A/N: I am back! Here is the beginning of a new story. I do not own Harry Potter and associated characters, nor do I own the DELIGHTFUL 90's movie this story is inspired by!
The Aria of the Owl
Lily Evans was alone and nearly asleep beside the dying common room fire when a sudden loud noise jolted her awake. She whipped out her wand in panic, but tucked it away quickly when she realized it was simply an unfortunate owl that had crashed right into the common room window, no doubt believing the pane was open when it was actually just uncommonly clean.
"Poor thing," Lily cooed as she swung the window open.
It took a bit of coaxing to get the owl to come in through the window once she had opened it. The poor beast seemed a bit dazed and possibly concussed, but a messenger owl is always a messenger owl, and it dutifully held its leg out to Lily to deliver its note.
"Thanks sweetie," she said, accepting the note. "I wish I had a treat for you, after you went through all that trouble…" Lily glanced around, seeing only her half-empty coffee mug. She usually preferred tea, but the espresso was meant to keep her awake while she studied her Advanced Charms book (which lay forgotten by her chair since she dozed off).
"Help yourself?" she said. To her surprise, the owl accepted her offer and made an amusing show of shoving its puffy owl face into the little mug.
Lily giggled to herself as she unraveled the crumply bit of parchment, wondering who would be sending her an owl at this late hour. She assumed it was a dorm mate wondering why she hadn't come to bed yet, but the actual message was far more bewildering.
I don't know why I put up with your rubbish, but there is a large and warty toad here singing an aria of your name and if you don't make it stop I will feed it to The Dog. You KNOW how I detest the opera.
Lily blinked once and read it again.
"A large and warty toad… detest the opera? Are you entirely sure you've got the right person, little owl?"
The owl pulled its face from the now empty mug and gazed at Lily with very wide, slightly crossed eyes.
"Do you know what I think? I think you scrambled your attic running into that window, and handed this off to the first person you found because you've gone a bit silly."
The owl tilted its head at her and gave a quavering hoot.
"Alright, hang on. Let me jot down a reply and you can be on your way back to a good night's sleep at the owlry. How does that sound?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'll refill your coffee."
The dormitory door burst open far later than James Potter was expecting. He glowered at the boy who slunk into the room. Peter Pettigrew was in for it, that was certain.
"Where have you been?" James demanded. Only no one could hear what he said, because he had cast a silencing charm on the room earlier out of desperation and forgotten to lift it.
He rolled his eyes and waved his wand, bringing all of the volume back into the room. The most notable sound that returned came from a large amphibian in the corner, who was keening a loud operetta with quite simple lyrics.
"Peeeeeeeter Pet-ti-greeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew! Peee! Teeeerrr! Pettigreeeeew!"
"This has been going on all night!" James shouted over the noise. "Care to explain, you giant sodding lummox?"
"So sorry!" the boy shouted back. "I was trying some charms that would get me and him into the Halloween toad choir this year!"
"The Halloween… what?"
"You know, the students and their toads go up in front of the great hall and they sing at the feast! Only Figaro he isn't a very good singer, you know."
"Peeeeetttigrew! PEE! Teeeerrrrr!"
"He might be better if he would turn down the barking volume!"
"I tried a charm because the choir director said my toad needed more projection, only it didn't go so well. I couldn't fix it so I went to find you or Remus to shut him up!"
"Remus said he can't undo the charm until he finds out what you did, and he left for prefect rounds. Why didn't you come back when I sent my owl? I've been waiting for you for hours. Finally used 'silencio' for the sake of my own sanity. Which reminds me… " James pulled out is wand, aimed it directly at the toad. "Silencio!" The toad fell silent, although its mouth and throat movements suggested it was still continuing its song with great determination.
They both took a beat to sigh with relief before Peter turned to James and replied, at a much more reasonable volume, "I didn't get your owl. When did you send it?"
James frowned. "Nearly an hour ago. You really didn't get it?"
Peter shrugged. "Your owl must not have been able to find me. It's not a big deal."
"It is, though. Archie is the best—he always finds everyone. I've never lost a letter before."
"Yes, but out of the two of us, whose pet is the more pressing problem?"
"Fair point." They both turned to stare at the toad, whose song now apparently had accompanying hand motions.
The door swung open just as the two boys were considering taking the toad to the hospital wing. It was Remus, and he was clutching a book and grinning. "I think I found a spell that will work, so we can all finally get to bed."
"Great!" Peter said with a sigh of relief. "What's the counter-curse?"
Remus pulled out his wand with a flourish and pointed it at the toad. "Coda Totalus!"
The toad paused, which caused the boys to exchange looks of triumph. The feeling, however, was short-lived, as the toad burst through all silencing barriers and presented them with such an extraordinary soprano note that it took a full three measures before Remus could gather his wits enough to re-silence the beast.
"Any other brilliant ideas?" James drawled.
Remus growled. "Shut it. Your ideas weren't any better. In fact your only idea was to feed Figaro to Sirius."
"Don't tempt me."
Tap tap tap.
The three boys turned to the window, where they could see James's owl Archie hovering just outside.
"Finally!" James said. "I was starting to worry about that fella." He strode to the window and threw it open. The owl (being reasonably more shy of windows than usual) flinched before coming inside to rest on his master's shoulder.
Archie held out his leg to present James with a letter.
"He's brought a reply," Peter said. "That's odd, because his letter was never delivered to me."
James frowned as he unrolled the parchment. "Well it must have been delivered to someone, because they've written back. Dear Possibly Mad and Certainly Irresponsible Owl Owner—I received your note and can only assume that you, like your owl, have had a rather serious run-in with a closed window today. You both come across as a little boggled. I'm sorry that your toad won't stop singing my name, and I must admit that as far as complaints about me go, that one is entirely new. I suppose you're lucky that I have such a melodic name? Teasing aside, I'm sure I wasn't the intended recipient of this note, and while I hope all your toad troubles get sorted, I'm sure I won't be any help in the matter.
PS Your owl has had three cups of coffee now, and in a caffeine induced fit, has broken my favorite mug. Please be more careful directing your mad letters in the future."
"It looks like a girl's handwriting," Peter remarked. "It's swirly and nice."
"And she's sharp," Remus added. "She's got you pegged, anyway."
"Yeah, but I can't think of any smart girls here who also have a sense of humor. Anyway, whoever it is got my owl all hopped up."
The three boys stared at the owl (who did, now that they really looked, have the twitchy and wild appearance of one overly caffeinated creature).
"Great," said Remus. "Now we have concussed and hyper owl to sort out."
Hoot! The owl replied resentfully.
James smirked. "Sirius is missing. We all haven't had any sleep. And add a tone-deaf toad to the list..."
"Yes, where is Sirius?" Peter asked.
"Last I heard he was sneaking off to Hogsmeade to beg a date of the barkeep's daughter Rosmerta. He should be back—"
At that moment, Sirius burst through the door and slammed it behind him, breathing heavily as though he'd been running hard for a while.
"—Any minute," Remus finished.
Sirius managed to gasp out "If anyone asks I've been here ALL NIGHT," which the boys were collectively considering making his catchphrase. After a moment of collecting himself, he noticed the gyrations of the amphibian in the corner. "What's happening to your toad, Pete?"
James rolled his eyes. "Long story short, Peter is an idiot and now his toad will not stop singing opera music. It's driving us all insane. The whole thing is quite crazy, which makes you our best option for fixing it. Madness directs madness, and so forth."
Sirius frowned, but only for a moment. A hair-brained idea had obviously planted itself in his head, which of course, was what the desperate boys were hoping for. "I've got just the thing. Follow me," he said to Peter, "and bring the toad."
"I've got to see this…" Remus said with a wry grin. He, Sirius and Peter headed for the door, toad in tow.
"Are you coming, James?" Peter asked over his shoulder.
"You lot go on. I'll be along shortly."
The three boys disappeared down the stairs with their usual cacophony of noise, and James seized the new silence as an opportunity to reread his letter. He figured Peter was right about the handwriting being a girl's—it was balanced, careful, and far loopier than he would expect of a bloke (except, perhaps Remus). James was amused at the careful balance the writer had managed to strike between antagonistic and amiable.
He had let the other boys go on without him because his initial feeling was that he wanted to respond to the letter, and to do it privately. It was odd to feel a sense of friendship with a stranger, especially after such a short correspondence, but James did. At the very least, he didn't want whoever it was thinking he was a nutter, and possibly abusive towards his owl.
He had just pulled out a quill when he heard a plaintive hoot, and looked up to see Archie, tired and bedraggled and glaring at him reproachfully.
"Sorry, buddy. Maybe we'll answer tomorrow, and for now you can just go to sleep?"
Hoot replied the owl, and he swept out the open window before James could change his mind.
James decided to get a head start on his reply and had penned three inches before the door burst back open, revealing three triumphant Marauders and one still, silent toad. James quickly stuffed the parchment into his pillowcase because he wasn't sure he felt like explaining, and turned to greet his friends.
"How'd you fix Figaro?" He asked them.
Sirius grinned. "I had the woman on the portrait to our dorm sing him a lullaby. Because there's only one way to end an opera…"
James rolled his eyes. "Of course! It's not over—"
"—Until the fat lady sings, yeah," Sirius finished.
Remus shook his head. "Brilliant. Mad, to be sure, but brilliant."
A/N: Shoot me a review to let me know what you're thinking.
If you aren't thinking anything, then at least let me know what opera you think Figaro was singing.
I missed you, oh readers!