The next few days were hell for Harry. The news of what had happened in the Transfiguration lesson had spread throughout the school within minutes, with the stories becoming more and more exaggerated. Most people seemed to think he had had some kind of fit, and then woke up and started hexing everyone, talking in Voldemort’s voice and cursing all the Mudbloods. It did nothing to dispel the Chosen One rumours; apparently people seemed to think that this was proof that he was indeed the Chosen One - why would Voldemort possess him otherwise?
The whispers and looks he drew had increased even more, if that were possible, and even when he was in the Gryffindor common room he could not escape from it. His closer friends avoided asking him about it, but still he saw the curious looks Dean, Seamus, Parvati and the likes shot at him. It was mainly the younger Gryffindors who actually asked him about it, or, more annoyingly, just hovered next to him, hoping to hear what he was saying, until Ron chased them away.
The day he was due to start his first Occlumency class started horribly. Harry, Ron and Hermione walked down the stairs on their way to breakfast when Harry realised he’d forgotten his Charms homework in the Common room.
“I’d better get it if we’re going straight to Charms after breakfast. I’ll meet you lot in the hall”, he said heavily, doubling back. He hurried back upstairs, snatched his homework from the table and ran back down the corridor, his stomach growling. As he walked into the Great Hall, however, he was greeted with a silence so absolute that it seemed someone had cast a silencing spell. The whole of the hall simply stared at him. Although being stared at was now a daily occurrence, it had never been like this. Harry frowned, and walked swiftly to his seat with the Gryffindors. To his intense dismay, the looks did not stop there. Lavender was goggling at him, her mouth slightly open.
“What’s true?” Harry snapped. “What are you all talking about?”
“Erm…Harry…” Hermione was looking at him, biting her lip and looking as if she was dreading what she was about to say. “Er…the Prophet’s just arrived….and…”
“What are they saying about me now?” Harry said, his heart sinking.
“Er…well…maybe you should read it for yourself”, said Ron quietly, handing Harry one of the many newspapers strewn across the table. Harry reached for it, and as he saw the headline his heart stopped.
THE PROPHECY IS REVEALED: HARRY POTTER IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN KILL HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED.
Harry blinked in shock. “What…? How…?”
“Read it, Harry” urged Hermione.
Harry began to read it silently.
“It has been revealed that there is indeed a prophecy concerning Harry Potter and He Who Must Not Be Named, and, as the Prophet reported over the summer, that Mr Potter is indeed the Chosen One. An anonymous source revealed the entire contents of the prophecy to the new Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, who felt it was his duty to inform the Daily Prophet.
“The world should know the truth about this, I believe,” stated Mr Scrimgeour last night. “This is not only about Mr Potter and He Who Must Not Be Named - it involves every one of us. It is Mr Potter’s duty to eliminate He Who Must Not Be Named , but of course the Ministry is aware of the fact that he is not yet seventeen. We will be more than happy to put a highly trained team of Aurors under his command if he is willing to discuss these matters with the Ministry“.
He Who Must Not Be Named has attempted to kill Mr Potter on more than one occasion, and Potter has insisted for over a year that He Who Must Not Be Named had returned, which was proven when he was sighted at the Ministry last June. Mr Potter, incidentally, was also there, and rumour has it that the two duelled.
Potter is currently in his sixth year at Hogwarts school, but the question must be raised of whether it is still appropriate for him to continue with his education in the light of things. Should Potter really be focussed on turning teacups into toads when there are people dying? Should he perhaps be taking his role as the Chosen One more seriously, considering that there are thousands of lives at risk, not just his?
“It was a very sad day for the wizarding world when Potter was revealed as the Chosen One” said Dolores Umbridge, former Headmistress of Hogwarts. “I myself taught Mr Potter for a year, and he is certainly not exceptional. I must confess at being very worried that it is he who is the only one who can rid us of the Dark Lord; I fear we do not have much hope of his achieving this”.
Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, and who is thought to have a close relationship with Mr Potter, declined to comment yesterday.
For the full contents of the prophecy turn to page 5."
Harry looked up at Ron and Hermione, his face blank.
“How do they know?”, he whispered, crumpling up the newspaper in his hand.
“I dunno, mate” said Ron. “I dunno who could have told them”.
Harry looked around the hall; every face was turned towards him, even those at the teachers’ table. Dumbledore’s seat was empty, but Professor McGonagall was looking at him, concern written all over her face. Snape too, was looking at Harry intently, a finger tracing his mouth, his expression unreadable. Harry stood up shakily.
“I’ll see you lot later” he muttered, swinging his school bag over his shoulder. As he turned to walk out, the silence lifted slightly and the whispering started up. Some people began to shout questions at Harry, but he increased his stride and ignored tried to them.
“Hey, Potter, if you’re the Chosen One why are you still here? You be should trying to get rid of You Know Who! It’s your duty! How many more people are going to die while you doss about and play Quidditch?” an angry voice shouted. Harry turned slowly, unable to comprehend what he had heard, a dull flush creeping over his face. Zacharias Smith was standing up at his table, his arms folded contemptuously.
“When are you going to get your act together and actually do something?”
Unable to speak, Harry just stared at him, his face red with anger and shock. He opened his mouth to speak to Professor McGonagall got there first.
“How dare you! Twenty points from Hufflepuff, Mr Smith. You have absolutely no idea of what you’re talking about. If I every hear you talk like that again you will be in the Headmaster’s office before you can blink.”
Smith scowled, but sank down to his seat again. Harry stood still for a minute, and then turned to leave.
“Harry?” said Professor McGonagall quietly, taking a step towards him. Harry looked at her for a moment, then shook his head numbly, hurrying out of the hall.
Harry sat under his favourite tree beside the lake and tried to collect his thoughts. How had they found out? How did they know exactly what the prophecy had said, all the exact working of it? And how could Smith say that? How many more people thought that he shouldn’t be at school? Despite her rebuke of Smith’s words, did Professor McGonagall privately agree with him? Did she think that Harry should be out there now, hunting Voldemort? Should he? How would he manage though? He was nowhere near trained enough, he wouldn’t stand a chance. Groaning, Harry buried his head in his hands. A twig behind him cracked suddenly and Harry jumped up, instinctively pulling out his wand. Ginny stood a few feet for him, calmly looking at him.
“Easy, Harry. Its just me.”
Harry put his wand back into his pocket slowly and sat back down. “Sorry. You just startled me a bit”.
She sat down next to him, crossing her legs and looking out at the lake.
“I’m sorry, Harry. I’m sorry you’re the Chosen One” she said simply, noticing his look of confusion. “And I’m sorry everyone knows. I cant imagine how hard this must be for you”.
Harry said nothing, looking at her from the corner of his eye as she stared intently at the lake.
“But most of all, Harry”, she said, turning to face him, “I’m sorry for getting annoyed with you over summer when you didn’t want to tell me what was wrong. I didn’t really…I dunno…I didn’t really think of it from your point of view. And I understand why you didn’t want to tell anyone. It must have been so horrible just to think about it, let alone talk about it.”
Harry nodded, grateful that she understood. “Its just…sometimes I don’t know how I’m ever meant to do it. Kill him, I mean. Umbridge was right, what she said in the Prophet. I’m just ordinary, how can I ever -”
“Don’t you listen to a word that Umbridge bitch says!” Ginny interrupted, her eyes flashing angrily. “She’s evil and pathetic, and completely wrong. Think what you’ve done, Harry. You saved the Philosopher’s stone in the first year, you saved my life and got rid of Tom in your second year, third year you saved Sirius’s life and got rid of about a hundred dementors, fourth year you won the Triwizard Tournament and escaped from You Know Who again, last year you -”
“Ginny, its not like that!” Harry said angrily. “It wasn’t like that, it wasn’t like I did it all myself, I had loads of help from everyone, from Ron, from Hermione, from Dumbledore, last year I had you there too, and Luna and everyone - I couldn’t have done it myself, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had help -”
“So you had help! What’s your point? Most people still wouldn’t have had a chance even with all the help you had. Harry, you don’t see how extraordinary you are. You’ve done all these things, even with a bit of help, and you’re only sixteen! You’ve escaped from You Know Who God knows how many times, duelled with him - and you’re not even of age! Don’t you see how amazing that is? You can fight the Imperious curse - I don’t know anyone who can do that! You’re the best in the year at Defence against the Dark Arts, you know you are, you proved it last year! You’re incredibly strong minded, as Umbridge very well knows, you’re determined, you’re strong, you’re loyal, you’re brave…Harry, I cant think of anyone who could do this better than you…”
Harry said nothing. For some reason he felt close to tears, and stared at the grass.
“Yeah, but Ginny, even if you’re right about all that stuff…I’ve still got to kill him. And you know that’s going to be harder than anything else I’ve faced. And I’m the only one who can do it. I’m so alone in this.”
Ginny grabbed his chin and pulled his face up so he was looking at her. “Don’t you dare say that, Harry” she said fiercely. “You’re not alone. You’ve never been alone. You might be the one who has to kill him, but you know we’re going to be standing there beside you. You know we wont leave you”.
“But Gin, don’t you see? I’m the one who’s got to do this, no-one else. How many more people are going to have die because of me? Because they’ve stood beside me?”
“Harry, don’t be stupid!” Ginny said angrily. “This isn’t just about you! We’re all involved! You Know Who has affected all our lives…mine especially, in case you don’t remember. Sirius didn’t die because of you, Harry. Harry, look at me,” she commanded, as Harry turned away. “Look at me. None of this is your fault. Even if you weren’t the Chosen One we’d still be there fighting him! Because he’s ruined too many lives, because we cant let him do it anymore. We’re with you, Harry, whether you like it or not.”
Harry stared at her, a lump rising in her throat. He looked down again. “I know”, he whispered. “It’s just hard. Especially when people think…what Smith said…”
“Zacharias Smith is a pathetic little prat, Harry. We knew that last year. Don’t listen to him. You put up with people thinking you were crazy last year…come on, you can get through this”.
“This is different!” Harry said angrily. “At least when they all thought I was mad last year they wouldn’t blame me if someone died. More and more people are dying every week, Ginny. They’re going to think its my fault, they’re going to blame it on me…”
“Then I will hex them into oblivion” said Ginny calmly. “You’ve got through worse than this, Harry. You’re strong.”
Harry shook his head miserably. “I don’t know how much more of this I can take, Gin”.
Ginny looked at him silently for a moment, and then put her arms around him gently.
“Then we’ll be there to pick you up whenever you need us to, Harry” she whispered.
Harry nodded, too choked to speak, and wrapped his arms around her tightly, resting his head on her shoulder. They remained like that for a few minutes, until Ginny broke away.
“Come on, Harry, we better get back to the castle. If you miss any lessons McGonagall will kill you - Chosen One or not” she said cheerfully.
Harry got to his feet reluctantly. For some strange reason, part of him wanted to stay like that forever; to stay away from everyone else, away from the whispers and the rumours…and wrapped in Ginny’s embrace, sensing nothing but the feel of her body and the scent of her hair.
Harry raised his hand and knocked quickly on the door to Dumbledore’s office later that evening. He had been looking forward to speaking to Dumbledore all day. Much to Hermione’s dismay, Harry hadn’t gone to any of his lessons that day; he didn’t think he could face the stares and questions, and spent the day hiding in the boys’ dormitories. Ron ran up in a panic a few hours previously, saying that Professor McGonagall was looking for Harry and wanted to speak to him about his lack of attendance that day. Harry was forced to dive under his bed whilst Professor McGonagall checked the dormitory, and told the other boys to inform Harry that she wanted to speak with him. Harry was not looking forward to that.
“Come in” called Dumbledore from inside, and Harry pushed the door and walked in. He settled himself down at the other end of Dumbledore’s desk and waited for him to speak.
“I understand you have had fairly eventful day, Harry.”
“You could say that, yeah” Harry muttered. “How did they find out?”
“I cannot say for certain, but it is my guess that it was leaked by Voldemort. Or his Death Eaters, rather.”
“Voldemort? Why would he want everyone to know?”
“Again, it is only a guess, but I presume it would be to make things even harder for you, Harry. You see, Voldemort is very aware of the fact that everyone thinks you are the Chosen One, and I’m sure he’s also aware of the fact that all this added attention is not making you the happiest person in the world. I think he just wanted to add to your unhappiness. It makes it easier for him to invade your mind if you are miserable, Harry, it makes you an easier target.”
Harry frowned. “So you think one of his Death Eaters informed someone at the Ministry then?”
“That is my guess, yes. But you don’t seem to have grasped the strangest factor in this, Harry. Do you remember me telling you that Voldemort never knew the whole prophecy? That that was the reason he acted rashly - because he did not know the rest, about giving you power, and marking you as his equal. He never knew the rest.”
“But he did! The whole prophecy was in the paper, they were talking about what hidden powers I might have, and stuff like that!”
“Exactly, Harry. Which means that Voldemort now knows the whole prophecy”.
“Can you not think how, Harry? Have you been having dreams about the prophecy? Visions, flashbacks?”
“I…yeah”, said Harry, cottoning on finally, with a heavy feeling in his heart.
Dumbledore nodded. “Yes, it is my view that he has found out through his all-too regular excursions in your mind. Particularly strong visions and dreams you have are easiest for him to see, which is dangerous, as it is likely that any strong dreams you have will be important. We must take action against this”.
Harry nodded slowly. Dumbledore looked at him silently for a while and then spoke, his voice softer this time.
“How are holding up, Harry?”
“Fine”, Harry said automatically.
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows sceptically. “No-one expects you to be fine with everything that is happening right now, Harry. I understand you didn’t go to any of your classes today.”
Harry said nothing, but when Dumbledore didn’t speak he looked up. “I just didn’t want to deal with it, alright?” he said angrily.
“Deal with what?”
“All the stares, and the questions, and the accusations…you weren’t there at breakfast, you didn’t see what they were like, what they were saying…”
“Professor McGonagall has informed me of the events at breakfast, Harry. Including Mr Smith’s comments”.
“Yeah, well…how much more of that am I going to have to take? When the next people die, am I going to be faced with angry relatives, blaming it on me? The whole world thinks I shouldn’t be at school, I should be out trying to find him, they don’t realise…they don’t understand!”
“Of course they don’t, Harry” Dumbledore said calmly. “I don’t think anyone can truly understand what this is like for you, even those to whom you are closest to. While we’re on the subject, have you confided in your friends?”
“I told Ron and Hermione about the prophecy, yeah”.
“And have you spoken to them about today’s events?”
Harry shook his head. Dumbledore sighed again.
“I think it’s important for you to be able to talk to your friends about how you are feeling, Harry. Talking about it will relieve your burden slightly…it will not only be your problem then”.
“I talked to Ginny about it” Harry said quietly. “I dunno why I talked to her and not Ron and Hermione. I think it’s because she understands some things that Ron and Hermione just cant…I think because of the stuff with Tom Riddle in the second year - she knows what it‘s like…what he‘s like“.
Dumbledore nodded. “And what did Miss Weasley say?”
“She pretty much told me to stop feeling sorry for myself. That I have to ignore what everyone else thinks and just carry on. She said…she said that she thinks I can do it”.
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled. “And I have to say, I agree with Miss Weasley on every count. Keep your friends close, Harry. It’s important to be able to confide in someone, whether that you choose Miss Granger, Mr Weasley or Miss Ginevra Weasley for that”. His eyes were still twinkling brightly.
“Er…right”, said Harry, feeling slightly awkward. “So…how can I stop Voldemort then? How can I stop him gaining even more information?”
Dumbledore leaned his head to one side and put his fingers together in his familiar pose. “You must close your mind to him, Harry”.
Harry nodded firmly. “Teach me”, he said.
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