Harry Potter and the Dark Phoenix

(Year 6)

Category: Action/Adventure; Angst
Rating: R
Spoilers: SS/PS, CoS, PoA, GoF, OoTP
Summary: Harry Potter ran away one day, tired of watching others suffer for his ignorance. He couldn't sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to tell him what to do any more. Luck, as always, is on his side as he works to make a place for himself, not only in the war, but in life. Some very old magic is at work, allowing him to do far more then he thought he could. Tangled events drive Harry to realise that the world outside of Hogwarts and Privet Drive is bigger and more wonderful then he could have imagined. (Rated R for adult themes, mild language, homosexuality.)
Author Notes: My Yahoo!Group is where to find me, look in my profile. I dedicate this story to anyone who has felt the need to find themselves. This will be a slash piece, but that is not the main focus. This means that Harry James Potter is homosexual and so are a few others in this story, but every cannon male does not suddenly come out of the closet to snuggle our hero. This is not going to be a superpower Harry story. The things that happen to Harry in the beginning have excellent explanations, which were alluded to by a certain Headmaster we all know, but no one has a clear idea about. Harry discovers them but not for a great while, and not without a lot of hard work. Picks up at the end of the 5th book and follows cannon fairly well. This story is being adjusted slightly to fit into Half Blood Prince cannon, but is AU as of the sixth book.
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. I am aware of a legend about a dark phoenix in Celtic lore, but I know no more than one exists. I took the idea and ran with it in my own direction and I wouldn't be surprised if I've made tons of 'errors' in my references to these mythical creatures.

1: The Escape

Harry James Potter was an extraordinary young man. This has been a well established point for the past five years, but bears repeating every now and again. He lived in Number four, Privet Drive with his Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon, and Cousin Dudley Dursley. The unfortunate part of this arrangement is that the Dursleys and their home were all painfully ordinary in every way, and Harry was more a prisoner than a welcome member of the family.

He was not permitted to leave the house between six in the afternoon and eleven in the morning. He was to make as little noise as physically possible. He was to help prepare and eat three meals a day with his family at eight in the morning, noon, and seven at night. He was to write one letter about his physical and mental health every three days without fail. He was going to go insane.

Harry Potter was well acquainted with being caged in. He'd spent the majority of his childhood locked in a cupboard under the stairs after all, but that didn't mean he liked it. He wasn't claustrophobic per say, but after a week in the cupboard he would often start rocking side to side, singing nonsensical gibberish about a storm coming. He seemed to remember hearing the song whenever he was left alone in the dark for long periods, but could never place it.

Somehow, knowing that his every waking moment was being observed, reported, and controlled was much worse than being locked in the dark cupboard. He could feel eyes on him at the most inopportune times, like while he was busy in the loo or trying to sleep. Harry often felt as if he couldn't get enough air and it had only been a few days.

When things were at their worst, he thought of the tiny glass souvenir from the department of mysteries. It had gotten caught in his robes while he battled in the time room, and might yet be a way out. It had a tiny dial on the side, numbering the days it would take a person back from one to seven. It had been six days, and he had paid very close attention to his surroundings.

Different guards had different styles, and sounded slightly different when they apparated. He knew that Hestia Jones watched him on the first day from eleven at night until four in the morning, with Sturgis Podmore after her until noon. Professor Snape had only appeared once late at night. Harry had spotted him steaming in agitation behind a tree in the light from the streetlamp. He must have been stepping in for Mad-Eye, who usually had that time slot.

The only weak link he saw was on the second in the two day cycle. Mundungus Fletcher, who left around 1:54 PM, and Fred (or George) Weasley, who always arrived at 2:01 PM. Five minutes average, but it was the only opening. It was also more than enough time to use a time turner. They weren't very attentive watchers either. Fred (or was it George?) always had an accountant's book with him, and Mundungus was nearly asleep. The biggest sticking point was that he would have to leave the protective wards in order to use it, or they would treat the other him as a threat. He wasn't entirely sure what sort of things the wards were set to do to an intruder, but he wasn't keen on finding out the hard way.

Harry had another thing going for him, though: he was fast. A broomstick's performance was tied to the rider's physical abilities, and Harry hadn't been the youngest seeker in a century for nothing. He could outrun any of his classmates, most with little difficulty. Perhaps more important than the ability to do something was his determination. If he had the grapes to go against the blackest dark wizard in centuries, he could get away from his guards. A window of opportunity, time turner, speed, and grapes accounted for; he was ready to break out of his invisible cage.

After breakfast Harry stuffed his wizard money, a few apples, change of clothing, his lock picking kit, a list of his homework assignments, a quill, and £50 into an old shirt he tied off to make a sack. He slipped his wand into the pocket of his best jeans, which were still five sizes too big, and waited in the living room. At exactly 1:52 he heard the telltale sound of a car backfiring, and knew luck was on his side yet again. He grabbed his sack of necessities and ran for it.

Harry had long ago taken the distances to the alley he had first seen Sirius and the other alley he'd seen the Dementors and calculated the size of the wards. The park he visited last year should be sufficiently far. He started laughing as he reached the corner of Magnolia Crescent. At this rate Fred wouldn't arrive until well after Harry reached June 29th.

A smooth pop was suddenly heard behind him, and Harry's stomach turned to ice. That sound could only have been professor Snape. No other person had a quiet, nearly musical apparation pop. Well, I'll be testing my land speed won't I? Harry looked over his shoulder in time to see the shocked professor finish processing the scene before him, and start chasing after him. Ten Galleons says he thinks I'm possessed by the Dark Lord.

Harry broke into a sprint, easily outpacing the older man. He was free; Snape couldn't possibly catch him now. I'm going to make it. He darted down an alley and felt like he was walking on air. Dark music blew on the wind, and power sparked in the air. Must be one of the wards going off; I've never felt anything like this.

Harry felt the heat of the sun on his skin as he made a hard left around a dumpster and out of the alley. It wasn't far to the park now. He still heard footsteps behind him, echoing off the alley walls. Snape doesn't know about that hairpin left turn, he'll either slow down or smack into the wall. A satisfying smack echoed out, and Harry smiled. Every second Snape took to get up off the ground took Harry another half dozen meters closer to the park.

As Harry hurtled the park fence, he spared a glance behind himself. There was Snape, just leaving the alley with a red scrape on his right hand and cheek. Harry hit the ground at a run, no longer going full speed now that Snape was a good distance behind him. There was roughly an acre of overgrown forest in the center of the park, sectioned off as a habitat for wild birds and other things. When he reached the fence he threw himself at the ground, tucking his small frame into a ball. He rolled under the fence and down a short hill in a move that the roughly two meter tall professor could never dream of.

I'm free. I can do anything I want. They can't catch me. I'm lighter than air . . . Where is that music coming from? Harry opened his eyes and panicked. He was sixty meters off the ground and gaining, but could still see everything on the ground with perfect clarity. There was Professor Snape, trying to jump the tall habitat fence. Harry found he could steer when he tried, and managed to land on a nearby building. Harry looked back just as Snape made it to the top, with the aid of his wand and a levitation spell. Harry gave the man credit, the vertical slats of the fence were hard to scale. They were raised off the ground enough for small animals to get by easily enough, but anyone the professor's size who tried to get under them would get stuck halfway. I guess he won't risk getting stuck, though he is probably thin enough to . . . Ouch! That's got to sting.

A very creative string of curses was currently coming from a crumpled heap of black robes. When Snape went to jump down from the top of the high fence he landed with one foot in a hole made by some animal, twisting his left ankle at a severely unnatural angle. Harry watched in amusement and pity as Snape extracted a small vole from it's now destroyed home and began dissecting it. Tiny organs were sorted into vials, bones carefully laid out on a piece of scrap parchment.

Well, he seems occupied. It would be a shame to interrupt him during his . . . vengeance. Harry turned around, aware that his body wasn't moving normally. I need a mirror, but how do I walk when I have . . .claws? Where Dudley's rotten old trainers should have been, Harry saw two black claws. Three toes pointed forward and one back, with sharp little talons on the end. I didn't . . . I did! I'm an Animagi! I'm a bird! Wait . . . can I get back? Almost before he finished the thought, Harry was back to having opposable thumbs. He nearly fell off, but managed to climb over to the other side of the pointed roof.

Alright, I want to be a bird again. Nothing happened. Maybe I have to feel like a bird . . . Fresh air whipping past my face, freedom to go and do anything, I'm floating above it all. When Harry opened his eyes again he was perched on the rainspout, wings spread for flight. This is so cool! I can just fly around doing bird things and eating bird food all summer. This is so much better than going back in time and running off. No one knows I can do this, so I'm completely safe.

He took off, aiming for the clouds. For hours he spun and danced in the air, quickly mastering the subtle movements required for flight. He found updrafts, cross winds, and convection currents. The wind tossed him, but he remained in control, using the twisting wind rather than fighting it.

I'm hungry; I wonder what kind of food I like. Harry thought back to the dissected vole. Not meat, that's for sure. Is it grain then? Bread would be nice, but not exactly what I want. He glanced down and saw a large house on a hill, sprawling gardens filled the huge back yard, but Harry was fairly certain that the property extended well past the old cast iron fence. Must be some rich family. Perhaps they have a bird feeder or . . .Jackpot! In one of the patios in the large garden a tea set was displayed, ready for the owners to come and eat. The thing that caught Harry's eye was the small jar of strawberry jam. Berries were definitely on the menu. There were two place settings, but three chairs. Harry settled on the seat on the third chair to gauge his height. Still short, I shouldn't be surprised. Then again, I can see over the tabletop. Perhaps I'm not so small for a bird. Wow, what a wingspan! I can hug half this little table. What would that be, a meter or a little more? I've got quite a bit of black, but lots of brilliant green underneath. I can turn my head about ninety degrees to each side, and see things for miles. I still don't have the faintest idea what I am, though.

"Draco, I don't think you understand. Your father was caught red handed this time." Harry froze, he couldn't possibly have heard right.

"Mother, I thought Father had all sorts of contacts high up in the ministry. Surely he can get let off." He'd know that drawling voice anywhere. Harry was at Malfoy's house, sitting in Lucius' chair, thinking about eating their strawberry jam. Well, it did look like good jam. The Malfoys wouldn't have anything but the best, would they?

"They are pushing for full trials for all the accused. He can't bribe a vial of veritaserum, and we can't argue away a 'fair and speedy trial.' That werewolf is telling anyone who will stand still long enough about how innocent people can be convicted if things aren't handled properly." Good for Remus, he's hurting as much as I am. Harry pecked at the jam jar's lid.

"Then we get on his bandwagon. Father is innocent, and . . ."

"Draco, he isn't. He's as guilty as the Dark Lord himself." Can I get that in writing? Harry continued pecking at the slowly warping lid.

"Yes, well we know that, it doesn't mean they have to."

"They will know; they won't stop until they have an iron clad approach that will give the truth. Legilimency, veritaserum . . ." In other words, your dad is toast. Hey, is there some toast in one of these covered dishes?

"You can guard yourself from legilimency, and veritaserum only works for direct questions. If you don't know what questions to ask, it doesn't do you any good."

"Draco, they know all the questions they need. We can't argue with Lupin because he isn't saying guilty people will go free, he's saying innocent people will be locked up. He brings in much more support that way and I think he knows it. The day your father has a trial is the day we renounce him. We deny ever knowing and keep to ourselves. That includes leaving the Potter boy alone." The two blonds were getting close, but the twists in the garden path would keep them from seeing Harry for a few more moments.

"But Mother!" Draco whined. "Potter's the Gryffindor Seeker! I have to insult him, for the team. He's horrible, and only cares about himself. He's an insult to everything purebloods stand for. His very existence repulses me." Harry punched right through the jam lid when he heard that, splattering strawberries onto the glass tabletop. Good thing it's clean . . . Mmmmm, these taste good!

"Then get used to it. Lucius may have encouraged your rivalry, but it isn't politically safe. In fact I doubt it's good for your physical health, I heard some nasty things about what that boy and his friends managed to do. Don't forget that he taught those other kids to fight. I daresay he is much more dangerous now then he was before Umbrage was put in there. That plan was a total failure. Your father kept you in the dark much too often for my tastes. Did I tell you what one of his intercepted letters said?"

"You intercepted one of Potter's letters?"

"No, one of the Dark Lord's people did and sent a copy here for me to take to Lucius. I don't know why they need help deciphering it; I understood exactly what it meant." Narcissa Malfoy rounded the last corner into the patio, but turned around to look her son in the eye as she spoke. "He said that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. He now has a solid personal reason to go after the Death Eaters, since it appears he was much closer to his godfather than any of us knew. He is going to push himself to be the best he can. No more slacking off, no more putting quidditch before class, no more listening to your petty insults. He doesn't care about it anymore. If I know anything, Draco, it is that the Potter family has strength of will. He could and did defeat the Dark Lord when he was eleven years old, purely out of blind determination. He didn't even understand what he was doing, just that it had to be done and he was the only one available. That isn't luck, it happens much too often for it to be luck." Harry gobbled jam, knowing that any second Mrs. Malfoy would finish yelling at Draco and turn around.

I love jam, strawberry jam, lots of jam in a little jam jar. Apparently whatever type of bird he was happened to be prone to singing when happy. He couldn't remember ever making up songs about food in his head before. I have a jar, a jar of jam, strawberry jam in a little jam jar. Alright, he wasn't a great composer, but he didn't much care.

"Mother, look at the table!" Draco squawked.

"Quiet, Draco, don't you know what that is?"

"It's a bird eating our afternoon tea." Narcissa smacked the back of Draco's head.

"I wonder how you can be my son sometimes. You don't care about magical creatures at all. This is a Storm Phoenix." Harry choked when he heard that. "See the long green tail feathers with silver tips? No regular hawk has that. The long tail and huge wings give it stability even in the worst weather, and its small body cuts down on weight. It is brilliant green and silver underneath the black wings. Notice how little silver is on the tail. The more silver, the older the bird, so this must be a very young one." Harry wanted the description to continue, so he spread his wings and flapped a little. It felt so good to stretch, that he shivered as if tossing off water. "Amazing, they are usually shy and quick to attack."

"What do you mean, attack?"

"Storm Phoenixes can command lightning, though this one might be too young to do much. There isn't any silver at all on his breast, so he can't be very old at all."

"How can a phoenix be old, they live forever don't they?"

"Of course they don't. No animal is immortal, but they do live a very long time. For example: light phoenixes, the kind with red and gold feathers, live for around five hundred years. Not enough is known about their dark cousins to guess their life span, but it is longer than our own. They can bond with witches and wizards, and those that do sometimes follow their bonded into death. Those who do not just fly away and even the most dedicated avian enthusiast can't track them for long. They enjoy flying in the biggest storms and even dive into tornadoes and waterspouts for fun, so no broom could ever keep up."

"So we are going to let a baby bird eat our afternoon tea? Why can't we just shoo it away?" Harry ruffled his feathers a little at that, but started turning over the dish covers looking for toast or crumpets.

"They are very dangerous birds! Look at what he did to the lid of that jam jar, and not even a scratch on his beak. They can command thunder and wind, even call forth a storm when the fancy hits them. The more noble or elegant they appear the more powerful the magical creature tends to be. You should know that already from that incident with the hippogriff." So that's where the pastries were hiding. These ought to be more substantial than the jam, though I'm not sure I need it.

"Mother, it's ruining our tea."

"Hush, and be glad you have the opportunity to see one." Mrs. Malfoy ushered her son to a bench by the hedges and sat down.

Harry pecked the sticky pastry he had selected one more time. Alright, this isn't going down very well. Plain toast would be good, but this is too greasy. I don't want to make myself sick. He looked over at the awed woman and disgruntled son. She doesn't seem half bad, and she let me eat my fill. I also trashed her tea, but if she likes magical creatures so much I should be able to make it up to her. Harry stood on the back of the heavy cast iron chair and spread out his wings so the older woman could get a nice, long look. Then he flapped over to land on her knee, shocking her silent.

"Is it attacking?" Draco was white and cringing, pressed back as far into the of the bench as he could go. Harry crooned a little, his voice coming out as a cross between a flute and a harp. He fidgeted a little, looking for a comfy perch on the bony woman's lap.

"No. He is . . . that is I think he wants . . . he might be staying." Harry shook his head without thinking, and Draco gasped. "Alright, you understand us and you aren't going to stay. Why are you on my lap then?" Harry crooned again, flapped a little more, and was completely stumped. He didn't have the faintest idea how to communicate that she was allowed to examine him to her hearts content, so longs as things didn't get too invasive.

"I don't think it's going to answer you, mother." Harry turned sharply and glared a bit.

"I think you ought to watch yourself, Draco. This bird is a 'he' not an 'it.' He is a lovely Storm Phoenix." She very carefully raised her hand. "One of his kind saved Salazar Slytherin's life during a hailstorm. She perched on Salazar's head and spread her wings, protecting him as he flew to Hogsmeade the night before they started constructing Hogwarts." The aristocratic woman carefully pet Harry's back, as if he would take off a finger or two if she did anything amiss. "They are dark creatures, often called 'gale-birds' rather than their proper name. They have the same healing abilities of their cousins, light phoenixes. However, their song energizes rather than calms those who hear it. They also use their song to call storms, so the power behind the music is a real and dangerous thing." Harry nodded, hoping to encourage her to explain further. "This one seems intent on educating you."

"I'd rather have my afternoon tea."

"You could eat and listen, if that is alright with our guest." Harry flew back to Lucius' chair. A few minutes later Draco and Narcissa Malfoy had settled into their chairs and called a house elf to replace what had been pecked at. A half-hour later Harry realized that Mrs. Malfoy didn't have any other useful information. She knew about different wizards and witches who befriended the dangerous birds, when they lived and died, what the birds did for them, and what happened to the birds at the end of their owner's lives. She wasn't even sure if they had a burning day or were reborn only when injured. Harry thought about staying for a few days, but Draco's voice seemed to be permanently set to whiny brat mode. Not sure I could take that for days on end.

Harry took off, aiming north to Hogwarts. He hoped Hagrid wasn't off on a mission for the Order, since the lovable half-giant was sure to appreciate the appearance of a rare, dangerous magical creature. Though he wasn't all that dangerous, at least he didn't think so. He hadn't the faintest clue how to call forth a storm or flash lightning, but supposed it wouldn't matter to Hagrid. He might even use the time turner to stay on a week and be shown as a specimen for the class if all went well. Wouldn't it be wild to write an essay on myself? I'd definitely get full marks for it. It is supposed to be impossible to become a magical creature through any sort of self-transfiguration though. I guess I'll have to look it all up again and figure how I managed it.