Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, never have, never will, not making any money, etc.
Summary: While Harry, Hermione, and Ron stay at the Leaky Cauldron, Pigwidgeon has himself an adventure and discovers his "one true love".
Pigwidgeon was on a mission. A mission of vital importance to the safety of all mankind, muggle and magic alike. A mission fraught with peril, intrigue, and subterfuge, the sort of which only a very small owl like himself would be able to carry out properly. The world depended on Pig's tiny but powerful wings, and he focused all of his considerable mental energy on deftly avoiding all obstacles in his path. He had to deliver the message to Harry Potter, before time ran out.
"Oi!" A human hand swung up into Pig's path, and he was hard pressed to swerve around it. They were onto him. He had to act quickly. He pecked at the hand fiercely with his sharp beak and darted upwards above the human's reach.
"That was foolish!" he cried down to his nemesis. "You think you can stop Pigwidgeon, the greatest owl the wizarding world has ever known? I will not be thwarted!"
"That's it!" The human shouted back to him. "I'm sick of you fluttering all about my head all night!" The human pointed his wand, and Pig prepared himself to do battle. The window flew open at the human's command. "Out!"
"Ron!" One of the human's accomplices stood silhouetted in the doorway. Pig veered toward the ceiling again. Perhaps he would overhear the humans' plans. "You can't send Pig out now, it's late. He could get hurt. Why don't you just put him in his cage?"
Pig's nemesis grumbled something too low for his considerable hearing to pick up. The human was crafty, Pig had to give him that.
"What was that?"
"I couldn't afford a cage, could I? Pig's on one of his midnight freak-outs, and I'd like to get some sleep sometime tonight."
Pig puffed up his tiny chest in irritation. He was on a vitally important, deeply dangerous mission for Harry Potter. He was not having a "freak out".
The human's accomplice crossed her arms and stared silently at Pig's nemesis. Pig saw his opportunity for escape. He was unlikely, he decided, to learn of the humans' plans. It was best that he get on with his mission. He darted out the window.
"Oi!" cried his nemesis again, and then the shouting of the humans was lost in the night as Pig took to the open air.
Pig knew, of course, that there was no vitally important mission, not right now at any rate. But he also knew one could arise at any moment, and that he must remain prepared. He practiced his drills nightly in his human's room at the Leaky Cauldron, and then, more often than not, was allowed to go out to roam, on the pretext of "letting Ron sleep". His human was indeed a clever one. He understood the importance of Pig's drills and of the need for secrecy.
Pigwidgeon and Ron Weasley made a good team.
Pig had already explored much of central London during the week he'd stayed with his human and his human's companions at the Leaky Cauldron. He was now well acquainted with which alleys had the best mice to hunt, and which were filled with stray humans and cats. He figured he could survive well out on the streets, should the need arise, and since Ron had given him a large mouse for supper only a short while before he started his drill, decided it was time to start gathering tactical information. He would learn of the location of every witch and wizard in the muggle London, so that he would be able to call upon reinforcements should the need arise.
Wizarding owls were unique from wild owls in one important way: they were trained from birth to detect the signatures of varying witches and wizards, so that they might know where their letters needed to be delivered. Pig could easily identify the members of his human's family from well over ten miles away, and those of his friends at approximately half that. He now needed to pick out the signatures of any other potential allies or enemies in the area. He swooped into the sky, was slightly buffeted off course by an unexpected draft, and then oriented himself via the muggles' large clock. Alighting on a corner of a building, he focused his eyes in to read the auras of the surrounding populace.
He picked out an unexpectedly strong, yet somehow strange, signature immediately, coming from a nearby flat. It was unlike any magical signature he'd ever encountered before, but it did not squeal of dark magic, so he allowed himself to become intrigued. The signature was at once earthy and manufactured. Perhaps this was one of those "false wizards" he'd heard the owls talk about at Hogwarts. A muggle who had somehow managed to master magical energies. He swooped down for a closer look. The window was open, and he could see two humans in the main room, their backs to him. A nearby bookcase would make an ideal hiding spot for Pig to observe from. Humans, especially muggles, very rarely thought to look up.
His plans were foiled just inside the door by some sort of magical trap. A blast of frosty air slammed into Pig's small body, sending him abruptly sideways and into the head of one of the humans with a soft thwup.
"Ow! What the--"
"A trap!" Pig cried, all thoughts of subtlety forgotten. How had he not spotted the magic before it could take hold of him? He struggled against the dark tendrils of the human's hair, only to find them tangling further around his legs and wings. "Let me go, you foul villain! You unholy manifestation of evil and badness!"
"Get it off, get it off,"
The human swiped his hands at Pig, most likely hoping to cause him grievous injury. Pig fought back with equal fervor, biting, pecking, and clawing at whatever came near.
"You will not hold the great Pigwidgeon hostage! I was trained by Sirius Black himself! Unhand me, creature!"
"Ow! Get it off! Ow! Ow! Stop it!"
The human was moving now, jerkily as though to disorient Pig. His hands stopped batting at the owl, and instead began to flap crazily at his sides. Pig blinked, pausing momentarily in his struggles.
Did this muggle think he could fly?
"Xander, calm down!" Pig twisted his head the full 180 degrees required to get a look at the human that had spoken, and felt his breath catch in his tiny lungs.
Her hair was the same beautiful red shade as all of the members of his human's family. Her face was calm, yet sympathetic, and Pig saw no threat in her eyes. Her aura was the one he had spotted from outside.
This was a witch like no other. Pig froze as she stepped towards him, and allowed her to gently extract him from his cocoon of hair. She cradled him in her palms, where he fit perfectly, and drew him to her chest.
"It's just an owl, Xander."
Pig's attacker gave a one-eyed glare. Pig swivelled his head and stared back, refusing to be cowled by such petty muggle intimidation tactics.
"It attacked me!"
The red-headed witch drew Pig closer. "I'm sure he didn't mean to. He must have gotten caught in the draft when the AC kicked on." She stroked his head with one finger. "Are you okay, little fella?"
Pig spread his wings out to embrace her rounded breasts and settled his head against the pale skin just above the neckline of her shirt. "My darling. You have won my heart with your kindness. Indeed, I did not intend to injure your friend."
"Willow, that thing is fondling your boobs."
"It's just scared!" The witch--Willow, such a lovely name for such a lovely woman--clutched him closer. "You're alright now. Yes, yes you are. You're a cute little fellow."
"Thank you, my beautiful lady. I am the Magnificent Pigwidgeon, your eternal servant." Pig tilted his head slightly so that Willow could have better access to the side of his neck. Oh, but that finger felt good. Willow seemed to instinctively know all the best spots. Truly, they were meant to be together.
"Cute?" The villain touched his scalp, wincing. "That thing nearly ripped all my hair out!"
"I told you you needed to get it cut." Willow angled her body toward the window, shielding Pig from the villain's ire. Pig shut his eyes in contentment. "But no, you had to go all rugged, to go with the eye- patch."
"Fiend," Pig added, for good measure.
The villain gawked at him.
Willow stepped up to the open window and held out her cupped hands. "Go fly now, sweetie. I won't let the big bad Xander get you again."
"Our love shall forever protect us both." Pig puffed up his chest again, enjoying the way the slight breeze fluttered his feathers. "I will return to you, though you set me free, so that you will know how deeply I care. I am yours, lovely Willow. Always."
Willow giggled as he gently pressed his beak to her hand in a kiss, and then took flight. "Besides," he heard her say to the villain. "That never would have happened if you'd closed the window when I asked you to."
Pigwidgeon was worried. He and his human were only in town for one more night before they had to move on to other business. That did not give him much time to prove his love for Willow. He knew he had her heart already, had known from the moment she had rescued him from that villain she was in company with, but he had to give her something to keep with her, to let her know that their love would be eternal no matter what kept them physically separated. It should be something personal, he decided. Something from the heart.
And so he killed the biggest mouse he could find and carry, and when his human returned to the Leaky Cauldron the evening after he'd met his goddess, he fluttered over with a quill and roll of parchment.
Pig rolled his eyes. His human could be exceedingly dense at times. He cast an appealing glance towards Hermione and Harry Potter. They smiled, but obviously did not understand.
"I want you to take some dictation." He poked the quill into his human's hand.
"Oi, stop that!" Ron jerked his hand back, looking annoyed. "What the devil do you want now, you stupid bird?"
"I want to give my beloved a letter, so that she can carry it with her always and know that no matter what happens, I will care for her." Pig picked up the quill and jabbed it into his human's hand again, then let go. "I can't write, so I want you to write it for me."
"Ouch!" Ron stared at Pig, then turned to his friends. "Did you ensorcel my owl?"
Harry looked as though he was stifling a laugh, and shook his head. Hermione tilted hers to one side, glanced from the parchment, to the quill, and to Pig, and then grinned.
"I think he wants you to write something for him."
Pig made one last attempt to give his human the quill. "She just explained it to you, you fool. Please, Ron, if you ever cared for me, you will do me this favor."
"Ow!" Ron snatched up the quill. "Alright, alright, I'll write it! Geez!"
Pig puffed his feathers, nibbled at a small itch under one wing, and then, seeing that his human was at last putting quill to parchment, cleared his throat.
"'My midnight muggle-witch beauty, my one true love, my Willow,'" He paused for effect. "'You have stolen my heart, but alas, our time together draws ever shorter. But fear not, my maiden of lightness and purity, for however far away, however long I stay, whatever words I say, I will always love you.'"
Pig didn't know who wrote that lyric, but had heard it on his flight back to the Leaky Cauldron the night before, and rather fancied it. He began to pace up and down the desk. "'Your eyes are like Gringott's largest emeralds, and your hair shines with the fire of your inner spirit. Your skin is the purest white of your greatness. Would that I could stay forever in your palms, clasped to your bountiful bosom, but duty draws me away. Err long I shall endeavor to return to you, but for now, take this simple mouse and this note as tokens of my everlasting love, and know that you are in my heart. Eternally your owl, Pigwidgeon.'"
Ron, Hermione, and Harry stared at him with jaws agape. As well they should. Someday, perhaps, they too would know the magic of such a love.
"P.S." He nodded. "Get rid of that villain. He will only bring you harm."
Ron gazed first at Pig, then back at the parchment, then back at Pig. The owl strode over to check his human's work. It wasn't bad, though the handwriting was a bit shaky. Even his human could feel the power of his and Willow's love for each other.
Pig stuck out his leg. Ron, still staring, carefully rolled up the letter and tied it on. Pig then hopped over to the mouse, lifted it in his beak, and awkwardly flapped out the window as his human and his human's companions watched in awe.
Willow was attempting to tidy up her apartment a bit. She didn't have much time for cleaning, what with the adventuring all over the world in search of slayers, but Kennedy was coming back from Korea in a half an hour, and she wanted everything to be perfect. She had the candles laid out already, with a fresh new set of linen sheets for her futon tumbling in the drier. Now she just needed to air out the room from last night's kitchen disaster. She and Xander had resolved never to attempt to cook on their weekly movie night again. They'd just have to adjust to Indian take-out, and that was that.
A slight thump heralded the return of the tiny owl from last night. It had all but collapsed onto her carpet under the window, a very bloody dead mouse clutched in its jaws. It jumped up when it spotted her, its chest heaving from exertion, and with three more hops, laid the mouse at her feet.
There was something vaguely dignified about the small bird, so Willow did her best not to laugh. It did not say a word, though it had been rather vocal the night before, and held out its right leg.
A small piece of paper was tied to it with a leather chord. Willow gently removed it, kissed the owl softly on the head, and then set it free again through the window. She'd heard rumors of witches and wizards in England communicating via owl; perhaps it was something from the coven.
She unrolled the parchment and felt her forehead crinkle. She glanced out the window, then back at the paper. She set it down on the kitchen table and lowered herself into the chair. She read the note again, then finally let the giggles rising in her throat bubble out of her.
It contained a single word, written in large, awkward, male handwriting.