Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling. No profit is being made on this piece of fanfiction, and no infringement on any copyright laws was intended in its publication. Thank you.

Summary: Dumbledore is at it again. He has found yet another way to cause chaos and mischief within the Hogwarts walls. This time, it involves an ancient mirror, soul mates, ballroom dancing, and Fawkes in human form. Can Harry survive the ordeal without forfeiting his identity to another? Can he defy the laws of nature and souls? Does he even want to?

Story Rating: (M)

Chapter Rating: (T)

Pairing: Fawkes/Harry

Warnings/Notes: Rated for language, violence and adult (sexual) content. This story contains spoilers up to OotP but not HBP and can thus be considered at least partly AU (basically: pre-HBP). The idea for this fic came to me before the sixth book came out, and I don't want to have to factor in the new information—it's too much work for me; I'm too lazy. Also, this will contain slash (male/male relationships). If this offends you, please turn around right now and leave. Also, there will be some Dumbledore bashing. It's not that I don't like the guy (I don't like his twinkle-eyes, as you will soon discover XD), but he's going to be a manipulative old man in this fic, okay? For anyone who is sill here…(listens to crickets chirping)…on with the fic!

Harry woke up with a feeling of euphoria. It was the September the first—the first day of his final year at Hogwarts. Today he would say goodbye to the Dursleys forever and begin to forge for himself a life of his own on his own and without the coercion of meddling old men dictating his life's coarse. This year, Harry would take a stand for his personal rights and live as he deemed fit. Dumbledore would never again make decisions for Harry's personal life. Nope, there was absolutely no way Harry was going to let Dumbledore control his life again this year. No way in hell…

"Welcome to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, everyone," Dumbledore said cheerfully, eyes twinkling madly. "This year we will be hosting a very special occasion: the Soul-Bound Ball." Several gasps were heard from the Ravenclaws and the purebloods, all of who were very familiar with the title. Harry and the others just stared blankly. Dumbledore proceeded to explain, "Do not feel bad if you do not understand. This is a very rare event—if my memory serves correct, it has been just over seventy years since the last Soul-Bound Ball—and has usually only been performed on a small, family-size scale.

"The process is quite simply, actually. The Mirror of Souls will be brought in by its rightful owner—an old friend of mine, might I add—and each student will look into the mirror. They will see their Soul Mate within the glass reflection. After they have seen their Life-mate, they have until the night of the ball to reveal it to each other (if they do not, then there will be severe consequences over which we have no control), and they will naturally attend together as a couple. By the first year after their Hogwarts education is completed, the pair must, err… consecrate the match. I will have no complaint—this is much more reasonable than the original contract, which was to be sealed immediately after the Ball. Fifth years and above will be participating. This month it will begin with the fifth years, and in two days the sixths years, and by the end of the week we will finish with our seventh years.

Do not fret, students, it is a very joyous time. The Mirror of Souls has never been mistaken. Accept these times with a light heart. You will be spared from great emotional turmoil if you listen to the Mirror's wisdom and will live a life of happily ever after if circumstances allow."

Harry stared at the headmaster in absolute horror. No way. No bloody way. He couldn't do this! Dumbledore had no right, the meddling old coot! And yet, there he was, finding new ways to control and ruin Harry's life. But that wasn't even the best part! No, the icing on the cake was that insufferable twinkle. As if destroying the last shred of hope for freedom and independence Harry possessed wasn't bad enough! No, Dumbledore had the nerve to stand there and twinkle at him afterwards!

The week crawled by at an agonizingly slow pace. Harry watched as more and more upperclassmen went to Dumbledore's office nervous but still composed only to return either elated or in hysterical tears. Today, the sixth years were being paired off. Colin had been rather upset, mumbling to himself about his partner not looking enough like the wonderful, fabulous, heroic Harry Potter—that had been disturbing, to say the least. Luna had stared dreamily into space as usual, a slight blush of delight touching her cheeks. Ginny, however, was the case that really struck a nerve. She entered the Common room sobbing loudly and would not be consoled by anyone. It took the house the better part of an hour to find out that she was the soul-mate of Draco Malfoy. Harry truly felt sorry for the girl, and his own stomach churned at the thought of Malfoy doing anything with his surrogate sister. Harry was definitely not looking forward to his own trip to the Headmaster's office.

However, the time finally came for the seventh year Gryffindors to be matched. They were the last ones, and had watched with growing dread as the seventh year Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs, and Slytherins all had their worlds crumble to pieces in the span of a day. Harry exchanged looks with Ron and Hermione. They were nervous, too, but not nearly to the same extent as Harry. After all, everything always went amuck with his life. If something bad were going to happen, it would happen to him at the most inopportune moment, and then Dumbledore would just twinkle.

McGonagall escorted a weeping Parvati Patil down from the Headmaster's office with a weary sigh. "Mr. Weasley, you're next!" she snapped, her tone more irritable than usual. Ron winced and hurried over to her side, glancing back at his friends with the look of a man about to face his death.

"Poor Ron," Harry said.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "He'll be fine. I don't see why everyone is making such a big deal out of this—well, Ginny has a reason but she's the exception. It is a good idea and will strengthen our magic by combining with our partner's."

Harry shrugged, a sour expression on his face. "This is just part of Dumbledore's plot to enslave me."

"Oh, please, no more of your conspiracy theories! They're rubbish and I will hear no more of them!"

Harry frowned. "They're not rubbish! They're true! Every year, a series of events unfolds that climaxes in my near-demise, and after I go through the crazy ordeal and wake up in the hospital wing, Dumbledore shows up, practically confesses he's been manipulating me and keeping secrets from me, and then he twinkles! Twinkles! I don't know who's got it in for me more—Voldemort or Dumbledore! Why don't you—" Harry stopped talking when Ron came out stunned speechless but seemingly pleased nonetheless.

"Well?" they asked. Ron colored slightly and mumbled incoherently under his breath. "Sorry, didn't catch that," Hermione said.

"Um…ah…uh, well…"

"Oh, just spit it out already!" Harry snapped.

"It's Hermione," Ron admitted. Hermione and Ron both went red at the confession and Harry smirked. He wasn't really surprised, considering the way those two always acted around each other. They were already like an old married couple as it was. This would give them a much-needed nudge in the right direction.

"Harry Potter," McGonagall said, her tone softening slightly for her favorite pupil. Harry didn't spare his friends a glance as he walked with false confidence towards the staircase leading to Dumbledore's office. McGonagall put a reassuring hand on his should as they ascended.

Dumbledore was beaming widely at Harry when the teen entered the room alone. He had requested McGonagall wait outside. One conniving old professor was bad enough; he didn't think he could handle two.

"Ah, welcome, Harry, welcome. Fine day, isn't it my boy? Fine day indeed…"

"Can we please get this over with, Sir?" Harry said impatiently. He was quickly directed over to the mirror by a much more somber Headmaster, whose eyes had thankfully dimmed considerably at Harry's coldness. Harry peered into the glass and watched as his reflection was replaced by the image of the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.

It was male, and that was a surprise enough on its own. It appeared to be human upon first glance, but there were shimmering feathers mixed in with its hair. The young male, no older than Harry in appearance, had hair the color of fire, and it seemed to glow like flames. He had fiery golden eyes, perfect alabaster skin, and sharp human facial features. He was wearing strange baggy pants and slippers, garments that vaguely resembled an Arabian costume but made of much finer and more magical materials. He wore no top but an open vest, leaving a slender but toned torso uncovered for Harry to see. The creature had a mischievous gleam in its golden eyes that set Harry's insides ablaze with excitement and desire. Who and what was this embodiment of beauty before him? Harry absolutely needed to know!

Dumbledore, who was watching Harry carefully, was very curious as to who would match the boy's strange magical aura. He wished he could see whom the teen was staring at so intently, but alas he could not—if he tried he would only see the image of his own soul-mate. Harry finally turned to look at him and to Dumbledore's surprise there was a look of great satisfaction on the young man's face, along with a hint of confusion and curiosity. The boy was pleased. Very pleased. Who could have made Harry Potter so content with a situation he'd undoubtedly found cruelly unfair only moments before?

"Professor Dumbledore, Sir," Harry said. "I was unaware that wizards could have Creature soul-mates." Dumbledore frowned. They couldn't, not unless they wielded unimaginable power. Such a case was unheard of. Then again, Harry did possess an inordinate amount of raw magic and a knack for defying natural laws. "This divine creature cannot possibly be human, Sir. It's too indescribably beautiful. Powerful, too," Harry added.

"Then you have never seen this person—ah, creature, rather—before?" Harry shook his head. "Is it male or female?"

Harry blushed. "Male, Sir." He looked at the mirror and his gaze darkened. "Most definitely male."

Dumbledore coughed. "Are there any identifying characteristics? Perhaps fangs or Veela charm…"

Harry shook his head. "No, he's charming alright, but it's not Veelan charm…" He stared for a moment longer. "He has feathers and radiant features—like molten flames."

Dumbledore's eyes widened. "Feathers, you say?" He glanced over at Fawkes, who was sitting on his perch trilling as chipper as always. In fact, Fawkes had been more cheerful than usual as of late. Perhaps…

Harry followed the Headmaster's gaze and stiffened. "Sir, you cannot possibly think—"

"Perhaps it would be best to ask our dear friend before jumping to conclusions," Dumbledore suggested, and the two approached the Headmaster's desk cautiously. "If you are his soul-mate, then you must either have or develop the ability to communicate with the Phoenix species, Harry. Give it a try."

Harry nodded uneasily and turned to Fawkes, who was chirping and singing harmlessly. "Um… Fawkes, do you understand what I'm saying?" He looked at Fawkes, who was staring blankly at him, no longer singing but apparently not understanding. He glanced at Dumbledore and shook his head, shrugging in defeat. "Maybe I was mistaken. I'll look in the mirror again." Before he could take even one step toward the mirror, Fawkes began a loud, animated trill. The chirping sounds slowly turned into words. Harry froze and turned back, staring at the phoenix with a blank look that mirrored the one the bird had worn only seconds earlier. He glanced at Dumbledore curiously, but the Headmaster had seemed not to notice anything unusual.

"Did… did you just—"

"Ah, so you can understand me after all. I had begun to wonder if it were merely a figment of my imagination, or perhaps sheer chance, that I had heard a phoenix trill overlapping your human words," the bird said enthusiastically.

Harry blinked several times. "What—do you mean you can understand what I'm saying right now?" he asked, incredulous.

Fawkes leered at him, clearly amused. "Yes, that's exactly what I am saying. It is untrained and muddled, but it is still phoenix-tongue. I am very impressed, Harry Potter."

Harry shifted uneasily and wet his lips. "Is there a chance that you have a human form?" he inquired, getting straight to the point. The phoenix tilted its head to the side contemplatively.

"Perhaps," he said. "I have never attempted to assume a humanoid form. It is possible—just as it is possible for a human to assume an Animagus form. Possible, but improbable without sufficient practice. Why?"

"Perhaps that was the wrong question. Let me rephrase: Is it possible that you and I are soul-mates?"

Fawkes trilled delightedly. "Yes. Quite possible, young Harry Potter."

"Well, is it true or isn't it?" Harry growled, feeling frustrated by the creatures uncooperative attitude.

Fawkes let out another round of jovial trills, which Harry assumed could be equated to laughter. "Yes, yes. It is quite true, Harry. But do not be alarmed. I will treat you well," he assured the teen.

Harry gave the bird a hard stare. "I don't believe you."

"Not yet, perhaps, but when I assume a human form, will you be able to deny it?" Harry recalled the enticing image from the mirror and turned deep red. He could not believe that the sinfully appealing young man from the mirror was the same as the irritating bird perched on the stand a meter in front of him. And he would eventually have to…consecrate…the pairing with Fawkes. His face turned even redder and he turned away in mortification. Why did strange things always happen to him? Why couldn't he just be an ordinary wizard?

"Because you are anything but ordinary, Harry. You are extraordinary. You are magnificent. You are in the minority. Only the greatest of wizards can pair with a Magical Creature." Harry stared at Fawkes in shock. Could he hear Harry's thoughts? "No, not thoughts. I suppose it is done subconsciously. You broadcast your thoughts in high-pitch trills. Ordinary humans cannot even hear them, but a phoenix such as myself can easily pick up on them. You must work on controlling yourself lest I should hear everything that enters your pretty little head."

Harry turned, if possible, an even deeper shade of red that put the Weasley hair to shame. "Thank you for the advice," he said curtly, too embarrassed to say anything more sophisticated.

"Harry?" Dumbledore prodded gently. Harry nodded imperceptibly, refusing to meet the old man's eyes.

"Well, I've confirmed everything with my soul-mate. At least that is out of the way," he mumbled. "May I go now, Sir? I have some things to sort out." Dumbledore nodded, his wizened features etched with concern for the boy. Harry walked slowly toward the exit, pausing only glance at the Mirror one final time before slipping out of sight.

Dumbledore looked sadly at his long-time companion. "Please be gentle with him, Fawkes. That boy has already suffered so much…" he trailed off sorrowfully, knowing that Fawkes couldn't understand his words, but praying that his tone conveyed his message clearly.

Minerva McGonagall had waited patiently at the top of the stairs for Harry and was quite surprised to see him leave the room with his shoulders slumped and a despondent look on his face. Surely it couldn't have gone that badly, she thought as she escorted back to his friends.

"Harry, mate, how'd it go?" Ron asked immediately.

Harry glared vehemently at his friend. "How do you think it went, Ron? It went, that's for sure. I'm Harry Potter; things never go too well for me, now do they?"

Ron paled. "It's not… You-Know-Who, is it? Or worse—it isn't Snape, right?" Hermione whacked him over the head.

"You idiot! Of course it's not! Dumbledore would never allow something like that to happen."

"Well then who is it?" Ron said.

Harry blushed. "An angel."

His friends looked at him incredulously. "No, seriously mate, who is it?"

"A creature too beautiful to be human."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Harry, I'm glad you like the girl, but can you stop fawning over her beauty and tell us who she is?"

"It is a Creature, and yes, Hermione, I know that for certain. A little bird told me it was so." With that, he scuttled down the corridor before his friends could question him further.