Ron to the boats, worried the little bird would be seen and then she would have to find another way home. He came to a quick decision as Ron clambered into the boat. "Hop on my head and hide in my hair. No one will spot you in that mess and you will less likely be blown off."
Wendyll chirped lightly as she hopped up into the messy black hair. Tucked into the comfortable hiding place she decided this one was one of her better picks. The boy hadn't lost his wonder or his heart yet. She could tell he was wary but with a gentle hand, he would be fine.
Ϟ Ô.Ō Ϟ
Harry stared about the Great Hall. The ceiling looked just like the night sky and the candles that hung in thin air were more magical than he had ever thought things could be. Ron nudged him slightly as they waited for the Hat that decided to sing to finish. 'At least it wasn't troll wrestling. That would be scary and the wren might have got hurt.'
He shifted slightly, trying to not fidget too much on tired legs. He was quite used to walking around and working, but standing still – or slumped on the sofa - for long periods of time was more of Dudley's thing. He never had time. He felt a slight weight move on his head. When they had pulled into the cavern he had apologized to the wren about not taking her where she could fly free. 'I wonder if I can slip out the front door so I can let her go. She needs to find her way home. I hope she doesn't have any little ones waiting for her.'
Wendyll peeked out of the hair that hid her from all eyes. A quick look about showed her that everything was normal. Albus was watching the proceedings with a calm happy look, Filius was searching the first years as if he could pick out his newest house members without the Hat's help. Pomona was doing the same. Wendyll finally caught sight of her friend and his neighbour. She resisted the urge to mantle protectively over the boy she sat on. Instead, she shifted her attention away from the turbaned man that sat way too close to her friend, to Minerva who was calling out the students names. Soon she would know the name of the newest member of their Brood.
Wendyll froze at that name. Severus didn't like that name! He hated what the boy represented, and she really couldn't blame him. The child was the chick of the girl he loved and the pushy arrogant brat who had taken her from him. Peeking out of the messy hair to spot the boy with that name, the one who would feel her friend's ire, she was shocked when the boy she sat on started walking towards Minerva. 'No, he can't be Harry Potter. Severus said he was with family and that Albus assured him that the boy was fine.' She was so shocked she didn't move in time to avoid the Sorting Hat and was soon trapped in the darkness.
"Wendyll, what are you doing in here?"
"I'm Harry, not Wendyll."
"He is talking to me, Harry. I am the wren that is on your head still. My name is Wendyll." She shifted her attention back to the Hat. "I didn't intend to be here, but was so surprised by the boy's name that I didn't fly off soon enough."
"He is one of your Brood?" The Hat waited patiently on the wren's answer.
"Yes, even though my friend will be a bit upset about it. Harry needs him."
"Brood? Friend?" Harry asked.
"Go on with the Sorting, and I will just be quiet, okay?" Wendyll waited to hear if the Hat would call her out as he had threatened to do last time she had slipped into a Sorting.
"Harry, do you mind her here?"
"No, I don't mind." Harry felt slightly comforted that the little bird was there with him.
"Then let's have a look."
Harry felt images and feelings run about in his head. He wondered if Wendyll could see them as well.
"Slytherin would do you well, though you would do just as well in Gryffindor."
Wendyll couldn't keep quiet longer. "Harry, if you go there, it will make it harder for my friend to help you. It is already going to be hard enough."
"Why? Who is your friend? And why would your friend want to help me?"
A suffering sigh was heard from the Hat, but Wendyll continued on. "He can't show that he likes any of the Gryffindor house – he has people watching him that would make his life difficult if he did. And they would do the same thing if he was seen being nice to you no matter what house you went to, but if you were in Gryffindor..."
"Then he would be being watched even more carefully? But I don't want to go to Slytherin, Malfoy went there and he is a prat. And who is your friend?"
"You'll meet him later, I'll take you to him. Just know my friend has to act mean, cruel and horrible to you, but that it is just an act."
"Oh. Uhm, OK, I will."
The Hat slid into the conversation, sounding a bit impatient. "If that is settled, can I announce your House?"
Two sheepish 'yes'es were said before the Hat called out "Gryffindor!"
Wendyll slipped out of Harry's hair as the Hat was lifted and flitted over to Severus while everyone else's attention was on Harry.
Severus glared at the small brown bird that flew towards him. Potter. She had to pick Potter. Even as his small friend slipped into his robe sleeve and perched on his wrist, he knew that he wasn't going to change her mind. He waited until the food had appeared before he looked over at the newest of the Brood.
Black hair, green eyes, thin as a rail, and smiling. 'Happy to be here and away from the terror of his home.' Severus was well aware of the reason Wendyll chose their Brood. 'It seems I misjudged what his home life is like. Now, I have to figure out how this is going to work.'
Ϟ Ô.Ō Ϟ
"Wendyll, it isn't possible. I've been thinking of nothing but trying to figure a way to do this since the Sorting." Severus glared at the brown bird who just tipped her head and looked back at him.
"I trust you. I trust that Potter isn't the spoiled, arrogant brat I had believed, but that doesn't change how I have to treat him."
In what would sound like a churring to everyone but Severus, Wendyll started in. "You have to! I told him you would have to be mean to him – that picking Gryffindor over Slytherin would just guarantee you had to be worse – but you would still help him."
Severus rested his hands on the back of his arm chair as he leaned closer to the mantle above his fireplace where the tiny bird perched. "You talked to him?"
"I was under the Hat, so I was able to. He can't understand me like you can." She gave a quiet chirp that was meant to be soothing to her friend.
"You know the Hat said you were not allowed to be there when he is sorting."
"I told him it was a mistake, and he allowed me to stay once Harry said it was okay."
Sagging onto his forearms, Severus studied his hands while he took in the new information.
"Potter knows I have to be mean to him, but I will take care of him as well? Can he handle such a deception?" Most of their Brood wouldn't be able to accept the dichotomy of the relationship, they would crack trying to understand why they were being attacked by someone they thought they could trust.
Sailing over to him, Wyndell landed on his shoulder and huddled next to his neck. "He can. He understands you have to act one way in public."
Closing his eyes, Severus gave into the inevitable. "Does he know who I am yet?"
"No, I will lead him to the Roost tomorrow after classes."
"I'll see the others before breakfast. I will let them know who the newest member is." Getting up, Severus headed towards his room. The morning was coming early as several of the Brood were up with the sun.
Ϟ Ô.Ō Ϟ
Amy, Bartholomew and Ellis sank into the comfortable chairs scattered about the small room tucked off an unused corridor in the dungeon. The Roost held everything they could ever need. Food, potions and most importantly, Snape.
Bartholomew looked at the Potions Master with a touch of trepidation, wondering if the man was going to turn on him. Amy had reassured him that it wasn't going to happen, and Ellis – the fifth year Slytherin – had almost scolded him for believing it possible. One look from Snape had stopped the words. That was more reassuring than anything else.
The door opened and three more students, Michael, Sarah, and Lyn, walked in. Smiles appeared on their face and they gratefully settled into empty chairs.
Severus looked each one of his and Wendyll's Brood as they found their place in the Roost. Sarah needed nutrient potions as usual, Lyn looked like she needed an ear, Bartholomew, Amy, and Ellis were doing fine right now. Michael was cradling his arm, and Severus moved over to scan it. Bruised and twisted, but other than that he was fine.
He spoke to the entire group as he handed Michael the potions he needed. "You made it through another summer."
"Yes, sir." Ellis leaned forward, his smile broadening. "Thanks for the potions over the summer. They helped a lot."
"You are welcome." Severus looked at each one before continuing. "Our newest Wren will be meeting me after classes today, but I will tell you who he is. As always, I ask that you watch him and report to me if he needs anything. For once you do not have to worry about being noticed while you observe him. Most people in the school will be staring at him as well."
"Harry Potter? He is one of us?" Sarah's eyes widened. "How can we trust the world to be nice to us if even Harry is treated horribly?"
"Because his family is not most of the world, just like each of yours." Severus sighed as he settled into his chair. "Yes, Potter is a Wren."
Wendyll burst into song, filling the room with her voice. The children settled, comforted by the normalcy of her tune. Flipping her wings, she looked at Severus. "You need to tell them you can't be nice to Harry. They have to know it is an act, or else they will break."
Looking each one of his charges in the eye, Severus did as Wendyll ordered.
Ϟ Ô.Ō Ϟ
Wendyll landed softly on Harry's shoulder and churred near his ear.
Harry craned a bit to see her as he spoke. "Wendyll. Can I meet your friend?"
Giving an affirmative chirp, she took off from the boy's shoulder and landed on the head of a suit of armour. She was positive the first year could figure out to follow her. After the boy stood there looking at her, uncertainty filling his face, she hopped in the direction of the dungeon stairwell. Taking off, she went to the next suit of armour. Harry finally followed her even though he still didn't look sure.
Another chirp, this time to reassure him, and she led him down to the Roost. She landed on the door handle, her eyes fixed on the first year.
"You want me to open the door?"
Wendyll bobbed her head and flew back onto his shoulder to wait.
"Okay, but if a professor comes, what do I tell them?"
'As if I could answer that. Just open the door, child.' She flipped her wings and bounced a bit to hurry Harry up. Severus knew they were coming and he didn't like to wait.
Harry opened the door and walked into a surprisingly comfortable room. Scattered about were caramel coloured chairs with chocolate coloured throw pillows tucked against their arms. The rug that was spread out under the seats matched the pillows. Tables of varying heights were placed here and there near the chairs. There was one chair pulled near the fireplace that had a black cloth draped over its arm.
Wendyll flew off his shoulder and swooped towards the black cloth. It was then that Harry spotted the hand that was held out for the bird to land on. The black cloth was part of someone's robes. Moving slowly across the room, he stopped in front of the chair, his eyes wide. The black robes belonged to the most feared professor in the school if his dorm mates were to be believed – Professor Snape.
Severus studied the child who was almost shaking with fear. "Mr. Potter, there is nothing to fear here in the Roost. You are here at Wendyll's invitation."
Nodding, Harry chewed on his lip slightly before glancing at the tiny wren that was still resting on long slightly stained fingers. "How do you know she invited me, sir?"
"You were able to open the door. Only the invited can enter the Roost." Severus let a slight grin form. "Have a seat, Mr. Potter, we have a few things to discuss."
When Harry dropped onto the rug, Severus sighed. "There are chairs here, but if you find the floor more comfortable, you may remain there."
As Harry hunkered down and looked up, their eyes made contact. Nodding, Severus continued. "Wendyll told me she informed you of our special circumstances. Outside of this room I need to be cruel and vindictive to you. Inside I will treat you with the respect you deserve."
"She did mention it, sir. Can you tell me some of the things you will focus on when you pick on me so I can be ready for it?"
"It is well known that your father and I did not get along." Severus caught the surprise and desire in those green eyes. It was obvious to him Petunia had not told the boy stories of his parents. "Yes, I knew your parents, and I will tell you about them at a later date. We do not have time for such reminisces tonight, the rest of the Wrens will be arriving soon."
"Thank you, sir." Harry's face glowed with happiness that damped quickly. "My father and you didn't get along, sir?"
Severus searched the upturned face before continuing. "We were rivals. I will be using my dislike for your father as something to taunt you with. I will also use your fame as the Boy-Who-Lived. Know that you will not be successful in my Potions class. I cannot allow you to be."
Wendyll flew down to perch on Harry's knee and warbled out a short song, hoping to comfort the boy.
"You shall turn in your essays, working them to the best of your ability, and we shall meet up here so that I can tell you your true grade on them as well as allow you to practise brewing the potions you are having problems with. I will also grade your potions as the class goes on. I will make sure that your scores in the class reflect your actual ability, but the grade others will see will not be good."
"Okay." Harry sighed in relief. "I can accept that. You are being watched and can't let your guard down. Thank you for letting me know."
"You are welcome, Potter." Severus stopped when the boy shook his head.
"Harry in here please, sir." Harry leaned forward slightly. "The way you say Potter... I think you are still talking to my father."
"Harry it will be then." Severus pulled out a small brown feather. "This is one of Wendyll's feathers. It is charmed to help you find the Roost again. Also, there are six others who carry one with them. You will meet them tonight. Each one was chosen by Wendyll for the same reason as you were chosen – your home is not safe, not a home."
Harry's eyes dropped and his fingers traced patterns in the pile of the rug.
"You do not need to talk about it now, but I will ask for some knowledge so that I know how to prepare you for your next summer."
"Will we have summer homework?" Harry's voice was soft and he waited with bated breath for the answer, hoping against hope that the answer was no.
Severus narrowed his eyes as he studied the boy's posture. Petunia must not have changed that much as she aged. "You will, but do not worry, we will cross that bridge when we get there. We have your first year to safely navigate. If you need anything, the other Wrens will help you. If you need me, they will get me. If you can, come to the Roost and place your hand on the perch just inside of the door – it will alert me to your presence and I will be here as fast as I can. I do ask that if it is a medical emergency, please go to the Infirmary. I will learn of your location and check up on you."
Leaning over, he offered the feather to the boy. "Treat it well."
The door opened as Harry took the feather from the professor. Six students quietly crossed the room, their eyes searching the first year on the floor, each one seeing themselves at one point in their life.
Amy was the first to speak. "So, Harry Potter, you are the new Wren. Nice to have you in the Roost."
As Harry scrambled to get up, Severus picked up his stack of parchments, the summer homework from his NEWT classes that met that afternoon, and started grading. Wendyll was perched on the back of his chair watching their Brood as they got to know each other. He knew that she would warn him if he was needed.