Disclaimer: So very very not mine. JKR might not be God, but we love her creation so much as to make no nevermind.
A/N: First I'd like to thank the Academy - wait, wrong speech. ^^
But like unto the Dog Star, folks, I'd like to thank Carol, my best friend, who when we were having a 'study session' at our house pulled out the National Geographic with the article on snowy owls--for without that, this might never have been laid.
In chronological order, then, my other best friend and long-suffering first-rank beta, Gamlain, who as always suffered himself to have this written to him - not only in chat, but in MUCK chat, and in page-mails of one line at a time at that! If Carol caused it to be laid, then surely it must have been Gam who caused it to be hatched.
And last but very definitely not least, all must bow to Tari, my Phoenixsong.net posting beta, who with pen and preening comb made Little Wizard-chick presentable. kisses her hands and feet
v v v
He's growing. They barely feed him, these glowless two-foots that are supposed to be his nest-minders... but he's growing.
Hedwig flutters to her boy's shoulder--too stooped and too thin for her liking but still higher above the ground than when she first saw him, carried to him by the great wild Friendwho makes him - still higher than it was even when he left the true nest-place, just this season.
She nibbles gently at his ear, and he reaches up a hand to stroke her feathers, hands that she remembers barely being able to open her cage that first day, shaking with excitement and incredulous joy, almost too weak to undo the fastening. His hands are bigger now, longer, stronger, but they still shake sometimes, and it is not with joy.
'Hallo, Hedwig,' he says softly, and she coos to him, hearing the love still in his voice and she is glad for that, even as she cannot ignore the sadness under it, and how much deeper it is already than yesterday.
He twirls the quill in his hands, a gift to him of one of her own feathers, preened from her left wing and presented on the spot when his last one broke. He smiled at her.
She would pluck herself bald if that were all it took to make him happy.
He brushes the feather over his lips, taps it a little on the parchment before him, making a blot. He smiles sadly. 'I don't suppose you know the alchemical correlation between Hungarian Horntail blood and the herb the Muggles call dragonsblood, besides the name?'
She hoots at him, and he chuckles back, kissing her beak. 'Neither do I.' He turns in his seat, bends down to look at the books piled beside him on the floor; she rides the movement, and begins to preen him, running her beak over the strands of hair in her continuing quest to make his baby-chick fuzz sleek like proper feathers. She knows it won't work, that wizard-chicks who don't learn to turn into proper owls don't get feathers that way... but he knows the affection in it, and that's what matters.
He sits up again, bearing a tome with him, and begins to flip through; she carries on preening, and wonders when he brushed his hair last. He doesn't seem to take care of himself very well, since he left the nest-place again, and he doesn't write unless written to, not even to the wolf-wizard, not since the dog-wizard left for the Far Sky. She wishes she could tell him about the Far Sky, where the hunting is always good and the mice rich and sweet with fat, and all one's nest-mates and perch-mates are whole again, and all pains are healed ... but as well as he understands her, he does not yet understand her that well, and by the time that he does, he might well have found out already.
He is strong, her wizard-chick, and has good perch-mates, even if his nest-mateand nest-minders should have been abandoned for the foxes at hatching ... he will grow, and she will teach him to fly.
She pauses for a moment at a new lock of hair, and ruffles her feathers a little. Yes, he is growing.
The first of his adult colouring is coming in already.
v v v
A/N: ...As to what I discovered in that sainted National Geographic...
...Well, there were two pictures and a quote.
First off, snowy owlets are black and grey and fuzzy, to blend with the ground their nest is built on, and in the picture reminded me of nothing so much as Harry's hair. Hence the first inspiration. ^^
The quote is next most important; I'm afraid I don't remember the actual text of it at all, but snowy owls are apparently very fiercely protective of their chicks. And I've always loved Hedwig--so that was the second.
And the last picture was of a nesting pair feeding their brood. The chicks were fuzzy black and grey, the female was white with black patterning--
But the male--
--the male was pure white.
This is the story of the first feather of Harry's adult colouring. There may yet be more; I shall truly try.