Author's Note: Unlike By Firelight or The Wishing Well, this is a film-based fanfiction. I hope it's not too depressing... It's also my first actual one-shot (The Wishing Well wasn't meant to be one. It's a long story), and my first anything in this format (first-person POV, present-tense, etc). Keep that in mind while you read. Beta read by Arnel, from PhoenixSong.

Flight of the Songbird

The rusty hinge on the door creaks softly as I open the Vanishing Cabinet, wondering wordlessly why the birdsong had not returned along with its tiny singer, leaving the room drenched in eerie quiet.

The answer, however, becomes clear to me as I look inside, and I know something has gone horribly wrong; the bird lies motionless on the shelf, its tiny neck twisted, broken.

She is dead.

For what feels like hours, or maybe even days, I stare at her lifeless body, her bright yellow feathers, the little beak that only seconds ago had seemed to encourage me, as though she were thanking me for letting her out of that old, wire cage in the corridor.

And now? Now she's free, flying into the sun and singing with all her heart. For a moment, I can almost hear her…

As tears flood my eyes, obscuring my vision, I realize how badly I want to join her.

I crumple to the hard floor, trying with all the strength I still have to quiet each ragged breath, while giant sobs of bitter confusion and self-hatred erupt from my lungs.

I've killed her…

The words fill my aching head, gradually numbing my mind as I mourn the loss of innocence: hers… and perhaps mine, too.

This wasn't supposed to happen…

I've always thought murder would just be an everyday spell – nothing special, for innocents die every day at the height of any war. I'd assumed it would be just another curse that I would have to master in order to save my life, and those of my parents.

But I was wrong.

Murder doesn't just kill the victim; I know that now. It destroys the killer, injuring the soul, perhaps irreparably. I feel as if my soul has been ripped in half, yet is already being sewn back together like a deep, somehow forgotten wound. An agony that goes beyond the Cruciatus Curse is sinking its merciless claws into my very being.

But no, I cannot let myself stumble. I cannot join her in that place where everyone is free. I have a weight on my shoulders that prevents me from flying into the sun. I have a dark, cold secret that holds my voice still, preventing me from singing. My childhood mentor, Severus, has a promise to keep that so cruelly prevents me from dying. I am the Dark Lord's 'Chosen One,' and this is the one chance I have to save my family.

I clutch at the hems of my Slytherin robes as I force my tears to stop blinding me. Slowly, I wipe them away with my right arm, closing the door to the cabinet with my left and refusing to look at the bird.

Why am I crying for her?

I should hate her.

I should hate her for leaving me here.

I should be going mad with envy.

After all, she is free.

Author's Note: No canaries were harmed in the making of this fanfiction. :) Reviews are a great thing, but please be kind. Thanks!