Title: Destined to fade
Summary: At first it was just a dream – or so he thought. Then it became real. As Harry found himself on the outskirts of Spinners end, he decided to swallow his pride and ask for help.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Warnings:Spoilers for all the books. Mention of slash pairing. Creature!Harry. Reference to non-con and paedophilia
Author's Note:In this fic, Harry had to return to the Dursley's after the final battle to ensure that the blood protection would last until all the death eaters had been rounded up.
Destined to fade
He was walking from Madam Malkin's towards the Leaky Cauldron after spending the better part of the afternoon in various shops around the alley.
A soft whistling sound reached his ears but even as he surreptitiously looked around, he could not find the source of the whistling. The sound did not grow in volume but for some reason he got the impression that it did increase in strength – as if more than one person or item was whistling.
As panic set in, Harry hurried his footsteps but before he could reach his destination, strange warmth enveloped him and he knew no more.
Sitting up with a gasp, Harry looked around his room wildly before plopping back onto his bed. He was at the Dursley's, as he was each summer but he consoled himself with the knowledge that this would be his last.
This was the second time he woke up from such a nightmare although the first one had him returning from the Burrow after a Sunday lunch where this same warmth surrounded him and he then woke up in his bed at the Dursley's.
Harry was pretty sure that it was only a dream because it certainly felt like he just woke up from a nightmare but as he looked around his room, he could see the packages he bought in Diagon Alley scattered on the floor and could not remember how he got home or into bed. For that matter, he was still in the same clothes as the day before!
Heaving a great sigh and extricating himself from the bedding, he pulled out some new clothes for the day and set out for a shower.
There was something seriously wrong with him. He felt light headed and nauseous this morning and after finally acknowledging that what happened to him might not in fact have been a dream, he was more than a little freaked out.
Drying his hair with a towel, Harry quickly mopped up any excess water on the floor – his aunt would take a pan to his head if she found the place anything less than pristine. After brushing his teeth, Harry made his way towards the kitchen where he began preparations for breakfast, knowing that his uncle and cousin would be down in twenty minutes.
The smell of eggs, toast and pork sausages made his stomach growl and Harry carefully listened for any noise that would indicate that the rest of the residents were up and about. Hearing nothing, Harry swiftly took a piece of toast and a sausage and devoured it within a minute.
Leaving the rest of the food out in the precise way his aunt expected of him, Harry exited out the back door and made his way toward the park.
It was a truly beautiful day and the soft chirping of birds accompanied Harry as he strolled down the road.
The whistling sound he remembered from his dreams now reached his ears and Harry stopped in his tracks. This was not normal. Hearing sounds and finding yourself back in your bed with no knowledge of how you got there was NOT normal, even by Wizarding standards.
The sound intensified and Harry clasped his ears as he felt the warmth envelop him.
The feeling of grass tickled his nose and Harry opened his eyes to the deep blue sky. This time, he did not wake to find himself in his bed but instead found himself outside a familiar looking home in a muggle neighbourhood.
Spinner's end looked just as Harry remembered it. Snape had survived Nagini's bite after Hermione had quickly and efficiently forced a Bezoar down his throat when she came upon Harry in the shack. Although it had been more than two months since the final battle, Harry had not seen Snape in person after receiving the memories that changed everything for him.
His testimony at Snape's trial had ensured that the whole truth was revealed and Severus Snape had been hailed as a true war hero and been rewarded with an 'Order of Merlin: Second Class' as well as a 'Thank you' gift of one million gallons.
Harry shakily got to his feet, fighting back the nausea and dizziness as he slowly made his way towards the front door of his once most hated professor.
Gathering up all the courage his house was so famous for, Harry knocked on the door.
He could hear the scraping of a chair and soft footfalls before the door was wrenched open with a disgruntled What!
Looking into Severus Snape's face Harry had to work hard to keep his expression blank. The man in front of him did not look like the Professor Harry remembered from his school years. The man's hair fell in silky waves to his shoulders and although Harry could see a faint oily sheen to it, it was not nearly as greasy as he remembered.
The man's face was not lined with stress and vows to keep but was relaxed except for the sneer that crossed it as soon as Snape recognised him.
"Er.. well, I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing here professor, but…"
"Good, then get back on your way to wherever you came from."
The door closed with a snap and Harry stared with resignation at it. He knew better than to expect the man to help him. Knew better than to expect help from anyone really – except maybe Ron and Hermione, they would help whenever they could.
Repressing the desire to kick the bastard's door in, Harry heaved a sigh and turned back, hoping that the Night bus would answer his call all the way out here.
As he disembarked back on Privet Drive, Harry wondered once again what exactly was wrong with him. Although he had not yet recognised any other side effects from whatever was happening to him, he did not think that first dreaming and then actually experiencing these things was the worst that would happen.
Harry cringed as his uncle opened the door with a furious face and knew that tonight would be a VERY long night.
Not having access to the Hogwarts library was a huge obstacle in Harry's quest for knowledge. Asking Hermione what she now did when she needed to do research would spark too many questions that Harry was not yet ready to answer.
The local library in Surrey had proved useless in his quest and Harry now found his way towards London with the hope that the muggle library there would yield more answers.
His luck was actually holding as he found that the public library had a wizarding section above the muggle library and Harry made his way there with his hopes rising.
He did not know exactly what he was searching for but concluded that it would either be in a medical book or a book on creatures. He was pretty sure than normal wizards and witches could not do this to him but maybe a creature could? After all, a basilisk could kill with a single look. What's to say that a creature could not transport someone from one place to another without their consent?
The medical books he found was fewer in numbers than the creature books so Harry looked through them first.
After a week of commuting back and forth to London, Harry was getting very despondent. He had not found anything with even the slightest similarity to what was happening to him in any of the medical books. He was about a quarter through the creature books now and vowed to himself that if he did not find anything after perusing all the creature books he would enlist Hermione's help.
The librarian gave him a smile as he entered, having gotten used to seeing him every day for the last week.
He found the book he was last browsing through and continued where he stopped the day before.
A section in the book about Phoenixes caught his attention and Harry read through it quickly. The description of what a phoenix went through before learning control was very similar to what Harry went through and he felt relief at finally finding something that could explain what he was going through.
Apparently there was a phoenix out there that wanted to transport him from place to place – but why?
"Fawkes?" Harry called softly as he gingerly sat on the bed. He'd arrived home after his uncle and the consequence was a thorough lashing over his backside.
A bright flash heralded the arrival of the magnificent phoenix and Harry gave a pleased smile at seeing the bird.
"Hey Fawkes. I'm glad you came when I called, I wasn't sure if it would work or not…"
Fawkes gave a little trill and Harry's spirit lifted a bit.
"I've been having some trouble recently and hoped you would be able to help. You see, I've been waking up in my bed after what felt like a nightmare where I hear a whistling in my ear before a warm feeling surrounds me and I blank out. I've read in a book that something similar to this happens to young phoenixes – are you doing this to me, or another phoenix?"
Harry felt a right idiot talking to the bird but having no other leads, thought it was his best chance in finding an answer.
Fawkes looked hard at him before giving a short trill and shaking his head – Harry was fairly sure it was the shake of a head.
"Oh, well, thanks Fawkes, guess it is back to the books now."
Fawkes gave another little trill and shake of his head before giving a mournful trill at not being able to give a more understandable answer.
"What is it Fawkes? Am I wrong to go back to researching?"
Another trill and shake with a mournful echo and Harry didn't even know which question Fawkes was trying to answer anymore.
"Thanks again Fawkes. I'll work it out eventually, I always do."
Harry's despondent tone elicited another uplifting trill from the phoenix that bent his head to rub Harry's cheek before lifting up and flashing away.
"Great! What am I going to do now?"
The fourth time it happened Harry was actually at the Dursley's, recovering in his room from another night with his uncle. The whistling sound came as a surprise, never having happened while he was at the Dursley's and as the warmth surrounded him, Harry could not help but wonder where he would end up this time.
The feeling of grass tickling his nose made Harry snap his eyes open before he sighed in relief at not finding himself outside Snape's house once again. No, this time it seemed he'd been transported to the edge of Hogwarts's wards.
The dizziness overwhelmed him for a moment and Harry fell to his knees. It seemed that every time this thing happened it worsened the side effects and Harry feared that if he could not find a way to control it soon, he might one day just not wake up.
He quickly placed an advanced glamour on his back before trudging up to the school.
Madam Pomfrey was very surprised to see him and as Harry explained his situation and his theory about why this was happening, the matron gave a surprised gasp before rushing over to the fireplace and calling Professor McGonagall.
There was a hushed conversation that Harry couldn't hope to follow and a moment later, the Headmistress was stepping through the fire.
"Mr Potter! Good to see you again. Although I had hoped that you would break free of your habit of ending up in the infirmary every second month or so!"
It was an exaggeration but Harry still flushed at the truth of her words.
"From what Madam Pomfrey tells me Mr Potter, it seems you are coming into a magical inheritance. It is very rare indeed that a new phoenix is born but there are enough references to guide us through the next few months."
"Now, now, no need to look so alarmed Mr Potter! You will not just suddenly turn into a phoenix and vanish off the face of the earth. A phoenix is born every couple centuries and although it is transformed from a human, the human – in this case, you – lives out a full and happy life on earth before taking the form of the phoenix permanently after death. It is rumoured that the phoenix lose most of its memories from its human life, otherwise the pain might be too much to bear for such an immortal creature."
Harry was taking in great gulps of air and trying in vain to stop his panic attack. It was all a bit too much for him to take in and his vision darkened until he knew no more.
After two days of enforced rest in the hospital wing, Harry made his way towards McGonagall's office. The gargoyles opened up for him before he could start guessing at a password and Harry could do no more than give them a grateful smile.
"Ah, Mr Potter. Come in, come in, would you like some tea?"
Harry actually waited for the "Lemon drop" offer before remembering that this was McGonagall and not Dumbledore.
Harry took the tea and sat back with a sigh. Madam Pomfrey had said that the Headmistress would have some answers to his questions and he just hoped that would be the case.
"I know you have a lot of questions Harry, but first drink your tea, I put a mild calming draught in it to keep any panic attacks at bay as this might cause you quite a bit of distress."
Harry wondered if the Headmistress knew that those words probably induced more of a panic attack than what she still had to tell him. Shaking the thoughts from his head, Harry quickly downed the drink before he blacked out again.
"Now, as I told you in the infirmary. A phoenix is born as a human and after he/she dies, they permanently transforms into a phoenix. There is one thing that could cause a human-phoenix's death however and that is the phoenix's mate. Every phoenix has a destined mate while they are human, to help them gain control of their powers and to smooth the transformation into phoenix form the first time. While a human-phoenix can still take the form of a phoenix, it is not permanent and they usually spend most of their times as human as it is the most comfortable form while containing human emotions and thoughts. A phoenix's mind, while not quite as advanced as that of a human, is more complex and most prefer to stay human while they can."
Harry nodded to show he understood as McGonagall paused in her explanation.
"What you are experiencing now is the mating call. It is your phoenix form reaching out to your mate or if it can't find your mate, to wherever you know you are safe – whether from magical attacks or another form doesn't matter. The first time it happened, you were out in the open and since there are still Death Eaters at large, your phoenix form transported you back into the safety of the blood wards at the Dursley's. The same thing happened the second time. The third time, I'm not certain why it decided on Severus's place and not your relatives…
Were you having a disagreement with them before you went to the park?"
Harry thought about it and had to shake his head. No, he had not argued with anybody that day but on the other hand, he had a lashing the previous evening so maybe his subconscious – or rather, his phoenix form – decided not to send him back there.
That his phoenix side sent him to Snape did not come as a huge surprise. He trusted the man more than he did most other people and it made sense that he ended up there.
"Well, we'll figure that out later. The last time it brought you here as you've always viewed Hogwarts as your home and you feel safe here. I must warn you though Mr Potter, it will get progressively worse and happen more often."
Harry nodded again but could not help but wish that the Headmistress would come to a point, specifically, the point about him having a mate!
"As I've said, you have a mate and your phoenix form is trying to find him/her. The recorded cases of a phoenix's birth all come to the same conclusion – if you do not find your mate within the first year, you will suffer a great depression and eventually just fade away. There's been one recorded case of a human-phoenix dying before he could transform into his phoenix form the first time and thus he died as both human and phoenix. Another case, the phoenix found her mate a month before the end of her first year as human-phoenix and she was able to transform into a phoenix just before the end of that year and lived a happy and full life with her mate. Her autobiography indicates that the last few months, before she found her mate was excruciating and she could barely move when she eventually found her mate."
Harry looked down at his shaking hands. This was what was happening to him! If he did not find his mate he would first be in utter agony until eventually even the pain didn't matter and he simply faded away.
"I will give you the book "Destined to Fade" written by the best friend of the phoenix who died before he could find his mate and transform the first time. It will give you an idea of what to expect and might help to give you the determination to find your mate."
The smile he gave McGonagall was strained but he gave her a soft "Thank you" before leaving.
The dizziness stopped after the third month but was replaced by what he described as a piercing pain through his heart. The nausea continued and by the fourth month he was nothing but an emaciated form. Nothing of the proud and strong man I had known since pre-school was left. The pain intensified every week that he searched without success for his mate. I could do nothing to help him, no pain potion worked and no medication we smuggled from muggle establishments helped. By the sixth month we were at our wits' end. We had exhausted all our resources and could only conclude that he had either not met his mate yet, or if he had, the mate hated him and would never accept him as a mate.
Harry blinked as his vision blurred but he shook his head quickly and refocused on the story.
The nausea did eventually let up a bit, by the eighth month, he could barely stomach any food and looked like a skeleton. We were getting desperate and he even made me swore to kill him if it ever came to the point where he could not function by himself – needing help to use the facilities and such. It was a great relief when he asked me one morning to bring him a bowl of porridge and it actually stayed down. After that, he only got nauseous when he ate meat so we stuck to fruit, vegetables and carbohydrates.
Harry made a mental note about that in case he ever got to that stage.
We eventually worked out why his phoenix form kept sending him to the wizarding pub in Whales. His mate was someone at the pub, either a regular customer or maybe a worker or the owner. By the time we figured this out however, he only had one month left and we had no idea exactly who his mate was.
I like to think that he did find out who his mate was, even though it was too late by then and that he just did not want to tell them because he knew he would soon die and did not want his mate to go through that heartache.
The romantic notion caused a sniffle but Harry was not a girl and he refused to cry over such sentimentalities.
Harry heard his uncle's lumbering footsteps in the hallway and quickly hid the book under his mattress before lying back and feigning sleep.
Although it would not save him from his uncle if he came to deliver some kind of punishment, it would definitely help in lessening any cause his uncle might search out for as an excuse if he did not come in with the purpose of inflicting punishment.
"Come boy, your aunt has fallen asleep and I am frustrated."
Harry had settled into Grimmauld place at long last. He was at last rid of his relatives and could spend the remaining few months of his life in relative peace.
The familiar whistling was louder this time and Harry wondered if there was any significance to the fact. The warmth that surrounded him filled his heart and Harry felt a smile tug at his lips before blackness overtook him.
Waking up on a grass field was nothing new but Harry could not help but sigh as he took in the shabby looking house in front of him.
There was something significant that tried to impress on his mind but Harry just could not place exactly what it was he was missing.
Not wanting a repeat performance of the last time he found himself at the man's door, Harry turned around to hail the night bus.
"Mr Potter! What are you doing loitering outside my property? I told you before; you are not welcome here so if you please, remove your infernal presence from my property immediately."
The stab of pain through his heart was exactly as the book described it, excruciating! Harry fell to his knees in front of Snape's gate and could just make out the swish of a robe before his world went black.
"…telling you Poppy, I will not be blamed for this!"
Harry recognised Snape's voice immediately and the memory of his last conscious moments returned to him. Wonderful! I black out right in front of Snape. As if he needed more ammunition to humiliate me.
A gasp of pain escaped him as the pain stabbed through his heart again.
The other two occupants turned to him at the sound and Madam Pomfrey handed him a glass of water before running diagnostic spells over him.
"Well, Mr Potter, it seems like your second form took over again but luckily this time it took you to Professor Snape who brought you here as soon as you passed out."
Harry refrained from telling her that he passed out before he even knew he was heading to Snape or that he passed out a second time because he had progressed toward the next phase.
"I have filled Professor Snape in on your situation and he has agreed to keep an eye on you. You are required to check in with Professor Snape every Monday morning and fill him in on any new developments. This decision was reached after conversing with Minerva and she and I both agree that this is the best course of action for you.
You will keep a civil tongue when around Professor Snape and I will not have you blaming him for this. Am I clear?"
Harry had seldom seen the Matron with such a fierce disposition and could only stare at her with a dazed expression while he nodded.
"I will not have you ruining my days Mr Potter. You will arrive at my house promptly at 08:00 every Monday morning and you will take your leave as soon as my examination of your situation is over. Clear?"
"Yes sir." Harry said softly while rubbing his aching chest.
The truth of his situation did not come as a big surprise, rather it came with a resigned disappointment of what this meant for him.
The feeling of missing something important had not faded once and now that Harry knew what that missing piece was, he did not know how to deal with the matter.
Although his situation was not as bad as Christopher's – the phoenix of "Destined to Fade" – he knew that no matter what, his position would not improve.
The stabbing pain in his heart was a constant reminder of the hatred that lay between him and his mate. Snape had not mellowed one bit since retirement, in fact, his disposition had only worsened and Harry squished every last spark of hope that wanted to ignite in his heart. He knew better than to expect a miracle to happen – especially to him.
"Come now Mr Potter, must you be so melodramatic. You still have a month left to find your mate and thus force the members of our fine wizarding community to endure your presence for the foreseeable future and a month of wasting my time with problems I had not signed up for."
No matter how many times the man put him down; the pain always seemed to intensify with every hateful word inflicted on him. Even just a year ago, such vicious words would have flowed down his back, now each and every one of them was a nail in his coffin.
He knew there was nothing he could do or say that would change the man's opinion of him so Harry decided on a truthful answer.
"Maybe you'll get lucky sir, and I will die before I can find my mate and have him/her acknowledge the bond. You will forever be free of my 'infernal' presence."
Harry turned around as soon as he finished speaking, not wanting the man to see his pain.
"Good day sir, I'll see you again next week."
There was no acknowledgement of his greeting and Harry softly closed the door behind him before sliding down to the ground.
It was getting harder and harder to leave the man's presence and Harry feared that one of these days Snape would figure it all out and Harry shuddered to think of what would happen if he did.
The last month before his birthday was worse than he could have ever imagined. He could scarcely breathe and had to fight his magic tooth and nail against transporting him to Snape.
Harry met him every Monday morning at Spinner's end as agreed and every time, without fail, the man would let loose a vicious string of words that caused Harry to fall into a deep depression.
His uncle had been telling him since he was a baby that no-one could ever love a freak like him. That he would one day die alone while others rejoiced his passing. Snape was enforcing every single one of those beliefs and Harry bit back a sob as he made his final journey to the man's house.
He was certain that he would not be here to make the journey again the following week. Even if he crumbled now and spilled the beans, there was not enough time to get passed the hatred and vindictiveness to ensure that he successfully transformed into a phoenix before his birthday in two days.
"By Merlin Potter, I did not think it possible for you to look worse! You keep on exceeding my expectations. Next week you might actually master the Zombi look."
Harry gave a tired sigh as he squeezed passed Snape. He did not have the energy to feel anything today. Not pain, not hatred, nothing.
The session went exactly the same as it had for the past seven months.
His mouth it seemed, had a mind of its own.
"If you had been just a bit less of a bastard, I may actually have survived this you know. I have no idea why it's you but apparently my phoenix form is a masochist. Do you know, when I first realised, I actually had a small bit of hope of actually surviving. Not to worry, it has sufficiently been squashed since then. What would it have been like, I wonder? To have someone love me and look after me for the first time that I can remember? It would have been nice, I think. Nice to know that I'm not really the freak my uncle always said I was. To know that there would always be someone to come home to after a long day of work where I could just relax and be taken care of. It has always been a dream of mine, did you know that?"
As Harry's voice faded away on the last sentence, so did his body. It was a slow process but by the time the stoic man processed everything Harry told him, it was too late.
Looking down at his hands, Severus was surprised to feel tears falling on his fingers – not because he was crying but because it should have fallen on Harry.
Harry was not there anymore though and only the echo of his words remained as Severus crumbled to his knees.
End of Destined to Fade