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The young hawk felt himself set down on something hard and unyielding, his talons scrabbled for purchase for a moment before he relaxed and stood.  Since he could not use his wings for balance, he listed a bit, and shooting darts of pain made standing still an agony.  He opened his beak and made soft screeing noises of distress, unable to help himself, the pain was almost unbearable and he was frightened of the tall figure that loomed over him, since the cloth shrouding him had now been removed.

His large amber eyes darted all over and he hunched up, trying to make himself smaller in hopes that he wouldn't be noticed.  Tremors shook the eyas's frame as the  black cloaked creature pointed a stick at him and muttered something.

"Hmm.  My diagnostic results tell me you're in a bad way," murmured Snape, eyeing the young hawk in concern.  Few people of his acquaintance would believe him capable of concern over a mere animal, but the fact was that Severus had a deep liking for birds of prey, understanding them better than he did most people.  Like himself, the raptors were proud and solitary, and formed deep attachments to very few, yet when they did bond, they were fiercely loyal unto death.  A hawk or falcon mated for life and when the mate died, the remaining partner did not seek another, but remained alone, mourning the lost one in dignified sorrow.  And nothing was fiercer than a hawk protecting nest and fledglings.  Yes, there were many parallels between a hawk and Snape's own behavior at times--he defended his Slytherins with a fierce protectiveness, like a hawk with young eyasses and he had loved Lily with endless devotion and still did, despite the fourteen years since her death and her marriage to his most hated rival. 

Snape had discovered the young hawk by chance, as he was out walking for his evening constitutional before returning to his quarters to mark the day's exams and homework.  He had noticed an odd shape lying in the grass near the pathway next to the Owlery, and upon going closer to investigate, discovered the injured avian. 

At first he assumed the hawk was dead, but upon closer examination, he saw that it was breathing, though in very bad shape.  Fortunately, Severus knew something about caring for raptors, he had studied their physiology and habits extensively as a young student, though he had never been able to afford one for a familiar.  An owl was too dear for his mother's meager salary, all her money had gone for school books and a decent set of scales and robes for her son each year. 

That was not a problem anymore, but Severus still did not have his own owl, since his duties as Dumbledore's agent made having a particular owl too conspicuous as well as too vulnerable, should the newly resurrected Dark Lord become angry, he could target Snape's familiar.

When he had seen the injured red-tailed hawk, however, he had completely allowed his juvenile longing to own one of the magnificent birds along with a hidden compassion for the poor thing to overcome him and immediately removed his cloak and wrapped the half-unconscious bird in it and then carried it down to his lab.  His forbidding scowl and swift stride on the way there had quickly squelched any questions or comments from curious students.  

"You've broken both wings and torn ligaments in your shoulders in several places," Severus spoke in a soft conversational tone, trying to calm the agitated bird down before trying to administer a pain reliever and a bit of Calming Draft.  "The right wing has a shattered ulna and the left one is worse off with a snapped humerus, and torn segments in both pectoralis minor and major muscles. Which means I'm going to need splints and tight wraps for at least a week or two, since raptors don't respond well to magical bone  repair elixir and I can only give you minute doses every few days."

The bird was also suffering from shock.  That Severus treated with a softly spoken Anti-Shock charm, and then he rewrapped the bird in his cloak again, trying to prevent it from spreading the damaged wings in panic. 

Then he quickly summoned two bottles of potions to him and a small syringe without a needle and filled it a quarter of the way with pain reliever.  He estimated the young hawk weighed nearly a pound, it was slightly underweight, and should be able to tolerate the amount of potion Severus had measured out.

But now came the hard part, getting the medicine into the bird. The quickest method was to insert the syringe into the hawk's bill and allow the bird to swallow the potion.  Severus moved slowly and deliberately on the bird, wrapping an arm about its body and bringing up his hand to cover the bird's eyes. 

The hawk shivered violently as the large hand, he dimly recalled that the creature before him was called a man, and that appendage a hand, came towards him.  His first instinct was to fly, but his wings were useless and so he fell back on the other time-honored method of discouraging predators. 

He waited until the hand hovered just above his head, the long fingers almost brushing his forehead, and then he lunged and his beak closed on the pale flesh in one swift motion, biting as hard as he could.

"Ahhh!" Severus yelled, the sound startling the hawk enough so he released the Potion Master's bleeding hand. 

Severus quickly grabbed up a cloth lying on his desk and wrapped it about his hand, which had a nice slash in it from the frightened bird's razor-sharp bill.  He glowered down at the hawk and growled, "Bloody impertinent damned bird! You're lucky I'm in the mood to save your life, otherwise I'd chop you up and use you in a potion.  Hawk parts are in great demand in the East for some of their elixirs. I could export your liver and eyes for a goodly sum." He cast a healing charm upon himself, mending the slash rapidly, fixing the injured bird with a baleful look. 

It was odd, but Severus could have sworn after he had spoken that the bird looked faintly ashamed, cringing and looking down at the shiny surface of the lab table as if it were regretting its actions. 

Snape shook his head at the ridiculous fancy and mentally berated himself for not hooding the bird sooner.  Since he did not own a hood, he summoned a clean cloth and used a Sticking Charm to bind it securely to the hawk's head, covering the raptor's frightened eyes. 

Immediately the bird stilled, the darkness calming it considerably and it relaxed. 

Severus gave the eyas a few minutes to settle before once more attempting to medicate the bird.  He applied pressure to the bird's beak, forcing the hawk to open it, and then carefully fed the eyas the potion, making sure the hawk was swallowing it and not spitting it out.

Five minutes later, Severus refilled the syringe and gave the injured bird the Calming Draft, and after that, the eyas began to doze. 

"There! You should be soaring Hypnos's realm in a few minutes, and leave me free to splint and wrap those wings properly," Snape muttered.  "Although after what you just did I ought to start heating up a cauldron and save myself the aggravation."  But his tone belied the harsh words and his fingers gently eased away the cloak, exposing the broken wings. 

Some twenty minutes later he had nearly finished with the right wing, using a set of very light balsa wood stirrers and gauze to immobilize the wing, augmenting the procedure with a Sticking Charm to ensure the splint and bandages remained on for the duration of the hawk's convalescence. 

He gently laid the bird on its side and began repeating the procedure upon the opposite wing when his fireplace suddenly turned a brilliant emerald and Dumbledore stuck his head through.

"Severus, I must ask you a very important question-have you seen-?"

"Not now, Albus!" snapped the Potions Master irritably.  "I am in the midst of a delicate . . .experiment and cannot be interrupted.  Can't it wait?"  He found himself strangely reluctant to reveal his unexpected visitor's presence, though he was almost certain Albus would rejoice to see the reclusive wizard with a pet at last.

Dumbledore shook his head gravely.  "My apologies, Severus, but it cannot.  Have you seen Harry Potter recently?"

"Not since my fifth period class, why?" Snape replied sourly.  You interrupted my surgery to bother me about bloody Potter, Headmaster? The little brat can go hang for all I care right now!

"Because he is missing, Severus."

Severus ground his teeth together.  "And you thought to find him here?"

"I had hoped he was serving detention with you, despite the late hour," Dumbledore admitted, his blue eyes drained of their usual sparkle. 

"Regrettably, Potter has not earned a detention with me in several weeks.  His participation in class has been somewhat better than abysmal," Snape reported.

"Ah well, I had hoped . . ." sighed the Headmaster.  "We shall simply have to keep looking."

"Indeed," Severus sneered.  He cast a worried glance at the hawk, who was beginning to stir, the Calming draft metabolized swifter in birds than humans and it was wearing off.  "Have you checked Hogsmeade? Or the Quidditch pitch? Potter has been known to wander unsupervised at night, much like his damn father."

"I had Rolanda search the pitch and Minerva went to Hogsmeade.  I simply do not understand where he could have gone."

Who cares? Severus fought to keep from snapping.  This was typical of Potter, his reckless behavior and disregard for school rules had now thrown the staff into a tizzy, and no doubt the arrogant boy was hiding somewhere, smirking at the glorious prank he'd pulled on everyone, thought the Potions Master angrily.  "He is an irresponsible teenager, Albus, no doubt he cooked up this scheme in order to get more attention from the press and whatnot.  The more headlines in the Prophet, the more fame he draws to himself."

"Severus, I don' t think . . ."

"Forgive me, Albus, but I'm at a critical stage and I need to concentrate utterly," Severus interrupted, the hawk was starting to rustle its tail feathers. 

Sensing he was going to get nothing useful out of the other wizard for the time being, Dumbleddore withdrew, saying as he did so, "When you are through, Severus, I would appreciate you assisting us with our search."

Severus clenched  a fist, for though softly spoken, he knew Albus had issued an order, not a request. 

"Very well," he said curtly. "I shall come as soon as I may."

"Thank you, Severus.  Perhaps you may succeed where we have not, my boy, all things considered," Albus declared and then withdrew from the Floo Network.

"When the bloody Dark Lord starts reciting haiku, Dumbledore!" he grumbled under his breath, then returned to tending the wounded eyas, swiftly splinting and wrapping the opposite wing and then giving the bird a minute dose of Bone Mend Elixir to help speed the process. 

He carefully placed the injured bird on a spare perch he used for Arrow, the school owl he used to send letters to members of the Order, and summoned a length of leather lacing from a drawer and fashioned a pair of makeshift jesses and placed them upon the hawk, ensuring the bird would remain on the perch. 

The young hawk gave a soft cry and Severus gently ran a finger down the speckled breast, whispering, "Hush.  It's all over. Rest, I'll be back soon to feed you." He whispered a charm to increase the temperature in the room so the hawk would not become chilled, then he snatched up his cloak and stalked out the door, mentally condemning bloody Harry Potter to the bowels of the abyss for making him leave the red-tailed hawk at such a critical juncture.  But then, that too was typical of a Potter, always ruining the few precious moments in Snape's life.  Whatever else happened, he could always count on Potter to spoil things, one way or another, Snape thought caustically, gently closing the door behind him.


 



Chapter End Notes:


Eyas--name for a young hawk.

jesses- thin straps, traditionally made from leather, used to tether a hawk or falcon

I will be using several terms of falconry in this story, though I shall make an effort to explain them either in the text or notes as necessary.

More from Harry the hawk's perspective next chapter!

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