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Chapter Twenty-Five: Phoenix and Progression

Harry was just about to comment upon Severus' sense of humor when he heard a distant squawking noise and an exclamation from Madam Pomfrey in the next room. Both of them turned to look just in time to witness the door which had previously been ajar being pushed open, and the colorful form of Fawkes flying into the room. He circled the smaller ward once, perhaps out of a vain opportunity to allow the two wizards to properly admire his grace and plumage, before settling upon the edge of Severus' bed stand, trilling gently.

Eyeing the majestic bird with an expression that couldn't quite make it to irritated, Severus inquired of him, "Well, Fawkes. What are you here for, then?"

"He can't answer you, can he?" Harry couldn't help but ask, hoping that Severus wouldn't take offense from the question.

"He cannot speak English and is not telepathically inclined that I've ever noticed," was the mild reply, "But he has his own ways of making things known if necessary. Well?" Severus prompted again, his eyes still rimmed with exhaustion as he sat back against his pillows. "Is there something needed for the Headmaster, or is this just a social call?"

Fawkes just blinked calmly as he regarded first Severus and then Harry who smiled at the bird and said, "It's good to see you, Fawkes. See? We made it back. We're safe."

Severus snorted, darkly amused at the last statement.

For his part, Fawkes seemingly decided that enough was enough of this simple conversation and let out a stream of music to take the breath away of even the most hard-hearted and flew again, this time to settle upon the table between the two bunks.

"I hate it when he does that," Severus muttered after several moments. Glancing at the phoenix, he added, "Fawkes- you're about to knock my wand off of the-" there was a clatter of wood against the floor, and Severus ended with, "... table. In all this time has the Headmaster not taught you manners or common sense?"

Unoffended, Fawkes lifted off of the table and settled upon the ground. Harry grew worried when Fawkes seemed about to pick up Severus' wand with his beak, quickly asking, "He won't accidentally snap it in half?"

Severus shook his head slowly as the wand was collected. "He's got enough control to avoid that. I only wish he'd used his claw as it tends to leave less phoenix spit on the wood. Thank you, Fawkes," he muttered, "Apparently he knows enough of our condition- I'm certain Madam Pomfrey wouldn't appreciate our use of magic until we've her seal of approval, or at least until after Albus has finished his barrage of tests." Extending his hand towards Fawkes, he awaited the phoenix's return of his wand.

Instead, Fawkes flew up to Harry's bunk and settled there, Severus' wand in his beak.

Harry felt his eyes widen as he reached up to adjust his glasses, making certain that the bird offering him Severus' wand wasn't in fact an apparition. "Uh... Fawkes. That's Severus' - give it to him, not me." He chanced a glance over at the other bunk and anxiously considered the scowling wizard, fitful sparks of uneasiness coming to light in his previously calm aura. Making shooing motions at Fawkes, he tried again, "Go on now. Bring it over to Severus, please."

Ignoring Harry's urgings, Fawkes dropped Severus' wand upon Harry's coverlet.

Remembering the last time he tried touching Severus' wand, Harry made no move to pick it up. "Fawkes, please give Severus his wand. Neither of us are full of pep and vigor, and I'd really appreciate it."

Fawkes just shook his head negatively at Harry, indicating the wand with a glance, a chirp and a trill. Looking from Harry to the wand and then to Harry again, Fawkes let out a brief melody before he hopped to the opposite side of Harry's bed, leaving the wand where it was.

At long last, Severus made his displeasure known and growled with annoyance, "Just give it here, Potter. My wand didn't kill you last time; it is unlikely to do so now."

Pouting a little at Severus' tone and use of his last name, but at the same time pleased that Severus trusted him enough to pick up his wand, Harry prepared himself for the shock from its touch. Surprisingly, he only experienced a faint spark before it felt almost warm in his hand. Fawkes gave a trill of approval as Harry refrained from comment, leaned across the space between the bunks and gave Severus the wand handle first.

As both of them touched the ends of the wand they couldn't help but gasp as a rush of energy passed through them. "What in Merlin's name was that?" Severus exclaimed.

Harry felt there was a stronger way to phrase that, but as Severus seemed to be trying to keep his language clean, Harry did the same and kept quiet. He was glad of that when Dumbledore entered the ward again.

"Ah, there you are Fawkes. What have you been up to?" As Fawkes flew over to perch on Dumbledore's shoulder and greet him by preening his hair, Dumbledore made his way to the chair. Fawkes trilled in his ear as he sat down. "I see. Time for that, is it. Good."

"Albus?" Severus questioned with a touch of irritation as he absently wiped his wand upon his covers.

"Gentlemen," Dumbledore greeted in turn. "This is actually something new which has just come to light for me this afternoon. But apparently not new to Fawkes," he added with a stern look at the bird who resettled himself with dignity upon his human perch. "It does explain the swiftness of Fawkes' affection for Severus, however. Normally it takes some time before Fawkes so completely accepts a person, but he took to Severus right away. You remember, don't you, Severus?"

"Quite," was Severus' murmured reply. "It was my first visit to your office as a student. I believe it was the result of the third round of pranks between the Marauders and myself with Lucius."

"They didn't enjoy turning green and emitting gas-filled bubbles when they tried to speak," Dumbledore shook his head sadly as Harry tried to choke down his laughter and look properly affronted on behalf of his father, godfather and ex-Professor.

"Yes, well I didn't appreciate the dung-bomb they had slipped into my cauldron. Lucius was quite put out as well; we couldn't get the smell off for a full week," Severus snarled. "The interaction with the potion we had been making in class made certain of that, but had they done it a week earlier, the interaction would have caused a very nasty explosion. Would you have preferred that?"

"Of course not, Severus. But let's get back to the original topic at hand. Upon sighting you, Fawkes flew over to greet you as though he had been waiting to do so for a long time. He was terribly sad for days afterwards." Dumbledore lifted a hand to gently run it down the back of Fawkes neck, earning an appreciative sigh.

"And you've discovered why?" Eyeing the phoenix warily, Severus set his wand back upon the table.

"It is a matter of your wand," Dumbledore smiled, his eyes twinkling. "Apparently there was another wand that Fawkes gave something of himself to create."

"But I thought Fawkes gave only two feathers, that my wand and Voldemort's shared them," Harry protested softly.

Dumbledore's expression was kind and patient as he replied, "Indeed, that is true, Harry. Severus' wand does not contain a phoenix feather. It contains ash."

Staring at Fawkes in amazement, Severus murmured, "You mean that the phoenix ash is from Fawkes?"

"Indeed, it is. The wand chooses the wizard, and it seems that your fate was designed to some extent." Gently Dumbledore explained, "Harry had difficulty touching your wand. Voldemort would have the same trouble, if not more due to his intentions towards you as well as his lack of the bond. Were there any ... occasions that you recall where he did touch your wand?"

Slowly Severus shook his head, his voice both troubled and wondering, "He ... always had someone else remove it that I can recall. ... Removing it before working his spells upon me."

"You see? Fawkes was trying to protect you ... but wasn't entirely successful," Dumbledore sadly murmured, turning towards his familiar and placing an affectionate hand upon his head. "Poor Fawkes. You've given so much to try and help."

Severus eyed the phoenix again without expression, and Harry stirred himself from his amazed stupor long enough to investigate Severus' aura which was an unappetizing clash of emotions. Resentment, anger, bitterness, sadness ... and a reluctant gratitude. Turning back to Dumbledore, Harry asked, "But why did he do what he did just now? He gave me Severus' wand."

With a touch of surprise and then comprehension, Dumbledore answered, "I believe that Fawkes must have been attuning Severus' wand so that it would no longer harm you should you need to touch it." With an almost dark quirk to his smile, he added, "I suspect that the effect upon Voldemort should be pronounced now that the wand knows which of the brother wands it should guard against."

With a decisive chirp and a burst of complicated melody, Fawkes rewarded the human wizards for their understanding.


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