Author's Note: Here's a little post NANA cookie (that I've been promising for ages). For those intrigued about the timeline, it's later that same winter. Enjoy! And a special thanks to Wishweaver, for her kind beta 'enhancements'. Thanks! ;-) ::waves to Nicky in China:: See! Reading material for the trip. ::g::
Disclaimer: Not mine. Alack.
Make a Joyful Noise
"What, Harry? What am I looking at?" Sirius asked as he glanced around the greenhouse. It was snowing; the day's surreal brightness making the surrounding plants and blooms seem much more lush and vibrant against the stark, white background outside.
Harry had insisted they both join him there after lunch with a mischievous gleam in his eye. During the meal, Sirius had tried several times to get his godson to tell him what the meeting was about, but every time he asked, Harry would smile brightly and say, "It's a surprise!"
"What is it?" he'd finally demanded impatiently, as he settled on the conservatory bench beside Remus. Harry had been practically bouncing off the walls since breakfast.
"If I tell you, it isn't a surprise, is it?" Harry teased.
"I don't like surprises," Sirius finally grumbled, but without real emotion. While it was true that Sirius had good reason to be wary of surprises, he'd make an exception for anything that made Harry this excited.
"You'll like this one. I promise," Harry replied.
Harry was normally such a solemn, quiet lad that this unaccustomed buoyancy made Sirius cautiously optimistic. It was the best sign yet that Harry's recovery would be more than physical, and the Dementors' effects were beginning to fade, even if very gradually. Although he still couldn't sleep without lights, and his nightmares insured he got less than three or four hours of solid sleep a night, he was getting better.
So, as Remus and Sirius sat on the bench in the cobblestone courtyard center that separated the different sections of the glasshouse, Remus smiled warmly.
"What did you want to show us?" Remus asked. He'd been much more patient than Sirius and had spent the majority of the morning weeding and collecting flora specimens for Professor Sprout. Harry took a deep breath, as if bracing himself, then blurted, "I want you to promise that you won't freak out."
"Uh oh," Sirius said. Remus elbowed him.
"It's nothing bad, honest!" Harry said earnestly.
"What is it, Harry? Is it something you're afraid to tell us?" Remus asked, throwing Sirius a quelling look.
"You can tell us anything, you know that, right?" Sirius asked, growing confused. Harry didn't appear distressed… In fact, he looked quite pleased with himself. Why would he want their promise not to get upset?
"No, no. It's nothing bad," Harry said, his eyes shining. "Actually, it's really cool. It's amazing!" he continued with such emphasis that it was clear what he really meant was, 'It's bloody amazing!'
"We promise, right Padfoot?" Remus asked, his eyes showing he expected agreement. Sirius nodded quickly.
"Absolutely," he said, and knew Remus would smack him upside the head when he realized he was crossing his fingers. He never claimed to be mature.
Seeming satisfied, Harry grinned at them again, then his expression stilled. For a fleeting moment Sirius wondered if Harry noticed his crossed fingers, then his godson's eyes grew distant as he began to concentrate.
Only the gentle burble of running water broke the utter silence in the greenhouse. Even the more aggressive plants seemed unusually subdued. Sirius turned his attention turned back to Harry with rising concern when he realized that, as he watched, his godson's shape seemed to blur.
"Harry?" Sirius asked in alarm. Remus put a hand on his elbow to silence him.
"Don't distract him," Remus murmured.
Harry's shape and form morphed, shortened, and began to sharpen in odd angles, his skin brightening in color until Sirius realized he was looking at blazing red… plumage?
"Harry?" Sirius asked again, utterly stunned. He knew his jaw hung open, and vaguely realized Remus was leaning forward on the bench studying Harry intently.
"Are you okay?" Remus finally asked. Cheerful chirps were his reply. Several more twitters that modulated in tone indicated that Harry wasn't finished, either, and as he raised first one wing, and then the other with a brief chirrup, Sirius realized what he'd most likely asked. Well? Did it work?
"Great Merlin, Harry. You're a phoenix," Sirius breathed. Harry's chest puffed a bit in pride. "Do you feel okay?" he asked after a moment, trying to regroup. Harry bobbed his head then spread his wings, twittering excitedly as his wings beat down and he surged into the air.
"Wait! Is that such a good idea?" Sirius panicked as he automatically reached out to try to stop him, but Harry was already airborne, circling overhead and singing merrily away.
Too stunned to properly react, Sirius soon felt all his doubts and fears about the wisdom of this activity melt away. He couldn't take his eyes off the carefree bird, as playful and at ease in the air as a fish in water. This truly was Harry's element. Or elements, Sirius amended. Air and fire. Even the brief flash of the memory of the spell that destroyed Voldemort only reinforced that image.
Sirius' greatest fear was that someday Harry would slip away, too good for the world and the people in it. His greatest struggle was to keep from smothering Harry in his desperate need to keep him safe and protected.
As Harry effortlessly glided from one rafter to another, practically vibrating with enthusiasm and the pure unadulterated pleasure of flight, Sirius suddenly knew with certainty that Harry could recover from Azkaban. He would recover. It would just take patience and time.
"You know, I think that's the most he's said in weeks," Remus observed dryly, but his eyes were bright… Almost suspiciously so. Sirius nodded, not trusting himself to speak, his attention still riveted on the cavorting Phoenix.
Something about the call of the Phoenix made Sirius' heart nearly burst with happiness. If Harry's fragile smile could light up a room, his exultant birdsong became a beacon, lighting up even the darkest places with overwhelming hope and love.
As he listened to Harry's song, Sirius felt true peace for the first time in nearly fifteen years. In just a few precious minutes, Sirius realized that true healing might be possible not just for his godson, but for himself. Even if it only lasted for the length of Harry's transformation, it was more than he'd dared to hope for. He might have wept with relief if Harry hadn't come swooping down at that precise moment..
::?:: Harry warbled as he finally fluttered down to stand before Sirius and Remus. While Sirius didn't understand it as a word, he did understand the question in Harry's tone, and wondered if this wasn't the same type of communication Dumbledore seemed to have with Fawkes.
"Magnificent," Remus said, and oddly enough, he laughed. "You truly are meant to fly," he continued, scooting off the bench and kneeling before Harry. Harry held his head high, then accommodatingly turned in a circle, allowing Remus to inspect him closely.
"Remarkable," Remus muttered, clearly more to himself than anyone else. "Absolutely astonishing. I've seen Fawkes up close of course, but look at this… May I?" Remus asked as he hesitantly reached out to touch Harry's feathers. Harry bobbed his head again, which looked awkward because his neck folded oddly upon itself even as he watched Remus' hand slowly come closer.
All at once it struck Sirius how very birdlike his godson already was; ever watchful and ready to take flight at a moment's notice. That was probably why it took so long for him to completely unpack his trunk. Unconsciously, Harry was ensuring that he'd be prepared to leave at a moment's notice.
It showed in the way Harry played Quiddich with supernatural grace; in the way he ate (although Sirius blamed the Dursleys more for that), how lightweight his body frame was… All the signs were there, just as they had been for Sirius when he'd first become an Animagus.
"I assume these transformations have been sanctioned by Dumbledore?" Sirius asked, suppressing the irritation he felt at the headmaster for continuing to keep secrets, even after all that had happened.
"Don't be upset with Albus, Sirius. I think Harry wanted to surprise you," Remus murmured, as Harry awkwardly approached Sirius, fluffing his feathers and fluttering up to sit beside him on the bench.
::?:: Harry asked, tilting his head to the side, his eyes solemn.
"I'm not upset. You're feeling okay, though, right? Not tired or anything?" Sirius asked, almost laughing out loud at Harry's response. He'd never seen a phoenix roll their eyes before. It was disconcerting, to say the least. Then, as gradually as the phoenix appeared, Harry returned in its place.
"I get winded, and it's a bit tiring," he reported thoughtfully, "but Dumbledore feels that the benefits of my Animagus form outweighs that…as long as I do it prudently." Harry regarded his guardians soberly for a moment, then the ebullient boyishness returned. "So did I have all my feathers? What did you think?" Sirius pulled him into a hug.
"You were brilliant, of course," he replied.
"You always say that," Harry grumbled, but it was playfully, and even though Sirius couldn't see his face, he knew Harry was smiling.
"I've never heard of an Animagus being a magical creature… What did Dumbledore say about that?" Remus asked, then frowned and glanced around him with startled eyes.
"What?" Sirius said, feeling the hackles on the back of his neck begin to rise. Unconsciously he prepared to shift into Padfoot at the slightest hint of danger, then grimaced in annoyance as he reminded himself he wasn't in Azkaban anymore, and that a wand would be much more useful.
"Look at the plants," Remus breathed in shock. Sirius let Harry sit back up and they both looked around them with wide eyes. While many sections of the greenhouse were being carefully cultivated by Remus, others had been left alone to be tended to at a later date. After all, one wizard (with two fair-weather helpers) could only do so much.
Now, however, all of the greenhouse was in bloom… Even those plants that only bloomed at night, or during the full moon were blossoming as though they too were singing in full throated glory.. Plants that just minutes before had been withered stalks now were vibrantly alive, some flowering, others heavy with fruits and pods.
"Merlin! If Professor Sprout finds out about this, I don't think we'll ever see Harry again," Remus remarked.
Hah! Just let her try! Sirius thought, glancing at his godson again. Harry, he noted, stood, looking winded, disheveled, and thoroughly pleased with himself. "I told you it was cool," the boy said, grinning. "That was fun, but now I'm starved."
Sirius almost made a joke, but decided at the last moment to refrain from teasing. An appetite was something Harry didn't typically have much of, and it would be just his luck for the boy to take it as a subtle rebuke. Instead he playfully gestured with a hand for Harry to lead the way, and followed along deep in thought. There were so many questions he wanted to ask Moony… Harder questions about the full ramifications of what being a phoenix Animagus meant, but for now, he squashed any doubts and fears and reveled in Harry's buoyant spirits.
"Are you going to register?" Remus asked idly as they followed Harry towards the house.
"Not likely. Why would I do that?" Harry asked, clearly torn between being shocked and laughing.
"It's illegal not to," Remus reminded gently. Sirius snorted.
"What are they going to do? Press charges against The Destroyer of Voldemort?" Sirius asked. Harry stopped in his tracks.
"What was that?" he asked, his voice thick.
"Brilliant, Sirius," Remus growled, then gently lay a hand on Harry's shoulder. "It's what they're calling you now."
"They're saying his name?" Harry asked, stunned. Remus and Sirius both nodded.
"They even print it in the newspaper. People still stutter when they say it, even on the Wizard Wireless, but at least they're trying," Sirius said. A dark look in Harry's eyes made Sirius think he'd completely damaged all the good Harry's transformation had done, but as quickly as the expression appeared, it passed.
"Hah!" Harry said, as if he'd won an argument or been proven right before resuming his trek towards snacks.
"Hah?" Remus asked, bewildered. Harry spun on his heel and looked them both in the eye with a wild smile.
"I'm not a Boy any more," he said with satisfaction. Sirius pursed his lips at the statement, torn between a deep seated wish that Harry could be again and wondering if he truly ever had been.
"Let's get him inside before his head gets any bigger. It might not fit through the door," Sirius teased, inwardly rejoicing when Harry turned and stuck out his tongue in response.
Later that night, when Harry went to sleep, Sirius planned to have a long talk with Dumbledore about a lot of things (like still keeping secrets regarding Harry). Then he was going to have a small panic attack about what being a phoenix Animagus (Burning Days – Did anyone think about that?!) meant with Moony, but for now he was going to relax and watch Dobby stuff his godson full of food.
Today had been a good day. The best in a long time, but Sirius knew they still had a long way to go. Harry was entirely too adept at hiding negative emotions, but now they'd been given a way to help, and a way Harry could help himself.
James, he's getting better. He's so bloody amazing. You would be so proud. And while he knew he and Moony could never replace James and Lily, for Harry, they were enough, and that was all that mattered.