Rise of a Phoenix
A/N: So this is written a little bit Badass!Harry and Badass!Dumbledore, as well as Darker!Everybody. This is my response to the normal Dumbledore bashing stories that are so often and so poorly written, and the 'Harry goes to Gringotts and receives ultimate power' stories. Harry earns his power through hard work and experience and nothing comes easily.
As the sun rose over Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived (Several Times Over), limped his way out of the Hospital Wing and towards the office of the Headmaster. When he arrived, the massive gargoyle silently slid aside, without so much as asking Harry about the password, and he trudged up the steep steps to meet Dumbledore. It would be an understatement to say that Dumbledore was surprised to see Harry this soon, seeing as the boy had just witnessed the resurrection of Voldemort before dueling the Dark Lord and surviving, not to mention the death of Cedric Diggory, which, Dumbledore knew, weighed heavily on Harry's heart.
"He's back, Professor," Harry's voice was quiet with weariness, sounding old beyond its years, a feeling Dumbledore understood very well.
"I have been informed of this Harry, you did not need to trouble yourself to come and find me," He gave him a kindly smile.
Harry looked at the wizened old man in front of him. The man could sit there with that damn twinkle in his eyes and tell him to not trouble himself? How could he not? Cedric was dead! Voldemort was back! Harry was, he had realized, woefully unprepared. He had barely survived the Tournament and dueling with Voldemort had made that look like child's play.
"I need to be trained. You need to train me," Harry's tone was flat, but his hands were beginning to shake with frustration.
"I'm afraid I cannot do that. You will go back to the Dursley's and be safe," Dumbledore spoke with a calm finality, his eyes ever twinkling.
"No! I won't go back, I need to learn to fight him or I'll die!" Harry banged his fist into the table, "And I may very well die at the Dursley's too!"
"I highly doubt that Harry, they promised to care for you," Dumbledore smiled condescendingly.
"Care for me? Oh, they've done that all right!" Harry spit sarcastically. Dumbledore smiled and twinkled some more. Harry's rage grew. He simply wished for the man to understand, to see what Harry went through. And then it happened.
Harry felt a rush in his chest and his vision tunneled as his consciousness shot forward into those twinkling eyes. He felt a resistance, but he plowed through it and began to pour all of his horrible memories into Dumbledore's head. He was seeing a strange double vision, seeing both Dumbledore's face, which was slack in shock with his eyes wide and his mouth open, and another, stranger, vision. He was seeing a happy, sunlight field with a sky filled with light, puffy clouds in gold and warm pastels that blocked out the heavens except for in a few cracks, where Harry could see a swirling storm above them. Two things happened simultaneously, in the real world, Dumbledore's face composed itself and his lips pulled into a determined line. His eyes had lost their twinkle, and it was replaced by a vigorous, fiery spark. Dumbledore suddenly looked 20 years younger. In the mindscape, a loud, ringing song began to echo, resounding of loyalty, honor, pride, and righteous fury coupled with a valiant courage. The clouds began to glow like sunset and a phoenix, in full majestic glory, burst from them, streaming across the sky, trailing flames. Wherever it went, the clouds cleared, revealing the full expanse of a dark, vicious storm broiling with green lightning, but instead of succumbing to the storm, the landscape shifted, with large crystal obelisks rising from the earth and shooting golden beams of light into the sky, which formed a shimmering golden barrier to keep off the storm.
Harry, feeling suddenly exhausted, stepped back and the vision dissipated. Dumbledore regarded him for a second before speaking.
"I believe I owe you an apology Harry, my naïve hope for redemption has clouded my judgment, rather literally as you saw, for too long. You are correct; we can no longer try to maintain a façade of innocence. The Light is not of whimsical inaction and endless second chances, but rather of righteous anger and the willingness to fight for what we love and for honor and justice. The time has come for the light to purge the Dark and bring the world out of the shadows. You are key to this, more than you know. You will be staying at Hogwarts this summer," Dumbledore spoke with a new power, like a lion defending his pride. Harry grinned, but Dumbledore continued, "But all this said, I still cannot train you," Harry threw his hands up in exasperation.
"Why in the name of Merlin not? You're the greatest wizard in the world!"
"And you've hit the heart of the matter. When I defeated Grindlewald, I exhibited every inch of my considerable power. That frightened people. The Ministry made me take an Unbreakable Vow that I would never take an apprentice or train anyone to fight. More recently, Minister Fudge made me take another Vow to never tutor you individually or teach you anything about combating Voldemort," Dumbledore explained flatly. Harry's face fell, "Of course, as Headmaster of this fine institution, nothing is stopping me from arranging a little extra tutoring for a student in need," Dumbledore gave Harry a knowing grin and Harry suddenly felt a surge of affection for the old man, "Additionally, I am not restricted from discussing things with you or giving you advice, so consider my door always open. Also, in my old age, I often find myself leaving books laying around, open to pages I find useful or memories floating in my pensieve or the like," Another knowing grin, "Go get some food and sleep Harry," Harry turned to leave, feeling much better than when he had entered, "Oh, and Harry, do come back this time tomorrow, we still have much to discuss. And I assume that you understand that no one is to know that you will be here, not even your wonderful friends? If one of them asks, you are still too injured to take the train home and are bed-ridden," Dumbledore smiled a grandfatherly smile and sent Harry on his way.
Harry was doing all he could to keep down his smile when he entered the Great Hall and slid down next to Hermione and across from Ron and Ginny. He steeled himself for Hermione's barrage of questions.
"Harry! Where have you been? You can't just sneak out of the Hospital Wing like that!" She berated him.
"The Headmaster wanted to talk to me about some things," Harry spoke into his food, trying to hide his grin and also trying to look mopey.
"What did he want?" It was Ron who asked this.
"He just wanted to know what happened in the graveyard, and then told me I have to go the Dursley's for the whole summer this year," Harry disliked lying to his friends, but he disliked almost dying even more, so it was necessary. They ate in relative silence after that, and when they finished Ron and Hermione took off for class and Harry left to return to the Hospital Wing. He was surprised when Ginny fell into step alongside him. Ginny Weasley was an enigma to Harry. He knew she had had a crush on him as a child which had made her almost unable to function when he was around, but she seemed to be over it and was even dating Michael Corner, who was a prick, according to Ron, and Harry was inclined to agree. Of course, what really confused Harry were his own feelings for her. She was very pretty, downright beautiful actually, and the all too few times Harry talked with her, he always left smiling and feeling better about everything. Honestly, sometimes what he felt when he saw her was such a thrill that it made his attraction to Cho look bland. He couldn't imagine acting on these feelings though, because she was dating Corner, she was already over him, he would likely get her killed, and, most importantly, Ron would horribly murder him if he knew that Harry even thought about such things regarding his little sister. But here she was, walking close to him, so that their shoulders would brush with every step. Harry glanced at her, trying to read her.
"Hey, what do you want?" It came out much sharper than Harry intended.
"Just to make sure you make it back to your bed without passing out or something because you're oh so deathly ill," She rolled her eyes at the last part.
"What do you mean?"
"I've never seen a person happier to be bedridden for weeks and then shipped off to a hellhole in my life, something's up," It wasn't a question, it was a statement.
"It's the potions, they've got me so doped up I would think catching on fire is funny," That was a good one; Harry mentally patted himself on the back. Ginny didn't buy it.
"Bullshit, Potter, what's really going on?" Ginny smirked slightly; she had always been able to read Harry like a book, even when no one else could. She wanted to call it talent, but it was probably just lots of careful studying.
"Listen, I can't tell anyone, it's a big secret, otherwise I would," He sighed as they entered the Infirmary and he flopped into his bed. Ginny studied the chair by his bed for a moment before boldly dropping down onto the side of his bed. Harry looked at her curiously.
"You really want to be left alone right now?" She raised an eyebrow at him and he shook his head, they lapsed into a comfortable silence for a while until Ginny's free period was over and she had to leave, promising she would return. After she had disappeared through the door, Harry let out a long sigh. He had simply assumed that he had a crush on her, but what he had felt simply sitting with her was so much more. His mind drifted to thoughts of what else could occur between the two of them in a bed, things that were much less platonic. He sighed again. Was it wrong to think of Ron's sister that way? Or was it really wrong to think of her as Ron's sister first and Ginny second? Thoughts about the red-haired girl tumbled about in his head until Madam Pomfrey came to administer his potions for the night, or rather the mid-afternoon, and send him to sleep. With a heavy flop, Harry was out like a light in bed.
When Harry awoke the next day, the sun was already high in the sky and his body was stiff, but he still hauled himself out of bed and stumbled to the Headmaster's Office, where he was cordially invited in.
"Ah, a so good to see you awake. I believe Madam Pomfrey was a little too enthusiastic with the dreamless sleep potions last night. Now, I must warn you, deciding to share what I am about to tell you was a decision that weighed heavily upon me, but ultimately, I believe you deserve to know why you are such a favorite target of Tom Riddle," Dumbledore nodded gravely and conjured a chair for Harry to sit in. He also opened a large cabinet with a pensieve in it, "Do you know what this is Harry?"
"Yeah, It's a pensieve right? It like allows you to see peoples' memories and stuff,"
"Excellent, you are exactly correct, and how did you learn about this?"
"Hermione," That was an explanation in itself.
"Ah, of course, now before we view this particular memory, I want to provide some background. In the months before you were born, Voldemort was at the height of power. Our previous Divination teacher had fled the country, and on one fateful day I was interviewing a young Ms. Trelawney for the post. In the midst of a most boring interview, she delivered a prophecy. This is my memory of the event," Dumbledore placed the silvery strand of memory into the bowl and ducked his and Harry's heads into it.
In the memory a slightly younger Dumbledore was talking to a much younger Trelawney when suddenly her voice slipped into a monotone and began to recite, "The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies ... ," repeatedly until Dumbledore touched her shoulder, causing her to continue as if nothing had happened. With that, they retreated from the memory.
"What was that? What did it mean?" Harry was confused, how was this relevant to him?
"Harry, what is the seventh month of the year?" Dumbledore asked.
"And when would it be 'dying',"
"Well, at the end of the month I guess,"
"Exactly and when is your birthday?"
"The 31st of July… Oh," Harry blinked as realization dawned on him, "But, why me?"
"The Prophecy, or rather, the first part, was overheard by an agent of the Dark Lord and told to him. Only two children met the requirements, Neville Longbottom and yourself. Voldemort had already turned Peter Pettigrew and used him to get to you to remove the threat. When he cast the Avada Kedavra at you, he inadvertently marked you as his equal through that scar," Dumbledore smiled comfortingly at Harry as he tried to wrap his head around what he had been told, "I would have told you earlier, but I thought that there would be no benefits to telling you if you had, in fact, killed him the first time, but now that he is corporeal again, it is time for you to know,"
"So what is this 'power he knows not' that I'm supposed to beat him with?"
"I believe that it is love," Dumbledore's conviction made Harry almost choke with laughter.
"So you want me to hug him and tell him he's a grand old guy?" Harry raised an eyebrow skeptically.
"No, I mean your love for the people around you and your desire to protect them, It will make you stronger," Seeing Harry was still doubtful, he clarified, "Harry, how is most accidental magic performed?"
"Uh, I don't know? Like strong emotions or something?" Harry was reaching back to his first lessons on magical theory in his 1st Year.
"Exactly, and what emotion is stronger than love? If you let that love and desire to protect others fuel you, you will be able to overcome his hate and greed, I believe," Dumbledore explained sagely. Surprisingly, his explanation made a lot of sense. After all, wasn't that what his mother had used to save him? "Now before you go, I must emphasize that no one can know about this, lest Voldemort gain this knowledge of the second half of the Prophecy. You may only talk about it with Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and myself, and then only in the privacy of our personal quarters," Harry's face fell. With neither of those two present and Dumbledore unable to actually tell him anything useful because of his Vow, Harry was going to have a hard time keeping it wrapped up, even with his considerable talent at doing so. Dumbledore seemed to read his mind once again, "Actually, I do have this," Dumbledore withdrew a slender necklace from his desk, "It is charmed to protect its wearer from prying eyes, or ears, and I will allow you to give it to one person whom you can trust and then discuss these matters with them, I only ask you to decide now so I may calibrate it," Harry frowned, his initial reaction was to choose Ron, but Ron couldn't keep his mouth shut about anything, so the necklace wouldn't even help. Hermione could keep a secret, unless she couldn't understand it, in which case she would discuss it with whoever would listen, so they were both no goes unfortunately, not to mention he only had one necklace and he couldn't only tell one of them. He frowned some more, running through names in his head. Sirius and Remus were both in, but he could already tell them. Ginny, he couldn't ask her because, well, as he thought about it he realized that she could keep a secret (growing up with six older brothers had taught her that), she was trustworthy and loyal (all Weasleys were), smart enough to help him and compassionate enough to care, and she even had experience with this kind of Dark Magic thing already after the Chamber. Harry began to conjure up any reason he could think of to not tell her, but the words were already coming unbidden out of his mouth.
"Ginny Weasley," Dumbledore's eyes sparked with what appeared to be pride as he tapped the necklace with his wand.
"An excellent decision, I will give this to her, so you can avoid any… misunderstandings," another twinkle and a slight smirk. Harry had rather hoped he would be 'misunderstood' when delivering it, not that he would admit that even to himself, "I believe that will be all today Harry, I have given you a private room in the Hospital Wing with all the necessary privacy wards on it for your use, I will send Ginny to them as soon as her schedule allows," Dumbledore waved a hand and Harry turned to leave, but Fawkes, who had been silently observing, trilled loudly. Harry turned around to see that Fawkes had leapt from his perch and was in the center of Dumbledore's desk looking the old man straight in the eyes. Dumbledore looked surprised and when they broke eye contact, Dumbledore had to take a minute to compose his thoughts before speaking to Harry again, "Harry, do you know why Phoenix tears are not used to cure every single injury that occurs in the Magical World?" Harry shook his head in the negative, "It is because a Phoenix, save for very rare, very special circumstances will only shed tears on the wizard or witch that they are bonded with, or with one they wish to bind with," Harry reflected back on his second year in the Chamber.
"What made me such a special circumstance? Was it the Prophecy?" Fawkes cocked his head and Dumbledore chuckled.
"No, that was not a special circumstance at all, at least, not in that sense. That was Fawkes signifying that he wished to bond with you," Harry's jaw almost hit the floor.
"But I thought that Fawkes was bonded to you, that's why he's here?" Harry was once again dumbstruck.
"No, he has been a very good friend, but he never bonded with me. I am quite jealous of you in that regard. Rather, Fawkes stays here because his wishes and mine coincide quite nicely. I have always been rather fixated with Phoenixes. Their magic, their abilities, what they stand for have all intrigued me and I wished a chance to study one up close. Fawkes, like most Phoenixes, wished to bond with a wizard, and what better place to find one suitable for him than in one of the finest schools of Magic in the world, so we have long cooperated as such, but it is time for our ways to part and yours to converge and even merge," Dumbledore looked slightly saddened by this idea, and Harry felt bad about taking away his friend. Fawkes trilled a happy tune and flapped to Harry's shoulder, where he nestled nicely against Harry's head. Dumbledore smiled suddenly, "How can I be sad when something so beautiful and good is about to be created? To complete the bond, you must go through a burning together, which we will do the week after school ends so we can have the necessary space to perform it, now I believe we have had quite enough to think about for today, so I bid you adieu, go get some rest and process your thoughts, I promise that I will be doing the same," As he turned to leave, something struck Harry.
"Wait, you just taught me something? Are you going to be ok, did you break the Vow?" Harry asked with concern.
"No, no, in the rather complex wording of the first Vow I granted myself a stipulation to teach a student any theoretical or historical information with life-changing relevance pertaining to them, and the second Vow cannot force either party to break a previous Vow between the two parties, so for this, at least, I am in the clear, even though this is all I can really teach you," Dumbledore sighed, saddened by his inability to help the young boy who he considered to be his favorite student. Harry nodded slowly and turned toward the door to leave, pausing on the threshold as if waiting for Fawkes to return to his perch, "He will stay with you now Harry, you two will never be separated. It is a closeness only rivaled by a bond of two human souls," Dumbledore smiled and Harry exited with the magnificent bird resting comfortably on his shoulder. As he reached the gargoyle he realized that it was lunchtime and the halls were alive with activity. It would be strange to see a bedridden boy up and about with the Headmaster's phoenix. Fawkes trilled softly and Harry instinctively braced himself as they disappeared in a small plume of flame.
Harry and Fawkes arrived in what Harry assumed was his private room, judging by the huge stack of get well gifts and the even bigger stack of potions. Fawkes settled quickly on the headboard of the bed and tucked his head under his wing. Harry sighed and flopped onto the bed. As much as he hated the Hospital Wing, at least he could entertain himself with watching the often amusing daily coming and goings of the Hogwarts population's more accident prone. As such, he saw Neville Longbottom quite a bit, as the boy held the spot just below Harry for longest time spent in the Infirmary. The two, while Harry wouldn't call them close friends, shared a silent mutual respect and camaraderie about their injuries. In this room, Harry only had four walls. Thankfully there were only six days left in the term. He stared at the ceiling, beginning to go through the information that he had learned that day. The Prophecy was the main issue, and Harry wasn't sure how he felt about it. It sucked, of course, that he was doomed to kill Voldemort or die trying, but on the other hand it was nice to know that all of the various attacks on him over the years had not just been on a whim, they had been to fulfill some cosmic plan. Not to mention that Harry now had a direction, a purpose beyond just surviving the next year. Overall, Harry decided that it was what it was. Additionally, his choice of Ginny over his two best friends bothered him. Or rather his inability to find anything about it that actually bothered him did. He sighed, and forced his thoughts away from the red-head. Next was the idea of bonding with Fawkes. This was the only thing he had learned in a long time that had not carried some kind of dark taint of fear. He was actually rather excited about it, honestly. He had never actually been close to anyone in the intimate emotional kind of way Dumbledore had hinted at, and a Phoenix would make a powerful friend and ally as well as a reliable companion. And Phoenix tears would keep him out of the Hospital Wing a lot. That said.
"Fawkes, if you knew you wanted to bond with me; would it have killed you to have lent a hand with some tears here and there?" Harry chuckled at the bird who cocked his head at him.
"You had to accept the bond first, obviously, save for the first time when you almost died. Not to mention, it would do you good to learn to get hurt less, and fear of the hospital seems the best way to do that," The bird spoke and followed with a trill of laughter. Harry blinked in surprise.
"You can speak?"
"No, were going to communicate through the bond using sign language," If a bird could roll its eyes, Fawkes did so then.
"Oh, well, I just assumed it would be in our heads or something so no one can overhear," Harry frowned, "And I didn't know birds could be sarcastic,"
"Of course we can, it wouldn't do for your bondmate to be a boring old rock like that Binns fellow," They both laughed at that, "And to anyone else, I sound like I'm just singing a merry little song, and I believe that after the bond we will be able to communicate through telepathy,"
"You believe? What exactly will this bond allow us to do?" Harry was genuinely interested in what being bonded to a Phoenix entailed.
"As soon as I know, I'll tell you," Fawkes chuckled and Harry gaped a little in disbelief.
"You don't know?"
"Every bond is different, depending on the power of the wizard and the power of the Phoenix," Fawkes shrugged his wings nonchalantly.
"So what kind of things might we be able to do through the bond?" Harry rephrased his question, adding under his breath, "Hermione would have kittens if she heard this," Fawkes laughed again.
"Ok, so, from what I understand, Phoenix magic and wizard magic are different, and normally they can't exist together in the same being, however the bond allows them to, meaning we get some combination of each other's abilities. For example, you may be able to flame on your own or heal very quickly while I may inherit your Parseltongue or your ability to do certain spells. I think so at least. This is in addition to the normal tying of souls type stuff: emotion sharing, telepathy, sharing of senses, etc. Additionally, if both the Phoenix and the Wizard are exceptionally powerful, like Merlin and his Phoenix or Aristotle and his, they may actually press their magic together with such force that it blends, giving them a whole bucket full of new powers. This is all theory of course, since a Phoenix bond has never been closely documented," Fawkes concluded brightly, as if the massive uncertainty was no big thing. Well screw it, Harry thought, it can't be bad can it?
"We wouldn't have to worry about the superpower stuff anyways, but the normal, er, more normal stuff sounds cool," Harry smiled at the thought of always having someone like Fawkes to talk to.
"Ah, modesty, one of the reasons I chose you Harry. I am, not to sound conceited, a quite powerful Phoenix, the most powerful in a millennia or more, and you, Harry my boy, are an exceptionally powerful Wizard, you simply haven't hit magical puberty yet, which is normal when you have such power, so I believe that there is as good a chance of us getting 'superpowers' as anyone," Harry blushed at the praise and Fawkes chuckled, "Go to sleep kid, you're going to have a hell of a day tomorrow, and I don't want to deal with you whining," They both chuckled and Harry pulled the sheets over himself and drifted off to Fawkes' calming song.
A/N: This story arose from me originally why Fawkes didn't just cure all the Hogwarts students whenever they got hurt and why Dumbledore is so indirect in his teaching methods for Harry (i.e. his blatant refusal to teach Harry Occlumency personally) and the story eventually became a pretty solid idea, I think. The H/G is a little out of nowhere at this point, but go with it please, and remember that I don't own anything. Also, as always, please review telling me if you want to see more of this and what you liked and didn't like! Thank you!