J.K. Rowling owns the characters. I just messed around a bit with them.
This story is dedicated to KG-316. Thank you for such a lovely request!
Severus Snape stood quietly for a moment as his wife, Hermione, dropped a clump of earth into a small hole in the ground.
Poe, Severus' familiar of many years, pulled a glossy black feather from his back and then flew over the open grave, dropped the feather in and returned to Severus' shoulder. With a flick of his wand, Severus directed a pile of dirt to fill the hole. Another wave of his wand and grass grew with a few blooming clover flowers among it; they were Hermione's favorite.
"Are you all right, love?" Severus asked quietly.
Hermione sniffed and answered, "Yes, I am. Crookshanks was old, even for a half-Kneazle let alone a regular cat. It was his time."
Severus put his arm around his wife and led her back into the house. "The children will be sad, I am sure."
"Of course they will; Crooks was part of their lives." She laughed bittersweetly, "Poor Crooks; he put up with so much torture at their hands!"
Severus smiled. "And the torture of their various and sundry other pets that came and went through the years. And that idiot owl of the Weasley's." The wind blew gently, and the sun shone on the couple as they made their way from the garden to the door of their home. "Would you like some tea?" Severus asked, and Hermione nodded in consent.
They entered the house, and Severus made his way over to a well-aged perch near the fireplace, Poe flying the last metre or so on his own. "I believe this old thing," he pointed at Poe, "may just miss him most of all." Hermione and Severus looked at the bird sadly sitting in the small, round nest attached below the perch. "I am sure he'll be alright after a while," said Severus, and the couple went into the kitchen.
Poe took a moment to settle a few feathers and thought about his old friend and nemesis. It was a long friendship; one borne of enmity and then one of friendly rivalry and, at times, unity against a common foe.
##########Crooks and Poe##########
A Clash of Enemies: The First Meeting
With a clatter of claws, a black-coloured bird landed on Hermione's desk. Crookshanks made his way stealthily along the edge of Hermione's bed to have a better look. A moderate sized raven with glossy feathers sat beside a pile of books, nibbling a bit of biscuit and dropping crumbs messily.
Crooks' sense of smell brought to his nose the following identifiers: Bird. Leaves. Dry grass. Herbs. Wait, Crooks thought, where do I know that smell from? The herbs he smelled were not the usual ones growing in most of the greenhouses. Crooks had spent enough time exploring the green houses and knew which herbs were commonly used throughout the castle. However, this bird smelled more like the herbs he knew grew in that one greenhouse at the far end of the herbology gardens. He also knew that no one except the dark man ever went into that particular green house. Crooks knew those herbs were used in brewing because his mistress often talked about the dark man doing something called potions, and they had to be brewed. This left Crooks wondering what the dark man might have wanted by sending his familiar.
"Thank you, Poe. Did Severus want a reply tonight?" Crooks watched this Poe character shake his head no and then fly off.
Hermione opened the letter and began to read, humming and smiling as she did so. This is not good, thought Crooks. She hums and smiles when she is happy. The furry feline immediately went to lie on the letter in front of his mistress. "Crooks, I can't read Severus' letter if you lay on it!"
Severus? The dark man? The one who brews? Why is he writing to my human? This is not good! Crooks was sure his well-ordered existence was about to become, well, messy.
The next morning, Crookshanks felt his mistress leave her comfortable bed. As any smart cat would do, he commandeered the warm spot. With one eye closed and the other lazily half open, he watched his mistress go to the window, open it and whistle. Crooks' ear twitched in dismay. Since when does she whistle?
A few minutes later, the bird from last night appeared. Crooks immediately became alert. No stupid bird was going to mess with his usual morning routine of warm spot stealing, half a kipper and a small dish of cream for breakfast!
With a ballet-like grace that belied his size, Crooks leapt off the bed and flew toward the bird. Poe, startled that an orange, furry Zeppelin was heading his way, immediately went into defense mode: claws primed and ready, beak at the forefront of his battle stance. Hermione tensed as well. For the next confusing moment, fur, feather, and bushy hair flew.
"Naughty Crooks!" Hermione yelled. "Poe, come here. Crooks, get down!" The kerfuffle only lasted a few minutes, but Hermione managed to get Crooks shut into her wardrobe and then persuade Poe to come to her. Giving him bit of a cuddle, she smoothed his feathers and offered some owl treats. Placing the bird on a perch she conjured from a piece of parchment, Hermione stalked over to the wardrobe, snatched the door open and grabbed Crooks by the scruff of his neck. "What were you thinking, Crooks?" admonished Hermione. "That bird has done nothing to you at all. All he is here to do is to take a letter to Severus. You go find some mice to catch." With that, Hermione plopped a rather surprised and flabbergasted cat outside in the hall.
Battle lines were drawn that day. Crookshanks was not about to be outdone by a bird!
##########Crooks and Poe##########
Poe versus Crookshanks at Spinner's End
2003 was a very cold winter in England. Harsh winds blew frequently, and it snowed much more than usual. These thoughts did not bother Hermione and Severus as they decamped the castle and settled in at Spinner's End for their first Christmas together as a married couple.
Poe and Crookshanks took up their respective 'boundaries' in the little house. Poe sat on his perch near the fireplace, and Crooks lay on his mat on the floor near the chair where Hermione usually sat. The animals were in eying distance of each other.
Poe had been quite clever and subtle, as any Slytherin familiar would be, about getting Crooks into trouble since taking up living quarters with the animal. Using his beak, he would push an item to the edge of its sitting place (an inkwell to the edge of the table, for example) so that when Crooks would rub his body on the place in question, the item would fall, breaking or spilling as it did. Naturally, this seemed to be timed to occur when Hermione or Severus entered a room, therefore catching Crooks in the act of destruction. Poor Crooks had spent quite a bit of time banished to the basement.
Poe did slip up now and again. One morning when it was well below freezing, Crooks had slipped outside through one of the two cat flaps Hermione had installed in the house, much to Severus disgruntlement; what cat needed two cat flaps? Poe noticed Crooks slip out, and he flew to a window to check the cat's position. When he noted Crooks at the end of the garden taking care of business, Poe flew to the kitchen cat flap and snicked the flap to the 'locked' position with his beak. Perching back at the windowsill, he watched as Crooks barreled toward the house to get back in. The thudding of his head against the flap made quite a satisfactory sound for Poe, who sat preening and watching as Crookshanks worked his paws to open the flap. Crooks began yowling, forgetting about the second flap.
The yowling woke a sleeping Hermione, who was nestled in bed warm and cozy next to her wizard. "Severus," she said, nudging him in the ribs, 'is that Crooks yowling?"
"Sounds like it," grunted the sleepy man, attempting to pull Hermione closer. She was warm, and he wanted a bit of a cuddle.
"No, Sev. I need to go find out why Crooks is hollering." As she put on her robe, she went to the window and looked into the back garden. "Oh, he's outside and can't get in! I wonder what happened to the flaps?" She scurried down the steps to Crookshanks' rescue.
About the time Hermione began to descend the steps, Crooks remembered there was a second flap. So did Poe. Poe flew off in an attempt to make it to the flap to snick it closed. What he didn't notice was Hermione stepping off the landing, watching Poe land and use his beak to lock the flap closed.
"Poe! How could you!" She raced to the door, and Poe took off. Crooks pushed his way inside and leaped at Hermione. He was absolutely frozen so Hermione curled him into her robe, cooing at him. She settled him at the fire, and he turned in circles before lying down to warm up. Hermione glared at Poe who sat, not quite penitent, on his perch. "I'll deal with you later," she glared at Poe as she stomped up the stairs.
"Severus, did you know that YOUR bird is able to snick the latches on the cat flaps?"
A not so surprised sounding Severus mumbled, "Is that so?"
"Yes, and he trapped poor Crooks in the cold. I had to hold him close to my body to warm him up! He was frozen."
"Well, he's fine now, so come lie down for a bit longer."
Hermione, less than pleased with Severus' lazy attitude about his bird, disrobed quickly and got into bed, scooting over toward her husband. In one synchronous movement, she placed her very cold feet onto Severus' legs and wrapped her cold torso tightly around his.
"GODS, WOMAN! YOU'RE FREEZING!"
"Serves you right," Hermione giggled.
##########Crooks and Poe##########
Crooks and Poe: "It smells."
The moderate swaying of his perch woke Poe from his sleep in the early morning hours of December 17th. Opening one black eye and cocking his head to look down, he confirmed his suspicions.
"Listen furball," he squawked at Crookshanks, "leave my perch alone. It is NOT a scratching post."
Crooks took one last swipe at the post "Feathery git. Listen, have you heard anything unusual coming from their room?"
"Unusual how? They often make a bit of noise in there."
"Not that kind of noise. Geez, get your pea brain out of the gutter." Crooks sat down and looked up at Poe. "Look, last night there was quite a hubbub here. You were out delivering a letter and didn't get back until it was over. People in and out like it was a circus. Hermione was yelling quite a bit, and Severus made a lot of quiet, shushing sounds to her. You know the kind he makes whenever I've shut the door on your wing. I've never heard her scream and swear so!"
"What did you make of it?" Poe asked. "Wait, what do you mean, 'shut the door on my wing'?
Crookshanks waved a paw as though he were merely swatting at a fly. "Once or twice, by accident. Anyway, the screaming went on for a couple of hours, and then I heard this bawling noise. When the door finally opened, I slipped in to see what was going on. Listen bird, our days of peace and calm are over."
"What do you mean?" Poe flew down to be at eye level with the cat.
Crooks' eyes widen as he answered, "They now have a tiny human in there!"
"They made a nestling?" Poe's own eyes widen, or at least the one that was facing Crooks.
"Yes, and it smells and it cries. You know what this means, don't you?"
Poe laughed. "It means in about seven months when it learns to crawl, your days are numbered. That thing will use you as a way to learn to sit up and walk. I will be able to fly away!"
"Hermione wouldn't let them hurt me." Crooks said petulantly.
"No, but neither will she let you get away with a quick slap around the kid's head with those claws when the baby uses you as a balance beam," Poe chortled.
At that moment, Severus came into the sitting room with a bundle of blankets in his arm. He thought what he was about to do was ridiculous, but Hermione had just given him an incredible gift, and he could not deny her request.
He sat on the sofa and cleared his throat, "Poe, Crookshanks, come here." The cat made his way warily toward Severus, but the bird immediately alighted on his shoulder. Moving the blankets away from the babe's face, Severus spoke quietly to the animals. "Hermione wanted me to introduce you to our son." Cat and bird raised what passed for eyebrows at him. "Ridiculous I know, but we all know our little witch, hmmm?" Cat and bird nodded. "So, I introduce to you, Silas Tobias Snape."
Crookshanks leaned up on two paws to sniff at the bundle. Feigning complete indifference, he dropped down on all fours and went back to his mat for a nap.
Poe leaned forward from the back of the sofa and gave a look as well. He eyed Severus for a moment and flew off. Severus got up and went back into the bedroom.
"You're right; it smells."
"Don't think I've forgotten about your mentioning the door and my wings."
Crookshanks gasped, if cats could gasp.
##########Crooks and Poe##########
Nature Doesn't Only Happen To Animals
"Are you sure you'll be all right with the baby while I go to Ginny's?" Hermione asked her husband, skeptically. "Crooks, stop; you're getting hair on my robes." Hermione shooed the cat away.
"Yes, Pet," Severus said, bouncing the sleeping baby gently in his arms. "He still sleeps quite a bit, what trouble could he possibly be? I'll keep him nearby me, and you've left enough breast milk in bottles should he need to be feed. You'll only be gone 2 hours. Now scoot! I've got this." He bent to kiss Hermione before she flooed off.
Severus settled on the couch and placed the baby on the cushion next to him. Silas was only about a month old, so there was no fear of his rolling off. Reaching for his potions journal, Severus took a quick look at his son, settling the blanket a bit more warmly around the little body and sat back to read.
So deep into an article about the use of dandelion roots as a long acting restorative agent in the Anti-befuddlement Potion was he, that Severus did not notice when Crooks had taken a flying leap at Poe's perch until the resultant crash startled Severus into dropping his journal and waking the baby.
Severus took up the bundle of blankets and crooned quietly. "Shush, son. It's all right. Just the dunderheaded cat, who is about to lose one of his lives, attacking the bird. No need to fuss." Severus glared at Crookshanks as the cat skulked under a chair. Setting Silas down on the couch and casting wards around just in case, Severus waved his wand in the direction of the chair, "Accio Crookshanks!" Crooks was pulled against his will toward Severus who bent and picked him up. Eyeballing the cat, Severus gave him a good scolding while walking toward the basement door. Opening the door, he set the cat down on the first step, he said, "You will stay there until you can behave."
Crooks was used to this and had long ago figured out how to rescue himself from the basement. One night when Crooks first moved into Spinner's End with Hermione, he had been quickly banished to the basement. As he explored his surroundings, he discovered among the floor joists, a loose floorboard. This happened to be a floorboard in the cupboard under the stairs, the door to which had never latched closed properly. A quick butt or two with his head and the board would move allowing Crooks to slip (an admittedly tight slip) through, and make a getaway. He did not take long in securing his release this night.
Once back into the sitting room, he glanced at Poe who was smugly preening and watching Severus with the baby. You're mine, you flea bitten pigeon! Crooks glared at Poe.
During the time that Severus had banished Crooks to the basement and Crooks escaped, little Silas decided that he didn't want to calm down. No amount of crooning on Severus' part would stop his crying. Severus, thinking perhaps the lad was hungry, took a bottle from the refrigerator and magically warmed it up to body temperature. Settling back on the sofa, he offered it to his son who adroitly refused the nipple by either not closing his rose red lips around it, or by shaking his head back and forth. Severus set the bottle down and decided to check the boy's nappy. Bingo! He went upstairs to the bedroom with the boy and setting him down on the changing table, Severus began to divest his son of his sleeper and finally, the dirty nappy.
This is where worlds collided.
Downstairs, Crooks made another flying leap toward Poe. Poe, in an effort to get away from Crooks, flew off toward the nearest open door, which happened to be the nursery. Seeing Severus and thinking this would be a good place to hide from Crooks' attack, Poe overshot Severus' shoulder, fell onto the changing table, and startled the baby just as Severus pulled the nappy away.
Nature and fright caused a particular reaction most noticeable infant boys, and Severus just happened to be in the line of fire. Poe, in his hurry to leave the area and avoid getting wet as well, snagged his claw on the clean nappy that Severus just happened to be reaching for to stem the flow of nature coming from his son.
Crooks, not to be outdone, had made an appearance and leapt toward the escaping nappy attached to the escaping bird. However, Crooks did not leap well this time and landed on the changing table just as Severus scooped the boy to his chest, and all the items on the table crashed to the ground.
Shrieks of feminine laughter ended the pandemonium. A very wet Severus with his naked son cuddled to his chest turned to see his wife leant against the doorframe clutching her sides, tears streaming down her face.
"How much did you see?" Severus asked sheepishly.
"Just…wheeze….from the point….gasp….Poe fell onto the…..wheeze… table. Oh, Severus! It was so funny. It was like a Muggle film in slow motion! Hermione continued to laugh.
"If I may have some assistance, Madam," Severus imperiously asked. "I need to clean up and find a bird and cat. They just might make good potions ingredients!"
##########Crooks and Poe##########
"When Pigs Fly!" Well in this case…
Poe dropped to the floor from his perch and scurried over to Crooks as fast as his pigeon-toed gait would let him.
"Furball! Walk up!"
"What is it?" Crookshanks sleepily replied.
"That weeny owl is back. We need to do something. The last time that dratted feathered shuttlecock was here I nearly lost all of my feathers."
"Still hasn't figured out you are not female, has he?"
"Regardless, we need to do something. I am begging you. Do something!"
"Okay, okay, don't get your claws in a snit. You could hide in the basement. I know a way to get you there that no one would know about."
"There's a loose floor board in the closet under the stairs. It's how I escape whenever I am banished."
"Okay, that'll do." The pair made their way quickly from the sitting room to the cupboard under the stairs. Crooks slid his paw under the door and pulled it toward him. The door opened just enough to allow the cat and bird to slip through. Once in, Crooks pounced upon the edge of a particular floorboard. The board popped up on one end, and Crooks quickly grabbed it between two paws and moved it to one side. Poe quickly slipped into the hole, and as Crooks followed, sound exploded beneath him.
The basement of Spinner's End was split into two sections. One section, heavily warded to keep animals out, was Severus' potions lab. The other half was simply just a place for empty boxes and the detritus of an expanding family. There were several windows that helped light the rooms when Severus' magically enhanced lighting was not needed.
When Crooks landed on the floor, he was treated to a stunning scene. Somehow, Pig had found his way into the basement through an open window, and when Poe had dropped down through the hold, Pig was ecstatic. The little feathery ping pong ball flung himself at an unsuspecting Poe, knocking him out of the air. When Poe recovered his senses, he immediately flew at Pig in retaliation. Crooks, knowing that Pig would attempt to 'make love' to Poe, joined the fray. The trio went at it in a fury of fur and feathers, yowls, and caw, not even heeding the boxes as they crashed into them. A few of the old vases Hermione stored here crashed to the floor.
As the trio continued to leap and plunge, boxes fell and burst open. Christmas baubles rolled around on the floor and strings of shiny garland oozed out as well. Poe, distracted to the shiny bits on the floor, swooped down and grabbed a bit of garland in his beak. He flew back up and attempted to wrap Pig in it, hoping to bring the marauding bird down. He did bring him down, but somehow managed to get caught up in the garland as well. Both birds soon become hopelessly entangled. Crooks, seizing his chance to finish Pig off, leapt onto a wriggly pile of shiny bits only to discover that some of the baubles had also been sucked into the vortex of Pig-Poe. The hooks (Severus was never good at removing all of the hooks from the ornaments, much to Hermione's consternation), snagged his fur and Crooks became entangled.
A door slamming open startled the three of them mid snarl. "WHAT THE HELL IS GIONG ON!" A deep voice yelled. Behind Severus stood Hermione, attempting to comfort a crying Varina in her arms. Both humans surveyed the damage; boxes lay burst open and glass shards twinkled as sunlight reflected on them, Christmas baubles rolling away from the now still animals.
All three scalawags froze in fear, their little chests breathing heavily, or in Crooks' case, one large chest heaving. Crooks' fur was all askew with several clumps of it missing. Poe and Pig both had broken feathers sticking up from their backs. If Poe and Crooks had fingers, they would have pointed to Pig as the instigator. Behind Severus, Hermione giggled at the sight of the festively decorated trio.
Hermione walked further into the room and looked around. "Well, the damage can be fixed. Here," she handed Varina to Severus. "You take the baby, I'll get Crooks and take him upstairs. Poe, you come along, too." She squatted and grabbed Crooks by the scruff of his neck and began to peel ornaments and garland off him. Severus had leaned down to unwrap his trusty raven before the bird to flew away to safety.
Severus followed Hermione a few minutes later after having cleaned up and repaired the damage in the basement. "Hermione, we really need to do something about Pig. Every time he comes here, he annoys those two and causes mayhem."
"I know Severus, I know." She was just finishing up removing the last of the baubles from Crookshanks' fur and fixing the bald patches. The cat gave her a thankful meow and hopped down to go clean himself up. "Maybe we should find Pig a mate."
"No, we shouldn't. That's the Weasley's job." At that moment, Pig flew into the room and landed on Severus shoulder. He affectionately rubbed the potion master's ear and hoot quietly.
Hermione giggled, "Oh, Severus, let's hope he hasn't chosen you, now!"
Severus , forgetting he was still holding Varina, bellowed at the bird, startling both bird and baby. Pig flew off and Severus hushed Varina all the while conjuring a howler from mid air.
"What are you going to do, Severus?" Hermione asked, eyeing the red parchment floating mid air.
"You don't want to know," he said grimly. "Here, take the baby; she's already worked up and doesn't need to hear this."
##########Crooks and Poe##########
Poe sat in his nest, all these images rolling around in his mind as he mourned his friend. Surely, he thought, there's a place for all good, faithful friends. Perhaps I'll see him again sometime. With that thought to comfort the old bird, he was soon asleep.