I named this after (and wrote this to) PoorlySadistic's theme for Hermione. It's hers, but this Harry, I think, has earned it for himself, here.
The boy stood there on the rooftop, his own eyes locked with two points of fire. The stars might have had time to shift in their constellations while he stood there, agonizing over the decision...
In the end, no matter what else there was... there was one choice he could take, and still function, still call himself in some way good.
And he reached out his hand, and touched the pheonix's claw, and vanished in a flash of fire.
The dementors of Azkaban rarely roamed its halls.
There was little need, really. In such concentrations, without the protective wards, the despair they exuded – the effects of the emotion they absorbed, really – could have been felt on the coast.
The inmates within had no such mercy. They were silent, now, or nearly so. They always were.
The dementors were … not alive. Nor undead – rather, un-alive; not so much the absence of life or even its perversion, but its complete opposite, constructs of organized and reproductive death. And such a thing, like anything else with memory and rules, could compute, could think, could have a mind.
And, like most evolved things, they could feel – the half-formed intuitions of a mind running on limited time. Happiness, and Life, technically – though they felt it like heat, like warmth; like the smell of cooking meat, or of spilt blood. Emptiness, too; though death could not die, it could starve and waste into being.
(They certainly would not waste away.)
Fear was a rare one. Dementors could go centuries without ever feeling fear. Life, that alien thing, standing in defiance of entropy itself, was all too fragile, easy to destroy; a stray blow, a hole in the wrong place, a misplaced hormone, a suicidal thought, and it could all go spiraling into oblivion.
What did Death have to fear, though? What did Disorder have to fear? A straw blow made it stronger, a hole was what it was; oblivion itself stared out through its eyes.
What could Death fear?
The answer came on flaming wings.
If they had had time, they would have fled.
If they had could have bargained for a single second, they would be at the edge of their pen.
If they had had a minute, they would have been battering at the wards.
Give them an hour, and perhaps they might even have broken away.
But Harry James Potter-Evans-Verres, still living, still fragile (though he would have had words to say about that, in a few years), gave them precisely zero point six four seconds.
His wand raised, the phoenix on his shoulder burst into flame, the brilliant candle becoming something so bright as to outshine the Sun at noon, so bright that the moon itself, perhaps, gained a fraction of a percent in its albedo for it -
And nothingness hung in his mind. Neither matter, nor energy; neither time, nor space.
Only the probability. And then – the wand came down.
And: fiat lux.
And there was light-
Albus Dumbledore, Head of Hogwarts and many other things besides, knew better than to follow.
He could guess what this question would be; where it would take his student, one of the youngest to ever attract the bird of light.
(Not fire. Never something so simple as fire. Light – the Sun as an element, like in the Eastern mythos, life and light and warmth all in one word.
Not knowledge, though.)
He was not the one who had unlocked the secret of the dementors – and how he wished he could have been, now, in place of his so-young student –
– and without it, even he might fall to the sheer mass at Azkaban. And no matter how he worried for the boy who had just left in his place, no matter how confident he may (try to be) in his success, if he failed... Dumbledore could not fall.
But then again, if there was ever a time to do something like this, it was now, on the heels of a phoenix's cry. And when Harry succeeded... Azkaban would be safe, now and for ever.
And so, against his... judgement (better or worse remained to be seen), he closed his eyes behind his half-moon spectacles, and touched Fawkes' claws, and looked at him – and the sun-bird spread his wings and obliged.
There was no mark.
Had anyone been looking in their direction – eyes closed or not, miles away or not – without the walls, they would have been blinded by the light that phoenix and boy created.
It was almost unfair, then, that there was no mark at all.
Save for the empty cloaks that still floated down from above, in a few days there would be no sign that anyone had been here.
But now – there, in the center of the pit, wand still outstretched, lay a still form, half-covered by his cloak, and a phoenix crying silent tears on his lips. Above him, the shape of a man hung in midair, fading fast, already nothing more than silver tracery.
The Aurors on duty had felt it immediately, of course. They hadn't even needed the hundreds of alarms that had suddenly erupted into sound and light, nor the quiet mental pings of the more subtle silent wards around the inner areas. Who needed alarms, when the light bled through the walls?
Not light. Not true light, radiation that brought energy and heat. Light that bled through walls would have melted them first, boiled them alive, not even their bones would survive...
No. Only the concept of light, the essence of light, light that healed and lived...
Light that felled every Dementor it touched.
To say that it was as if a weight had been lifted would have been understatement. It was to be Atlas, with the heavens on your shoulders and the world on your feet; it was to be Hercules, half-mortal, to carry the same weight; and then to have it release, to shrug it off...
It was this, through the wards.
Seventy and six minds... they did not break. They were as gravel, as sand, as water: so broken that they could not be broken any further. But even they felt relief. The mercy of the dementors: that, when they were done with you, at least relief would not break you further.
Hope dawned in the eyes of the the remaining one hundred and thirteen at once. Men, women, and a few – so few, for even aside from their rare entrance they tended towards the first group – children – seemed to wake, and look out from their bars, and truly think again.
And then they slumped into unconsciousness, the contingency plans encoded into the prison at its commission and long thought unnecessary putting every prisoner to sleep.
The Aurors on duty, to their credit, reacted quickly. It took only five seconds to put aside the unutterable relief and force themselves into alarm. By which point, of course, it was long since over.
When the Aurors arrived, they found the Headmaster of Hogwarts – and his phoenix – crying over the body of a young boy.