In response to a challenge over at Potions and Snitches:
During breakfast Hedwig delivers mail to Snape, much to Harry's confusion. Why is his owl delivering mail to Snape of all people?
By: Jan AQ – "Morning Post"
Please Review and Enjoy!
Deliver My Letter Please, Hedwig
Harry was feeling particularly morose; sitting slouched in the chair at his small desk in his bedroom.
It was the summer after he had lost his Godfather at the battle in the Ministry. The teenaged boy was devastated and it showed in his behaviour and habits; had the Muggles cared enough to take the time to notice.
He'd sat in his room for hours… thinking, contemplating, wondering whether events would have turned out better had he done even just one thing differently. Would Sirius be alive now? Could Harry have saved him?
Then he wouldn't be alone. He wouldn't have to feel guilty. He wouldn't have to feel so sad.
These feelings of loss were the keenest he'd ever felt. And whilst it was true that he'd felt distraught when Cedric Diggory had been killed, and he yearned still for his murdered parents, it hadn't been the same. For he'd come to know Sirius well… he'd become close… he cared, he loved him, and had finally felt love returned to him now that he was old enough to appreciate it.
It was just all so unfair.
The ache in his chest and the sting behind his eyes growing, Harry reached out and snatched a blank piece of paper sitting on his desktop and brought it to sit in front of him. He then picked up the pen resting just to his right.
He'd originally intended to write to Ron and Hermione, to continue to assure them that he was still fine, but in his low mood he'd struggled to find the motivation.
Now he suddenly felt the need to get some of these glum feelings down on paper, if only to purge them from his mind so he might have a chance to move through this difficult time in his life. He put the tip of the pen to the paper and wrote…
I thought I might write to you, rather than Mum, because you were, after all, one of Sirius' best friends and I'm not really sure how close Mum was to him.
I'm just writing today because I'm having trouble dealing with having lost him. I miss him.
Well, it's more than that really, because you see I feel bad… guilty. I think his death might have been my fault… at least in part. There are others that are to blame - that I blame - but this letter isn't about them, it's about me. It's about mistakes and bad judgement… and about me and my incompetence, stupidity, unworthiness. How could I be the one that needs to save everyone, when I'm to blame in the first place?
I'm sitting here wondering who I'm supposed to feel more sorry for; myself, because I lost him in a time that I'm going to need someone there for me the most, or Sirius; because I am responsible for taking away his life, just when he had gotten his freedom back.
Dad, I wish you and Mum were here to guide me because I really don't know what I am doing. And I don't know how I'm supposed to feel or how to get through the days without feeling sick to my stomach or so angry I want to break things.
I want to do everything better, I want to it all right… but I need a Father to show me how. I thought Sirius would do that for me… I honestly did, and it made me so happy to know he was there, but now I have no-one… and I need you.
Harry was distracted from his letter when someone pounded heavily on his bedroom door.
"Oi, Mum wants you downstairs to help with in the garden," Dudley's voice yelled out, before the heavy boy's footsteps were heard stomping away.
Largely the Dursleys had left Harry alone this summer, ignoring him mostly, but Harry had still been expected to help out with the household chores. He didn't mind that too much… it kept his mind occupied and prevented him from dwelling.
So, wiping away the moisture from the tears that had escaped his eyes and tracked down his cheeks he finished his letter quickly.
I know this letter won't ever be delivered, but I'm going to send it with Hedwig anyway… I want you to know that in my heart you're still out there. And maybe you'll share this with Mum and Sirius too.
I love you very much.
Harry quickly folded the paper into a small square, wrote 'To Dad' on the front and stood from his chair; approaching Hedwig's cage.
"C'mon girl… I have a job for you," he said calmly to his sleepy owl.
The bird fluffed its feathers and shock herself awake, then climbing out onto the top of her cage.
"Will you deliver my letter please, Hedwig?" Harry asked, attaching it carefully to his owl's, now outstretched, leg. "It's for my Dad… will you take it to him?"
Harry gave Hedwig a quick, fond scratch behind her head before the bird hooted happily at him, nibbled his finger affectionately and took off through the open window.
Harry smiled as he watched his pet fly off into the distance until she could no longer be seen.
He felt a bit foolish after a few moments, knowing that his letter probably couldn't even be delivered, and that Hedwig would more than likely return with it in a few hours. But in some ways it felt like a weight had been lifted to write his feelings down onto the paper, and the last few tense coils of burden had lightened when he'd physically sent the note off with his owl. So he couldn't feel regret for the absurd deed at all.
The dark, messy haired teenager then turned and made his way downstairs to help his Aunt in the garden.
It was only a few days until Professor Dumbledore had indicated in a letter that he'd be picking him up before taking him to spend some time with his friends at the Burrow. He'd be staying there until September 1st when they'd all be boarding the Hogwarts Express together to make their way to school for Harry's sixth year. Harry imagined that Aunt Petunia would be making the most of having her nephew home for these last few days and have him do all kinds of chores. But that was okay… he was still happy to be kept busy, just so long as his relatives weren't being spiteful or outwardly nasty to him.
Digging into the garden with his hands and a trowel Harry smiled again, wondering with amusement how long it would take Hedwig to realise the letter was undeliverable and if she'd return before he'd been picked up by the Headmaster or not.
He stood on the platform with his friends waiting for the train, eager to be getting back to school. Spending time with Ron, Ginny and the rest of the Weasley family, not to mention Hermione who had also come to stay, had been wonderful, but nothing compared with the feeling of 'coming home' which is how Harry genuinely felt about Hogwarts.
Hedwig had not returned before Professor Dumbledore had arrived, and nor had she arrived at the Burrow, and Harry was becoming a little bit concerned for her.
He briefly wondered whether he ought to ask Mr Weasley what happens to undeliverable letters or those addressed to the deceased, but ultimately he hadn't wanted to share why he was asking. It was deeply personal and just a little bit embarrassing, so in the end he decided to give Hedwig a little more time and if she did not arrive at Hogwarts within a day or two of Harry arriving then he would ask one of the teachers.
After a few hours on the train, and the trio's conversation regarding the odd behaviour of Draco Malfoy they'd witnessed down Knockturn Alley, Harry forgot all about Hedwig. Instead he became embroiled in spying on Malfoy in the Slytherin's carriage compartment, and then subsequently discovered. By the time he'd made it up to the school with Tonks and was accompanied from the gates by Snape, blood spilled down over his face, he had failed to give his missing pet another thought.
It was not until the next morning at breakfast that Harry's concerns for Hedwig returned. It had been two weeks now since he'd sent the owl off with the letter for his deceased father and if she didn't turn up with the other owls during the morning mail delivery, Harry planned to first check the Owlery and if Hedwig wasn't there he would go to Professor McGonagall or Professor Dumbledore with his questions and concerns.
He briefly wondered how long it would take an owl to fly from Surrey all the way to Hogwarts in Scotland, anyway… Would it be possible that he'd just missed Hedwig's return after a few days when the Headmaster had picked him up, and then she might have missed Harry at the Burrow also and had had to fly all the way to Hogwarts to catch up with him?
Harry was just reaching for a second piece of toast and deciding that perhaps he ought to give the owl a little more time when the morning post owls began to descend into the Great Hall.
The dark haired teen scanned the flock of birds for his pet's distinctive snowy white feathers and thankfully, with relief, he spotted Hedwig soar in through the doors.
However, instead of swooping immediately down to Harry, the light plumed bird beat its wings and flew the entire length of the long, student's tables and descended onto the higher, teacher's table… right onto Professor Snape's breakfast laden plate.
Harry's mouth dropped open in surprise and shock.
'Hedwig is delivering a letter to Snape?' he thought, bemused.
He continued to watch as his owl plucked a letter from her leg and held it out to the teacher who wore and expression that told of an equal amount of surprise as Harry felt.
Snape finally took the proffered note and unfolded it, a frown deepening on his face as he read the message.
Harry could see easily from his place at the student table that the note was written on plain Muggle paper and not parchment, which was most common in the Wizarding community. And Harry had an awful feeling he knew exactly where that piece of paper had come.
Hedwig, meanwhile, took off from the teacher's table and swooped down to Harry, plucking the bit of toast from his loose fingers and winging back out the door without so much as a nibble of his fingers in greeting.
Harry, barely noticing the bird's discourteous behaviour, felt the blood drain from his face. He certainly did not understand why this was happening, and nor had he yet even given the circumstance any thought, but he knew what was written on that particular piece of paper… and that git, Snape, reading it was the last thing that Harry had envisioned for the emotional, deeply personal note intended for his deceased father as a way to purge his feelings.
Panicking, but yet frozen in place, Harry watched the newly appointed Defence of the Dark Arts teacher closely for any reaction… and he was not disappointed.
Initially Harry read confusion and wonder in the man's features, but after a few moments those emotions morphed into incredulity. Then they quickly shaped themselves into calculation and suspicion. And then, worst of all, they transformed to shock and comprehension followed by deep, raw fury.
The man was breathing heavier by the time he snapped his regard up to Harry where he pinned him with a sharp, angry glower.
Abruptly the dark man shot from his seat, knocking the chair over behind him in his haste and fury.
"POTTER!" he bellowed, furiously.
He needn't have bothered, Harry thought, he already had Harry's full attention. The boy dared not even blink, so taken aback and stunned by what had just occurred and the Professor's curious and unexpected reaction.
However, now the entire occupants of the Great Hall were staring at both he and the young Gryffindor sixth year student.
"My office, NOW!" Snape bit out, heedless of the hundreds of onlookers before spinning on the spot and swooping out the teacher's exit on his right, the offensive letter now crushed in his grasp.
Harry sat unmoving and stunned for a few moments longer, willing his body to obey his livid teacher's command.
"Severus…?" Professor Dumbledore called in concern to the retreating Defence instructor's back, but Snape either didn't hear him over the anger pulsing through his tense body, or ignored him deliberately.
Standing form his seat, and placating other teachers and students with a calming gesture with both his open hands, Professor Dumbledore followed his irate and disturbed young teacher from the room.
Harry, finally able to command his limbs to move, and at the prompting of his friends and other Gryffindor housemates, stood from his seat and exited the Great Hall to head for the dungeons. They'd been informed last night that Professor Snape's office would remain in the same rooms despite having taken on a new position; for the man would continue to be the Head of Slytherin house at any rate and supposedly the dungeons would continue to be the most convenient location for his office.
During his trek down the dark, damp and cool corridor Harry dearly wished that Hedwig could talk and explain why she'd just delivered the letter, clearly addressed to his father, to Snape?
Why? How? Harry couldn't understand at all…
"No… no way…"
At the moment this is a one-shot - but if you think it needs continuing, please say so (and where you might like to see it go) in a review.