Title: Protection

Author: Shannon/Raindrops on Roses

Rating: G
Category: Angst

Spoilers: GoF

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Author's Notes: Written for challenge #24 for the LiveJournal community 30minutefics.

Darkness came swiftly that evening, thanks to the heavy clouds that presented a cold crystalline gift to Hogwarts and the nearby village of Hogsmeade.

The scruffy black dog peered out of the dark cave. It was tempted to crawl to the back of the cave and sleep until spring, but knew that wasn't possible. If it had been human, it would have sighed with sadness and a hint of frustration.

Earlier that day, the dog had received horrible news--if a dog could be said to pay attention to anything like that...


The frigid wind picked up the scent of a feathered creature... no, bird, the dog's mind asserted. It heard wings flapping. The sound became louder and louder to the dog's sensitive ears.

Anyone so unfortunate to be nearby on this bitterly cold day would have been startled by the transformation the dog underwent. A few seconds later, a man stood in the place where the dog once was.

The man was fairly tall, with stooped shoulders, as if he bore a weighty load. His black hair was scraggly, and his beard was bushy and wild. He could use a few square meals, but one could see the strength in the underfed frame.

The owl landed just inside the cave and hooted softly, hesitantly. The man reached out a bony hand and the owl fluttered toward him, finally sure this was its destination.

"I'm sorry, little one," the man muttered as he removed a roll of parchment from the bird's leg. "I don't have any food here for you. If you want to go hunt, I'll have a response for you in a few minutes." The bird hooted and fluttered off into the night sky.

The man opened the parchment and began to read.

Dear Sirius,

You told me to keep you posted on what's happening at Hogwarts, so here goes--I don't know if you've heard, but the Triwizard Tournament's happening this year and on Saturday night I got picked as a fourth champion. I don't know who put my name in the Goblet of Fire, because I didn't. The other Hogwarts champion is Cedric Diggory, from Hufflepuff.

Hope you're okay, and Buckbeak--Harry

The man's insides froze. Of course he had known about the Tournament--he wasn't much of an Animagus if he couldn't use that form to find out what others couldn't. But Harry as a champion? Was this one of Voldemort's plots? But how would even he trick the Goblet into accepting Harry's name? More importantly... how could he protect his godson from the dangers of the Triwizard Tournament? It was his duty to ensure Harry's safety. He had sworn he would look after the boy, and he kept his promises.

The man paced the cave for a minute, his mind racing. Finally, he flung himself down and grabbed a quill and ink he had... attained... during one of his trips into the village. He rolled the inkbottle between his hands, trying to warm it enough to melt the viscous liquid. Finally, he scribbled a message on a spare piece of parchment.

The owl fluttered inside just as he signed off on the letter. "Thank you," he said as he attached the parchment to the bird's leg. It blinked at him.

He shivered as he watched the owl take flight, wondering if he would ever be warm again.