Hedwig had no trouble making her presence known whenever she was in the room. Whether it was soaring magnificently through the air or incessantly pecking Ron and Hermione until she got answers, our favourite snowy owl knew how to command respect and attention like the queen she was. Her vivacious personality was so impressive that everyone could tell Hedwig was sassy, classy and smart – and she didn’t have to say a thing.
If you want to even try to get on her level, get ready to take some notes.
From the moment we met Hedwig (when she wasn’t deep in her beauty sleep), she was swooping in and out of the Harry’s room at the Dursleys’ as if she owned the place. Frankly, she might as well have – the owl made it clear from the start that she followed no one’s rules but her own. As we learned in Philosopher’s Stone, one only needs to bring back dead mice to keep Aunt Petunia away.
Hedwig also never settled for less than she deserved. While Harry immediately slurped up half of the cold tinned soup when the Dursleys locked him in, Hedwig chose nothing rather than soggy vegetables.
She ruffled her feathers and gave him a look of deep disgust.
‘It’s no good turning your beak up at it, that’s all we’ve got,’ said Harry grimly.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Sorry, Harry. She was a girl who knew what she wanted. And what she wanted was nothing less than rodents and bacon rinds. (Even though owls don’t actually eat bacon rinds, as J.K. Rowling later noted).
Vernon Dursley had to learn this lesson the hard way when he padlocked Hedwig inside her cage to stop Harry from contacting the wizarding world. Eventually, Mr Dursley agreed to let Hedwig out at night, after Harry swore he wouldn’t use the owl to send letters.
But we all know the real reason Uncle Vernon caved was because Hedwig knew what made the man tick – and what ticked him off. The owl’s savage response was to make such a loud racket in the early hours of the morning that Vernon could barely get a wink of sleep. She didn’t give up the cause until she drove him mad with her screeching. How did Harry ever manage without her?
Perhaps Hedwig knew depriving Uncle Vernon of sleep would get under his skin because she understood just how important it was to get some shut-eye. The owl didn’t skimp on sleep (gotta keep those amber eyes sharp and those feathers soft!) and got feisty every time her rest was interrupted. When Luna Lovegood’s laugh was too loud or Dobby’s self-punishment too noisy, Hedwig didn’t settle for a side-eye or a passive-aggressive hoot. Instead, her sass level shot up 1,000 per cent, and she gave a loud screech and beat her wings indignantly. Yup, don’t ever mess with a diva’s sleep.
Hedwig didn’t care if anyone thought she was loud or outrageous. If someone did her wrong, she had no problem giving them her unfiltered thoughts. In Chamber of Secrets, Ron and Harry got a taste of her unmitigated sass when their trolleys collided with the wall to platform nine and three-quarters and Hedwig’s cage flew off and bounced onto the floor. She shrieked and caused ‘such a scene that there was a lot of muttering about cruelty to animals from the surrounding crowd’.
Hedwig also knew when to lower her voice (without having to sacrifice sass). Sometimes her irritation would take the form of rougher nips on the arm, or when it came to her brutally honest thoughts about Pigwidgeon, clicking her beak was enough to signify her ‘dignified disapproval’.
The owl fluttered down on top of Hedwig’s cage. Hedwig looked coldly up at it, as though daring it to try and come any closer.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
She sure was a beaky little owl.
Pigwidgeon’s ineptness only made Hedwig more confident in her abilities. She even had a lesson or two for the small owl. To counter Pig’s inability to stay quiet, Hedwig kept ‘unusually still’ while Harry tied a letter to her leg, ‘as though determined to show him how a real post owl should behave’. Then she soared away elegantly to show Pig that an owl need not fly across the room like a runaway tennis ball. Just watch and learn, Pigwidgeon, watch and learn.
The trusty owl was so confident she turned up in France once to fetch Hermione’s gift for Harry without being prompted. She also successfully found Harry no matter where he was, even when he was staying at the Leaky Cauldron after running away from the Dursleys. She never doubted her abilities – and consequently, we never did either.
Harry knew first-hand that Hedwig had the ability to tug at his heartstrings or ruffle his feathers, depending on how he treated her. For instance, when Harry didn’t get any mail at the Great Hall, she would still fly to see him and nibble his ear affectionately. But when Harry wronged her (say, by crashing a car into the Whomping Willow), she would reach peak sassiness and show him her tail or leave him without even a backwards glance.
Though Hedwig and Harry had some rough patches, she was there when he needed her most. Because no matter how sassy she got, true queens know that true friends will always come through.
She nipped his finger, perhaps rather harder than she would ordinarily have done, but hooted softly in a reassuring sort of way all the same. Then she spread her wings and took off into the sunrise.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire