The Last Flight
"Once dressed, the fake Harrys took rucksacks and owl cages, each containing a stuffed snowy owl, from the second sack.”
~Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter Four
Hedwig gave a small hoot at this sight, and her boy smiled down at her.
No stuffed toy could replace her... but it was nice that she had been thought of. Her amber eyes fixed upon the man who had planned this. Her boy had called him ‘Moody.’
Moody had a long mane of grizzled, dark gray hair and the poor man’s face was unlike any other the owl had observed. It looked as though it had been carved out of weathered wood by someone who had only the vaguest idea of what human faces are supposed to look like, and was none too skilled with a chisel. Every inch of skin seemed to be scarred. The mouth looked like a diagonal gash, and a large chunk of the nose was missing. But it was the man’s eyes that really caught the bird's notice.
One of them was small, dark, and beady. The other was large, round as one of her boy’s coins, and a vivid, electric blue. The blue eye was moving ceaselessly, without blinking, and was rolling up, down, and from side to side, quite independently of the normal eye - and then it rolled right over, pointing into the back of the man’s head, so that all the owl could see could see was whiteness.
Hedwig hooted once more, causing the electric blue eye to glance her way and Moody give a brief smile as she fluttered her feathers before he turned to look at the others.
The poor owl did not like so many versions of her boy being in the room. But it was to keep him safe.
“Good,” said Moody, surveying them.“The pairs will be as follows: Mundungus will be traveling with me, by broom-”
“Why’m I with you?” grunted the copy of her boy nearest the back door.
“Because you’re the one that needs watching,” growled Moody, and sure enough, his magical eye did not waver from the one copy as he continued, “Arthur and Fred –”
“I’m George,” said another copy at whom Moody was pointing. “Can’t you even tell us apart when we’re Harry?”
“Sorry, George –”
“I’m only yanking your wand, I’m Fred really –”
“Enough messing around!” snarled Moody. “The other one – George or Fred or whoever you are – you’re with Remus. Miss Delacour –”
“I’m taking Fleur on a thestral,” said the eldest brother of Pigwidgeon’s owner. “She’s not that fond of brooms.”
A very soppy looking copy of her boy walked to him. It was quite disturbing.
“Miss Granger with Kingsley, again by thestral –”
That copy of her boy, the intelligent human of the cat called Crookshanks, looked reassured as she answered Kingsley’s smile and Tonks spoke brightly, “Which leaves you and me, Ron!”
The copy of her boy, who was Pigwidgeon’s boy, did not look as reassured as Croonkshank’s girl, but he answered nonetheless.
“An’ you’re with me, Harry. That all righ’?” said Hagrid, looking a little anxious.
Hedwig liked the big man. He had brought her to her boy. She would nip him affectionately, but she was in her cage. “We’ll be on the bike, brooms an’ thestrals can’t take me weight, see. Not a lot o’ room on the seat with me on it, though, so you’ll be in the sidecar.”
“That’s great,” said her boy, not altogether truthfully.
“We think the Death Eaters will expect you to be on a broom,” said Moody, who seemed to guess how her boy was feeling. For a human, he was quite observant. Hedwig liked this. The man continued speaking, “Snape’s had plenty of time to tell them everything about you he’s never mentioned before, so if we do run into any Death Eaters, we’re betting they’ll choose one of the Potters who looks at home on a broomstick. All right then,” he went on, tying up the sack with the fake Potters’ clothes in it and leading the way back to the door, “I make it three minutes until we’re supposed to leave. No point locking the back door, it won’t keep the Death Eaters out when they come looking. Come on …”
Her boy went to the side car and stuffed his rucksack and broomstick down by his feet and rammed Hedwig’s cage between his knees. He was extremely uncomfortable, it was obvious, but so was she. She hooted a bit reproachfully, but not too much so.
He peered down at her and gently pet her through the cage. “Sorry girl,” he said gently, his bright green eyes flashing warmly at her. “It’s only for a little bit.”
Hedwig affectionately nipped his fingers. Her boy, he was so good, so brave. She was proud to be his owl and could not stay angry too long. She had tried before.
Soon, they were all flying into the air. It was a wild chase through the skies and the owl only wished she could fly with her own wings instead of being in the cage. The hectic activity made her cage fall but her boy had caught her. The motorbike rolled over.
“No – HELP!” Her boy screamed.
The broomstick spun too, but he just managed to seize the strap of his rucksack and the top of the cage as the motorbike swung the right way up again.
Hedwig almost hooted with relief but she saw a flash of green light, more green than even her boy’s eyes.
The light hit her and she fell to the bottom of her cage.
How long passed before she rose, the owl didn’t know. She hooted loudly. She was still in her cage. Where was her boy?
Where was he? Where were they? She hooted more.
Footsteps. Hedwig turned hopefully.
A man stood there. It was, Hedwig could see, the man called Moody. But he looked quite different. He looked a bit younger, for one, with dark hair instead of the grizzled gray mane, and he had an actual human face, no scars. He was handsome, for a human.
He had two dark eyes, but they were warm and kind, not full of paranoia. He wore dark green robes, but they looked quite nice on him, quite comfortable, though Hedwig preferred her feathers. And he was holding a broomstick, the same one Hedwig had seen him holding in the house.
Hedwig peered curiously at him.
He peered back. “Potter’s owl?”
She hooted at him, and Moody opened her cage, causing her to hoot anxiously as she hopped out. Here was someone. He could bring her to her boy!
“That evil git can fly,” Moody grumbled, holding out his arm. “And that coward Mundungus left! Idiot.” The man looked irked as Hedwig flew onto it. “And... then...” He stopped. “And then the killing curse hit me...” He slowly blinked, touching his face. He rolled his eyes, frowning, obviously used to something else.
Hedwig knew the word. Her boy had said it often. It was not a good thing. There was a difference between food gathering of mice and frogs and other things and killing to hurt.
She killed, yes, but it was to eat. Her boy saying the word meant it was to harm, to hurt, and that was just wrong, unnatural.
But if Moody were here... and she was too...
Killed... had they both been killed in the battle of the sky, as her boy had been moved to be safe?
Death followed life, it was natural. But that did not mean Hedwig had to like it very much. Her poor boy had been through so much already and she was supposed to be there to help him! And the man next to her was strong and brave and clever. His being gone was quite bad for her boy.
“I suppose he realized where the real Harry was,” Moody muttered, petting Hedwig in a way that reminded her instantly of her boy. “Sorry girl.” He paused. “I should have told him to let you fly. But we were moving fast. It was why you had decoys too.”
She hooted, remembering the sight of the stuffed owls, and stretched her wings.
“I used to fly more,” he said, glancing at the broom. “Just got busy... work... people getting revenge...” He fell silent, continuing to pet Hedwig. “It’s gorgeous here... wherever here is...
The owl looked around at his words and hooted in agreement. It looked like a forest, the most beautiful one she had ever seen. Wild and free, with broad ancient oak trees that seemed to remind her of the strong wizard she was resting on. Her boy had admired him too.
Every owl needed a wizard. This much was true, it was ingrained into Hedwig’s nature.
She couldn’t have her boy anymore, but she knew him better than anyone or anything. He would succeed. He was strong and kind. And he was not alone.
This one, Moody, he would be alone if Hedwig left him.
And he had a broom.
He could fly.
They could fly.
Hedwig hooted at him.
Moody looked at her.
She looked at the wizard. And then at the broom. And then at the wizard. She hooted once more.
He stared for a long time and began to smile.
“Come on, Hedwig,” he said, surprising her even now. But he had remembered her enough to get the decoys. How then was she surprised he knew her name? He picked up the broom, the stance and smile at her reminding her so much of her boy and the joy he had from flying that she nipped his ear affectionately.
And in that moment, the owl saw the boy that the man must have once been, because he grinned, a wild, free grin, and spoke with a laugh, “Let’s fly.”
Hedwig hooted happily and flew off with the wizard into the wild beyond where there was no need for cages, no worries about wizards after revenge, no wars or fear.
Just a wizard and an owl, flying off into the beautiful bright cerulean sky.
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