Chapter 1 : Buckbeak's Ferret Dinner
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Disclaimer: Nope, still haven’t turned into J. K. Rowling. Maybe some Polyjuice potion might help, though I’d only own these characters for an hour before it wore off. Oh well. . .
Buckbeak’s Ferret Dinner
The room was dark and cold. The candles had been out for over a week now, for it had been over a week when it happened. . .
When he left the house. . .
When he never came back. . .
Grimmauld Place had fallen into absolute silence. The sputtering candle flames had reached the molten wax and extinguished. None of the Order had visited for weeks. Even Kreacher had left the house, his usual ominous footsteps and mutterings now absent. Everything felt wrong. The ancient house always had been silent and foreboding, but never this silent. . .
And never this foreboding.
But what felt more wrong than anything else was that he wasn’t here. Sirius had rushed from the house a week ago in a state of near panic, muttering about how he had to save Harry. The front door had slammed behind him, and Mrs. Black’s screams had flooded the house for nearly an hour straight before she finally calmed down.
That was when the silence began.
That was when Sirius never came back.
And that was when Buckbeak was left behind, totally deserted by everyone he had ever known.
"Sirius will never come back here," the hippogriff realized sadly as he buried his feathery head into Sirius’s bed sheets. "His name must have been cleared. He’ll have gone to live elsewhere, somewhere that doesn’t hold such terrible memories for him. He hated this place—he talked to me about it many times, though he didn’t know I was listening to every word he said. He hated his parents, his brother, and all his relatives. He’ll be glad to escape from the last place that reminded him of them."
Buckbeat straightened his legs and began pacing the room nervously, the swift trots of his hooves echoing off the damp walls. He parted a path in the debris of discarded books, Zonko’s products, and chocolate frog wrappers. Sirius had always been a messy roommate, but Buckbeak hadn’t minded. The trash littered around the room always attracted mice and rats and other manner of delicious vermin. They’d skitter across the floor in the dark of midnight, and Buckbeak often kept Sirius up for hours as he pounced on each individual intruder in turn, before crushing them in his fearsome jaws.
Sometimes Sirius had actually joined him in exterminating the vermin. Once he had caught three ferrets who were disposing of a bar of Honeyduke’s chocolate. Sirius had killed the ferrets, then arranged them on a plate he took from his dresser. He had taken great pleasure in garnishing the dish with dead mice and rats, then had finished his culinary masterpiece with a large bat set in between the ferrets. If he had found any fun in making this dish, it was nothing compared to Buckbeak’s euphoria as he ate it. The hippogriff had never had such an extravagant meal in his entire life.
"Neither of us liked this place," Buckbeak thought moodily. "He wanted to leave the memories, I wanted to fly outside. But we still managed to have fun. I never thought I’d grow so close to someone. But Sirius is obviously not very close to me—he’s left Grimmauld Place to go out into the open world, where he’s now a free man. He’ll grow up, get a wife and a family, then live a long, happy life. He will forget about me; he’ll move on from our relationship, and someone else will take my place in his heart.
"But perhaps he will return one day to visit me, when he is old and all his family had passed on. His long, black hair will have turned gray and fallen out. His deep dark eyes will have dimmed, and his skin will have sagged. His bark will have died away into a rasp. But he might visit me anyway, just one last time before he goes. . .
"Maybe he’ll have one last ferret dinner for me. . .
"Or maybe not. Maybe he’ll forget about me entirely, and we’ll both live out our days alone. Maybe I’ll forget him, too."
The poor hippogriff was so overcome with grief that he collapsed to the floor in a cloud of dust, his face buried in his feathery chest. An aching of neglect filled his heart, and a burning sensation rose in his eyes.
And a tear—a single, crystal tear—fell down his cheek and to the ground.
Buckbeak would always remember that tear. It was born of loneliness and negligence, but it was also, he thought, a magical tear. It was the beginning of a new life.
For at that moment when his tear hit the dusty floor, the front door down stairs opened, and a stomping of heavy footsteps shook the floor.
Buckbeak shot to his feet, excitement coursing through his veins. Someone had come at last! And there was only one person whose footsteps were that heavy. . .
The door opened, and Hagrid stumped into the room. He hastened immediately over to Buckbeak, tears of happiness in his beetle-black eyes as he hugged the hippogriff. “I’ve missed yeh so much, Beaky!” Hagrid cried softly into his ear. “Ev’r since yeh lef’ two years back.”
Hagrid lifted his head from Buckbeak’s chest and surveyed the hippogriff. “Why, Beaky, m’boy, why’re yeh cryin’?” His bearded face broke out in concern. “Yeh miss him, don’t yeh? I miss him, too. Great man, Sirius. His name was cleared, yeh know.”
I know, Buckbeak thought bitterly.
“But he’s gone on; never come back, he won’t.”
And, with a sudden jolt of horror, realization hit Buckbeak. Sirius hadn’t simply left Grimmauld Place—Sirius was dead. More tears slid down Buckbeak’s feathered face as he repeated those words in his head: "Sirius is dead, Sirius is dead!" Sirius would never be there to watch him catch mice late at night. Sirius would never confide in the hippogriff again, nor entertain him with his Animagus antics. Sirius was gone from Buckbeak’s life forever, leaving behind a great hole in the hippogriff’s heart.
“One more thing b’fore we head off,” Hagrid muttered to himself. He left the room quickly, his footsteps shaking the floor behind him.
Hagrid was gone for a long time, so long that Buckbeak began to wonder if the half-giant forgot about him. But then he once again heard Hagrid lumbering up the stairs. The Hogwarts gamekeeper entered the room, carrying something in his hands.
It was a plate—a plate filled with three dead ferrets, garnished with mice, and completed with a bat in the middle. Hagrid set the rich meal down in front of the hippogriff, and Buckbeak’s heart melted with a terrible joy and a terrible sadness at the same time. To think that Hagrid would do something so special for him!
Buckbeak tore into the meal, devouring the ferrets in two bites each. The flesh tore beneath his teeth, and the bones crunched beneath his jaws. He gobbled the mice up one by one, savoring the squish as he crushed each mouse between his teeth. Then he ate the bat, savoring its moist aroma and its soft body. He had never enjoyed a meal so much in his entire life. Even Sirius hadn’t done as wonderfully.
Hagrid watched on with delight as the hungry hippogriff gobbled up his meal. He even chuckled when Buckbeak, still with a rat’s tail hanging from his teeth, launched forward into the half-giant’s waiting arms.
“Yeh’re a good boy, Beaky,” Hagrid said softly. “And yeh’re comin’ to Hogwarts to stay with me.”
Buckbeak’s heart soared at these words. It had been two years since he was at Hogwarts, and now he was going back at last! He’d never have to spend another day cramped in this tiny house. He’d be back at Hogwarts, where the grounds were spacious and the mountain are endless.
“Oh, and I’ll be needin’ t’ call yeh ‘Witherwings,’ ” Hagrid added. “I hope yeh don’ mind too much, but yeh weren’ mean’ to escape yer—yer execution. . .” He fell silent, the idea obviously still torturing him.
Buckbeak crooned softly, as if to say he didn’t mind. He was glad Hagrid was here to take care of him. While he would always miss Sirius, the man’s death was, in a way, an emancipator. For Buckbeak would be in the free outdoors again. And Sirius would be forever free beyond the veil.
A/N: There, I’ve finished my second fanfic! As a note, I thought up the idea for this story before HBP came out. When I read the book, I was overjoyed when Harry asked Buckbeak if he, too, was missing Sirius. It shows I actually had a grain of intuition (wow!). If you liked this fic, please read my other, called “Woes of a Midget Owl” (a romance between Hedwig and Pigwidgeon; I think I’m the only person to have thought up that particular pairing). Just please review! You can praise my perfect prose or bash this bit of bull, just so long as it’s feedback!!
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