Hello! Wow, it's been a while. Well, here you are – a Hedwig story! Hopefully, as someone typed to me once, "itz teh cute." Enjoy. This takes place during Harry's sixth year.
EGGS IN MY LAP
Chapter 1: In Which Hedwig Is Fat
Harry took a large gulp of pumpkin juice and reached across Ron for the bacon plate. He'd asked for it twice, but Ron hadn't heard him, since he was in the middle of a heated debate with Hermione over some ridiculous topic; Harry had lost the drift, but they were down to "Yes it was!" "Was not!" back and forth by this point anyway, so it didn't really matter. Full of energy and food, they were barreling along above the din of clanking china, thumping bowls, clattering silverware, and overlapping conversations about Quidditch, homework, lipstick, and broomsticks going on the length of Gryffindor table and elsewhere in the Great Hall.
It was breakfast as usual at Hogwarts.
Harry extricated the plate from around Ron's elbow just as Ron gestured at Hermione with a forkful of fried eggs.
"Oh yeah, well what makes YOU the expert?" he said, and pointed at her with his utensil. He was a little too hard with it and momentum did the rest. The eggs flew off in a graceful parabolic arc and landed in Hermione's unfinished granola.
"Oh, Ron! Eww! And I'm not an 'expert,' I just read up on it last night!"
Harry ignored both of them and transferred a few strips of bacon to his plate. It wasn't for him – he'd had some already. It was for Hedwig, who would be arriving with the post owls any time now. Harry rarely got post, but Hedwig had made a habit of stopping by every Monday to hang out on his shoulder for a while, and thick-cut Canadian bacon was her favorite type of meat treat. Harry always made sure to put a little aside for her when she came to visit.
There was the usual commotion as the post owls glided in, swooping down over tables and looking for their owners. Girls and boys all over the Hall reached up or whistled to signal their birds to drop packages and envelopes from home. Harry merely held up some bacon, waiting for Hedwig to do her usual trick – swoop down and fly low across the table, pick up the morsel in her talons, and catch an up-draft before returning to settle on Harry's shoulder, treat clasped tightly in her beak. Hermione always enjoyed this, although most of the other Gryffindors had gotten blasé about it.
Harry saw the white form heading his way out of the corner of one eye, and held the bacon still. He was not prepared for what happened. Hedwig was attempting to swoop down and catch the bacon as usual, but something was very wrong. She was trying to lose altitude, but it was happening too fast; flapping looked way too hard, and she was sinking like a stone. Harry didn't notice this until it was too late.
The landing was a catastrophe. She missed the bacon completely and instead clattered onto Harry's nearly clean plate, skritching her talons everywhere in an attempt to stay upright, beating her wings in distress and hooting loudly. Hedwig had a decent wingspan for an owl her size. She took out a couple of goblets of pumpkin juice, as well as the pitcher of milk, and managed to make quite a mess (and a scene) before Harry was able to calm her down.
"Whoa, Hedwig, easy!" he said, dropping the bacon and trying to get his panicked owl under control. "Easy!"
It was all Harry could think of to say, but it seemed to work. Most of the students who had noticed the fracas grew bored now that it was over and turned their attention elsewhere. Hedwig managed to fold up her wings and stand reasonably still while Harry, Ron, and Hermione cleaned up most of the spills. Harry had pumpkin juice all over his lap and Hermione had gotten some milk on her, but both of them were ignoring this in favor of Hedwig, who had their complete attention.
Harry began to pet her. This was the weirdest thing he'd seen his owl do in a while, and it worried him. She looked very embarrassed about her entrance, or about as embarrassed as an owl can look about anything. Harry saw it clearly, though. Somewhere along the line he had developed a habit of talking to Hedwig (and thinking about her) as though she were a person, so her embarrassment was probably more obvious to him than a casual observer. She also looked a tad dizzy. Her brilliant yellow eyes weren't focusing very well.
"What's the matter with you, girl?" he asked her gently, smoothing down some ruffled feathers on her head. "Are you feeling all right?"
He wasn't really considering her that closely, so he didn't immediately see the problem. Ron did, though. His mouth hung open and then he bit his lip. Hedwig, it seemed, was having trouble flying because of her belly. Normally, the bird's tummy was sort of tucked in, slender and aerodynamic. But Hedwig's was pooching out.
"Uh, Harry?" Ron said. He didn't quite know how to break this to his friend. He didn't want to insult Hedwig, and he knew from experience that females of any persuasion didn't take kindly to being called chubby. The redhead was fairly sure that Hedwig couldn't spell, though, so he decided to play it safe.
"Look, I hate to tell you this, but your O-W-L is looking pretty F-A-T, mate."
Hermione was nodding in agreement. But Hedwig, who could not only spell "owl" but "fat" too, was extremely upset by the comment. Her beak quivered; she nipped at Ron and then made a loud noise that sounded almost like weeping. And then she attempted to flutter away, only to find, to her extreme disgust, that she was having serious take-off problems. For the past week she'd felt herself getting bigger every day, but while flying had been getting harder, it hadn't been such an issue, at least until now. She'd come in this morning using only a downdraft from the Owlery, because she'd been worried about a take-off, but to fail at it, in front of the other owls, and her man-boy, and her man-boy's inconsiderate twit of a friend, was too much.
Harry watched as his owl got about four feet in the air before coming to another clumsy, rough landing on the stone floor. "Oi!" Harry cried out in dismay, and leapt up off the bench to go after her. She was waddling away, still making that crying noise, but Harry didn't let her get very far. He stopped her and got down on all fours so he could lower one arm to the ground, and then encouraged her to get on. By this point they had the attention of half the Gryffindor table. He managed to stand up while holding Hedwig.
"Sorry, Harry," Ron said, feeling rather responsible for her current state. "I didn't know she could spell."
Harry waved him off. He was looking at the lump in Hedwig's belly, now.
"Harry, is she all right?" Hermione asked, standing up. The milk was dripping down her front, forgotten.
"I don't think so," Harry said. "I'll take her out to see Hagrid. There's still some time before class. Come on, girl," he finished to Hedwig, who had thankfully stopped making that wailing noise, and navigated the both of them slowly out of the Hall.
They passed the Slytherin table on the way out, though, and Malfoy, having seen the spectacle Hedwig made, shouted out, "What the hell's wrong with your owl, Potter? That time of the month again?"
Hedwig's talons dug into Harry's arm slightly. Keeping her between him and the staff table, he glanced up, noticed Snape was occupied with spreading marmalade on his toast, and used his free hand to make an obscene gesture at Malfoy. Malfoy gasped.
"Five points from Gryffindor, Potter!" Snape called from the staff table.
Harry whirled around at him, albeit a bit slowly for Hedwig's sake. "What for?"
Snape raised an eyebrow. "For whatever you just did to Malfoy."
"You can't prove I did anything!" Harry argued.
"Maybe not, but I believe Hogwarts has a rule somewhere about not urinating on yourself in public. Shoo," he finished, complete with a dismissive gesture.
Harry, puzzled, stared down at his own crotch, and his cheeks flushed when he realized he hadn't cleaned up the pumpkin juice Hedwig had spilled on him. Now extra annoyed, he had no choice but to walk away, muttering mutinously under his breath. Malfoy laughed like a loon, and his gang of cronies was quick to join him.
Harry did his best to ignore the cackling, and walked out of the Hall. "Come on, girl, let's go see Hagrid. Maybe he'll know what's wrong with you."
Hedwig hooted rather pathetically.
Harry stepped out of the entrance doors, padded across the green lawn, and hurried off to Hagrid's place. April had just begun, so heavy rains had left everything dazzling green and the sky an almost unreal shade of blue. It was lovely and cool outside. As he approached Hagrid's thatched roof cottage, the familiar steps looming large, the man himself opened the door with a bang and came out.
"Ah, Harry, how are ya?"
"Fine, Hagrid," Harry said with a grin. "Hedwig isn't feeling very well, though. She was flying terribly this morning – crash landed twice! Can you tell what's wrong with her?"
Hagrid held out his gigantic hand. Harry held his arm out very close so that Hedwig could step gingerly only to his palm.
"Hmm," Hagrid said, holding Hedwig close to his face and squinting at Harry's owl (who looked tiny by comparison). He drew back in surprise at the sight of her belly, and then laughed a great booming laugh that ruffled Hedwig's feathers. "Ooh, sorry there, darlin'," he said to her, and then looked at Harry. "So this is wha' all the fuss is abou'! Ha ha ha!"
He leaned down to hand Hedwig back to Harry. The owl got onto his shoulder gratefully, and Harry faced the half-giant in wonder.
"Hagrid?" he probed, since Hagrid had that I-can't-believe-you-don't-know-what's-going-on-but-don't-worry-it's-good-news look on his face. (It was a very complicated look to pull off, but Hagrid made it look easy.)
"Harry," he beamed, "Yeh got yerself the beginnings of an owl family, ma boy."
Harry, startled, looked at Hagrid, then at Hedwig, then back at Hagrid again. "You mean she's…"
"A card-carryin' member o' the egg-layers club!" Hagrid roared with pleasure. "She's been full of eggs for about two weeks, I'd wager. It's on'y just now she's had flight problems, eh?"
"I – I think so," said Harry, a bit embarrassed that he wasn't sure.
"Well, tha's what happens, see? The eggs they start out tiny-like, and they grow and grow until the females nest. Gums up the works, though, they can't fly so good when the eggs get too big. Too heavy! Ah, I wouldn't be surprised to find she's buildin' a nest in the Owlery to prepare. O' course, she'll need some help from here on out, 'specially since there don't seem to be no father flyin' around."
Harry was struck dumb. He just stared at Hedwig for a moment, trying to take it in.
Hedwig was just as startled by this information as Harry. Sure, she'd been gathering straw and making a more comfortable bed for herself as she got bigger, but … did that count? She didn't know. Goodness, there were so many things to think about, now! She was going to build a proper nest. She was going to have owlets. She was going to have to stop watching her man-boy and start watching her eggs, whenever they decided to drop.
And she wouldn't be delivering post for a while, because she couldn't fly in this condition. How would she find food? How would she take care of herself, not to mention the babies? Would another owl be able to help her? She remembered mum telling her that dad was a big help during the egg-sit, but she hadn't seen her mate in weeks. He probably had no idea he was going to be a dad, and worse, there was probably no way to find him and tell him. The thought of going through this alone… She lurched into a panic. Her head spun.
Worse, when she next looked at Harry, he was grinning at her with pride and excitement. He seemed to have been inspired by Hagrid's enthusiasm. "Hedwig, did you hear that? You're going to be a mum. Isn't this exciting?"
Hedwig hooted in distress. This was too much, too fast. The head-spin had turned into a tummy-spin, and she blarped some rat remains onto Harry's sleeve.
Harry made a face.
"Ah," said Hagrid, "Yeah, that happens sometimes. Morning sickness."
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