Rolling her eyes, Eowyn strode off into the night, grateful for the cold night air on her flushed cheeks. They were her best friends for life but by Merlin's beard they could be annoying! And embarrassing too! Oh well, at least Severus didn't wake up. He'd probably have hexed them for even saying the s-word.
As she finally collapsed into her bed Eowyn sighed, groaning as she stretched her back. Then she remembered that she had Twinkle and previously mentioned Hungarian Horntail to feed. Twinkle the niffler was easy enough and was quite happy to sleep in a box stuffed with cotton wool. But the Hungarian Horntail (Spike as Hagrid had christened him) was no such easy task. Since he was not legally here and it would not do for Hagrid to get in even more trouble than he already was Spike was kept in the woods, under the watchful eyes of a few of her centaur friends. Moaning, Eowyn dragged herself back out of bed and stumbled over to Twinkle's box. He was wide awake, dark, chocolatey eyes staring up at her with all the adoration and innocence of a baby.
Thinking of babies brought back what Charity had said to her. The truth was it was Severus' darkest fear that any child she would bear would have his nose. He had literally had nightmares about it. Smiling, she picked up Twinkle's favourite food, mushrooms, and began cutting it into pieces with a knife, before feeding them slowly to him, piece by piece. Twinkle gobbled them up greedily, before collapsing down into the cotton wool with a snort of satisfaction and making that strange chirping noise that was his happy sound.
After slowly stroking Twinkle to sleep, Eowyn rose to her feet and walked to the door, marching out to where she kept a store full of food for her charges. Finding the carcass of a cow wrapped up she muttered, "Wingardium Leviosa," and so 'carried' Spike's dinner off into the dark forest.
The creatures of the forest were used to her presence. Even the spiders, Aragog's many children, did not try to harm her. They had learned their lesson on that score long ago. They scuttled along the beams of trees, swinging on moonlight pale threads, eight eyes glittering and legs making rattling noises on the bark of the trees. Once Eowyn would have been afraid of them. Now she had learned that if you fear something you give it the ability to hurt you.
Selene, the female centaur who was in charge of the group guarding Spike, was relieved to see her. "He's getting fidgety," she murmured. "And the spiders are getting worried."
"Tell them all will be well," said Eowyn. "I've got everything under control. And if they don't calm down I'll tell Hagrid to tell Aragog to tell them that they have nothing to fear."
Really, spiders! Couldn't they just come on out with their problems and not insist on communicating with you through this complicated web of people who they would or would not eat? I've seen at least ten since I entered the forest! They could have spoken to me!
Spike was about the size of a Shire horse by now and still growing, though his wings were still too weak for him to take the air. He had a vicious temper and would probably not hesitate to burn down the whole forest if his dinner was late, but he always perked up when Hagrid or Eowyn were around. He trust them. He did not trust the centaurs.
Laying the meat down and carefully unwrapping it, Eowyn stepped aside a little, letting the large, dark green dragon have his fill. As he ate she scratched his head, making the scales rise up. He was still growing his spikes and his eyes had only just begun to lose the bright green of baby-hood and turn cat-yellow. He was still surprisingly tame. How long that would last neither she nor Hagrid could guess. Maybe a few more days, maybe a whole lifetime. It was rather a novel idea – a dragon which did not seek to hunt and kill humans. Still, as Severus would tell her, "Never assume the safest possibility, Eowyn. Assume the most disastrous."
"He's not very positive is he?" Eowyn remarked, scratching Spike's head. "Still. He's come a long way since I first met him."
Suddenly there was a great crashing through forest, trees shaking and branches snapping. The centaurs started, drawing their bows. Spike stood up, a cow's leg hanging from his mouth and looked. Eowyn drew her wand, ready, as every good auror (or ex-auror) should be.
But it was only a very tall, sweaty and dirty Hagrid who burst onto the scene. "Professor …. Gond'lin! 'Ead-eadmistress wants ya!"
"What for?" Eowyn asked, placing a calming hand on Spike's head and not at all phased that Hagrid was seeing her in her nightwear. He was one of her best friends after all. After my three personal harpies.
"She wants ya fir the staff meetin'. I' starded 'bou' fifteen minutes ago."
"Oh, begorrah!" exclaimed Eowyn, her Irish accent becoming even stronger in shock. "Watch 'im, 'Agrid! Be back in a wee bit!"
Then, in a swirl of black feathers she transformed into her animagus form as a raven and sped off through the trees. Damn Umbridge and her stupid four thirty meetings! Did she think they did nothing but sleep at Hogwarts?