The Raven II
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JKR, various publishers of the HP series. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Chapter 17 (uploaded 9/6/05)
Except for Raven George, Harry found the Royal Ravens too posh and rather stuffy. It turned out Grog was only just a visitor now, having been replaced back in 1981 after a six month absence. Once in a while, the lush allowed himself to get caught so that he could sleep off the effects of his latest drinking binge. Harry thought Raven George was named perfectly, because he reminded Harry of George Weasley. He was easy going, friendly, and always looking for the next mischief opportunity.
The caretakers were nice, especially to Harry. Once they found out Harry was already hand tamed, they'd allow him to ride on their shoulders as they went about their daily business. They always talked to the birds while they went about their duties. If they finished early, they'd even read to the group. Every bird's favorite was a poem by Edgar Allen Poe. George even managed to mimic the Raven Master's voice, "Nevermore."
One day, Harry was awaken out of a nap by George, who was trying to work the lock on his cage. "Alright kid, that's enough sleep for you. It's been a week, you need to work out the stiffness in your wings."
"That's what the Raven Master said," Harry replied. "He was going to let me fly later today."
"Well, I'm taking you out now, kiddo," gruffed the old bird. "I can't fly too well because my wings are clipped, but I still manage short distances. So you'll be able to keep up, no worries. Ever seen London?"
"I've only seen a bit of London. I'm from Surrey, you see."
"Well, today's perfect traveling weather for us. There's a chilly Nordic breeze today, so nobody will be riding the top level of the red double-decker buses. We'll catch a ride and hit all the sites today."
Harry hopped to his feet and started headbutting the door to help George. "Brilliant, let's go!" Harry tumbled out of the cage when he tried another headbutt, but George was already holding open the wire cage door. George snorted, "Alright there, Harry?"
He only got up laughing, "I know another George who would have done that to me, too."
"Hang on, I've got this stuffed raven I'll put in your cage. The Raven Master will think you're still asleep."
"Where'd you get that ugly thing?" Harry laughed at the limp raven doll and gave it peck.
"Sometimes we get in a nest of hatchlings who have recently lost or been abandoned by their mother. One of the humans will stick his hand into the doll and feed the little babies. Then they leave the doll in the nest so that they think they still have a Mum." George lowered his voice and looked around, "When old Grog gets really drunk, he tries to make it with the doll."
"Ewww!" Harry shook his feathers out in disgust.
"He's even named her Stella!"
To George's amusement, Harry ran around in circles, "Eww, eww ewww, eeewww! I did not need to know that. The other night he kept yelling out for Stella."
"Now you know he's not just a movie buff."
As he worked to calm himself, Harry came to a realization. "Hey George, how are we getting out? All the windows are closed and the doors are locked."
"Follow me, kiddo. We go through the vent. There's a spot where I've opened it up for my getaways. I haven't bent an aerial in almost a week now."
Their talons clicked on the surface as they walked through the dusty metal vent. It wasn't as hot as Harry expected despite the fact that the heater was on. He soon found out why. George had opened up a gaping hole in the vent that lead right out to the roof and cold wind was blowing in while heat went rushing out. Along the way, Harry had overheard a bit of conversation in the office:
"Hey Tubbs, can't we do anything about the heat in here? It's freezing! I've already got the heater turned up as far as it will go."
"Already have. The heating guy is coming out tomorrow to have a look."
"Yeh might call pest control to come out today then. I hear something crawling up in there again."
"Alright, alright, Jones. Give me the request and I'll sign it. Go ahead and ring up the maintenance department."
Harry had a great day out with George. They hopped a bus and George treated Harry to chips with vinegar for lunch. The sneaky old bird nicked it off a lunch table in the financial district when a poor, distracted office worker ran after his newspaper that got caught in the wind. By the end of the day, Harry was tired and hungry. He'd done the whole London city tour in one day. "I think my favorite was the parade at Buckingham Palace," Harry croaked to George as they sat together on top of somebody's Ford Escort. George was determined to bend the wire antenna into some kind of bird shape.
"Mine was chasing the cute little pigeons at Trafalgar Square," cawed George.
"You should stick to ravens," teased Harry, "I think they were afraid you were going to eat them."
"I had a mate once." George stopped chewing on the aerial to look into the sky. "She was a looker in her youth, I tell you. Faithful to the very end. Of course it didn't hurt that I had one of the best jobs a raven could have in England. I took up this hobby a couple years ago after she died. Heartbreak, I think. The humans kept taking her eggs away. Our eggs."
"Meh. Life goes on, kid. I've lost enough friends and coworkers to know that you have to go on with your life to keep their memory alive."
"I figured that out this summer after I lost my godfather," Harry said solemnly.
"Enough of this. Now there's another beautiful tribute to my dear departed life mate, eh? To my dear Lenore, nevermore, nevermore."
"Wow, her name was Lenore." Harry's jaw dropped. "Like in the poem."
"No. Actually it was Rosie, but I usually get more applause with the Lenore line." George cackled and raised his wings in triumph.
Harry only shook his head and snorted at himself for falling for George's antics again. "I think your sculptures are getting better," he added. George took a bow.
"Oi, here comes another bus, let's get something to eat on the East End. Grog highly recommends the Rose and Punchbowl. I've never been there yet, but he's described it to me so often that I could find it in my sleep."
The ravens arrived in perfect time, just as the cook threw out another bag of rubbish. George tore into it expertly and emerged with a bone from a leg of lamb. "Mmm, Grog was right. I'll have to thank him if I ever see him again," George clicked his beak as he and Harry picked the bone clean.
"What do you mean IF ?" Harry looked at him sideways.
"Well, you see, because of my aerial hobby, last month I was reassigned to a zoo. They'll transfer me as soon as I'm healthy enough to travel."
"I don't get it, you're healthy now. I mean, we spent the whole day together and you've been great."
"Right, but I keep turning up with indigestion, don't I?"
Harry laughed, "Right!"
As they both cackled, they failed to hear someone coming up on them. "Caught ya! Hey, Smitty, I caught one at it again. Oh damn, it's got the tag of the Royal Ravens again. I really wanted to get one of these buggers stuffed at the taxidermy and mount it on the wall."
"George!" Because of his quick reflexes, Harry had managed to fly up in time and narrowly avoided getting caught in the sack with George.
"Don't worry about me, kid. Save yourself. See you back at the Tower."
"But I don't want to go back to the Tower," Harry cawed as he circled above the pub.
"Have a good life, Harry. Visit me in Wales."
Not knowing where else to go, Harry did fly back to the Tower of London. Several times a day, the Raven Master would take one or two of the ravens from the tower and give a little show for the tourists. To Tubb's frustration, Harry would come out and play during the show, pick up a couple of treats, get his picture taken, and the tourists thought he was the new star of the show.
At the end of the second day, Tubbs was ready to order a tranquilizer dart for the little miscreant, but in the middle of the last show, a bright yellow golf ball started flying around the perimeter of the yard. Having forgotten about the bonding band, he suddenly felt Snape's heart leap when Harry came out of hiding. He looked around, but before he spotted Snape in the shadow, he saw his Snidgey! Harry raced after it out of excitement and reflex, catching it in mid roll. He knew he'd been spotted. By everyone, if the applause was any indication. Well he'd had enough of being a bird and was ready to return to Hogwarts, so with his little golden toy held firmly in his beak, he landed on the shoulders of the tall thin man in the black button-up suit.
"Sir, my name is Raven Master Tubbs," the soldier in the fancy red uniform held out his hand.
"Severus Snape," the potion master replied and returned the handshake. "I hope my bird hasn't been too much trouble. I've been looking for him for a couple weeks. It didn't seem like any of his showtime antics were scripted." Harry coo'd happily and shook his toy back and forth.
"Well, we were hoping to accept him into the Tower as a trainee, but he was misguided by a couple of mischievous old ravens who influenced him before I could separate them."
"Yes," Snape sneered, "he is easily led into mischief by his friends, much like his father." Rawk! Harry squawked and ran toward the professor's head to stuff his snidget into the professor's ear. Snape took the golden toy from the raven's beak and snorted, "Is that the best retort you have, brat?" He opened his cloak and threw the toy into a pocket. "Go get it."
"Thanks. Bye," Harry croaked at the Raven Master before crawling down the cloak and climbing into the pocket.
"Master Tubbs," Snape rebuttoned his cloak with Harry safely tucked away, "what do I owe you for his care. I am grateful."
"No charge, sir. I am glad to see he was missed and is with someone who loves him. He looks genuinely happy to see you."
"I think he was happier to see his beloved little toy," Snape said in a quiet monotone. "Good day, sir."
Snape entered Hogwarts castle through the front doors. Just as he entered the Great Hall and turned toward the dungeon staircase, Headmaster Dumbledore said from behind, "Where have you been, Severus? You've almost missed supper."
Snape gritted his teeth and turned so that his robes flared behind him. "I had personal business in London."
"I thought as much," Dumbledore said pleasantly and looked at the potions professor over the top of his half-moon glasses. "Why don't you grab something to eat and let me take Harry to my office. You can bring up the antidote after pudding."
"How did you know?" Snape glared at the Headmaster.
Harry wiggled his way out of the pocket he was comfortably nested in, still holding the toy snidget in his beak. He hopped over to Dumbledore's shoulder and rode up to the Headmaster's office. When they entered, Hedwig was sitting on Professor Dumbledore's desk atop a pile of Muggle newspapers and pictures. "Harry! I told you, I'd get you home when you were ready."
Harry dropped his toy and flew into her outstretched wings. Dumbledore sat down at his desk, "Well, Harry, you've had quite a time, haven't you? Hedwig has apparently been nicking pictures of you that tourists have taken in front of monuments and tourist attractions. Why, you were even in the paper as the next Royal Raven."
"Severus, quit sulking outside the door and come in already." Snape swooped into the room with his robes swooshing behind him. The surly man already had his face fixed in an unreadable mask. "You're quite sure the danger has passed?"
"Yes, Headmaster. The Dark Lord is content at the moment to have his pet snake healthy once again. He does not blame me for my temporary absence, as it was proven that I was in the house the whole time and unable to respond to his summons. Although Mr. Potter is now out of danger, for the moment, you are not."
Dumbledore held up his hand to signal that Snape was approaching an area he did not want overheard by Harry. "Hedwig, thank you. Why don't you return to the owlry. Harry will catch up with you later." He scratched Hedwig behind her ears and smiled as she left. Professor Dumbledore then pulled out a leather pouch and pulled out a set of student robes and Harry's wand. Setting both on the comfy chair, he place Harry under the robes with only his head sticking out. Snape then administered the transformation antidote.
----- ooOoo -----
Harry woke up in the Hospital ward with Ron, Hermione, and Madam Pomfrey looking on. "Hey," he said sleepily and groped for his glasses. Hermione handed it to him.
"Hey, youreslf," Hermione replied. "You've missed a lot of school work. Where have you been?" Ron rolled his eyes and offered a half-empty box of Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans.
Pomfrey put a tray of sandwiches, chips, and pumpkin juice in front of Harry. "Finish that and you may be on your way." She left the Gryffindors chatting among themselves. Harry told them everything he could remember from the Death Eater hide out and the Tower of London. He really enjoyed recounting his adventures with George and Grog.
"So what about Malfoy?" Ron asked.
"He's being trained to be a Death Eater," Harry answered. "He can't get out of it, but his heart's not in it. Voldemort is still after me, but Professor Snape says the danger has passed. I guess he's not actively trying to kill me right now."
"What? You're not going to get Malfoy back for turning you into a bird?" Ron spat.
"No," Harry felt sorry for Draco, "I think he's got bigger problems than our little rivalry."
"How are things between you and Professor Snape?" Hermione asked.
Dangling his bare feet over the edge of the bed, he found the bonding band was no longer on his toe. Harry looked over at the night stand next to his bed. Brushing aside numerous cards and gifts, he picked out the slightly chewed imitation of a little golden Snidget bird and squeezed it in his palm. "I think we have an understanding."
----- ooOoo -----
The End. Thanks for flying with Dizzy. Sometimes I get lost along the way, but I eventually land …somewhere. Please take care when removing items from the overhead compartments, as items might have shifted in flight.
A/N: Once again, thank you for your reviews. I don't think I can say that enough. Hopefully I've brightened your day as much as you have brightened mine: Qem, excessivelyperky, Sweet-single, duj, Ezmerelda, Rehnnan (x2), Prongs J. Potter, Arica, APS, Silat'r, shadowphantomness, E.A.V. Check this chapter later if you left a question in your review, but I won't respond after about 9/15/05.
Royal raven reference: From www(dot)historic-uk(dot)com/DestinationsUK/TowerRavens(dot)htm
"However despite the wing clipping, there have been occasional escapes. Grog was last seen outside an East End pub called the 'Rose and Punchbowl' in 1981. Like Hardey he had been at the Tower for 21 years but unlike Hardey, Grog obviously felt he needed a change of scene!" I took it a bit further and made Grog a party animal.
"On Saturday 13th September 1986, Raven George, enlisted 1975, was posted to the Welsh Mountain Zoo. Conduct unsatisfactory, service therefore no longer required." Not exactly matching the story's timeline, but close enough. George was dismissed from The Tower for chewing on antennae.
Princess Arica: "THE END" means no more updates.
Ezmerelda: I knew about the Tower Ravens but I had to research the specifics. Tubbs is a real guy, too. He was Raven Master in the 1980's, if my research was correct.
excessivelyperky: Snidget pie? Bite sized pie, maybe, if you can find one. They're endangered or extinct, supposedly.
hotcocoalatte:I amworking on a post-HBP story, but I'mdetermined not to post it untilafter I finish 'Another Chance,' a story I haven't updated in over a year. That's my word and I'm sticking to it...unless my resolve breaks down and I get overpowered by a wild herd of plotbunnies.