Chapter 1 : The Final Journey
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“As [Harry] lay there, he became aware suddenly that the grounds were silent. Fawkes had stopped singing. And he knew, without knowing how he knew it, that the phoenix had gone, had left Hogwarts for good, just as Dumbledore had left the school, had left the world…had left Harry.”
The darkened grounds of Hogwarts were silent. A single flash of flames high in the night sky over the castle turrets was all that had signaled the phoenix’s departure. In his long, endless life, Fawkes had taken many journeys, many of them alongside his companion and best friend, Albus Dumbledore, many journeys that had led to interesting and beautiful and dangerous places. He had lived a life of wonder alongside the wizard, but now…now that Dumbledore was gone, there was one final journey he must take. And this time, he would be travelling alone.
There was nothing left for him at the school. Hogwarts had been his home for decades, the place he returned to, the place where he lived alongside Dumbledore in good times and bad, no matter what was happening in the world. His perch in the Headmaster’s office had been his sanctuary. Listening to Albus ponder about the world’s problems aloud, wondering how to save everything and everyone, was one of the things that Fawkes would miss the most. His companion had been the best wizard of his age, a true and trustworthy man, a friend that could be relied upon no matter the situation or circumstances. But hours ago, he had fallen and in many ways, Fawkes had fallen with him. His perch would now stand empty, never again to house the brilliantly colored, flaming phoenix. Without Albus, Hogwarts was just another castle, just another cold and dark building where the stones closed in around the phoenix and reminded him of all he’d lost and all he doubted that he’d ever have again. Without Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts was no longer Fawkes’ home.
Fawkes reappeared in another plume of fire above the clouds of the Scottish highlands. The sky was still darkened, stars gleaming brightly—Fawkes’ only companions on his lonely flight. He wheeled west, feeling the wind beneath his feathers, and dipped lower and lower until he could see the ground below him. The hills rolled away as far as he could see, unmarred by houses or structures of any kind. The fog from the moors rose in a light mist against the dark sky, but still Fawkes flew on. His destination was still further.
At last, Fawkes swooped lower, spiraling down to land in a craggy bush on an otherwise unremarkable hill. To onlookers, this place looked no different from the surrounding area. The ground was covered only in short grass that barely moved in the light breeze. No scars showed in its earth. No marker or monument betrayed this location for what it really was—the place where Dumbledore had battled Grindelwald all those years ago. From his position, Fawkes looked out across the precise hill where the duel had taken place. He remembered vividly the flashing spells and shouts from the two most powerful wizards of their time.
Dumbledore had not wanted to battle his old friend. He had talked endlessly in his office about the struggles he felt, thinking about Gellert. Fawkes had listened as he always did, watching the Headmaster pace back and forth, back and forth. His hair had already begun to gray, streaks of silver showing in an auburn mane. At last, Dumbledore had had no choice. The wizarding world was calling for help. As a precaution, he had requested that his phoenix accompany him, and without hesitation, Fawkes had agreed.
That night fell quickly while Dumbledore awaited his adversary. Fawkes rested heavily on his companion’s shoulder, trying to provide support without knowing just how to. He leaned his scaly head against Albus’ face and let a few large, wet tears leak from his eyes. Dumbledore had smiled, not wiping them from his cheek as he reached up to stroke the phoenix that would again be risking his life to join the wizard. “Always faithful, Fawkes,” Dumbledore had murmured.
Always faithful, Fawkes remembered, now allowing more tears to fall from his eyes. But these weren’t meant to comfort anyone, weren’t meant to lend courage to a frightening night. These tears were the first that Fawkes had ever shed purely from sadness. That night, years ago, Fawkes had done his part. He had protected his companion when the fight had intensified. He has saved Dumbledore when the time came, as he had done countless times during their decades-long friendship, and now…he could do that no longer.
The tears continued to fall and the phoenix understood their meaning. No matter how he considered his situation—he was alone. Dumbledore would never again stroke his feathers and offer reassuring words. His best friend, his companion, would never look upon him again with piercing blue eyes and a smile that assured Fawkes that he would never leave his side.
Finally, Fawkes pumped his wings and took flight once more. This place didn’t hold what he was looking for; he had known it wouldn’t from the start. What he sought, he wasn’t sure if he would ever find. With a sorrowful song in his heart that he couldn’t bring himself to sing, Fawkes soared away from the hills and east towards his next destination. He would do what he could. He would remember his friend properly before his final journey.
A blaze of light indicated Fawkes’ arrival in Godric’s Hollow. The town slept peacefully as the night wore on, unaware of the troubles that the future held, unaware that one of its most famous residents would never again walk the streets of his childhood home. Below him, Fawkes could see the tiny houses, so perfect, so ignorant of their legendary history. Lights glowed in a few windows, but most were darkened and silent.
As he skirted the village, he passed over the charred remnants of the Potters’ former-home. The memorial stood strong with messages from well-wishers and Fawkes thought of the moment when Dumbledore had decided to build it. Crying softly, large tears running from his blue eyes down his long nose—a sight that wrenched at Fawkes’ heart—Dumbledore had explained to the phoenix that a broken home, a damaged and destroyed home, would be a lasting reminder of the terror that had descended on their world. No statue or plaque could ever do it justice and restoring the house would be an insult to its history.
Dolefully, Fawkes had watched his companion cast spells on the house to protect its condition and place a small pillar with a simple message to any who came to view it. Godric’s Hollow had only held bad memories for Dumbledore, but he still returned there every Halloween to pay his respects to Lily and James Potter and the sacrifice they made.
Letting out a low, sorrowful note, Fawkes continued down the lane, flying over other, undamaged homes. He finally perched on a wooden fencepost across from a small cottage, currently marked with a “For Sale” sign in the yard. The house was dark, quiet, empty. Its shades were drawn and its well-kept yard rejected its past and tried desperately to entice a brighter future.
This was the place where Fawkes and Albus had first met years ago, in times when Dumbledore had had a family to speak of and a bright vision for the world. He had been taken in by the words of another young man, the one who he had been forced to duel after their friendship fell apart and Grindelwald’s ideas had nearly brought the wizarding world to war.
Here, though, here was where it started. Here was where Dumbledore and Grindelwald hatched their plans for a perfect world, plans that were skewed by Grindelwald’s manipulation and hatred. For months, Dumbledore agreed with his friend and they plotted and planned ways to change the world. When he realized the implications of his own words, though, Dumbledore had wanted out. The confrontation with Grindelwald…the shouts and accusations…the breaking point was just over the edge. When the fight began, Fawkes wasn’t yet there, but as it escalated, the two men began to duel. Spells flew in every direction, ricocheting off the fence in the yard, smashing the windows of the house. The sounds of battle drew Dumbledore’s brother from the house and once he was involved, the resulting duel intensified and unguarded spells whizzed in every direction.
Fawkes had first appeared to aid Dumbledore in that moment. The brilliant blaze of flames had distracted the wizards and Fawkes had saved his companion’s life…but had witnessed Dumbledore’s sister, Arianna’s death. The silence that fell over the yard was absolute. After the intensity of the duel, that moment rang with finality. Grindelwald turned and left without another word. Aberforth was unconscious. Dumbledore knew instantly what had happened, but would never learn whose spell had felled his sister. In that moment, Dumbledore was broken. Fawkes was all that he then had left, a true companion with no reservations or conditions. In more ways than one, Fawkes saved Dumbledore’s life that day.
The phoenix continued to watch the darkened home, wondering how different things would have been if he hadn’t appeared, if he hadn’t felt drawn towards Albus Dumbledore. He knew they were useless ponderings—phoenixes could not refuse the call of their destined companion. They were fiercely loyal…to the end.
Loneliness wrenched through Fawkes’ heart and he took to the air once more, not able to remember the happy moments without inevitably remembering the sad ones. His life with Dumbledore had been full, complete, everything he could have hoped for. Earlier this evening, he would have died to save his friend…if only he had known what was to happen on the tower.
Godric’s Hollow shrank below him as Fawkes spiraled into the sky. His final destination lay to the west and he turned in that direction as he left the past behind him and flew towards his future.
For hours, he soared high above the clouds, trying to think of nothing, but constantly bombarded by the memories of his best friend, his true companion. Earlier that evening, when Dumbledore had fallen, Fawkes had known his fate before anyone had come into the office. He felt the life leave Dumbledore’s body, high above him on the top of the Astronomy Tower.
The pain had wrenched through him, like a part of his soul being ripped from his body. The first wail of grief had ripped from his beak, a long and mournful sound lost amid the chaos of the battle below. In an instant, he had disappeared in a flash of fire and appeared on the ground beside Dumbledore’s body. Tears rolled freely down his face as he tried desperately to heal the wounds he could not see.
Dumbledore’s eyes had remained closed. He might even look peaceful if Fawkes wasn’t so sure of what had happened. He, of course, had known of the plan. He had known his companion was dying from the effects of a cursed ring. He had heard Dumbledore argue with Snape about their options…but he hadn’t expected it this night, hadn’t known it would come this soon…he hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye.
Shaking his head, Fawkes pulled himself from his memories once more and continued his flight, pushing all thoughts away in favor of feeling the wind in his wings as his final journey came to a close.
Below him was pitch black as the sea opened before him. Deep and dark and limitless, the Atlantic stretched as far as Fawkes’ eyes could see, and still, he flew on. Hours had passed and the horizon was lightening, hinting at the morning to come, another day unaware of the tragedy of the night before.
At long last, Fawkes reached his destination, simply a spot over the ocean, appearing just as every other expanse of water. Here he would rest, sleep, and wait. Until the time came when another companion presented him or herself, Fawkes would rest. No one would ever replace Albus Dumbledore—no one ever could—but someday, Fawkes might feel whole again. Until that time, he would leave the world, just as Albus had left the world.
As the sun finally rose over the horizon, throwing sparkles of light across the ocean, Fawkes let out one final note—this one held all of his sorrow, but finally a trace of hope. He burst into flames above the sea and plummeted into the waves, letting the water close over him as he sank into his sanctuary.
When the time was right, he would emerge once more…when the time was right, Fawkes would fly again.
Author's Note: Hello there! Here's my one-shot entry for the House Cup 2013. I hope that you enjoyed it and that it didn't upset you too much. ;) If you'd leave a review to let me know what you thought, that would be wonderful. Thanks so much for reading!
Quote at the beginning is from J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, chapter 29, “The Phoenix Lament”
Also: If you have additional questions that you would like answered, please feel free to go to my "Meet the Author" page on the forums. There's a link on my author's page!
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