Title: The Bloody Feather
Pairings: Mmmm... Not telling, though I'm sure you can guess.
Warnings: Clearly AU, OOCness, child abuse, anti-Dumbledore, pro-Hermione and Ron
Summary: Even heroes need a saviour, and when an unknown admirer starts sending Harry letters the summer before his sixth year, it's time for Harry to meet his.
Disclaim Her: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
A/N: I have been writing this in a notebook for quite some time now and am only now actually sitting down to type it up. As I'm somewhat notorious for how long it takes me to type things up if I've already written them down somewhere – look to Salir for an example – this won't have an update schedule. It's also not finished in the notebook, so eventually I'll get to that spot and have to start thinking about what's going to happen from there. When I get to that point, I'll let you know.
I'm not going to have a beta for this unless it looks like I really need one. If it comes to that, I'll probably turn to magickmaker17, unless college life looks to be too much for her, in which case I'll beg help of my LJ f-list.
EDIT: Changed scene breaks to fix FFN's issues.
"Boy! Get down here and make breakfast!" Petunia Dursley screeched up the stairs of Number Four, Privet Drive.
"Coming, Aunt Petunia!" Harry Potter called back down and set his quill down on top of the letter he'd just finished. He'd send it when he was done making breakfast, seeing as how his loyal owl, Hedwig, wasn't yet back from her hunting.
Harry went immediately to the stove when he got down to the kitchen and took over the cooking of the eggs and sausages from his aunt without even a thought of complaint. Harry Potter making breakfast was nothing new in the Dursley household, though his schoolmates would probably be horrified at the thought.
Harry was so busy being amused at his mental versions of the reactions of his various schoolmates that he didn't recognise the danger in the spitting grease in front of him until it was too late. A particularly vicious and rather large droplet jumped up, over Harry's glasses – which had been sliding down his nose from the sweat the heat of the stove was creating – and into Harry's right eye.
"Yeowch!" Harry shouted, stepping back from the stove and cautiously rubbing at the wounded eye.
"What are you doing?! Get back to the breakfast!" Petunia shrieked.
Muttering darkly to himself, Harry stepped back up to the stove and turned down the flame under the sausages, still rubbing gingerly at his eye. "Almost done," he offered to his three relatives, all of whom were seated at their normal spots around the dinning room table.
"Well, hurry up, boy," Vernon growled. "We don't have all day."
Harry sighed and moved quickly to serve his relatives their breakfast, momentarily forgetting about his wounded eye, though he had to squint through it.
Once done serving, Harry put the pans in the dishwasher, grabbed himself a piece of bread to munch on, and wandered back upstairs to check his eye in the bathroom mirror. It was red and watery and still hurt. With a heavy sigh, Harry got a washcloth wet and pressed it to his eye in an attempt to lessen the burning.
Harry stepped into his room with the washcloth pressed to his eye under his glasses and found that Hedwig had returned, along with a midnight-black owl. "Wha–?"
The black owl flew up to Harry and offered him an envelope. Harry eyed the envelope suspiciously, wary of taking something from an unknown owl. When the owl started to fidget, though, Harry took the envelope to keep the bird from making any noise. Pleased, the strange owl flew over to Hedwig's cage and drank some water while Harry sat down at his desk. Hedwig settled on his shoulder, cooing gently.
Harry smiled faintly and set the envelope down for a moment so he could stroke Hedwig's feathers. The snowy owl truly was his best friend. She knew him better than anyone and, had she been human, Harry probably would have married her, despite his leanings towards his own sex.
Hedwig nudged her human's cheek sadly, careful of his eye and the cloth he held over it. 'What happened?' she seemed to ask.
"Just some hot grease. I've had worse," Harry assured his friend.
Hedwig let out a quiet hoot of alarm.
"It's not bad enough to warrant a doctor, girl," Harry murmured a smiled tugging at his lips.
Hedwig let out the owl version of muttering under her breath, then nipped Harry's ear gently and flew back over to her cage to chat with the black owl, whom she appeared to like.
Harry shrugged. If Hedwig trusted the new owl, he would too. He picked up and opened the blank envelope, finding only a neatly folded piece of parchment with firm, scrawling script written in green ink inside. It was fairly brief and to the point, though mysterious:
'To my dear heart, I offer you this owl, Starlight, as a second familiar. I hope he proves to be as good to you as your beautiful Hedwig. I fear you will be needing the extra help soon, though I hope my vision proves wrong. If you have need of me, send Starlight and I shall come.'
The letter was signed with nothing more than a fancily-drawn feather in blood-red ink.
Harry pondered the letter for a long moment before turning around to blink at the two owls with his one good eye. "I'm afraid you'll have to share a cage..." he murmured.
Hedwig let out a questioning chirp.
"Well, I certainly won't send Starlight back if you'd like him to stay."
The owls traded looks, then simultaneously gave agreeing chirps.
"Great." Harry grinned. "Hedwig, would you be willing to take this letter to Ron and Hermione at the Burrow?"
Hedwig hooted an affirmative and flew over while Harry sealed the letter to his friends.
"Thanks, girl," Harry murmured, tying the letter to one leg. "Off you go then. And don't worry, Starlight will keep an eye on me."
Hedwig nipped Harry's ear again before pushing off from his shoulder with a quiet hoot and flying out the open window.
Harry offered Starlight a small smile. "Feel free to do as you please. I'm going to try and knock off some more of my summer work–"
"Boy!" Petunia called up the stairs.
"Just kidding." Harry rose to his feet with a sigh. "I'm coming, Aunt Petunia!" he added as he stepped from his room
As soon as Harry stepped into the kitchen, he was attacked. "What are you doing with my washcloth?! Go put it in the laundry! And weed the garden! Now!"
Harry sighed and moved quickly to do as his aunt ordered without complaint. He missed the washcloth as soon as he removed it, but continued on anyway. Out in the yard he knelt before the garden he'd been tending all his life and got to work. It looked like it was going to be another tedious day.
Harry's sixteenth birthday hit warm and uncomfortable. The teen was still awake at midnight, fighting with some summer Transfiguration work. Only the flurry of feathers warned him to move his essay before it became tatters as a flock of owls landed before him.
Harry couldn't help but smile at the owls of his friends tiredly. Five owls sat there, quietly arguing for space on his tiny desk. Handling the most official-looking owl first, earned Harry his Hogwarts letter for the coming year, which he put to one side for later. Hagrid's owls were freed next, then Lupin's and Pig.
Harry opened the gift from Hagrid first and was gratified to find a case of butterbeer with a chilling charm on it. From Ron came the usual bag of treats and Hermione had added an interesting book on Defence that they were unlikely to ever learn in any class. All three of his friends had also included cards.
Lupin had sent a simple card wishing him a happy birthday and apologizing that they hadn't managed to talk the Headmaster into letting Harry come back to Headquarters yet that summer.
Harry sighed sadly and glanced over at the empty cage that Hedwig or Starlight usually stayed in, one keeping him company while the other went out to hunt or, in Hedwig's case, deliver a letter to Harry's friends. It cut deeply that his two owls weren't there with him as he turned sixteen.
Harry had just stood to get ready for bed when Starlight soared through the window and landed gracefully upon his human's shoulder. Harry turned to look at his friend gratefully. "Starlight..."
Starlight offered his human a soft hoot, then stuck his leg out. Upon it was another simple envelope.
Curiously, Harry took the letter and sat on his bed, secretly pleased when Starlight remained on his shoulder. He opened the envelope to find another sheet of parchment, neatly folded and with that same firm handwriting in green ink. It read:
'I wish you a pleasant birthday, dear heart. I fear I must make this quick, as Starlight is anxious to return to you and I fear for my fingers. (Harry snorted, giving the dark owl on his shoulder a fond smile.) Once again, I beg you to send Starlight if you have any need of help. The vision I continue to have concerns me greatly, but I will leave it up to you to act if you have the need.'
The letter was ended with the same blood-coloured feather.
Harry glanced at Starlight. "You're worried about his visions too, aren't you?" he inquired of the bird.
Starlight let out a single affirmative hoot, golden eyes glinting dangerously in the darkness.
Before Harry could speak again, a door crashed open down the hall outside Harry's door, heavy footsteps pounding the carpet. Harry wasn't too worried – his uncle was probably going to the bathroom or something – so he turned back to speak to Starlight again.
The door to Harry's room slammed open, startling Starlight into flight and Harry to his feet. "That ruddy bird has spoken its last!" Vernon shouted, face red.
Harry quickly stepped between his friend, who hovered unsurely by the window, and his uncle. "Leave Starlight alone! He hasn't done anything!" Harry cried.
Vernon stepped forward and pushed Harry out of the way roughly, sending him into the wall with a 'bang'.
"Starlight, get out of here!" Harry shouted and tried to stand, heedless of the bruises he could feel forming after being thrown into the wall.
The midnight-black owl gave his human one last concerned look before flying off into the night – aimed towards his previous master's house.
Vernon turned on Harry as soon as the bird was out of sight, an insane glint in his eyes. "That's it, boy. I've had it with you."
Harry watched his uncle cautiously from his position on the ground. Let the fucker come. As long as Starlight and Hedwig are safe, I don't care, he thought viciously.
Vernon picked Harry up by the front of his shirt. "You'll pay for getting in my way."
"Vernon," Petunia said from the doorway of the bedroom, eyes hard. "You can't kill him. His little friends will find out."
"I was just going to throw him around a bit," Vernon assured his wife.
"Good." Petunia turned and left.
Harry felt himself go cold when his uncle's crazed eyes met his again. I'm so doomed.
"Yes, yes. Get rid of the unnaturalness," Vernon started muttering. half dragging Harry over to the boy's desk and grabbing the knife Harry used to sharpen his quills. "Starting with those eyes..."
Harry's eyes flew open wide before slamming shut tightly. No!
Harry let out a hiss as he was thrown to the ground and tensed when Vernon straddled his abdomen, half afraid he'd be crushed. It wasn't until he felt hands taking off his glasses and then fingers prying at one of his eyelids that he fought back, twisting his body desperately. "Off! Stop it!"
Vernon slapped Harry hard across the face, leaving the boy momentarily stunned. "First the eyes, then the tongue..."
Dumbledore! Lupin! Anyone! Help! Harry screamed mentally as he clenched his eyes shut against his uncle's invasion.
Vernon finally gave up on prying Harry's eyes open and just slammed the blade down on one closed eye. Harry's responding scream was muffled by Vernon's hand over his mouth. "Now, the other one..." Vernon muttered, raising the knife again.
"Expelliarmus!" a furious voice shouted from the doorway of the bedroom. The knife went flying into a wall.
Vernon stood and spun quickly, nearly losing his balance as he found himself facing the end of a wand. "Who are you?!" Vernon demanded as Harry sat up and backed away quickly, eyeing the proceedings with his one eye warily.
The wizard in the doorway merely cocked one immaculate brown eyebrow. "The man getting Harry away from you, of course."
A soft 'hoot' got Harry to look over at the window long enough to see Starlight flutter in and over to Harry.
"That ruddy–" Vernon started, moving toward where Starlight was fretting over his human.
"Move another inch and I'll kill you, Dursley," the strange wizard spat coldly as he stepped the rest of the way into the room. "How is he, Starlight?"
Starlight let out a sorrowful hoot which Harry understood to mean, 'Badly'.
Harry grimaced. He could feel the blood streaming down his cheek and his eye felt like it was on fire. If this was 'badly', he didn't want to know what happened to him in the vision of his saviour.
"Stupefy." Vernon fell to the ground in a slump. "Is all your stuff in here, Harry?"
"Yeah." Harry nodded thoughtlessly, entranced by the prone form of his uncle. The man who had looked like he would kill his nephew.
"Yeah?" Harry glanced up dully, noticing his saviour putting his trunk into a pocket. The room looked rather barren.
"Can you stand? We should go."
"Wha–?" Harry's eye opened wide in surprise. "B–b–but... What about Voldemort?"
"No questions. Come on." The darkening form of the stranger closed in on Harry and the boy realized dully that the vision in his other eye was going now too. He was just starting to fall into a panic when the other's voice pulled him back to the real world with a hand cupped on his cheek. "You're tired, dear heart. Sleep. I will care for you."
So Harry let himself drift off, for some reason comforted by the words of the other.
A/N: As stated above, the update schedule for this fic is going to be quite wild. It could be a couple of days between postings – don't hold your breath – to a week or two to even a month or two. I'll try to not let more than two months pass between updates, but nothing is set in stone when it comes to updates for this fic. Keep that in mind, please.
Ummm... Right. I'll see you all next chapter.
(Who's really hoping for lots of reviews)