This is the last time I’ll haul my school trunk up these stairs, Harry Potter thought to himself as he gained another step. Every year the bloody thing gets heavier, and I never think about what it’s going to be like trying to get it up the steps until I’m here.
Harry took a deep breath and gave another heave. The wheels of his trunk slowly climbed the riser of another step, crept over the corner, and then rolled easily along the tread. Three more steps, and that’s it. This is the last time. He sighed. I’ve been thinking of a lot of last times lately.
“Boy!” Uncle Vernon’s voice called from below, “Get that ruddy trunk into your room and come set the table for dinner, or you won’t get any.”
I wonder what the Dursleys would say if they knew Dumbledore was dead? Harry gave a mighty heave and managed to gain two steps. One more to go. Maybe I’ll tell them when I leave. Professor McGonagall said I shouldn’t let them know that anything unusual has happened until I leave for the Burrow, but, then, why should I tell them at all? It’s not like they’ll sympathize. A last heave brought the trunk off the stairs. Harry wheeled it to his room.
Without really thinking about what he was doing, he opened the door, flipped on the light, wheeled his trunk into the middle of the room, set Hedwig’s cage down and opened it, took out her perch and set her and it on his desk, and turned to head downstairs.
In turning, his eyes ran over his bed, and he froze.
“What the…?” Why is there a sword on my bed? Harry heard a soft ‘whoosh’ behind him and spun around, wand at the ready. “Fawkes?”
The bird chirped, as if inquiring if he knew any other phoenixes.
Harry lowered his wand. “What are you doing here?”
Fawkes chirped again and flew over to Harry’s bed. He grasped the sword in his talons, and then flew over to Harry, setting the blade gently at his feet.
Harry reached down and picked up the sword. He recognized it immediately – the last time he’d held it had been four years ago, but since he’d killed a basilisk with it the memory had stuck for some reason. He looked at the lettering on the blade to be sure. Godric Gryffindor. Yes, this is the Sword of Gryffindor. “Why did you bring me this? You did bring me this, didn’t you?”
Fawkes nodded and chirped brightly.
Harry sighed. “I don’t suppose you have a note or something?”
Fawkes shook his head.
Hedwig hooted suspiciously from her perch.
Fawkes bowed to Harry and then flew over to his desk, landing on the edge furthest from Hedwig.
Fawkes trilled pleasantly for a few minutes.
Hedwig gave an angry squawk and fluffed her wings.
Fawkes quickly sang again, a calming song.
Hedwig hooted suspiciously, but lowered her wings.
Fawkes sang again, jerking his head at Harry, who was beginning to feel like a spectator at a tennis match.
Hedwig hooted a little sadly and shuffled over on her perch.
Fawkes hopped onto the perch, and gently patted Hedwig with his wing.
Harry closed his mouth. He blinked several times. “Would one of you like to fill me in on just what happened?”
Hedwig looked at Fawkes. Fawkes looked at Hedwig.
Inquiring hoot. Soft trill of phoenix song.
Both birds turned back to Harry. Fawkes shook his head.
Harry threw up his hands. “All right! If at some point you change your minds…”
“Boy! Get down here! Now!”
“Great,” Harry muttered.
Hedwig hooted sharply. He looked back at her, puzzled. She hooted again, looking pointedly at his hand. Harry, blushing somewhat, set the sword down on his bed before going downstairs.
Though I bet the Dursleys would be a lot nicer if I walked around with a sword all day.
Harry had expected to face at least a few questions about the strange music coming from his room, but the Dursleys didn’t seem to be able to hear Fawkes. Fawkes, for his part, always managed to vanish in a burst of fire before one of the Dursleys came into Harry’s room.
Hedwig, unfortunately, lacked Fawkes’ timing. She flew into Harry’s room after her night hunting two days later, just as Aunt Petunia was coming in to wake Harry up.
Hedwig landed on Harry’s desk and deposited a dead mouse. Petunia screamed.
“What is that bird doing? Bringing… bringing that into my beautiful clean house! Vernon! Vernon!”
Half an hour later the mouse had been disposed of, Harry had been yelled at, and Hedwig had been locked in her cage. Harry felt the mouse had gotten the best of it.
“Unnatural bird,” Vernon cursed as he stomped out of Harry’s room.
Fawkes appeared on Harry’s desk. Harry couldn’t help but imagining what Vernon would say if he saw Fawkes and burst out laughing. Hedwig hooted indignantly.
Harry was debating using a quick spell to let her out and risking the consequences when Fawkes took matters into his own talons. He vanished from the perch in a quick burst of flame, reappearing inside Hedwig’s cage. Needless to say it was a tight fit, and Hedwig squawked loudly in complaint. The squawk was replaced by a panicked scream as Fawkes burst into flames again, this time reappearing on Harry’s desk with Hedwig. Hedwig’s head swiveled rapidly, as if searching her body for scorched feathers. Harry couldn’t help laughing again, which won him a reproachful look from Hedwig and a happy trill from Fawkes.
This incident set Harry to thinking. The few owls he’d been able to exchange with the Weasleys had established that they would be more than happy to have him at the Burrow, but were unsure how to get him there safely.
Dumbledore did the same things once – Fawkes took him out of Hogwarts when the Ministry found out about the DA, and Fawkes carried four of us out of the Chamber, though he just flew then. Thinking of Dumbledore brought a momentary pain, but Harry suppressed it ruthlessly. After dinner, he decided to ask Fawkes.
“Fawkes? Do you know where the Burrow is? Where the Weasleys live?”
“Could you… um… disappear here and reappear there?”
Fawkes nodded again.
“Could you do it carrying me and my trunk?”
Fawkes cocked his head for a moment. He flew over to Harry’s trunk, hooked his talons around the handle, and flapped his wings experimentally, lifting it off the ground easily. He set it down again and held up both his wings very deliberately.
Harry bit his lip. “Two trips?”
I don’t want to leave my things here for the Dursleys to find. “Could you do them both in one night?”
Fawkes trilled happily and nodded again.
Harry grinned and turned to Hedwig. “Ready to take a message, girl?”
Hedwig gave a grand fluff of her wings, clearly expressing that while a phoenix might be flashy, you needed an owl to do an owl’s job.
Harry smiled. “Right, then.”
No need to worry about security. I’ve arranged alternate transportation. It is perfectly secure and if you think it will help you can tell your parents that it’s something Dumbledore showed me. I’ll come at night two days from now, if that’s all right.
I’ll tell Hedwig to stay there. She doesn’t like this kind of travel much.
Harry took a deep breath. Tell Ginny I miss her. He shook his head and hastily crossed out the last sentence. Tell everyone I miss them.
See you soon,
Hedwig made a show of standing very still as Harry attached the letter to her leg. She hooted happily, nipped Harry’s finger, and managed to get all the way across the room in a single long, graceful, glide. She swooped through the window and dropped out of sight, reappearing in an upward soar that must have lasted a full minute before she flapped her wings.
Fawkes sang. Harry easily picked up tones of amusement.
“You’re right; she is a show off,” he smiled. “But she’s a grand girl, isn’t she?”
Fawkes chirped. He then fluttered over and sat on Harry’s bedside clock.
“Right, right, I get the picture.”
Harry quickly readied himself for bed, but sleep would not come. Now that he knew how he was getting to the Burrow, his mind had moved on to where he would go next.
What he would have to do next.
It’s just like Quidditch. I know what I have to do, it’s the doing it that’s going to be hard. And the longer I take to do it, the more my friends are going to get hit by the Bludgers.
Fawkes began to sing a soft, gentle lullaby.
Harry grinned. But I’ve always been good at Quidditch.
Harry dreamed he was on the Quidditch pitch. Ron was Keeping. Fred and George flew by, making Weasleys’ Wildfire Whiz-Bangs fly from their bats. Ginny zoomed by with the House Cup under her arm.
Tom Riddle, sixteen years old and in his school robes, was the other Seeker. Death Eaters and Dementors flew about the field on broomsticks.
Harry dove after the Snitch – if Tom caught it, he would become immortal. He had to pull up to avoid Hermione, who was walking across the pitch reading an old spellbook with the portrait of a witch on the cover.
Fawkes shot the Quaffle through the hoops, easily avoiding Lucius Malfoy, who was the Keeper. Then he snagged it again and tossed it to Harry. But when Harry caught it, it turned into the sword of Gryffindor. Rufus Scrimgeour blew on his whistle, calling a penalty against Harry for illegal use of a sword. Snape took the shot, but halfway there turned around and put the ball through his own goal hoop instead.
“It will be all right, Harry,” Ginny called. “We’ll keep up long enough for you to catch the Snitch.”
Lightning flashed across the sky. When it faded, night had fallen. The Whiz-Bangs were the only light. Tom began firing Killing Curses into the audience. Harry flew towards him, but Hermione was in his way again, reminding him that he needed to catch the Snitch. He was the only one who could.
Professor McGonagall announced that anyone still playing at dawn would be given a detention, but no one left the field. Dementors were chasing Ginny around the field. Tom urged them on, yelling that if they Kissed Ginny it would be as good as Kissing Harry, since she’d kissed him. A Snitch sped past, and then another whipped by in the opposite direction. There were seven of them now, and he had to catch all of them to win.
Scrimgeour appeared again, announcing that this was all in accordance with Ministry regulations, and that Umbridge would be the referee. She turned into a toad, and Hedwig stooped down and snatched her off the field. Hagrid ran after them, warning Hedwig that Umbridge would give her indigestion.
Aurors pored onto the field, but Cornelius Fudge warned them that they weren’t allowed to catch any Snitches – only Harry could do that.
Only Harry could do that.
Harry rolled over in his sleep, and drifted into another dream.
An owl was waiting for Harry when he woke up. I thought I gave up my subscription to the Daily Prophet. Harry started to look for his money bag until he noticed the owl was carrying a letter, not a newspaper. He blinked several times. The owl hooted. Harry shook his head to clear it and then took the letter.
I wonder if I might drop in and have a word with you this afternoon?
Harry yawned, scribbled a hasty acceptance on the back, handed the letter to the owl, and flopped back onto his bed.
By the time Remus arrived, Harry was much more awake. Somewhat to Harry’s surprise, Remus Apparated directly into Harry’s bedroom.
“Hello, Harry.” Remus smiled very slightly.
Harry had his wand out and slightly raised. “I wasn’t expecting you to just Apparate in. How do I know you’re you?”
Remus’ expression didn’t change. “In your third year, I said that James, Sirius, Peter, and I would have thought it highly amusing to lure you out of the castle.”
Harry lowered his wand. “Well. What did you want to talk about?”
Remus sat on the edge of Harry’s bed. “Minerva is worried that you won’t return to Hogwarts and finish your education.”
“Is she?” I thought that’s what this would be about. I’m not changing my mind.
“Yes, Harry, she is. Like her, I’m worried that you won’t finish your schooling. Unlike her,” he stopped abruptly, and his head swung to look straight at Fawkes. “Harry? Is that… Fawkes?”
“I think so. I don’t know any other phoenixes.”
“What’s he doing here?” Remus asked, obviously surprised and puzzled.
“Well, I don’t really know. He was waiting for me with the sword when I got here, and…”
“Sword? What sword?” Remus broke in.
Harry slid the sword out from under his bed. “This one. The one I pulled out of the Sorting Hat in the Chamber of Secrets.”
Remus stared at the sword. “Fawkes shows up and brings you the Sword of Gryffindor? Was there a note?”
Harry shook his head. “No.”
“I see.” Remus shook his head. “Or, rather, I don’t see. But maybe I can do something useful anyway. Tell me, Harry, do you know how to use that?”
“Er. The pointy end goes into the other man?” Harry offered.
“A start,” Remus smiled. “Harry, the reason I came here wasn’t to try to persuade you to return to Hogwarts. If your mind is made up, I’m not likely to change it.”
Harry shook his head. “I’m not going back. I’ve got… something else I need to do.”
Remus nodded. “I see. And this time, I do see. I don’t know exactly what you’re going to do, Harry, but I’m sure you’re going after him, aren’t you?”
“Well, then. If you won’t go back to Hogwarts, might you be interested in a private tutor? I’m rubbish at Potions, but I received good marks in Charms, Transfiguration, and, of course, Defense Against the Dark Arts.”
Harry grinned. “I think that would be brilliant.”
“Good!” Remus clapped his hands. “I’d best be off. I need to tell Minerva that, although I failed to persuade you to go back to Hogwarts, I was able to get a compromise.” He winked and then turned to look at the sword again. “I might even know someone who could teach you how to use that, Harry. If Fawkes brought it to you, I’m sure there was a good reason.”
“All right, Fawkes, are you ready?” Harry took a glance around his room. It was almost midnight. Everything except the clothes he was standing in, the sword, and Hedwig’s cage was in his trunk. He grasped the cage in one hand and gently gripped one of Fawkes’ legs in the other.
With a flash of fire, Harry Potter left Privet Drive for good.
Harry flinched and blinked as flames briefly engulfed him.
When he opened his eyes, he was looking down the wrong ends of four wands.
End Chapter 1
Author’s Note: As I regard the movies as only somewhat cannon-y, I am going to deal with a slightly different sword of Gryffindor than is pictured in CoS. The sword I will be using is the same shape, but slightly larger, and the blade is somewhat wider, though only a bit longer. It is heavy enough that a 12 year old would probably swing it two-handed, though for a 17 year old or an adult it is a one-handed weapon. While capable of thrusting easily it is balanced more for swinging. Godric was an early advocate of the thrust over the cut, but he lived almost half a millennium before the rapier emerged in Europe. Thus his sword retains the basic shape of the period while being light enough to allow easy thrusts and parries.