The Raven

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling (JKR), various publishers of the Harry Potter (HP) series. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Author's Note: Apologies to readers of my other story who are waiting for my next chapter. While waiting for FFN to fix its problems so I could do some technical housekeeping, I was surrounded by a herd of plot-bunnies (or maybe they were angry dust bunnies). This is a short fic which won't take any time at all to write, the words are flowing faster than I can type.

Summary: Raven!Snape. Summer after Harry's fifth year, Severus Snape gets turned into a raven and happens upon Harry Potter. This is their summer together. Rating is for a little language.

Chapter 1 (uploaded 3/3/04)

Finally, the summer holidays had arrived. Severus Snape, esteemed potions professor of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry relaxed by taking a solitary stroll around the lake this late afternoon. Most people thought he stayed in the dungeons because he was sensitive to sunlight, but in truth, it provided the peace and quiet which he needed to recover from his days surrounded by noisy teenaged dunderheads.

He was sitting in his favorite armchair in the teacher's lounge with some light reading material, when the silence was broken. Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall walked in discussing, of all people, Harry Potter. Ugh, just hearing the name ruined Snape's perfect day. Snape threw down the wizarding newspaper he had been perusing and stood up to address the new arrivals.

They turned toward him to greet him, but drew a look of concern when the tall, dark-haired wizard only managed to open his mouth and close it at once. His eyes told a story of a sharp pain, which could only mean one thing. His dark mark burned black, he was being summoned to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

The Death Eater meeting did not go well. Voldemort was not in a good mood. He had lost eleven of his highest ranking followers to Azkaban Prison in the fiasco at the Ministry of Magic and spies within the Ministry had reported that their trials were being delayed yet again. By the end of the meeting, those in attendance where mentally drained.

As they walked away from the country barn, one of the young Death Eaters asked, "Where are you headed now, Sir?"

"Back to Hogwarts, Mr. Flint."

"Hey, how did you know it was me behind my mask?"

"Surely you jest. You knew who I was behind my mask."

"Well, a bunch of us are going to meet at the Leaky Cauldron to get pissed. You're welcome to join us. If all you're going to do is go to your dungeons and brood, this will be more fun."

Uncharacteristically, Snape said, "I believe I will join you." It was uncharacteristic because not since his early 20's had Severus Snape joined other Death Eaters in an after meeting drink. Only when Lucius Malfoy either blackmailed him or bribed him, would he socialize in public with dark wizards.

By 4:00 in the morning, Tom, the bartender, finally got everybody out of his bar so that he could lock up for the night. The drunk party wended its way out to Hyde Park, as they passed a couple bottles between them. After enough liquid courage, little Peter Pettigrew stood up on a rock and made his drunken declaration. "Severus Snape, I challenge you to a duel."

"I do not duel when I've had more than a half dozen drinks," Snape slurred. "Challenge me when we are both sober."

"I won't take no for an answer, Snivellus," Pettigrew replied. "I took out Sirius Black, who was in his prime and more powerful than you." The short, balding wizard, drew his wand and took a wobbly dueling stance.

"You are an idiot," Snape swayed, but drew his wand just the same. "Rictusempra!"

The bolt of light hit his opponent squarely in the stomach and he started laughing uncontrollably, falling to the ground and clutching his middle. "Damn, I peed myself!" They all had a good laugh at Peter as he stood up, his black robes glistening in the dim light of the streetlamps.

Snape smirked confidently, but the little rat got his spell off. Snape countered, "PROTEG—" Shit. Too late, he was hit in the chest. Suddenly it all went dark for Severus Snape. He was covered in what seemed like a net. He clutched a stick in his right talon and flapped his wings in angry frustration. Wait a minute. Talon? Wings? Damn, he had been transfigured into a bird!

Somebody pulled the black cloth off of him and he flew straight up into the night sky clutching his stick. He flew and flew. He didn't know where he was headed, he just knew it was his escape. Drunk and tired, he wasn't watching his surroundings when he was suddenly blindsided by a big brown bird. Snape fought and flew for his life. In the dawn light, Snape dove straight for the nearest tree to get away from the hawk which was obviously thinking of him as breakfast. It took a while to wind down emotionally, but when he finally thought he was safe in this tree, Snape lodged his stick securely into the branches and tucked his beak under his wing for a nap. It was amazing how his perfect day turned so badly, so quickly.

Snape woke up with a jump when something whizzed by his tail feathers and went splat against the tree. He flapped his wings and hovered inches over the tree limb as the fat kid with a mop of yellow blonde hair pumped his air rifle and pointed it at him. The skinny rat-faced kid next to him laughed and pointed. Snape was diving out of the tree so that he could perform aerial maneuvers, when POP, he was hit on the side of the head. Dizzy and half-conscious, he snapped out of it when the ground broke his fall with a crack. The pain which shot up his wing told him he had broken it, and it felt like he had cracked his skull, as well. A thick liquid oozed from his head, down the back of his neck and back. So this was it, this is how Severus Snape would die. Shot by a muggle kid while in the form of a bird with black wings.

The fat kid poked him in the stomach, not too gently, a couple times. He laid still, hoping death would take him soon. A shrill female voice called the kids attentions away and he was abandoned. He laid at the base of the tree for a while, but when death never came, he struggled to get on his feet. He had no sooner sat up, when he was pounced upon by a cat. The cat drug him toward the shrubbery. He flapped his wings, he tried to peck at its paw and eyes, to no avail. He was too weak and dizzy to fight the bigger animal. He closed his eyes, when the cat was about to chomp down on his neck.

Unheard to him, a car drove up to the front of the house and opened its door. WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!

"Yoo hoo! Duddykins! Auntie Marge is here! Happy 16th birthday! My, how big you've grown, I do believe you've surpassed your daddy!"

"Hi Auntie, look what I got for my birthday! It's an air rifle. Harmless, really, but my aim is getting better. This morning I hit a big black bird in mid-flight."

"That's nice dear. Let's go inside and open your presents, shall we?" Voices faded as they walked closer to the house, finally going inside.

The cat had disappeared when the dog bolted out of the car. Snape hopped up, branch by branch, until he was just out of the reach of the dog. In enormous pain, he tucked his beak under his good wing to ignore the barking, get more rest and hopefully recover enough energy to find a way home.

Snape awoke in the afternoon to the rustling of his bush. SNIP, whew, that was close. He fluttered to the ground to the ground and angrily attacked the little toe poking through the hole in the dirty, beat up trainers in front of him.

"OW, hey!" the owner of the trainers exclaimed. Harry got down on his hands and knees to look under the shrub. "Hello there, Mr. Raven. Looks like Dudley got you with his air rifle, eh? Aww, your wing is broken." Angry and frustrated, the black bird attacked the hands that tried to grab it. The sweaty teen took his t-shirt off and threw it over the bird, before wrapping it around the injured bird. "When I'm finished trimming the hedges, I'll take you inside to wrap your wing and clean you up, okay?"

The shirt smelled better than it looked. Apparently it was freshly laundered and most of it was bunched up under Snape's body. It made a nice mattress. Harry put the bundle under hedge which was already trimmed. Snape had mixed feelings about this. On one hand, at least he had been found by a wizard. On the other hand, why, oh why, did the wizard have to be Harry Potter? He fell asleep under the hedge, his last thoughts were hopes that the young man was better at his Magical Creatures class than he was at Potions.

Snape woke up under the shirt with the feeling he was being carried. He wanted to yell out, but his beak was pinched shut as they moved. Once in the bathroom, his eyes were uncovered. "Shhh, please be quiet. If we're heard, I'll get thrown into the cupboard downstairs and I can't help you from there. Okay, I need to put you down so I can wash up for lunch. Be good."

Snape watched quietly from atop the toilet tank while the boy washed himself with a towel. Snape was set in the sink while Harry inspected his shirt before putting it on. "Good for me. Unfortunately for you, that green paint has already dried on your feathers, mate."

Harry took a warm, damp rag and ran it over the bird's back. It felt good, actually, and he was soothed as the kid spoke quietly while gently cradling the bird around his neck to keep it from flinching.

"My name is Harry. I'm surprised Hedwig didn't talk to you. I think she's warned every small animal and bird in the neighborhood to stay clear of Dudley and his new air rifle ever since he got his early birthday present. I washed a couple of cats and dogs. Got all scratched up for my efforts, too. But we couldn't have them going around with electric blue spots, now, could we. My birthday is in a few days. I'll be sixteen."

Cradled in Harry's arm, and held against his body, Snape thought it odd that Harry would have to look both ways before stepping out of the bathroom. Harry tip-toed across the hall to his bedroom, which was sparsely furnished. There was a bed and a stack of shelves, which had broken and abused toys and other muggle curiosities. Harry's school trunk was next to the bed, wrapped in chains and triple padlocked. He used it as a table, for it was good for nothing else in that condition.

Harry found a large shoebox and put one of his more worn oversized hand-me- down t-shirts at the bottom. It was covered in pink, yellow, and purple paint splotches, as Harry was Dudley's first target practice. Snape was placed on top of the trunk, while Harry knelt down in front of it to work on the bird's wing. From under the bed, Harry produced a roll of plaster and some sticks. Harry, quite deftly, Snape thought, set and bandaged his wing quite nicely.

"Dudley is always injuring birds and little animals," Harry said softly. "I've gotten quite good at this lately, if I don't say so myself. Now, I managed to remove most of the green paint from your back and neck. But you nearly bit my fingers off whenever I got too near your head. I know Hedwig, that's my owl, doesn't like it when I get too close to her eyes." Harry left, but was back quickly with a jar lid filled with water. He had no sooner set it next to the raven, when he was called away by his Aunt Petunia. "It's nice and dark under my bed. I'll see if I can get some food for you." Snape was placed in the shoebox and pushed under the bed. He watched the pair of beat up trainers walk out the door.

Harry returned to his room with a smile. He pulled the bird from under his bed and put it on his trunk. "Hi there. Look we're in luck. They gave me a piece of toast for lunch and I saved you a bit of crust. I imagine you haven't eaten in a while. You must be hungry." Harry placed the crust next to the raven, but it only tucked its beak into its good wing, uninterested in the food or water.

Harry looked through his room and found a pen and tore off some cardboard from Snape's shoe box. He uncovered Hedwig's cage, which sat on top of the stack of shelves, and pulled his snowy white owl from her perch. Hedwig hooted and gently nipped at Harry's fingers. "Hedwig, I realize it's not normal to have you fly during the day time, but this is important, okay? Take this to Hagrid. Wait for him to give you a little package, okay? Dudley's latest victim isn't eating and he's getting weaker." Hedwig hooted her understanding and flew out between the bars on Harry's window.

"So, what am I going to call you?" Harry stroked down the black bird's neck. "I want to name you Sirius, after my godfather," the young wizard thought out loud.

Inside his head, Snape was screaming, 'Potter, don't you dare call me after that fool! I will have you in daily detention into your seventh year, if you do." He opened his beak to protest verbally, but Harry, fearing the noise quickly shushed him. "Ok, not Sirius then. You know what? You remind me a lot of my potions professor. I'm going to call you Professor Snape. How about that? Do you like that?" Snape couldn't believe his luck, or maybe the kid had actually been paying attention in school and could tell the difference between regular animals and magical ones. Nah, not Potter. Now what is it that birds do to show their approval? Snape bobbed his head and ruffled his tail feathers, sending a couple of black down feathers into the air. He hoped that was an appropriate reaction.

"Well good, then. Snape it is," Harry beamed.

Harry laid on his bed and put the raven on top of his chest. He stared up into the ceiling and unconsciously stroked the bird's back. Tears rolled out of his eyes as he thought about the day he lost his godfather. Snape pecked at Harry's fingers. "Sorry," he sniffed, "I was thinking of Sirius. I should have tried harder to learn occlumency, but my professor hates me. He insults me and just says 'do it' without telling me how, then he leaves me with a migraine after the lessons and I go back to my dorm feeling even more vulnerable. Don't you think he would know that I never knew anything about the wizarding world until Hagrid came to give me my Hogwarts letter? I'm sorry I named you after him. I don't hate you."

"I'm bored. I wish I could work on my summer homework, but as you can see, Uncle Vernon locked up all my wizarding books, along with my wand. Oh, I know I could open the locks, but I'd have to use magic. And if I use magic, I'll get hauled into the Ministry again and threatened with expulsion." Harry snorted. "You must think your life sucks right now, but mine isn't much better here. I'm practically defenseless without my wand. I don't know what I'd do if dementors decided to attack me again while I'm staying here."

Harry reached for the crust and put it next to the bird. "You really should eat something before you get too weak. At least drink the water. Birds are quite hardy, but if your feed is off, then you do downhill quickly." Harry dipped his index finger into the lid of water and held it to Snape's beak. Snape wanted to take a chunk from the finger, but thought it better to take the drop that was offered. He was mad at himself for finding himself in the condition where he had to be hand fed by Harry Potter, but the boy was right. He had to survive this predicament.

"Good boy, Snape." Harry chuckled to himself at the spoken words. "I hope you can rest well under my bed. I keep Hedwig covered up in the day time to keep her quiet. My aunt and uncle want as few reminders of my existence as they can get. I think that's why they made me live in the cupboard under the stairs for the first eleven years of my life. I used to cry myself to sleep every night, but the more I thought about it, the more it hurt. I eventually learned to shut out the thoughts of being all alone in this world. As it turned out, I really am alone in the muggle world. But I learned I'm not alone in the wizarding world." The last thing Snape remembered before falling asleep was Harry's stomach grumbling with hunger.

To be continued...