Rowling owns the wizarding world. I own Charles.
Today was grocery day. Charles woke up early, dressed in his best suit and, bringing his walking stick from the umbrella stand, walked out to the streets of London. The air was crisp. Charles walked with short, careful steps and took care not to allow his blood pressure to rise to much. Wet leaves made the pavement slippery and he had to make use of the walking stick many times.
As he crossed Lester Square a brown owl fluttered up from a tree, startled by his appearance. Charles watched it fly towards the sky with a smile. Unusual to see such a wild bird in the middle of the city, he mused. It had been a large one as well.
Charles was still thinking about owls when he half an hour later left the grocery store, carrying a rather heavy bag and four different newspapers (and a copy of The Sun which he didn't regard as a newspaper at all, but still bought because there is always a second view on every subject, or, as it is, a third page). How unusual were owls really in the city these days? He knew that some animals, foxes for example, had adapted wonderfully to the new possibilities human settlements had offered. They lived in the small park areas and forgotten lots left between the houses and feasted on garbage and the occasional pet rabbit. Why shouldn't owls be able to do the same? Nest in trees and on roof tops, and eat the rats attracted by the humans ever growing garbage heaps, or something like that. Charles tried to remember what he had read about owl sightings. There had been peaks, he knew. Periods when the newspapers had reported unusually large number of owls. It had usually been explained as peaks in pray ability, or being connected to the weather. Charles politely mumbled a word of greeting to an elderly lady walking the opposite way. She smiled at him.
Charles curiosity was awoken. He decided to prolong his walk and turned right, proceeding down the street that would take him to the British Ornithologists' Union's office. He was well familiar with the location, even if he for the moment couldn't remember what business had brought him there earlier. After some slight difficulty in opening the heavy wooden doors he went inside. A middle aged man with large glasses greeted him and asked politely for his errand. Charles inquired about owls and was handed over to a young man in a small, stuffy room on the second floor. Charles repeated his inquires and was told to sit down in a quite worn but still comfortable chair. The young man, who had introduced himself as Herbert, rummaged with his files and folders, producing a large pile of papers for him. Charles read with rising interest. Herbert, as any specialist, clearly flattered by the interest shown for his particular subject, busied himself with brewing tea and finding a piece of rather stale cake. By the time Charles had finished reading he and the orionthologist sat in a pleasant chat over their cups.
"This peak in the beginning of the eighties seems to be the largest so far" Charles noted, pointing at a diagram. Herbert nodded.
"Yes. We have never seen anything like it. For a few weeks the whole country seemed to be filled by owls, flying to and fro like mad."
"But mostly in cities and villages?"
"Yes, strangely enough we did not se very much of a rise in the woodland owl populations. That indicate that they are adapting to city life, I suppose, just as you suspected."
"Did you see any rise in the rodent populations that year?" Charles asked, taking a piece of cake.
"Not really. And the climate was not more unstable that autumn than it usually is" the young man admitted.
"That is strange, isn't it?" Charles mused. Herbert nodded. They sat for a little while in that happy silence that is formed by good tea, nice conversation and pleasant company. Then Charles picked up the diagram again.
"How about the peaks in the summer -94 and the one in early summer the year after?" Do they show the same pattern?"
"Well, those peaks were not nearly as strong, especially not the one in -95, but yes, it was mostly city owls we saw. And no apparent natural cause for the increased activity either. Actually, we had a rat year just a few years before, with no peak in owl sightings. It is all quite confusing, really."
"That is strange" Charles agreed. "But there are natural fluctuations in their activity during the year as well, I suppose?"
"There are usually small peaks at autumns and springs" Herbert smiled. "We use to joke about the owls going to school, because the peaks often correlate with the boarding school term starts." Charles smiled to, but his forehead was wrinkled and he kept staring at the report on the table. An idea was beginning to take form.
"Here is a report about owls sighted in Scotland, flying in a straight line, almost like migratory birds or something. What do you make of that?"
"Hard to tell" Herbert shrugged. "We have a few of those sightings, but I can't really say what is in it for the owls. It is not what we regard as common behaviour."
"I shall tell you one thing" Charles said, pointing with his cup at the young man. "If life has taught me one thing it is that if strange things happens, you waste your time if you look for natural causes. Strangeness is more often than not caused by people. These owls are seen in human dwellings, they peak at times which don't seem to have natural explanations and they are behaving in ways they shouldn't. In my opinion, there is a human part of this story."
"And what would that part be?" Herbert asked with a smile.
"Maybe they are used to send letters?" a third voice cut in. Charles who had his back to the door turned around. There stood a young girl with blue hair, freckled nose and a black blouse. She smiled at them.
"You know, just like homing pigeons" she went on. "Wotcher Charles, hi Herbert!"
"Hi Tonks" said Herbert, giving her a familiar nod. "Thanks for coming at such short notice."
"Not at all. I was around anyway. May I sit down?"
"Of course" Herbert said, gallantly sweeping the papers of a chair and offering it to her. "Have the two of you met?"
"I don't think..." Charles begun, but the girl interrupted him.
"Sure! But it was awhile ago. I am not surprised if you don't remember me, Charles. I am Tonks, an old friend of Herbert." She offered him her and he shook it. Herbert gave her a cup of tea.
"You seem to be in a good mood" he commented.
"I should" Tonks smiled, her eyes twinkling. "My boyfriend finally starts to shape up. He has asked me out for a date and he has given me flowers and everything" she gave a short laugh "Oh, and he even starts to admit that he actually is my boyfriend."
"Young men can sometimes be quite slow to come around" Charles commented. The girl laughed, a warm, affectionate laugh. Impulsively she put her and on Charles'.
"You are such a dear" she said, beaming at him. He shrugged.
"I am speaking of experience, miss. Anyway, since you heard the last part of our conversation I feel obliged to tell you that I am serious. I don't think the owls are used for postal service, necessarily, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if they are tamed by humans. I have seen some strange things in my days, and in my opinion that explanation does not make less sense than any other."
"So, how does that theory of yours explain the peaks in owl activity?" Herbert asked, clearly amused. Charles thought for a moment.
"Obviously it depends on the purpose of the owls, and the people controlling them. Maybe..."
"Maybe we send more letters at those times" Tonks suggested.
"I suppose so" Charles laughed. "If we are to stick with the homing owl theory, I think we would find those peaks correlate with when the owl tamers have more to talk about. Yes indeed, why not the start of terms. But what, young lady, do you mean by we?"
"Oh, you know" Tonks said airily, playing with a small stick of some kind she had produced from her pocket. "We. The owl taming conspiracy."
And she pointed the stick straight to his forehead.