Pandora shifted her glasses so they were sitting comfortably on her nose as she was making her way to Ravenclaw Tower. She had just come back from helping Professor Kettleburn with tending to small pack of rare full grown Black Dogs. One of the dogs being his own pet, Lucifer. Luci, as Pandora called the gentle canine. They all were to be used in the next Care of Magical Creatures class that afternoon. To help show the Muggle legends and fables of mysterious big black dogs as being bad omens were rubbish.
Pandora had wondered briefly if the basis for the legends were somehow transferred from another animal to the "Devil Hounds" as some called them. A breed that had dead centuries ago.
She pause as she observed a small brown squirrel dart out of the Great Hall and come to a stop a few yards down from her. Its tiny hands holding a few minute crumbs that it had managed to pilfer from the hall. Pandora took out her camera and tried to take a picture of the peculiar sight but it moved back a few paces and raised its tail and stared at Pandora. Its nose and tail twitching. The crumbs having been dropped as it took its defensive stance.
"Oh, you poor dear," Pandora murmured as she felt compassion overcome her curiosity. She had never seen a squirrel this close before. She reached into her bag and brought out the small bag of nuts she always carried with her. "Care for some nuts?" she asked inching closer to the squirrel, "I have some peanuts, walnuts and," she paused as she studied her handful, "cashews. I don't have any acorns I'm afraid."
The squeal blinked and cocked its head, but didn't move closer to her outstretched hand. After several seconds of neither of them moving she decided she should try and approach the timid creature. She had made it about halfway when a loud uproar disrupted the serene moment and the squirrel ran. It scurried up the wall and out a window.
Pandora frowned and looked down at her handful of nuts before turning to see what all the commotion had been about. She rolled her eyes and sighed as she pocketed her rejected peace offering. She figured it would be the small gang of Gryffindors. The one that was headed by the Quidditch Captain, James Potter. She didn't brother to investigate further. She as well as probably the majority of the school knew that the four upperclassmen of rebels and pranksters would only be up to some kind of mischief.
Focusing on the small window crack that had allowed the squirrel to enter and leave the inner halls of Hogwarts she missed that her whole encounter with the squirrel had been watched.
Pandora took her seat on one of the benches near the Great Hall. As was quickly becoming habit, she would come straight here after Care of Magical Creatures and watch and wait for the squirrel to come by. It had been almost a month and the weather was beginning to turn cold, and she feared that little Raven would be desperate to gather the last few morsels before the onset of winter.
Raven had become Pandora's nickname for the small squirrel. In remembrance of her favorite poet, Edgar Allan Poe. Since she didn't know whether the squirrel was a boy or a girl she decided to use Raven. A name suitable for any gender.
Like clockwork Raven entered and hurried over to where Pandora sat. It now trusted Pandora more and would sit close by her feet. Only a few inches away from her.
"Raven," she greeted warmly reaching for the small pouch of nuts and putting the bag down by her feet, "here you go. Eat up."
The squirrel sniffed the bag and its contents before offering the fifth-year a small bow before it gathered several cheek fulls of nuts and quickly departing. Pandora smiled and took the few nuts that were left in the bag and pocketed them. Raven was rapidly becoming a companion.
It hadn't taken as much begging as Pandora thought it would to have permission to erect a small squirrel feeder by the castle and one by the lake. It was just a little over two months into her sixth-year. She had been begging Professor Flitwick for permission to install these squirrel feeders since the second day. After she discovered that a house-elf had repaired the broken window that Raven used.
It had only taken three separate days of pleading and showing her logic behind the purposed idea and how it could be used by other students as a means to get closer with nature that Flitwick had finally agreed. He had monitored her construction of the feeders and only added a few ideas and three advanced charms over them. Once they had been built of course.
"To keep away insects, moisture, birds and cats," he had told her.
Now she was busy with filling the feeders with a mixture of corn and nuts. She had used half a bucket in the feeder by the lake and was glad that she had the other half to use in this one.
"Feeding the birds?"
Pandora didn't pause her actions but did look up to see who had spoken to her. She smiled at her House-mate Xenophilius Lovegood standing in front of her and the feeder. His double sunglasses in place like they always were.
"No. Actually, feeding squirrels." she corrected as she leveled off feed with her hand before closing it.
"Oh, yeah. You're the girl that's been feeding that lone squirrel. The one that would sneak into the castle."
"Raven," she automatically replied as she began to walk back to the castle. Empty bucket in hand.
"The squirrel's name. It's Raven."
Xenophilius chuckled and moved his small stack of books to his other side. "Like the poem?"
"Yes, precisely," she had been pleasantly surprised that he knew of it. Most pureblood families didn't encourage reading Muggle literary works, or anything really Muggle in nature. Which was a shame, she thought.
"Why did you start feeding Raven?"
Pandora wrinkled her brow and shrugged. "I saw him almost bin diving for food and I had some nuts I could share."
"Almost. He had carried some scraps out of the Great Hall. He looked so hungry and nervous. I had some extra nuts so I give him some..." she trailed off as she noticed Xenophilius studying her curiously, "What?"
"Please tell me you're single."
She blinked and stopped short. She had not seen that coming. "Um, yes. I am," she finally managed to get out as she tried to fight the blush that was already spreading over her features.
"Great," he beamed and offered a smile, "tomorrow we play against Gryffindor. Care to come with me to the match and cheer our House to victory?"
"I don't know," she felt uneasy. She had meet Xenophilius before in their common room but since he was a year above her she hadn't really gotten to know him or talk to him really. Some of the other Ravenclaws had snickered behind his back for some of his ideas about certain Ministry conspiracies and believing that some mythological creatures that had not been seen or reported in centuries were real and still alive. He also was very absent minded. That was why he wore two pairs of sunglasses. So he would still have one if he lost the other.
"We don't have to," he added, "we could just meet up and talk by the lake Sunday. Get to know each other a little better." he paused and took off his glasses, "please?"
Pandora sighed and nodded her head yes, "Okay, by the lake."
The date had gone remarkably well and Pandora had enjoyed herself. Gryffindor had won the match the day before, but that hadn't completely ruined their mood. Xenophilius had brought some food from the kitchens and had set up a small picnic for them. It had been fun. Nothing fancy though. Just some snacks and a sandwich, but it had been fun and Raven had even come around and took a few handfuls of crisps with him.
For the next two weeks they continued to picnic out by the lake. Xenophilius was apparently quite skilled at casting warming charms and Pandora had yet to feel chilly. Something that had surprised her since autumn was fast becoming winter.
"Oh, look. Raven has brought along a friend." Pandora observed getting another handful of crisps for the other squirrel.
"I say it's a date more than a friend," Xenophilius remarked grabbing a crisp for himself. Grinning as he purposefully brushed his hand against Pandora's.
"Yeah, you wouldn't just bring a friend along for food, and look," he moved closer to Pandora as he pointed at Raven bringing the other squirrel several crisps, "he is bringing her food. Showing her that he can provide for her... It's a date."
Pandora just watched as Raven groomed itself as the other squirrel munched on the food. "A date. I wonder what her name is."
"Nevermore," Xenophilius remarked leaning back and observing the clouded sky above them.
"The name of Raven's date of course."
"Oh," she replied unsure of what else to say, "not Lenore?"
"Nope. Nevermore is more fitting I think."
"Nevermore alone," Pandora turned and was startled to see Xenophilius looking at her very intently, "to have companionship. Company. Not to worry about being an outcast."
"Oh," she didn't know when she had leaned closer to Xenophilius but she was just a breath away from kissing him. His low voice had drawn her towards him. "Sorry," she breathed and made to move away when she felt his hand on hers.
"Don't be," and he captured her lips in his. Soft and warm. Nevermore alone, she mused as she grasped his hand in hers. What a wonderful notion.