Thanks to my beta-reader, Crab Apple Fairy

Flying Free

Chapter 7

Fawkes and Harry reappeared just above the lake. Fawkes flapped his wings and hovered in the air gracefully; Harry, oblivious to his surroundings, dropped into the icy water.

"W-wha-?" The painful freezing sensation jerked Harry out of his emotional turmoil. Harry tried to let out a horrified squeak, but he gulped down several mouthfuls of water instead.

Fawkes picked Harry up with his claws as the smaller bird started to sink deeper into the water. He knew Harry could not swim very well. He had seen how Harry struggled in the water in the second task two years ago. If his master and the judge hadn't helped the child, Harry would have collapsed right away. Now watching Harry try to catch his breath, Fawkes couldn't help feeling a bit guilty.

Maybe dumping Harry on the snow is better than throwing him into the lake, Fawkes thought regretfully.

The giant bird rose in the air and flew towards the Headmaster's office, carrying the limp, tiny soaked bird with his talons. Once he went through the window of the room, he laid a shivering Harry on the thick carpet.

Harry was trembling like mad. He seemed to be disoriented and couldn't even stand up. When Fawkes nudged him gently, the smaller bird just let himself lean limply on the bigger bird's body.

Fawkes' worry became more extreme. As Harry was all wet, the feathers were stuck together. Fawkes then noticed Harry was actually very skinny. He had never met another nestling as thin as Harry. The tiny thing was definitely under-fed. The true phoenix wondered why Harry's feathers hadn't just fallen out since he was so malnourished.

"N-thizzz-!" Harry sneezed. His head jerked forward dramatically. Still shuddering in cold, Harry drew his legs under his damp feathers.

Fawkes looked around and saw that the fireplace was not lit up. Harry didn't seem to know how to warm himself up, either. Mentally scolding himself for dumping Harry into the lake, Fawkes scooted closer to the shivering form. He concentrated on calling upon the phoenix's magic, and his body radiated gentle heat like a lovely stove.

Harry's quivers ceased gradually and he snuggled closer to the warmth. He buried his beak in a tuft of soft, dry feathers. It was so comfortable. He let his eyelids droop as he started to feel a bit drowsy.

"Harry? Are you alright?" Fawkes asked worriedly. He could feel Harry's beak tickle him. The phoenix squirmed a bit at the itchy sensation.

"Still cold," Harry said sleepily. He buried his head deeper into Fawkes' wings.

"Don't sleep now. I have something important to tell you." Fawkes let out several waves of warmth, drying Harry's dank feathers effectively.

"Hmm?" Harry raised his head a bit. He was squeaking like a baby bird.

"Do you remember what happened?" the true phoenix asked as he observed Harry's now dry and fuzzy crest.

Harry shook his head slowly. His brain was still a little foggy. His head also throbbed uncomfortably, as if he had concentrated on something for a very long time.

"You had an emotional breakdown. I couldn't calm you, so I dumped you into the lake. Sorry about that." Fawkes apologized, regret leaking through his thrill.

"That explains why I was soaked and cold." Harry muttered unhappily. He did not have the strength to be mad at Fawkes.

"When it happens again, I promise you I'll dump you onto the snow instead." Fawkes finished.

Harry shot him a half-hearted glare.

"Anyway, what I want to tell you is that you shouldn't lose your temper like that." Fawkes regained his 'paternal mode' and he said in a professional manner.

"Now I'm being lectured, too." the small bird squealed irritably. He only wanted to preen his feathers. Harry could feel his feathers were sticking up in different directions. That was pretty annoying. When Fawkes tried to get Harry's attention again, the small phoenix yelped, "Leave me alone!"

Fawkes considered pecking at Harry's head, but thought better of it. Instead, his eyes glowed and he sang a beautiful note. The wonderful sound wrapped around Harry's body. The animagus felt his mind go hazy again. Harry stopped preening his feathers and stared at the elder phoenix in a daze.

The Headmaster's phoenix smiled inwardly. Phoenixes had a special ability, which was able to persuade, or rather, make their children listen to them. This enabled the parents to teach their offspring better. So every fledgling could grow up to be a noble, proud creature.

In reality, Fawkes did not know whether this little trick could work. Strictly speaking, he was Harry's 'parent'. After all, he was the first and only living being that Harry saw when the fledgling awoke. Fawkes had thought that Harry's animagus status might prevent them from establishing this relationship. Obviously he was wrong. Anyway, he had to use this chance to teach Harry now.

"As I was saying, losing control over your emotions will do you no good. Your mind could be seriously damaged." Fawkes said. He ruffled his feathers in pride as he saw that Harry was attentive. The green orbs shone with innocent curiosity.

"Phoenixes cannot mature once their minds are impaired," the bigger bird said, "and they cannot breed, either."

"Why?" Harry asked dazedly.

"It's because Nature chooses the best." the phoenix bird replied. "It's a rule in the Universe."

Harry looked at Fawkes confusedly. He did not understand. With his animal instincts taking over, his mind really resembled a tiny bird's. He did not voice a question, though. His 'parent' seemed to want him to stay silent.

Fawkes proceeded to teach Harry how to keep his emotions in control. Harry behaved like an obedient nestling, swallowing his 'parent's' every word.

"Do you understand now, Harry?" the fiery bird asked after an hour of tutoring.

The young creature responded with a trustful note, which pleased Fawkes to no end. Finally a birdie listens to me! He noticed Harry's tired features. So he spread his wings to embrace the smaller form and released Harry from his phoenix's magic.

"Go to sleep, my child." Fawkes lured the weary bird to sleep with a peaceful song.

Harry enjoyed the embrace and buried his head deeply in his wings. It felt so¡K fatherly. "Yes, Dad." he replied sleepily, not realizing what he had just said. He made some quiet, squeaky noises instinctively before he went completely silent.

Fawkes' eyes softened as he heard Harry's last few words. His parental instincts grew in an alarming speed. To be honest, he liked this Harry better. This Harry acted more like a true fledgling. Fawkes knew that Harry's human part would take control again when the young bird woke up. He just hoped that this side of Harry would re-surface soon.

Trilling softly, Fawkes rubbed his head against Harry's affectionately. He wasn't sleepy at all. So he spent the next few hours guarding his charge protectively.

* * *

Thanks to all reviewers:

Ironic-humour, Wynjara, SilverKnight7, Insane Creature, PhoenixPadfoot89, SilverDragonHawk, lovelydarkness, Erisinia Gazelle, Chi (Elda) Motosuwa, Fangfoot, big-bad-kyubi, skipastarseeker, kianie, Capn-BlackRose, Calen

Chady: Well, Harry wanted to keep his animagus form in secret. If he flew out of the boundary of Hogwarts, the alarms would be triggered. Then Harry would have a hard time explaining to his teachers.

Ice-Tea-1983: Err¡K This is not a slash story, I assure you. Actually this story should be considered as an AU fan-fiction. I'll add that in the summary later.

Kateydidnt: Ron and Hermione were not in Hogwarts during the Christmas Holidays. I'll try my best to manage the odd punctuations, anyway!

Author's notes: Well¡K I'm still alive and writing my stories. Exam is approaching and I can almost imagine my painful expression at that time. Anyway, see you guys in July. I hope you all enjoy this new chapter!