A light Dumbledore's Youth Era fic about pets. I wrote this for the HP Gen Ficathon in 2006, way before DH, when we found out Aberforth and Albus have bigger problems than pets. I decided to cut them a break and not rewrite this, the guys deserve a break.
On Rats and Self-Cooked Phoenix
Barnaby Belby had a rat named Edwina. Edwina had been Edgar until she had found another rat somewhere and given birth to a lot of little Edgars. Barnaby was still iffy about Edwina, worrying that she might be hiding more secrets, and also hadn't an idea of what to do with the little Edgars and Edwinas, so put the lot of them into a box and fed them until he could find a way to get rid of them.
"I say we feed them to Ogg's cat," Lance Creide said. "Maybe then she won't be after us anymore."
"After you, you mean." Aberforth Dumbledore tilted the box to the side, and the rats squeaked as they slid to the side.
"Careful," Barnaby hissed, glancing with worry at the librarian at the front – after all, he maintained, Gryffindors didn't have to be brave about librarians, they had to be brave about things like dragons. He'd been stupid to bring them with him, but he couldn't help but worry about one of the girls' cats breaking into the box while he was in classes.
Aberforth looked up, about to comment back, before shoving the box back at Barnaby. Surprised at the quick response, Barnaby looked back, only to see Aberforth's older brother approaching. "Albus!"
"Dare I ask what's in the box?" Albus asked as he took his usual spot between Barnaby and Lance.
"Edwina," Lance said. "And her spawn."
"Certainly Edwina doesn't deserve imprisonment," Albus said. "Nor do her children. What do you intend to do with them?"
"Oh, the prefect's watching us now, no feeding them to the cats," Lance said.
"No need for unnecessary cruelty," Albus agreed, reaching for the box. He opened it, smiling at the larger black rat and her variously colored children. "Hogsmeade weekend is tomorrow. We'll take them, see if we can give them away."
"Or give them to the Apothecary," Aberforth said, "you know they pay a Sickle each for rat's tails?"
"No," Barnaby snapped. "They're not two days old -- "
" -- you might as well make some money -- "
"Who has a rat for a pet, anyway?" Lance cut in.
"Not all of us can have phoenixes," Aberforth said, looking to his brother with something near envy.
By the look on Lance's face, this had been a topic discussed before. "Well, who wants a bird that sets everything on fire twice a week?" Lance said wryly, instead of complaining about his roommate's pet.
"Might make a better dinner than a pet," Aberforth said in much a similar tone.
Albus laughed. "Not nearly twice," he said, "and I've heard that phoenixes don't cook well."
"What, are you mad? It's practically self--cooking!" Lance laughed.
"Do you know how much phoenix feathers are worth?" Aberforth spoke up.
"A future apothecary worker in training, eh, Aberforth?" Lance said. "I think the house-elves could manage to make a good meal out of Fawkes."
"And how he squawks when Albus is gone," Aberforth said, with the knowledge that years of experience inevitably brought to a sibling. "Practically deafening."
Barnaby took Edwina out of the box, releasing her onto the table. Albus's expression saw him weigh the rules against the freedom of an animal, and choose the latter. "Utterly deafening. Ugly as sin when he's near burning, too," Albus said with clear cheer.
Lance grinned at Albus. Barnaby thought it said a lot about Albus if Lance Creide was amused by a prefect. "Right. Lucky I got an owl, at least mine's useful," Lance said.
"I would much prefer to have an owl. Or a goat," Albus said, with an amused glance to his brother. "Imagine the uses a goat could be put to. Parchment disposal, at the very least."
Aberforth snorted. "No, no, they can't abide parchment. I've heard they enjoy socks, though."
"Oh, everyone enjoys socks, I thought," Albus said, with surprise. "Warmth, comfort, and occasionally, if one is lucky, style."
"Style," Lance said, "have a pair of wooly socks to match your dress robes, then?"
"Of course, scarlet with lace," Albus agreed. "Not that anyone will see them, but it's the principle of the thing."
Barnaby then realized that he ought to shut the box, and shoved the top onto the box. He maintained, "Rats are the perfect pet, when they're not trying to escape, and if they manage it, don't come back with a couple hundred children."
Lance opened the box and picked one of the young rats up by the tail. As it dangled, he caught the eye of a passing girl – a Slytherin, ugh – and waved it at her. She scurried off after her friends with a squeal. "Did you have to do that? She liked me," Aberforth muttered at Lance.
Lance just grinned wickedly. "We could give them to Ogg. He might eat them himself, I heard he kills the chickens when they get too old and eats 'em raw."
"There are worse things to eat than raw chicken," Albus said serenely, "and one of them is raw rat. Or so I've heard. I think it's time that you study, gentlemen, exams are approaching in haste."
"Not nearly," Aberforth protested. "There's weeks!"
"Listen to the prefect, he knows what he's doing," Barnaby said. If anyone knew what he was doing, it was Albus, whether it was Transfiguration, charms, or care of phoenixes. "And I'm not tutoring anyone in Potions!"
"Of course not," Lance muttered. "I'll just fail."
"Now if you'll excuse me, I have to feed that useless bird of mine," Albus said, standing.
"Good luck, hope you don't lose a finger," Aberforth said. Lance snorted a laugh.
"I do often hear that attracts the women," was the final remark from Albus, before he left, stack of books in hand.
"Madman," Lance decided.
But a good one, Barnaby thought, looking into the box at the young rats that would find a better home than a box thanks to that madman.