“Raven Chronicles” Chapter 4: Eeylops and Owls – Part 2
“Now, your father tells me that there are school owls that you can send letters with and such. And since you already have a pet in Mochi, we needn’t bother buying you one.” Alice looked crestfallen, but I already knew as much. Money was tight. “However,” my eyelids felt glued open, “we don’t own an owl either, now that your dad sends emails. And I don’t rely on Muggle mail to somehow poof into Hogwarts. Plus, I hear personal owls can figure out when loved ones want to send their owners letters and such. So,” she said it with ferocity, “I will be purchasing you two an owl.” She looked between us once more. “To -”
“Share,” Alice and I both said.
“If you’re going to act like that,” Mother said, “I won’t bother -”
A barrage of no’s flew out of Alice’s mouth. “We’ll behave!”
And off Alice went, skipping towards the nearest owl shop, her book tucked under her armpit. Mother picked up the rest of the gift wrap and tossed it into a bin as I waited for her. She took my book from me and slid it into her shopping bag, taking my hand. Tempted as I was to throw it off, I kept hold of it – she was, after all, buying us an owl.
By the time we had followed Alice into the shop, she’d already found an owl. I spotted her, down to the left and behind the storefront window, oohing and ahhing over a little puff of gray feathers. I should’ve raced Alice into the shop. There would be no input from me if Alice had already fallen in love.
“Mum! Mum!” Alice called. She practically danced as Mother strolled over to her. “This one. It’s a baby snowy owl. We’ll call her Athena, and she’ll be just beautiful. Ask her.” Alice pointed to an older woman with short gray hair and half-moon spectacles. “She said this bird is amazing.”
I expected my mother to show the same disinterest in a baby owl I felt. We’d need an adult, ready to carry mail to and from Hogwarts. Instead, I saw this sickening expression of adoration on her face for the owl.
“It’s true,” the woman said. “This bird has already shown signs of being very smart, and her light coloration this early means she’ll be almost completely white -”
I stopped paying attention. Though convinced that was the owl we would be purchasing, I started to walk around the shop looking at each owl. There was a racket in the back of the shop, near the register. A small black owl with a round head and round facial discs screamed. It jutted back and forth, swinging its cage. I covered my ears before the owner pointed her wand at the bird and shouted, “Silencio!” The bird became mute; though, its beak continued to open.
“Been doing that ever since I got it. A menace that bird,” the owner said, peering over her glasses at it. “Couldn’t get rid of it fast enough. Worst part is that it’s become immune to my charm, starts bellowing every couple minutes.”
“You’re sure that she’ll be ready to fly by the time school starts?” my mother asked, returning to the topic of the baby snowy owl.
“Absolutely, and she’ll carry big packages in a month or two.”
I walked over to the black owl. It shut its beak and looked down at me, tilting its head almost upside down. I reached for the tag hanging down from the side of the cage – had to go on my tiptoes to get it – and read “Ural Owl, Nine Months Old, Male.” I wondered what made the owl so discontented. I looked up into his eyes and blinked. He blinked back and reached his head even lower, pressing it into the bars of the cage. He gave out a small squeak – I could hear it. Then he straightened up, puffed up, and pooped.
I was ushered away from the bird by the shop owner as she brought the baby snowy owl to the counter and rang up my mum. They had decided to buy the owl, and I was sure the name Athena would stick.
While I waited on a stool by the counter, I kept watching the black Ural, and he did the same. His eyes never left me, and it only ever blinked when I blinked. I enjoyed watching him lean when I leaned and straighten when I straightened. I tilted my head, and he tilted his. I giggled when he lost his balance and fell over. He did not find it humorous. He ruffled his feathers, squinting at me. I stopped laughing.
But Mother had paid for our new Athena, and it was time to go. I stood to leave with them, and the Ural went berserk. It attempted to fly in its cage and crashed into the bars. It shrieked, and the owner pointed her wand at it again. But the charm only lasted seconds before we heard it yell again. Before I knew what I was doing, my wand pointed at the cage. The door burst open, and the Ural flew straight for me. The owner yelled to duck, which my mother and sister did. But I stood straight. The owl flew to me, then turned in the air, and landed on my shoulder, its little talons sinking into my skin. The owl began to chew on my shoulder-length hair.
Mum tried to shoo the bird off me, but it snapped at her fingers. The owner didn’t dare try a Summoning Charm while the owl clung to me. However, she did attempt to physically remove him, taking hold of his body and trying to pluck him off me. He did not budge, and his claws sank deep into my shoulder.
“Excuse the pun, but he’s certainly attached to you,” the owner said, once again peering over her glasses. She seemed not to notice the blood soaking my shirt but looked to Mother. “You mind taking him off my hands? I’ll give him to you for a Knut.” And in moments, I was carrying out my own owl, “Newt” perfectly silent and rubbing his head against the hand wrapped around his bars. My wounds needed no treatment as I’d healed them in half a second.
Alice skipped alongside me, holding Athena’s cage likewise – one arm underneath, one around the cage – while Athena slept. “You’ve had a pretty good day,” she said. “A new wand and a new owl.”
“Same as you,” I responded.
Mum was behind us, looking at her phone for how to get back to King’s Cross. “Train leaves in a half hour. We better hurry. I’ll order a taxi,” she called.
“Yeah, but yours are different,” she said. She might as well have said better.
I shrugged. “At least I finally got to name a pet.” She stopped skipping and stayed still as I continued through the bricks. I brushed Newt’s beak away from a clear button on my chest pocket and stepped through the archway towards the Leaky Cauldron.