A/N: This was originally written as a scene for a longer fanfic that I won't be posting for a while (because I want to finish the draft first). So if it seems like it's more of a snapshot (with a not-quite-canon!Harry) than a full story, well, that's because it is. It's meant to be lighthearted fun and a test for myself to see if I could write an action-type scene.
With that in mind - Please review! All reviews are welcome, be they positive, constructive, or flames - I'm trying hard to improve and feedback of any kind is a huge help. Thanks for reading, and thanks to the folks at DLP for their help.
~ Flying ~
"Very well Mister Potter, but do be careful this time," Madam Pomfrey said.
Harry let out a whoop and dashed out of the hospital wing towards Gryffindor Tower, leaping up the steps two or three at a time. Minutes later he stepped into the Fourth Year Boys dorm and muttered a quiet Accio to retrieve his broomstick. He stretched his muscles he walked to the window and opened it, gazing at the sun setting over the Forbidden Forest. The weather was perfect. I've been on the ground for way too long, he thought, hefting his Firebolt and running an experienced eye over the twigs. He hadn't flown in weeks.
With a happy yell Harry stepped out onto the ledge and dove off Gryffindor Tower.
Someone behind him shouted in alarm, but Harry paid them no mind. It was good to be in the air again. The wind whipped through his hair, adrenaline rushed through his system, and he smiled knowing that few could match his skill in this arena. His instincts kicked in as he fell and he twisted, mounting the broom upside down, before rocketing back up past his window.
Harry's glasses pressed hard against his nose as he pushed the Firebolt to its limits. The wind threatened to hold him back but he kept on, not pulling out of his rapid ascent until he was close enough to touch the clouds. He knew better than to fly into them again – the last time he'd done that he'd ended up with a horrible cold, and he did not want to schedule another visit to the Hospital Wing.
No matter how high I fly Hogwarts still looks majestic. Harry soared across the grounds, grinning so widely his face hurt, and entered a slow dive towards the Owlery. Hedwig flew out before he had approached halfway and joined him, the wind ruffling her feathers as they threaded their way through towers of stone.
This is where I belong, Harry thought, closing his eyes and enjoying the cool kiss of the wind. Hedwig flapped closer, her feathers brushing his forehead as she nipped at his hair, then turned towards the forest and her evening meal. Nothing compares to this. Nothing.
Harry opened his eyes and jerked the handle up into a somersault before spiraling past the Astronomy Tower. Two students, sixth or seventh years by the look of them, pointed at him as he went by and he felt a twinge of unease. McGonagall had made it very clear that he was to stop flying in areas not designated for such, but he found himself unable to resist the call of the open air.
He was debating the wisdom of practicing his Wronski Feint maneuvers by plunging into the Courtyard, where McGonagall's classroom was, when a great ball of swirling, crimson fire appeared about two inches in front of his nose.
"Gah!" Harry yelled, his reflexes taking over and sending him into a sideways, upside down dive. His wand, stored up his sleeve when flying, emerged aimed at the intruder before he even knew he had drawn it.
"Bloody hell, Fawkes, don't do that," Harry said, upside down. Fawkes warbled at him and fluttered over to land on his broom, a letter clutched in his left talon. Harry grinned wickedly and twirled himself back upright; Fawkes, still perched on the broom, catapulted upside down and let out an angry squawk. "Serves you right for scaring me like that, and don't pretend you didn't do it on purpose. Is that for me?"
Fawkes chirped and Harry would swear the bird was scolding him. He reached out and took the letter, absently rubbing Fawkes' head feathers in apology, and read:
It has come to my attention that you have once again neglected to follow the rules regarding where flying is acceptable on the grounds of Hogwarts. As the Headmaster of this fine institution I have little choice but to assign you a detention to be served at once.
"Oi, what's he playing at? A few hours ago he was encouraging me to go and have a fly! Old man's gone nutters. I bet this is your fault." Harry shook the parchment at Fawkes, who just hopped a few inches over on the handle and preened. Harry glared. "Bloody bird," he grumbled.
I think it fitting that you should be forced to deal with an unruly character much like yourself in the air as punishment. Therefore your detention shall be to give Fawkes a bath. He rather hates them you see, and I prefer he have at least one every burning period.
"Er," Harry said, eyeing Fawkes nervously. He'd never noticed just how black and forbidding his eyes were. "So, um, Fawkes…" How could he put this so as not to alarm the bird? "Want to go swimming? It'll be fu—"
Before he could finish the sentence Fawkes had launched off his broom, sending it into a tailspin, and darted across the darkening sky. "Bloody hell!" Harry cursed, righting his broom and giving chase. It was on.
Phoenixes were fast, certainly faster than owls, and had more than a few tricks up their sleeve. A burst of fire appeared ahead, bright in the chill evening air. Harry veered to the right, dodging the second torrent of flame as well, and curved sharply around a turret trying to cut Fawkes off.
A stream of water shot out of Harry's wand and splashed harmlessly against the stone walls of the castle. Fawkes shrieked and a gout of golden flame incinerated the water and dirt on that part of the wall, sending ashes flying back into Harry's face as he closed the gap. Phoenixes might not be known for fighting, but they had earned their XXXX classification.
They flew for a moment, one right after the other, speeding over the startled students out taking walks after supper. Then, Fawkes changed direction without an ounce of warning, swerving away from the castle and into the night. Harry gave chase but the wind caught his robes, whipping them around him as he flew. That wouldn't do.
"Aguaglobius!" "Aguamenti!" "Aguaglobius!"
Harry eased into his brakes, using the stream of water to herd Fawkes towards the globes of water he'd conjured, and fumbled out of his robes. He spared a second to wonder what the students would make of outerwear falling out of the twilight sky, then he rocketed back into the chase. The cold air bit against this skin, rejuvenating him, and he found himself laughing. Fawkes had gained a lead but his eyes caught a flash of crimson in the distance. He leaned forward, eyes struggling to keep track of his prey, once more pushing the broom to the max. Finally he cartwheeled through the air, flying under a bridge where Fawkes had gone over, and popped into the bird's flight path.
"Aguamen— ack!" Harry dove, barely avoiding the crimson and gold flames. He turned, one hand still controlling the broomstick, and fired another spell. Fawkes returned the salvo with another ball of fire, but Harry batted it aside with a hastily conjured shield. I've got to get better at flying and casting, he thought, doing a barrel roll around a bit of fancy architecture, passing close enough for his clothes to brush the surface. I'm losing too much speed.
Several minutes of aerial maneuvers later Harry had yet to make significant progress. Okay, he thought, time for a plan. With a burst of speed and liberal use of water-conjuring spells he began to cleverly herd Fawkes towards the lake. Keep the bird from backtracking, get him over water, then cut off avenues of escape. No problem. Just need the right spells.
Damn, but this was fun. Quidditch was great but he loved it because it challenged his flying skills, pushing him to test his limits. The sport itself was just a means to an end. Right now, chasing a magical fire bird through twists and turns, around and amid ancient architecture, into tight spirals and loops… he loved feeling so alive.
Fawkes dived into the branches of the Whomping Willow, his crimson feathers trailing behind him. Harry plunged in after, accelerating as he dodged, his hours spent taunting the tree in second year finally paying off. The light of the setting sun, now a deep red, flickered through the shadows cast by the tree and glinted off his broomstick handle. Gusts of wind and thrashing branches brushed his hair. His grin spread wider and he let out a whoop of joy. A flash of fire lanced towards him but Harry ignored it, holding his breath and flying through. He couldn't afford to lose an ounce of speed this close to the lake.
Water leapt up from the lake as they flew over, guided by his splashing jinx, and Fawkes shifted into a vertical climb. Harry followed, casting Aguamenti to keep Fawkes on course and reveling in the adrenaline rush. "Okay you stupid bird, it's bath time! Take this!" Harry called, aiming his wand at one of the clouds he'd flown by earlier with Hedwig.
The rainstorm spell was NEWT-level, as were most weather based spells, and required all of Harry's concentration to cast. It needed precision in both wand movements and incantation to work at all, not to mention the power required to make it work well. Harry, with his recent practice, just had to slow down a bit and focus. With a few waves of his wand the cloud turned an angry shade of grey and disappeared, leaving thousands of drops of water in its place.
Fawkes screeched and angled downwards but Harry was ready for him, having discretely conjured several water globes during their ascent into the clouds. They surrounded them now, circling in tune to Harry's magic, forcing Fawkes to plunge towards the lake.
I've got you now, Harry thought. He used both hands to grip his broom, vibrating with strain, as they plummeted towards the lake fast enough to outrun the rain itself. Nowhere to go Fawkes, sorry mate. It's the lake, the rain, or the water glo—
Fawkes disappeared in a flash of fire, having waited until the last possible second. Harry hit the lake an instant later, the magical protections on his broom saving him from serious impact. He emerged to the sound of a phoenix chirping, a noise not unlike laughter, and struggled to remount his waterlogged broom.
"That's cheating!" Harry spluttered as the last drops of his conjured rain fell atop his head. "Sodding, cheating bird! Was that the bleeding Wronski Feint?" He kept up a tirade of insults as he stealthily waved his wand, commanding his numerous hidden water globes, and grinned.
Later that night a well-soaked phoenix and a somewhat-singed boy traveled the halls of Hogwarts, content.