A/N: I heard this song (words and music by Don Besig) at a choral concert some years back and it has always been one of my favourites. It seemed to fit in perfectly with Harry's state of mind at the end of OotP. I hope you think so, too.
By the way, I'm just borrowing Harry from JKR for a little while.
There is a place I call my own Where I can stand by the sea, And look beyond the things I've known And dream that I might be free.
Harry Potter stood at the edge of the Hogwarts Lake with his hands in his pockets, gazing off into the distance. Anyone could tell just by looking at him that his thoughts were a million miles away—that something terribly heavy weighed upon his mind. There were rumours that he had suffered a terrible loss yet again and he didn't want to talk about it. Everyone knew he wasn't speaking to anyone about what had been in the Sunday Prophet two days ago and even the Heads of Houses had been quietly warning students to leave Harry in peace. It was just as well because Harry didn't have the desire to discuss anything with anyone at the moment. It seemed that it took all his energy just to get out of bed in the morning and find a solitary place where he could be alone with his thoughts.
Hogwarts: his refuge from his nearly unbearable life with the Dursleys; the place where he first learned he could be something other than Dudley's punching bag; the one place he felt free to be himself; the place he had finally discovered he had a future he could look forward to. He remembered telling Dobby the summer before his second year that he absolutely had to go back to Hogwarts because that was where he belonged — it was where his friends were. In short, it was the place he called home.
So here he was, almost four years later, and so much had changed, yet so much was the same. He still dreamed, but his dreams were different. What he wanted for himself was a foreseeable future with no Lord Voldemort, a normal adult existence and perhaps a family of his own someday. Right now, though, he had no idea whether any of what he wished for was even feasible. Everything went back to the prophesy and the fact that he was the one chosen to vanquish the Dark Lord.
Harry knew his friends would try to help him attain whatever dreams he had for himself, if he just asked. He knew the Weasley family would support any decision he made about his future, like his ambition to become an Auror, and that Hermione wanted nothing more than to help him attain the highest marks in his classes and pass his N.E.W.T.s with flying colours. But right now, the question for Harry was whether or not taking all the pre-Auror courses at Hogwarts was worth it. He could very well be dead in two years' time. Although she and Ron didn't know what the prophesy had contained, Hermione seemed to think it would be worth the effort. If he were successful in killing the Dark Lord, Harry would need a career to pursue once he left Hogwarts. Besides, she and all the other DA members believed that Harry could destroy Voldemort once and for all when the time came.
Like the bird above the treesGliding gently on the breeze, I wish that all my life I'd be Without a care and flying free.
Harry sighed and turned his eyes toward the Quidditch pitch. As it was late in the afternoon long after lessons were over, he could see quite a few students flying around on their brooms. Normally, he would have been one of them, but even after getting his Firebolt back from Professor Umbridge's office, he had no desire to join them. He turned away from the lake and began walking toward the castle unable to watch any longer.
Where has my desire to fly gone? Did banning me from Quidditch affect me more than I thought? He wondered as he mounted the steps to the front doors. Or maybe I lost the desire to dance on the wind with Sirius' death. His stomach clenched with the all too-familiar despair and he rubbed a hand over the back of his neck where his head was beginning to ache. A heart-wrenching thought struck him. As long as I own the Firebolt, it will hurt to fly. Could he ever be truly free on a broomstick again?
He approached the Fat Lady and quietly gave the password. The portrait swung forward and Harry climbed into the common room, heading for his dormitory. He pulled his trunk out from under his bed and unlocked it with his wand. Inside, on top of some wrinkled robes, was his Firebolt. Harry hesitated a moment before picking it up. When he did, he felt it vibrate slightly in his grasp. It had been so long since he had held it, much less ridden it. With a strangled sob he clutched it to his chest and buried his head in his hands. Sirius, why did you have to die?
The Firebolt, his Christmas gift from Sirius in his third year, had given him the means to participate fully in the Wizarding world. The loss of it thanks to Umbridge's cruelty had taken its toll on him this year. He seemed to have resigned himself to the fact that he was eternally earth-bound and would never again experience the euphoria flying brought him. Its loss, and that of Sirius himself, had brought reality crashing down on him and Harry felt that nothing in the world would ever lift that feeling. Never again would he be an innocent boy whose only cares included avoiding Dudley and whether or not he had performed his chores to Aunt Petunia's satisfaction.
Life was complicated now and for a fleeting moment Harry wished he could be eleven again: he remembered how his heart had raced the first time he'd mounted one of the school brooms. He had felt so light and buoyant, so alive in the air. The feeling had never left him through every gruelling Quidditch game or even last August's flight from Little Whinging to Grimmauld Place. Now Harry didn't know what to feel. All he knew was the terrible gaping hole that felt as if it were about to swallow him.
But life is not a distant sky Without a cloud, without rain, And I can never hope that I Can travel on without pain.
Harry raised his head and wiped his face on his sleeve. He dove back into his trunk in search of his photo album. It was sandwiched between some old spell books near the bottom and he flipped the pages until he came to the familiar picture from his parents' wedding. There, standing next to his father, was Sirius.
Would he ever stop hurting when his thoughts turned to his godfather? Perhaps not. Could he learn to live with the pain of losing the one adult who had been almost like a parent to him? Perhaps.
Harry felt incredibly hollow inside right now. He had not realized how important Sirius had become to him until he wasn't there any longer. It had been so comforting to know that almost any time he needed an adult to talk to, Sirius would be available or would risk everything to see that Harry had the support he needed. Now Sirius was gone and there was no replacing him; that hurt. Professor Dumbledore had said the other morning that feeling pain was part of loving someone, part of being human. Harry hadn't wanted to be human at that particular moment and, at times, he wasn't so sure if he still did. It was all so confusing.
Time goes swiftly on its way. All too soon we've lost today. I cannot wait for skies of blue Or dream so long that life is through.
Harry closed his eyes again, trying to master his emotions. When he opened them his gaze again fell on the photo. At his mother's side stood Remus Lupin, the only remaining Marauder, and next to him, Peter Pettigrew. (True, Pettigrew was still alive, but to those who had once known him, he was as good as dead.) Harry had come to trust Remus almost as much as he had Sirius, but he wasn't sure he could ever establish the same rapport he'd had with Sirius. Maybe in time he would.
Harry closed the album and locked it safely again in his trunk. Something told him that he needed to make a decision about his life within the next few days before it was too late.
He thought of Professor Trelawney's prophesy. Somewhere in his past he had learned that to kill another human (or part-human in Voldemort's case) was wrong. His destiny was at war with this concept. He didn't want to kill, but in order to stay alive he would have to or be murdered himself — deep down, Harry very much wanted to stay alive.
Harry thought about how guilt-ridden Professor Dumbledore had seemed the other morning as he had confessed his own short-comings to Harry. On the one hand, Harry was grateful to his Headmaster for waiting until now to tell him what the prophesy contained; on the other, he was furious with him for not having told him earlier.
Was this what really loving someone caused people to do sometimes? Could Dumbledore love him so much that he had been truly blindsided as to obscure the truth of the situation? So much pain could have been avoided. Pain that was twisting and writhing inside him at this very moment as he agonized with his conscience.
So life's a song that I must sing A gift of love I must share And when I see the joy it brings My spirits soar through the air.
Harry walked to the window next to Neville's bed still clutching his Firebolt. He opened it and looked around. The grounds were now deserted (everyone had gone into the Great Hall for dinner) and Harry suddenly felt the urge to mount his broomstick and soar into the evening sky. Perhaps a short flight might help him come to terms with his destiny after all. He threw his leg over the Firebolt and pushed off.
A cool breeze ruffled his hair as he flew over the school. How different Hogwarts looked from the air. Harry remembered the fleeting glimpses he'd had as he'd passed over the castle on the thestral last week. This flight was much slower and he could see more of the architectural details on the various wings as he flew over them.
As he flew he thought about how on Sunday he had sat by the lake thinking about his life. He hadn't felt scared or fearful then. Only at night were his dreams affected and he had awoken shaken and sweaty and unable to go back to sleep.
One thing was certain; no matter what, he would have to face Voldemort one day and he was suddenly determined to be alive at the end of that battle. He was "The Boy Who Lived" after all and it wouldn't do to die at the hands of that evil wizard and therefore plunge the world further into darkness. Too many people thought of him as their hero. If he let them down....
In the meantime, he decided, he had to accept his responsibility. If he were successful, the majority of the Wizarding world would rejoice at being freed of Voldemort. Maybe then he could be happier....
Like that bird up in the sky, Life has taught me how to fly. For now I know what I can be And now my heart is flying free!
Harry landed on the Quidditch pitch with a monumental sigh. He'd found no pleasure in this flight for too many things still weighed upon his mind. However, it was time to return to Gryffindor Tower and get ready for the long night ahead. He wasn't happy with his acceptance of his prophesied destiny and he wasn't yet ready to share it with anyone. He would keep silent a while longer. As he shouldered his Firebolt, he knew he'd do everything in his power to see that the Wizarding world was purged of Voldemort and that in itself lightened the burden on his heart a little.
A/N: Many thanks to Madam Minerva , my beta, for her time and suggestions which have helped to make this story better. Please review. Your words are always important and I appreciate them.