Author's Note: As per the "Burnt Hedwig to the Rescue" challenge by Howldaloom: "Summer before fourth year, Harry is locked in his room at the Dursleys', forced to live as a house elf, brutally beaten, and starved. Hedwig is tossed onto a bonfire with Harry's other belongings, but she manages to barely escape! Hedwig is badly injured, and so burnt that she can't be recognized as a snowy owl. What will she do? Where does she go for help? Can Harry be saved in time?"

And, as per the "Oh, the Fanfics You'll Write!" challenge by yours truly: "Here's a challenge that's simple! The rules are quite loose. Simply tell us a story . . . just like Dr. Seuss." :o)

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

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Green Eyes and Hedwig

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Late one morning, as Harry lay sleeping in bed,
He was yanked to his feet by the hair on his head.
For a moment, he scrambled to guess and infer,
While he gazed all around to see what was astir.

Uncle Vernon was standing there, grinning with glee.
"So, you thought you could scam us indefinitely?
Now, as I understand it, your godfather's fled.
Or so much I have learned from this letter I read."

Vernon brandished some parchment held clenched in his fist,
Then he tossed it away with a flick of his wrist.
Harry briefly caught sight of the handwriting there
Before feeling the wrench of remembered despair.

For though Peter's deception had since been exposed,
He'd escaped; Fudge, implacable, kept his mind closed.
While asleep, Harry lost the oppressive regret,
And he dreamt that he'd soon be with Sirius yet.

But instead of a home with his parents' best friend,
At the Dursleys it looked like the summer he'd spend.
And since Sirius left, Harry'd been in a daze;
It seemed more like a year than just two or three days.

But it seemed that his uncle was on to him now,
And the glimpse of Ron's writing told Harry just how.
Vernon's lip was curled up in a furious sneer;
Harry felt the first pangs of near-crippling fear.

"You would have us believe if we don't toe the line,
That this Black will come back, and he'll fix us up fine.
Well, I'm on to you now, boy. Your luck has run out.
And you'll live to regret that you mucked us about.

"Now it's time for some payback, you bilious freak!
You will clean up this house 'til the windows all squeak!
All our clothes will be washed and then ironed as well,
And tonight, you'll go back to your cupboard to dwell."

Vernon paused for a moment (quite winded, of course),
Then he dragged Harry down to the kitchen by force.
"Now, the first thing's to make sure those freaks stay away.
Here's a pad and a pencil, boy — write what I say:

"'My Dear Freaks,'" he began. "No, write 'Friends.' Yes, that's stealth.
'My regards to your families, and how is your health?
I am writing to tell you that everything's fine;
There's no reason at all for our lives to entwine.

"'You will cease all surveillance immediately
Keep your distance and let us — that is, let me — be!'"
And as Vernon dictated, his nephew so wrote,
Though his hands were atremble, his heart in his throat.

And as Ron's owl, Pig, took his answer away,
Vernon pounced like a predator cornering prey.
With a box to the ear and a fist to the face,
He set Harry to scrub at a double-quick pace.

Harry worked 'til an ache settled fast in his back,
And his hands were all raw, the skin starting to crack.
Yet his uncle was firm; there was more to be done.
Until then, he got no scrap of food. Not a one.

He cleaned day after day, battered, beaten, and bruised;
Treated much like a house-elf while starved and abused.
Finally Harry got angry and threw down his broom.
"That's enough! I must sleep before I can resume."

"Shut that mouth!" Vernon bellowed. "Petunia! Look smart!"
Harry watched her, with Dudley, come pulling a cart.
And he saw all his clothes, Hedwig's cage, and his trunk
Were all shoved in askew like a bundle of junk.

"Help me tie him up tight to the seat of this chair,
Then we'll tape his mouth shut so the neighbors can't hear!"
Vernon ordered, and though Harry kicked and he fought,
He was soon tied up tight with a rope knotted taut.

Then they carried him out to the yard, where he saw
There was piled-up kindling and sticks and some straw.
With a match, Dudley soon set the pile alight,
And the flames rose up high 'til they lit up the night.

"Now, you watch, boy," leered Vernon. "I'll fix you up good.
Your possessions will burn just like kindling wood."
With a snort and a grunt and a heave and a ho,
All the things from the cart on the fire did go.

Harry's Quidditch robes burned up as quick as a wink,
Then his Sneakoscope, quills, and a bottle of ink.
One by one, all his textbooks his uncle let fly
'Til they landed like swallows shot out of the sky.

Then the potion ingredients, cauldron, and broom
Followed closely behind for the flames to consume.
Harry's clothes and his shoes met the same grisly fate
As the map that his father had helped to create.

But the last, and the worst, of his uncle's blind rage
Was expended on Hedwig, still locked in her cage.
Vernon grinned; as his eyes caught the light of the fire,
Harry's owl was heaved to the top of the pyre.

And as Harry watched, helpless, his fine feathered friend
Screeched and squawked as her plumage got singed on the end.
Harry's eyes stung with tears, and he moaned through the tape.
Was this it? Was there no way for them to escape?

But then, just when it looked as if Hedwig were lost,
Harry felt his rage climax; a line had been crossed.
With a pop, the cage door from its hinges did tear!
Hedwig spread out her wings and took off — who knew where?

Vernon bellowed and kicked at the now-empty cart,
While his nephew rejoiced watching Hedwig depart.
But his magic and strength, having fought, now took flight,
And he passed out unconscious, still sitting upright.

To be continued . . .