As Dumbledore had said, the next month seemed to fly past. Harry was taught by Kingsley on one day, and Tonks the next, in a large and unused room on the third floor. Harry still wasn’t sure whom he preferred teaching him; Kingsley seemed to take it slightly more seriously, and, if Harry was honest, seemed to be a better wizard. However, Tonks had a way of making him believe he could do things, and her friendly, breezy attitude was just what Harry needed after being worked to the bone by Kingsley.
“That’s good Harry, but you must remember, You Know Who is likely to be sending more than jelly-leg curses and stunning spells your way - you know that your shield will be useless in the face of the Unforgivable curses”.
“Yeah, I know”, Harry said heavily, wiping the sweat from his face. He had been thinking this too. “So what am I meant to do about them, then?”.
Kingsley raised an eyebrow. “The obvious. You must dodge them. Put your wand away Harry; you wont be needing it for a while”.
Kingsley proceeded to teach Harry a wide array of ducks, dodges and jumps. The rest of the day was spent throwing himself to the floor and getting up as quickly as possible in order to avoid the next hex Kingsley shot at him.
When Harry was released in the evening he felt stiff all over, and felt bruises begin to rise on his body.
He wolfed down his dinner and had thirds, much to the delight of Mrs Weasley.
“I am glad you’ve got your appetite back, dear”, she beamed. “You are filling out nicely! Do you want some more treacle tart, now?”.
“No Mrs Weasley, honestly, I couldn’t eat anything else”, Harry said, resting his hands on his stomach.
“Oh alright then - but only because I know you’re a lot healthier - your cheeks are all lovely and pink!”
“Er, I think that’s a bruise, mum” Ron smirked.
Harry had told Ron and Ginny about his training, but not in full. He’d simply told them that Dumbledore felt that he should gain a bit of experience, in case he had to face Death Eaters again. He felt that he couldn’t tell them the lengths he was training to because they’d want to know why it was so important, and in order to explain that he’d have to tell about the prophecy - something he was putting off until Hermione came.
Harry hadn’t said anything to Dumbledore about the nightmares he’d been having at the Dursley, mainly because he thought once he was with the Weasleys they would stop. He had pretty much been right, although he never slept through the night fully; he’d wake up in a sweat in the early hours, trembling all over, but have no recollection of what he’d been dreaming. Harry thought that was probably a good thing. However, he woke up one morning sore and shattered, being bruised all over from his training and having had a particularly bad nights sleep. He trudged into the training room slowly, hoping that Kingsley wouldn’t work him too hard.
“Morning Harry”, Kingsley said briskly. “Today we’re going to study something different, something that Professor Dumbledore thinks is very important and is imperative that you master”.
“Okay” said Harry uneasily, wondering what he was going to have to do.
“You’re going to learn wandless magic,” Kingsley said with a smile.
“Wandless magic?”, Harry echoed in disbelief. “But…but that’s really advanced! I wont be able to do that!”
“Dumbledore disagrees, Harry. Apparently you’ve already shown rather an aptitude for it”.
“I have? How? When?”
“I believe you…er…blew up your aunt a few years back, Harry. I was told that you certainly didn’t have a wand in your hand when that happened”.
“No, I didn’t…but it wasn’t intentional! It was just because I was so angry…I was really angry at her.”
“Then you’ll have to learn how to channel that anger. You have already proven that you’re capable of doing it, so now you’ll just have to learn to direct it”.
It was, however, easier said than done. Harry grew more and more frustrated as Kinglsey shot spell after spell at him, and he was powerless to stop it. Kingsley instructed him to draw his arm in front of his body like he was slicing at the air, whilst all the time focussing, trying to push all this magical energy into the tips off his fingers.
“Protego!” Harry shouted, bringing his arm up, but again it was futile. He was blasted back into the wall and lay there for a moment, dazed, before getting to his feet and scowling at Kinglsey.
“You didn’t have to do that, you know. You could’ve just shot a harmless hex at me”.
“You fell back a few feet, Harry, it’s hardly the cruciatus curse”.
“I’m aware of that, thank you”, Harry snapped back.
His memories of being under the cruciatus curse were still all too clear. Kinglsey paused for a few moments, perhaps unsure what to say. Harry didn’t know if Kingsley was aware that Voldemore himself had performed the curse on him. Kinglsey clapped his hands together.
“Right…let’s go again”.
Harry sighed. “What’s the point? We both know I cant do it, it’s useless.”
“It most certainly is not useless. It is imperative that you learn this”.
“Why? Why do I need to learn bloody wandless magic?” he spat.
“Why? Use your brain, Potter” Kingsley barked, using Harry’s surname to show that he was displeased with him. “If you’re up against Death Eaters, there’s probably going to be more than one person shooting curses at you. Therefore, you’ll need to keep your shield up at all times, whilst simultaneously returning your own hexes. It is your choice whether you use your wand or your hands to fire hexes, but it would be beneficial to learn both”.
Harry spent the rest of the day growing more and more frustrated; however hard he tried, he could not bring a shield up or fire jinxes without using his wand. When Kingsley finally released him, it was and tired and angry Harry who hauled himself downstairs.
“Harry!” said an excited voice, and he felt himself being hugged tightly, large amounts of bushy brown hair obscuring his vision.
“Hi Hermione” he said weakly, trying to disentangle himself from her embrace; she was pressing against his bruises. She pulled back and surveyed him.
“Oh, its great to see you again, I’ve really missed you. I was so worried, Ron said you looked so thin and ill when you arrived”.
Harry glared at Ron, who shrugged, but looked embarrassed. Hermione flung herself at Harry again.
“Oh Harry, I’m so relieved you’re okay!”.
Harry winced visibly this time, and she drew back, looking worried.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, biting her lip.
“Nothing really…I’m just a bit sore, that’s all”.
“Ooh, is that from your training? Ron told me you were being taught how to defend yourself properly - he said you’re being taught by Aurors! What did you learn today?”
“Nothing” Harry said miserably. “Kingsley tried to teach me wandless magic, but I cant do it”.
“Why are you learning wandless magic though? I thought you were just being taught how to do a shield and stuff?”
Harry sighed. “There’s something I have to tell you both. Let’s go in my room.”
The three walked upstairs, Ron and Hermione darting bemused looks at each other. They sat down on his bed, and Harry took the chair opposite it. Her cleared his throat, suddenly strangely nervous.
“Erm…well, the thing is…you know all the stuff the Prophet’s been writing about me all summer? About being the Chosen One, and everything?”.
They nodded slowly.
“Well…the thing is…well, I’ve heard the prophecy. I know Neville smashed it, but the actual prophecy was made to Dumbledore years ago, and he told me what it said”.
“And what did it say, Harry?” Hermione asked, biting her lip.
“It says…it says…” Harry took a deep breath. “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord know…and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives…”. He tailed off miserably.
“Oh Harry…”. Hermione’s hand was over her mouth, and her eyes were filled with tears. Ron look confused.
“So…that means…what exactly?” he said, his brow furrowed.
“It means that the only person who has a real chance at killing Voldemort was born 16 years ago, at the end of July, to parents who had defied him three times”.
Harry nodded heavily.
“I thought it would be something like this”, Hermione whispered. “I just didn’t think it would be this bad. Oh Harry.”
“Blimey”, said Ron, who gone very pale, “But…what does it mean though, about you having powers that You Know Who hasn’t got?”
“I dunno really” said Harry honestly. “Dumbledore’s tried to explain it to me but I still don’t think I fully understand. He said it was love…the fact I can love is what protects me. Because Voldemort doesn’t undertand love”.
Hermione nodded, but Ron frowned. “I still don’t get how that protects you, though?”
“Nor do I really…but I do know that when we were at the ministry and Voldemort possessed me, he couldn’t stay in me, and Dumbledore said it was because he couldn’t handle the love that I felt” Harry said, feeling rather stupid.
Hermione and Ron stared at him.
“You didn’t tell us that You-Know-Who possessed you that night!” Ron said accusingly.
“Didn’t I? I s’pose it must have slipped my mind.”
“Slipped your mind? You Know Who possessed you, and it slipped your mind?” Ron said weakly. “You’re mental!”
Harry flared up, and opened his mouth to retort angrily, but Hermione shushed him.
“Ron, that wasn’t a very sensitive thing to say. I’m sure Harry was more upset about…other events…that happened at the Ministry.”
Harry nodded at her greatfully, not wanting to get into any heated discussions.
“Now,” said Hermione, standing up briskly. “I think we should all go to bed. We’ve got to get up early to catch the train tomorrow. Come on, chop chop!”
Harry and Ron stared at her in amusement for a second, and then got to their feet and left the room.
In addition to the members of the Order, Harry was accompanied to the station flanked by two stern looking Aurors, dressed in Muggle suits. To his intense irritation, they insisted on gripping his arm tightly, and when he tried to wriggle free they responded by grasping him even tighter.
“I don’t need you to hold my hand, you know”, Harry said indignantly, but they gave no sign of having heard him, hurrying him through the barrier to the Hogwarts platform. Harry felt the familiar jolt of happinness as he saw the Hogwarts express, and the many students pilling onto the train.
“Hiya Harry!” said Neville, and Harry saw him, Dean and Seamus hurrying towards him, smiling broadly. Their smiles quickly faltered however as they noticed the two stern Aurors still on either side of Harry, and Dean’s eyes bulged.
“Blimey Harry, are they your guards? How long are they going to be with you?”
“They’re going now. I think…I think the Ministry just wanted to be extra safe…you, know…” he tailed off, hating that the Aurors were there.
“Oh” Dean nodded. “Is that ‘cause of You Know Who? The Prophet’s been saying that you’re the Chosen One, and that’s why You Know Who is after you”.
“Yeah, well, the Prophet gets a lot of things wrong, doesn’t it?” Harry said quietly, unnerved by how accurate the Prophet was for once. He sensed Hermione and Ron glancing uneasily at each other, and quickly picked up his trunk and Hedwig’s cage.
“C’mon, let’s get a seat”.
As they walked down the train aisle, Harry noticed that the stares and whispers that he usually drew had increased tenfold. People actually darted out of their carriages to get a better look at him, and he heard snatches of conversation;
“…fought You Know Who at the Ministry…”
“…the Chosen One, apparently…”
“…d’you think it’s true…”
Harry felt himself flush. He kept his head down and stared straight ahead, trying to ignore it.
“What are you all staring at?”, came Ron’s voice loudly, and Harry felt once again grateful for the support of his friends. They piled into an empty carriage and flopped down on the seats. He sighed.
“Cheer up Harry” said Hermione briskly. “It’ll all die down soon”.
“What, like it did last year?” Harry muttered. “I think I’m going be using my invisibility cloak a lot more this year; it’s one way to avoid all the stares“.
The first half of the train journey was pretty uneventful. Ginny and Luna came in after a few hours, saying that they’d had enough of all the questioning.
“Honestly, they just went on and on asking what happened at the Ministry, whether I knew if Harry was the Chosen One, if it was true he really duelled with You Know Who…I couldn’t handle it any more”, Ginny said with a grimace, flinging herself down onto the seat opposite Harry. “I think this is going to be a bit of a tough year for you Harry, to be frank”.
“Yeah, well…I’ve never really had what you’d call an easy year, have I?” said Harry, trying to grin at Ginny. Things had been a little strained between them since their argument, although he had apologised and she had accepted readily. He couldn’t help feeling slightly uneasy around her, although he couldn’t really pinpoint why.
The door of their compartment was suddenly drawn open, and Draco Malfoy stuck his head round, smirking at the five. Harry couldn’t help noticing that he seemed different; cockier, if that were possible.
“Well well well….if it isn’t Dumbledore’s Army. Reminiscing about your little stunt at the Ministry? How quaint. Well, better not get too complacent, Potter. Don’t think you’ve got away with what you did to my father. I’m just biding my time…when I do get my revenge, you wont even know what’s hit you”.
Harry laughed scathingly. “Well, you’ve got me running scared now, Draco. I suppose you make Voldemort seem like a but of a pussy cat, am I right?”
Draco’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t say his name” he hissed.
“Why not?” Harry said casually. “I would have thought you’d like hearing it…might make you feel more at home. Then again, I don’t suppose your home life is that great at the moment…what with daddy being in Azkaban”.
Malfoy drew out his wand. “Don’t you dare talk to me like that, Potter”, he said quietly, his eyes darting from Harry’s face to the tip of Harry’s wand, which he’d drawn out straight after Malfoy had his. “You’ve had your warning. And let me tell you, I’m going to be watching you very carefully…and when I’ve done what I have to do, revenge will be so sweet”. He glared at Harry a few moments longer, and he turned on his heel and swept out.
“What did he mean, ‘when I’ve done what I have to do’?” asked Ginny, her brown furrowed.
Harry frowned for a while, thinking the same thing. “I think he’s a Death Eater”.
“Done be silly, Harry” said Hermione. “He’s 16!”
“I don’t think that matters“, Harry said firmly. “I think he’s taken his father’s place. Voldemort’s given him a job to do…I wonder what it is.”
A few hours later the train began to slow, and Harry realised they were nearing Hogwarts. Pulling his trunk out from under his seat, he delved inside until he found his invisibility cloak.
“I think I’m going to wear this on the way out. I’m not in the mood to be gawked at. You guys go ahead, I’m going to have to wait until the train clears a bit; I don’t want to be bumping into people”. Harry swung the cloak over his shoulders and sat back down.
“Don’t be too long, Harry” Hermione whispered as she, Ron, Ginny and Luna filed out.
“I won’t”, Harry muttered back. He waited a few minutes and then stood up, and walked towards the door. Suddenly, a pain so intense shot through his scar that Harry crumpled to the ground, white spots dancing in front of his eyes. His head felt like it was splitting open; surely he was dead, no-one could survive pain this strong. And then he heard the voice; high and cold, gloating.
“Harry…Harry…it’s been a while since we talked. I hope you haven’t missed me too much. Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll be seeing much more of each other in the near future. But perhaps I should leave you with a little reminder of what I’ll be doing whilst you’re pottering around at school…perhaps it would be good to remind you of whom you’re dealing with…”
The voice stopped abruptly, and in its place flashed vision after vision, the most horrifying things Harry had ever seen. There was flash after flash of green light, bodies tumbling to the ground, their eyes blank and unseeing. Harry felt nauseated as he saw a child no older than 5 fall to ground, surrounded by Death Eaters. He saw the Death Eaters laughing and closed his eyes tightly, but the visions kept coming. And then finally, as the pain in his scar lessened, Harry saw Dumbldore; his eyes wide and his mouth open to speak, but then the green light flashed and Dumbledore fell to the ground, broken, ruined…dead. Harry felt his vision cloud, and in vain tried to throw the cloak of him, but before he could move he blacked out, his body hidden from view on a train that was about to leave.
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