Quoth The Raven, Nevermore
Summary: The Tower of London has a dark and bloody past both in the muggle and wizarding worlds. Besides being a prison, it also served as a sanctuary in times past, what if it became one yet again?
A/N: Special thanks to Phil for helping with the technical support.
Disclaimer: We do not own Harry Potter. He belongs to his author and creators. The Tower of London is a real historical place. This is a work of fiction, any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely accidental. We also wish to state we have the greatest respect for the men that live and work within the Tower and for the Royal family.
Chapter 1: Weak and Weary
Little Whinging Primary School Teacher Mary Provost was on her way home from a staff meeting when she noticed a group of boys tormenting a very young-looking bird. The bedraggled bird was trying to give back as good as it was getting by stabbing at them with its heavy beak. As she drew closer, she gasped. It was a fledgling raven! What in the devil's name was one doing this far south?
Shooing the boys away with a strong warning about cruelty to animals, she announced in a very stern voice that she would be speaking to their parents.
Mary wondered if the raven had escaped from a private aviary. No matter, she'd just take the injured little one to her uncle. He'd be able to fix it up as good as new, if anyone could. She had planned to go to London to do some shopping anyway. It would be just another stop on her way.
Her uncle worked as a Yeoman Warder at the Tower of London. He'd just received the post after serving in the Royal Marines for 21 years. Mary smiled as she remembered the last family get together. He had been full of stories about working at one of the most famous and most haunted landmarks in London. She gave a shiver at the thought.
Carefully wrapping the injured bird in a clean handkerchief, she gently placed it in her purse before catching the train to London. She prayed that her uncle was on duty when she got to the Tower.
Mary had made good time in getting to the Tower. When she arrived and after stating her business, her uncle had taken her immediately to the Assistant Ravenmaster.
"I don't know if this little one will survive the night," said Ben McIntyre, the Assistant Ravenmaster, to the Yeoman and his niece.
Ben was a stocky man, with years of experience in handling the feral ravens of the Tower. Years in the military had honed his erect posture and his close-cropped brown hair now sported salt and pepper tones. Since he had been stationed at the Tower he was allowed to wear the heavy mutton chop side-whiskers so common among the Beef Eaters. His large hands cupped the fragile bird with surprising gentleness.
"He's pretty banged up, beside having a busted wing and a few scratches that seem a bit infected. The worryin' thing is this little 'un shouldn't be out of the nest yet. How he got down to Surrey is a mystery. We'll have to check to see if any of the chicks have gone missin' from the Owl Sanctuary down south."
"But do you think he will be alright?" Mary asked a bit worried that all her care would be for naught.
"Well, if he makes it through the night, he's got a fair chance," Ben reiterated as he bandaged the wing and tended to the infected wounds before feeding the fledgling a bit of runny warm mash mixed with egg yolk.
The fledgling bobbed his head weakly as he fought the eyedropper. Ben expertly slipped the tip of the dropper into his tiny throat and squeezed gently. He didn't feed him much, but the fledgling's greedy reaction as he tried to swallow the food, eye dropper and all brought a chuckle to the three looking on.
"There now," Ben said as he bundled the juvenile corby in an old scrap of cloth and placed it in a make-shift nest of old newspaper and rags. He set the nest on an end table near the radiator. "He's all snug and fed. Now only time will tell if he's a scrapper or not."
After seeing the Yeoman and his niece off, the middle-aged warder left his apartment to make his report to the Head Ravenmaster.
After conferring, neither man held much hope of a chance for the young corbie. However, if they knew anything about ravens, they knew that although it was frail and injured ravens were tough birds. A juvenile this young had a slim chance of surviving.
"Keep me informed, Ben," said the Ravenmaster. "We might as well keep him here, if he makes it. No need to send him down to Bournemouth. We could use a spare, especially with that bird flu going around."
Ben McIntyre returned to his apartment and to his wife, Maggie, of 31 years. They married just before he went into the Royal Marines. His years in the military were harrowing, wonderful, exciting, exasperating, but through it, all they never lost their love for each other. Three children and one grandchild later, Maggie convinced him to apply for service as a Warder at the Tower. He had an excellent service record and within a year after retirement, he was made a yeoman warder at the Tower of London. It took him five years more to work his way up from Yeoman Warder to Assistant Head Ravenmaster.
"Everything alright dear?" came a soft voice from the small kitchenette. Heavenly aromas wafted from the area as he headed for the table, but first he checked on the nest and its tiny occupant. The small bird was sleeping peacefully, curled up in the warmth of the nest. His sides vibrated in and out with every breath and every so often he gave a twitch.
"I gave him some of my special tonic while you saw our guests out," a quiet voice coming up beside him murmured. Ben turned to smile at his wife of 31 years as she stepped closer, holding out a small hot water bottle. "This'll keep the little nipper comfortable. Come, supper is ready."
As he settled himself at the table, surveying the lamb stew before him, he smiled. "Smells good, Maggie, my love. As always."
"Get on with ye, Ben McIntyre. You would say that even if I had burnt it," Maggie exclaimed, blushing prettily.
Ben laughed as he dug into his supper. He still could not believe this wonderful creature across from him at the table could ever have found anything worthwhile in him. He was a simple man, born the third son of a lower middle-class family in Manchester. He joined the military to escape the drudgery of working in his father's factory. He'd met Mary when he was roaming a small village in Wiltshire in search of a place to eat. He fell in love with her beautiful smile there and then, and that feeling had never faltered.
As the fading afternoon sun shone through their small Tower flat, her golden hair, now streaked with grey, still glowed. She had kept her slender figure, even after birthing two strong, strapping lads and a girl, who took after her in looks. Her blue eyes, while fading softly with age, still sparkled in merriment when she smiled.
When she brought out a raspberry trifle, he fell in love with her all over again. Her trifles were his favorite.
A small sound came from the living area. Ben excused himself from the table as he wiped his mouth with a napkin. 'Now,' he mused, 'if the newest member of the Tower Ravens survives the night, life would be great.'
"Well, Scrapper. What's the fuss?" he asked, as he tenderly scooped the small bundle from its nest.
In a cold, drafty castle in the wilds of Scotland, in an office filled with knick-knacks and portraits, an elderly man with a long white beard was going over a stack of scrolls. His thoughts were on a myriad of things that needed to be done before school started.
Suddenly, two shrilling alarms startled him from his task.
Standing, he surveyed the offending trinkets. A frown creased his aged brow as he headed abruptly out into the night.
Well, this is the start of a new story. Frau and I wanted to do a dark Harry Potter story. However, we just couldn't bring ourselves to do it. So we settled on a dark backdrop. This isn't an evil Harry or even an evil Dumbledore. Because the story takes place mostly in the Tower of London, which has a very dark, bloody past, Frau and I asked ourselves what would happen if . . . .
Until next time.
-GF and the Frau