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Once the disciplinary letters were written, Severus had nothing to do, an exceedingly rare occurrence, but curl up on the couch with the falconry handbook for a few hours.  It was a lazy Sunday, and most of the noisier students were catching up on their missed sleep, so the halls were quiet.  He read carefully through the chapters on the proper feeding and care of falcons, even though he knew most of it from watching nature shows on TV when he was a child.  He also read about training the bird to return to you when you flew it for the first time.

Flying a hawk for the first time, whether after an injury or to test how well the bird had absorbed training techniques, was an exercise fraught with a degree of uncertainty.  A hawk or falcon was not a tame bird, they always retained their wild instincts, and could choose not to return to the falconer's gauntlet (another name for the heavy glove) or the lure.  There was always that element of risk, and Snape worried that the bird might fly away forever when he tasted the glorious freedom of the skies again.  He suspected that was what had happened to the hawk before, he had gone in pursuit of prey, most likely a hare or a duck or some other creature and was so caught up in the hunt that he refused to come in when summoned.

Of course, there were spells to compel a falcon to return to a wizard's hand, but Snape was reluctant to use them.  He did not like compelling the bird to do something, it smacked of the Imperius Curse, and he detested that spell, having seen the results of it all too often at Death Eater meetings.  Severus Snape valued his independence and to have his will stripped away was one of the ultimate horrors.  End result, he had learned to throw off the Imperius, ensuring he was never a victim.  So he did not want to use magic to compel the hawk, it would be cruel to bind the creature that way-the red-tail deserved to be free, and indeed, he had promised that very thing as he had sat through that long night.  You shall be as free as I can make you.  Snape valued his word, and a promise made was a promise kept, even to a mere familiar. 

He read the ways in which an amateur falconer could encourage a bird to keep returning to his fist, using mainly rewards of food, and establishing a bond of trust between the bird and the man.  Snape thought the hawk trusted him, look at the way the red-tail had come to him, without hardly any coaxing, and it genuinely seemed to prefer his company.  The hawk had dozed contentedly upon his shoulder while he wrote the letters, then Severus had placed him back upon his perch while he made himself a quick snack of some fruit, and fed the hungry bird more pieces of rabbit drizzled with honey.

The familiar was healing rapidly, much to Snape's relief, there was no signs of the high fever and infection in the hawk's system any longer.  Now he just had to feed the hawk properly and often and a regular diet plus minute doses of the Bone Mend Serum would serve to heal the wings to flightworthy status.

Severus looked forward to the day he could remove the splints and bandages and see the hawk fly, his breath had always caught when he watched the science and nature specials with the clips of raptors gliding gracefully upon the wing.  When he was a student, one of his fondest daydreams, besides marrying Lily, had been discovering his Animagus form was a beautiful hawk or falcon.  But he had never had the opportunity to take the extra Animagus course McGonagall had offered and afterwards had been too busy being Dumbledore's secret agent and Potions Master to study Animagi transformation.  But seeing his familiar fly would be the next best thing.

If only he could be certain the red-tail would return to him.

He reached up a hand to scratch the bird, who was perched upon the sofa back, and was rewarded with a sleepy keer-awk and a rub across his fingers. 

Smiling, Severus lowered his hand and resumed reading. 

Perhaps I'm worrying over nothing.  After all, why wouldn't he return to me-who has saved his life and fed him? He seems very intelligent, surely he wouldn't forget what I've done for him?

Even so, it nagged at him, until he came to the end of a chapter titled Miscellaneous Potions You Can Use to Enhance Your Bond.  There, second down from the right, after a potion used to rid a hawk of annoying parasites, was a potion designed to give a wizard the ability to communicate with a hawk for four days.


Hawk Speak Elixir

Pure spring water 15 oz

3 T of red clover honey

Feather or down of the type of bird you wish to speak with

Ground scarab

3 sphinx hairs

5 oz of essence of silvertongue lark's blood

Snape read exicitedly, the potion was not as complex as it sounded, though some of the ingredients, especially the sphinx hairs and the silvertongue blood, were expensive.  Silvertongue larks were magical animals that lived in the forests of Russia and  America and were known for their beautiful songs and their ability to speak the tongue of any being they encountered after listening to a sample of their speech.  They were highly prized and had been hunted to near extinction back during the Dark Ages, and had only now started to make a comeback. 

The elixir was time consuming, however, it needed to steep for a full twenty-four hours for full effectiveness, and a cauldron of it made enough to last several weeks.  There were very little side-effects, though if taken for more than a month every week, the potion could cause the user's throat to get raspy and small patches of down to appear on the skin. 

But it was guaranteed to give the drinker the ability to speak and understand avians for four days, after that another dose would be needed.  The elixir was not well-known, however, because of the costly ingredients and most wizards didn't think it worth it to spend hard-earned Galleons on a potion that allowed you to communicate with birds. 

Merlin, this might be just what I need to convince my familiar to stay with me, rather than flying off first chance he gets.  Plus, it's wearying to talk to oneself and never get an answer back.

He mentally calculated the necessary ingredients, decided a quick trip to the apothecary in Hogsmeade was needed, and quickly scribbled the ingredients upon a piece of parchment before rising to his feet.

"Come, young one," he coaxed the sleepy hawk to his shoulder and fastened the creance line to the jesses once more.  The hawk made a soft grumbling noise, clearly not wishing to be disturbed.  "Hush.  The perch is safer, not to mention easier to clean.  Sleep, I'll be back soon, and once this potion is made, we shall be able to speak to one another."

The hawk blinked sleepily.  Huh? Oh, that's nice.  Have fun.  I'm taking a nap.

Satisfied the eyas would sleep till his return, Snape left his quarters and slipped out of the school through one of the secret passages, taking his broom and flying to Hogsmeade.

He returned some twenty minutes later with his purchases and set about beginning to brew the potion.

Half-an-hour later, the Hawk Speak Elixir was simmering in a large silver cauldron, where it would remain for twenty-four hours.

* * * * * *

"Dinner, Master Severus," announced Twixie, holding a covered silver platter in her hands.

Severus glanced up, he'd been so intent upon his book that he had not even realized what hour it was.  "Already?"

"Indeed.  It is half past six, Master." Twixie said, bowing as she placed the plate upon the table.  She removed the cover with a flourish.  "Salmon broiled in a butter sauce with chopped walnuts and wild rice and carrots, sir, with a side of bread and a glass of water with lemon."

Severus inhaled the aroma of fresh fish and thought it smelled heavenly.  "Thank you, Twixie.  You may go."

"Mind you eat it all now, Master.  You pick like a bird," the elf scolded gently, frowning up at the tall wizard.

Severus arched an eyebrow at her.  "Oh? Says who?"

"Me." From his perch the hawk screeched.  "See, he agrees with me," she declared in a satisfied tone.  "Enjoy your dinner, sir."

Then she vanished with a pop, leaving Severus rolling his eyes before he began to eat the delicious flaky fish sprinkled with crunchy nuts, which was one of his favorite meals.

He was hungrier than he had thought, for he soon had finished the plate, and then returned to his book, reading until it was time for the House meeting he had called at eight.

For some unexplained reason, the Potions Master took his familiar with him to the meeting, carrying him easily upon his left hand, unhooded for once, since the bird seemed to prefer to see where he was going. 

There was a stir when he entered the Slytherin common room, the members of his House couldn't fathom why he had called a second all-House meeting when they had already had one a few weeks before. All the students were sitting or standing on the available furniture, which consisted of heavy walnut tables and chairs and long low black leather couches.  The floor was carpeted in thick green throw rugs with the Slytherin serpent upon them and the walls covered in thick tapestries to keep out the damp.  The fire was going full blast, but despite the homey touches, there was a decided air of anxiety present in the room. 

Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle were standing beside the fireplace, looking sullen and brooding.  They held envelopes in their hands, which Severus knew contained the letters to their parents.  He would mail them tonight along with his own. 

All eyes turned to the tall wizard as he entered, and most of them widened when they caught sight of the beautiful injured bird riding upon his arm. 

"Wow! What a cool bird, sir!" exclaimed Marcus Flint, his eyes alighting longingly upon the hawk.

"Absolutely awesome!" agreed another boy.

"But he looks hurt, what happened to him?" inquired a fourth-year girl.

"This is my new familiar, a red-tailed hawk, who has broken both wings in an accident," the professor informed the House calmly.  "I have recently acquired him and he is still adjusting to the castle and being around so  many people, so I shall ask you to conduct yourselves with decorum and use quiet voices, as he is easily startled."

The hawk gazed curiously around at the students, his amber eyes taking in everything. 

"What's his name?" asked another girl.

"At the present, Miss Warley, he does not have one.  But I shall endeavor to come up with one."

"Sir? We could help if you'd like? All of us could suggest a name and write it down and then you could pick one, if you want," Anne Warley suggested diffidently. 

Severus blinked in astonishment.  He had not reckoned on his House getting actively involved with naming his familiar.  But he liked to encouraged inter-House cooperation and so he nodded his assent.  "That would be most helpful, Miss Warley.  You may begin collecting names after the meeting.  In fact, my familiar is part of the reason I have called this meeting . . ." he went and stood before the fireplace, in front of the majority of students, and then he told them of their Housemate's misdeeds and punishments.

There was a moment of shocked silence.  Then the murmuring started, as nearly all the Slytherins were furious with how Malfoy had dishonored his House and Head, as well as causing more injury to Snape's familiar. 

Malfoy flinched as several death glares were sent his way, and a group of sixth-years were threatening to hang him upside down by his toes and beat him unconscious the way he had done the poor hawk.  One of them was quite large, and looked as if she could wield a stick quite handily. 

"Come on, it was an accident . . ." he began, but the Slytherins were in no mood to listen to his whining excuses.

"Yeah, right, Malfoy," sneered the Quidditch Captain. 

"Don't insult our intelligence, you bleeding ferret," growled another.

The hawk upon Snape's arm stirred in alarm and hissed angrily.

"See, even the hawk knows you're full of it," snapped Anne, her blue eyes flashing daggers at the scion of Malfoy Manor. 

He handed the now sweating and fearful Draco a long white apron.  Some of the Slytherins tittered at that and demanded he put it on immediately.

Severus soothed the hawk with a touch, then said, "During Mr. Malfoy's period of playing house elf, I shall ask you to refrain from casting any curses or truly harmful hexes upon him, as he needs to be able to perform his daily duties. The best thing to do is to simply ignore him." There were groans at that statement. 

"Damn! I wanted to see how well he could walk with all his leg bones crushed, Professor."

"Or the head of a rooster, the arrogant prat."

"Does he have to do our laundry, sir? ‘Cause I've got heaps of it," said a third-year girl with a diabolical smirk.

"Yes, Miss Stevens, that is part of his duties." Snape replied.  "I will also require you to maintain your silence about this matter outside of the House."

All of them nodded in understanding, knowing that Snape's reputation would be ruined if word ever got out that he had been the object of a theft by one of his own. 

"Dismissed.  Lights out at eleven.  Miss Warley, you may place the list of names for my familiar in my office mailbox, I shall let you know what I have decided in a few days."

He held out his hand for the letters from the three miscreants and then swept out the portrait hole, heading up to the Owlery.

As he was leaving, he heard some of the Slytherins beginning to order about their new ‘house elf', plainly delighted to get revenge on the arrogant boy, since Malfoy had a tendency to lord it over most of his House members, especially those younger than him.  Though Severus doubted if much of that tendency would remain once the term was over.

 

* * * * * *

  24 hours later:

The Potions Master decanted the silvery liquid into several short squat vials, labeling them neatly and setting them on the shelf in his storeroom.  His familiar watched interestedly while he did that, and then Severus gulped the contents of the last vial.  It tasted strange, but not as bad as some things he had brewed.  He felt his tongue tingle and his ears twitch as the potion was absorbed into his system.

The book had stated that you wouldn't know if the potion worked until you tried speaking with a hawk, and gotten an answer, since your voice would sound normal to everyone save the bird.

He cleared his throat and said, experimentally, "Hello.  My name is Severus."

The hawk immediately swiveled his head around, the amber eyes going wide. You can talk! Err . . .I mean . . .I can understand you much better now.  How come?

Severus fought to keep from grinning. The potion was a success.  "I have taken a potion that allows me to communicate with you.  What is your name?"

For some reason this question agitated the bird.  Umm . . .I can't . . .I don't know! The hawk cried, alarmed.  He tried to recall what his name had been, but there was nothing in his memory save a great gaping hole.  I can't remember . . .I had one once . . .but now it's . . .gone . . .Ever since I hit my head, I . . . can't remember . . .

Both of Snape's eyebrows rose into his hair.  "You seem to have developed amnesia."

Huh? What's that?

"A condition where you lose your memory for a time.  It happens when you've hit your head too hard, like an accident." He reached out a finger to scratch the hawk behind the head and the familiar leaned into his hand with a sigh.

Ooh, that feels good.  More please.

The Potions Master obliged.  "Don't worry, your memory should return to you after awhile.  In the meantime, let me tell you where you are and who I am.  You are currently in my potions lab at Hogwarts School, I am a professor and Potions Master.  My name is Severus Snape, and I have adopted you as my familiar."

The hawk cocked his head.  This is a school for wizards, right? I seem to remember someone saying that last night.

"You can understand human speech?"

Only a little and then only if I concentrate.  Talking like this is much easier, the hawk declared smugly.

The bird craned his head around to examine the wings strapped to his side.  How long will my wings be like this?

"Almost two weeks.  Why? Are you in pain? I can give you a potion if you are."

No, not really, though sometimes they ache.  Just wondering, is all.  I miss the sky.

"In two weeks you shall be able to fly again," Severus told the hawk confidently.  "In the meantime you need to eat, drink, and rest to build up your strength."

Makes sense. But it's boring doing nothing but sleep.  What do you do all day, Severus?

"I teach potions, grade papers, and brew, for the most part.  I also have another job, which is kept secret, as it is so dangerous.  But I cannot speak of that here. Most recently, I have also been taking care of you."

Oh.  I'm sorry, I don't mean to be a burden, the hawk apologized.

"You aren't," reassured the wizard. "Whyever would you think you are?"

Because . . .you sound like you're a busy man and . . .a long time ago . . .I think I remember someone saying that I was nothing but a burden . . .a loud fat man . . .I didn't like him.

Severus frowned.  "Perhaps your former master mistreated you, and that was why you flew away? Do you recall anything else?"

No. That's all. The hawk sidled up to the Potions Master for more petting.  Nice.  Yes, like that.  Right there, it's itchy.

"I would give you a bath, but your wings shouldn't become wet."

No matter.  Between your hand and my bill, I should be able to keep my feathers clean, the hawk ran his beak down his breast, gently teasing and reordering the feathers. 

Severus watched the raptor for several minutes before gathering up the courage to ask, "If your memory should return, where would you go?"

Go? Why would I need to go anywhere? I like it here.  Unless you do not want me? There was a plaintive note in the hawk's cry.

"No, I would like you to stay," Severus hastened to reassure the eyas.  "Only . . .I wished to give you a choice."

Ah.  But that isn't necessary.  Here, I am wanted.  There . . .I wasn't.  That much I know.

Severus fought to keep from heaving a sigh of relief.  The hawk would stay.  Hagrid had been right after all.  "You're a smart bird."

But of course. I am a hawk, his familiar replied, preening. 

Severus chuckled.  "Now, don't be arrogant."

I'm not.  Statement of fact.  Any hawk is smarter than what it hunts.

"Indeed.  I shall attempt to come up with a name for you.  Some of my Slytherin students have volunteered to help me, so it may take a day or so for me to select one. Names are important and I don't wish to call you any old name."

Thank you, the hawk said, touched by the other's consideration. 

Snape looked at his clock and realized it was nearly time for him to go back to class.  "I have another lesson to teach in a few minutes.  Would you like to go back and take a nap in my quarters?"

The hawk considered.  No, I'm not sleepy.  Can I . . .come with you . . .do you think? I promise I'll be quiet.

"Are you sure you wish to do that? I cannot talk to you during class, I must concentrate upon my students.  Some of them are such dunderheads, they will blow things up if not watched."

I understand. 

"Very well.  Come, step up on my wrist." Snape held out his gloved left hand and the hawk obediently hopped up on it.  "I only hope you are not bored to death."

Why? Boring is looking at an empty room all day. The eyas clicked his beak, bobbing his head excitedly.  Potions class! How exciting!

Severus gave the hawk a wry glance.  "You are a very strange bird."

Is that bad?

"No. It's just . . .never mind.  I like you this way."

The hawk made a soft chirruping noise, happy that his new friend accepted him.  That had not always been the case, he thought with a shudder, recalling a loud voice yelling and an arm waving at him, demanding, "Why the hell can't you ever be normal, you bloody freak?"  He wasn't all sure what that had meant, but he did know he would rather remain here, with the silky-voiced Potions Master, than return to that.

They arrived at the potions classroom precisely at two o'clock, Severus placed his familiar upon the back of his chair, then moved to the front of the room to begin today's lesson.

The hawk watched avidly as the students began getting ingredients out from cabinets and lighting up the fire beneath their cauldrons, chopping and dicing and shredding.  It was odd, but he could almost recall doing that very thing.  Or watching another do it, a boy with red hair.  How strange.  Perhaps Severus is right.  For how could I remember doing what those . . .kids are doing when I am a bird and don't have hands?

Severus paced about the room, keeping a weather eye on his class, making sure they were all paying attention, interjecting icy sarcastic comments here and there at those students caught babbling or daydreaming instead of working.

Another image formed in the hawk's mind then, of the Potions Master glowering down at him in disapproval.  A shiver went through him then.  I don't understand.  Severus has never spoken to me that way.  He could recall the Potion Master's voice, and it had always been silky and soothing, not hard and sharp.  Why would he be angry with me? It doesn't make sense.  The young hawk fluffed his feathers and resolved not to think about it.  Perhaps the fall had damaged his memory and now he imagined things, if that were possible.

He shut his eyes, dozing lightly, he found that the soft hiss and crackle of the flames and the stirring of the mixtures and muttering of the students relaxed him enough to sleep without fear of dreams.  He did not want to dream of the loud man again, or worse, the flash of light, and the boy . . .Cedric . . .falling and someone screaming . . .Do all hawks dream such things? Or is it only me? The eyas wondered, opening his eyes a slit and watching as Snape stalked about the room, his black cloak swishing and hissing about his ankles, his boots making barely a sound over the flagstones.  Even half asleep, the hawk could make out each individual fiber on the black robe, and a few specks of dust as well, so keen was his sight.  The dark fabric was soothing to his eyes, unlike the bright red and yellow some of the younger wizards were wearing upon their robes.

Those were unnaturally bright, they made his eyes ache, and reminded him of prey-a robin or a yellowtail.  He shifted on his perch, settling himself more comfortably. 

Snape crossed the room and paused beside the desk, giving the familiar a concerned glance.  "All right?" he muttered out of the corner of his mouth.

Yes. Fine.

Pleased, Snape whirled around and said, "You have five more minutes, then bottle your solutions and bring them to me."

There were murmurs of "yes, professor," and one daring boy with a shock of dark hair dared to ask, "Professor Snape, what's a hawk doing here? Are you going to teach him how to make potions too?"

Several students sniggered at that comment.

The eyas drew himself up and hissed, sensing they were jeering at him.

Severus scowled at the witty youth, saying sternly, "I have no doubt, Mr. Manning, that my hawk could brew a better Wit-Sharpening potion than you or half this class, given the level of intelligence you displayed today."

Damn straight! So there!

The boy blushed and studied his shoes, not daring to comment further.

At last the class was ended and Severus dismissed them.  There was a mad scramble for the door, and the hawk winced at the sound of so many feet thundering across the stone floor.  Must they be so bloody loud? He screeched irritably.  Why can't they learn to walk quietly, as Snape does?

But in a few moments the stampede was over, and the eyas found himself perched upon Snape's wrist again, being carried back to their home.  "That was my last class of the day, thank Merlin.  Now we shall go and have supper."

Good.  I'm starving!

* * * * * *

 Ten minutes later, the eyas was nibbling small pieces of rabbit from Snape's fingers, careful not to bite too hard. He was quite hungry and ate more than he had previously, causing the Potions Master to remark that he would soon need to get another rabbit from Hagrid, or perhaps a few mice.

Mice are good.  Small but tasty. He could not recall ever eating one, yet somehow he knew that he would enjoy them. 

Afterwards, he allowed Severus to gently feel along his wings, poking and prodding to make sure they were healing correctly. 

"Good, they are mending nicely," said the wizard, pleased.

I shall fly soon?

"Yes. In a week and about five days."

That answer made the hawk extremely  happy, and he walked up Severus's arm and perched upon his shoulder.  He began to preen the long black hair tenderly, for such is a sign of affection among hawks.

Severus eyed him askance.  "What are you doing?"

Fixing your feathers.  You need to distribute the oil in them, else you won't be able to keep out the rain, see? The eyas continued grooming.

"Excuse me? Are you telling me that my hair is . . .greasy?"

Hmm? No, a duck  is worse.

The Potions Master sputtered, unsure whether to be insulted or amused.  "My hair is like that from hours of brewing, you impudent bird. Not because I don't wash it."

Whatever.  My grooming will only help, the hawk said, nibbling and combing his beak through the ebony locks.  Hold still, there is a knot here. He began to work on untangling it.

"Ow! Dammit, bird! I can comb my own hair!"

Not half as good as I can. The hawk said, ignoring the other's attempts to draw away. Be still! I've almost got it.

"And you've almost ripped half of my hair out besides," grumbled the professor. "Leave off, will you?"

The hawk ignored him, nipping his ear when Snape attempted to move. Stop moving! There! Done.

Severus grumbled irritably, rubbing his ear.  "Bloody insolent bird! Who do you think you are, my mother?"

You needn't get all ruffled, I was only trying to help!

"How, by making me bald?"

The hawk made a derisive noise. You complain worse than a newly hatched chick.

"I do not!" snapped the wizard.  "How would you know anyhow? You're hardly more than a chick yourself."

I just do. The eyas settled himself on the Potion Master's shoulder, gripping lightly with his talons. 

"Impudent brat!"

Quite.  But you like me that way.

"Really?"

Yes,  the hawk replied, able to hear the affection beneath the sarcasm.  If I were a meek little sparrow, you would eat me alive.

"Bite me again and I'll use you in a pie," threatened the other lightly.

I'd taste awful! Blech!

Reluctantly, Severus chuckled.  "You are something else, hawk."

Naturally.  I'm your familiar.

"Merlin help me!" muttered the professor, hiding a grin.  Then he pulled out the partial list of names Anne had gathered and began to read them over, one hand gently caressing the soft downy  feathers. He would never admit it, but it felt good to have a friend who was not intimidated by his sharp tongue and who could give as good as he got.

What's that? asked the eyas, peering at the parchment.

"Names my Slytherins suggested for you."

Oh.  Well, make sure you pick a good one.  Something with character, don't make me sound like a wimp.

"You've some nerve.  Just for that, I think I ought to call you Sweetie Pie."

Aghk! That's disgusting! Who names their bird that?

"Adolescent girls with budgies and parrots," Snape smirked. 

That's . . .that's evil! If you call me that, I'll . . .I'll mess all over your robes, Snape!

Severus gaped at him.  "Why you little .  .  .! Do that and there'll be hawk stew for dinner tomorrow."

I don't care! I'm a hawk, not some revolting little fluffy parakeet! Give me something dignified, please! How would you like it if people went around calling you Sevvy Sweetums?

"I would hex them into next week," snarled the professor, shuddering.

I feel the same way. C'mon, Severus, you wouldn't want a familiar with such a sickeningly sweet name.  Your reputation would be shot to hell as a tough nasty professor. Have mercy!

"Very well.  I'll only call you Dearheart in private."

Severus! I think I'm going to puke!

"Only kidding," smirked the Potions Master, and he gave the hawk a very wicked look, his dark eyes gleaming.  "Personally, I think Pretty Baby suits you better."

That's it! I'm gonna peck out your eyes! shrieked the eyas indignantly.

"Calm down, bird brain!" Severus ordered, his shoulder shaking with muffled laughter.  "Do you honestly think I would allow such a revolting name to be associated with my familiar?"

Well, you sounded like you meant it, sulked the hawk, hunching up and turning away from the Potions Master.

"Stop that.  You're as thin skinned as any teenager."

The hawk remained with his back to the professor, stiff with indignation.

Severus sighed.  "Quit sulking.  You'll make yourself molt."

Still, the hawk would not look at him.

"Oh, for the love of . . .Fine, I apologize, Mr. Dignity. Satisfied?"

Promise you won't call me anything horrible.

"Agreed.  I'll give you a name suitable for a deadly hunter. Now look at me."

The eyas turned around, nipped once at Snape's finger in reproof, then allowed the wizard to scratch his head and neck. 

"Hey! None of your attitude," scolded the black-robed teacher.  "Or else you can hunt your own dinner."

Don't have an attitude. You were making fun of me.

"Hush. You're oversensitive."

Am not.

"You are.  You drive me crazy."

Good, said the bird, and sniffed self-satisfyingly.

"Pain-in-the-arse."

Takes one to know one.

"Bird . . .don't push it."

The hawk gave him a strange, almost gleeful look.  "Now who's oversensitive?"

Severus glared at him, but his hand never ceased rubbing, and the eyas leaned into his long fingers in bliss. Ahh! You know, Snape, you might be a snarky pain in the tail, but you have magic fingers.

"Humph!" was all he replied, though the ghost of a smile flitted across his face. Then the professor added, "You know, you annoy me almost as much as Harry Potter, if that's possible."

Who's he? Sounds like someone I'd like to meet.

"A student of mine who has now been missing for three days.  Dumbledore's Golden Gryffindor, the savior of us all, the Boy-Who-Lived."

The hawk cocked his head.  That name . . .why did that name sound familiar? He could almost remember . . .and then it vanished.   Sounds important.  Are you still looking for him?

"Yes.  But the damn brat is hiding, probably laughing up his sleeve at how he's fooled us all."

He must be clever, if he can fool you.

"Cleverly inclined to mischief.  He won't think he's so smart once I catch up to him," growled Snape.  "Annoying little wretch, making all of us insane with worry . . ."

Sounds like you care for him, remarked the hawk.

Severus choked. "What? Me? Care for Potter? I just . . .I promised his mother I would look out for him. And that's all."

If you say so, his familiar chirruped, sounding so unbearably smug that Snape felt like plucking all his feathers out. 

Care for Potter indeed! You cared for his mother, rebuked his conscience.  That was different.  Now shut up!  He resumed scratching his mouthy familiar, the repetition soothing his temper like nothing else could.  For if he began to care for Potter, he would be crazy with worry, wondering where the boy was and if he were hurt. And the last thing he needed was to lose another whom he cared for. So, no, he didn't care for Harry Potter, not at all.  The very idea was preposterous.


 



Chapter End Notes:


Hope you all enjoyed this.

Yes, our nameless familiar will get a name next chapter.


Next: A very angsty chapter, as Severus is summoned to Voldy to account for the whereabouts of Harry Potter and Harry!hawk finally learns what the true nature of Severus's double life is like. He didn't know about Severus's spying before, but he will now.

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