Harry lay on his bed and stared at the ceiling. It had been almost a week since the attack, but he still couldn't get the visions of dead Percy out of his head. He thought back to last year when Mrs Weasley had been dealing with a boggart, and realised with a shameful jolt that he had forced her to live out the thing she was most terrified of. She had come up to see him a few hours after Ron brought the list down, and tried her best to comfort Harry. She'd told him that no-one blamed him at all, for anything. She held him and told him that she loved him and he wasn't alone in this. Harry still thought that it was his fault, but he appreciated it nonetheless, and let her think that she had swayed his thinking; it was what she wanted. Harry knew that they were all worried about him and so he had done his level best to act like nothing was wrong. After the initial awkwardness the next day he made everyone think he was fine, and tried to act cheery, especially when either Remus or Mrs Weasley were watching him. But it changed nothing - Harry did feel like it was his fault, and the only way he could eradicate the situation happening too often was to get rid of Voldemort sooner than he'd planned. To accomplish that, he'd need to do more training.
"Moody!" Harry panted as he ran down the stairs, two days after the attack.
"Yes, Potter?" Moody growled, stumping into the kitchen.
"Can I ask you a favour?" Harry said, following him in.
"I'm sure you can."
"Can you help me train? I mean, not on your own...Tonks is focussing mainly on fitness and strength, Kingsley's mainly doing wandless and non-verbal magic...so d'you think you can teach me more duelling stuff? Like defensive curses and...and offensive ones too."
Moody turned to look at Harry, and then grunted. "Aye, I'm sure I can do that." His magical eye swivelled manically, looking Harry up and down. "Can you do the killing curse, Potter?" he barked suddenly.
"I dunno," Harry said in surprise. "I mean, I've never tried it."
Moody gave a sudden roar of laughter. "And I should hope not! Here...there's a fly on the wall. Try and kill it."
"Alastor, I really don't think..." Mrs Weasley began, hurrying over to the two of them. "He's just a child!"
"No, I'm not!" Harry said indignantly.
"Molly," said Moody, in a slightly patronising manner. "Potter has to kill You-Know-Who. How do you think he's going to manage that? Send a jelly-legs jinx his way?"
"I...well...just be careful," she said anxiously, sitting down at the table next to Mr Weasley, who was eating his dinner.
"Right, Potter," said Moody, looking at him expectantly. "Go on then."
"Won't...er, won't the Ministry detect it? I mean, they did the other night...when I did the Cruciatus curse."
Moody shook his head. "That's because we alerted them to what was happening and they were monitoring it. They don't know unless they‘re watching. Anyway, you're quite in favour with the Ministry at the moment, Potter. Being the Chosen One, and all that. They want to stay on the right side of you. Off you go, then!"
Harry drew out his wand apprehensively, looking at the fly. He didn't really want to kill it, to be honest. It wasn't doing anyone any harm; it was just sitting there. Harry knew deep down that it wasn't about the fly...it was about the fact that he didn't want to be a killer.
"I don't want to do," he said quietly, lowering his wand slightly. Moody growled.
"Of course you don't want to do it! Most sane people don't! But you have to...you know that as well as I do."
"But...it's just a fly," Harry said lamely.
"Would you rather practice on Mrs Weasley here, then?" Moody asked pointedly. "You're right, it is just a fly. But how can you expect to kill a man if you cant even kill a fly?"
"Alastor, really...if he doesn't want to then you shouldn't -"
"No, Mrs Weasley, it's fine," Harry interrupted. "I'll do it." He pointed his wand at the fly and took a deep breath. "Avada Kedavra!" A jet of green light shot from his wand and hit the fly, but it simply slipped down the wall a few inches, as though momentarily stunned, and then resumed its climbing. Harry looked at Moody.
"Well, I didn't expect you to be able to do it first time, boy! There's not that many wizards who can actually kill someone with that curse, you know. Dumbledore can't do it," he added, as an afterthought.
"Dumbledore can't do it?" Harry asked in horror. He suddenly remembered how Dumbledore had never sent killing curses at Voldemort that night in the Ministry, and his heart sank. "Then how the hell am I supposed to be able to learn it if he can't?"
"Well, I suspect, Potter," began Moody slowly, "that you have far more hate in you than he does. Far more anger, pain...rage. That's what you need to do it. You have to direct all your hate, all your anger at that person...you have to really want them dead. And I don't think Dumbledore has that. See what I'm saying?"
Harry nodded slowly. "Yeah. So, er...how am I meant to kill this fly then? I mean, I don't hate it, I don't want it dead."
"Use your brain, Potter. Pretend you do! Visualise someone else: You-Know-Who, Bellatrix Lestrange...whoever it is you hate the most. Professor Snape," he added with a wry chuckle. Harry grinned. He looked at the fly for a second, and then closed his eyes.
He thought of Mrs Weasley's face when she was sobbing over Percy's body...he thought of Sirius, flying through the veil, and Bellatrix's taunts...he thought of Neville's pain and embarrassment when he was visiting his parents at St Mungo's...he thought of Cedric, who'd done nothing wrong except be in the wrong place at the wrong time...he thought of his parents, of his mother's scream, his father's shouts, as they lay down their lives for him. He thought of the high, cold laugh that Voldemort had given as he killed Harry's parents, as he ended their lives. Harry's eyes snapped open.
"Avada Kedavra!" he hissed, and again the jet of green light hit the fly. This time it dropped to the floor at once, a small scorch mark on the wall where it had sat. Harry lowered his wand, staring at the burn mark.
"That was very impressive, Potter," Moody said in a low voice, looking at Harry strangely, although he certainly didn't sound impressed. "I wasn't expecting you to get it that easily at all. Strange..." His voice tailed off, and Harry felt very uncomfortable.
"That's enough for today!" Mrs Weasley said in a trembling voice, hurrying over to them. Her looked strangely pale and shaken. She gripped Harry's arm firmly. "Off you go to bed now, Harry!" she said, although it was only eight o'clock. Harry went up the stairs obediently, but stopped as he heard Mrs Weasley's voice.
"...don't know what you were thinking, Alastor! I'm sure Albus wouldn't be pleased if he knew about this...you know what he thinks about exposing Harry to...certain areas of magic..."
"Alastor was right though, Molly. Harry does have to learn this," came Mr Weasley's voice.
"But not like this! I thought for a moment...when he..." Mrs Weasley's voice stopped abruptly.
"Aha, did you notice too, Molly?" came Moody's voice eagerly.
"Notice what?" Mr Weasley asked.
"His voice...when he said it...reminded me of You-Know-Who," Moody stated.
"But...Molly doesn't know what You-Know-Who sounds like...do you, dear?"
"No, of course not!" Mrs Weasley sounded very flustered. "Although I did notice it sounded different...no, it was his eyes...they looked....strange. They didn't look like how they usually do...something...different...was behind them." There was a pause. "Oh, I'm probably being silly. It was nothing. Do you want seconds, Arthur dear? There's plenty of potatoes left."
Harry stood on the stairs for a few moments longer, and then walked slowly up to his bedroom. What on earth did that all mean?
For the rest of the holiday Harry threw himself into his training. He woke up at six everyday in order to do a two hour run in one of the downstairs rooms; it wasn't deemed safe for Harry to go outside so Kingsley had charmed part of the floor of the room to move, rather like a very large Muggle treadmill. When he'd finished that at eight o'clock, he'd move onto weights and endurance tests set by Tonks, often involving her shooting hex after hex at him while he attempted to roll, dodge and jump them. After two hours of this Harry was allowed an hours break where had a much needed shower and some breakfast, and then went straight into practising wandless and non-verbal magic with Kingsley. He was progressing alarmingly fast at this, especially with wandless magic. He could tell Kingsley was surprised and rather pleased, although usually he tried to hide it. At two o'clock he had another hours break for some lunch, after which he practiced duelling and curses with Moody until seven o‘clock. This was his favourite part of training, because the more he learnt the more his confidence grew. His shield was completely indestructible now; even when Moody, Tonks and Kingsley teamed up and shot stunning hexes at him simultaneously his shield remained intact, shooting the jinx back to the three Aurors with such strength that they were forced to drop to their feet in order to avoid it. Sometimes Ron, Ginny and Hermione would come in and watch while Moody taught him, although Harry didn't always like this; he found Ginny's presence rather a distraction.
The day before they went back to Hogwarts, Harry was practising with Moody when Ron, Ginny and Hermione walked in, followed by Remus, Tonks, Kingsley, Fred, George, Charlie and Mr and Mrs Weasley. Harry started at once.
"What's happened? Has there been another attack?" he said quickly.
"No, dear, don't worry," said Mrs Weasley, smiling at him. "It's just that you're going tomorrow and we all wanted to see what you've been up to for these last few week."
"Yeah, we want to see those newly bulging muscles in action!" said Tonks with a grin. She laughed. "Aw, he's gone all red! I love teasing Harry about him being all buff now...look how embarrassed he gets!"
"Shut up, Tonks," Harry muttered, feeling the heat rise in his face. Everyone laughed.
"Yes, you are looking much broader, Harry," Hermione said calmly. "Especially around here." She gestured to her shoulders and arms.
"Why are you looking at that, Hermione?" Ron said sharply. " You shouldn't be looking!"
"I can look at if I want! It's only his chest!" Hermione replied indignantly.
"You shouldn't be looking at his chest! It's private!"
"What, you're saying you've never looked at my chest?" Hermione snapped. Then she paused, her cheeks turning bright pink. "I didn't mean...I didn't mean it like that," she whispered, looking mortified whilst everyone else laughed, except Ron, who had gone just as pink as Hermione.
"Well, as everyone's here and it's your last day, what about a good old fashioned duel, Potter?" Moody said with a grin. Harry stared.
"I'm not going to duel you with everyone here!" he said in surprise. "You'll wipe the floor with me!"
"Where's that Gryffindor courage, Potter?" growled Moody. "You can't always duel someone poorer than yourself. I doubt You-Know-Who is an amateur at duelling!"
"Yeah, but...they won't all be watching when I duel him," Harry muttered, gesturing at the large crowd.
"We might be," Charlie pointed out. "You might have to kill him, but we're hardly going to let you run off and deal with him all by yourself!"
Harry's nerves were obviously showing, because Moody attempted to mollify him. "Come on, Potter. You're a damn good dueller, you know that. After these few weeks you're probably up there in the best I've ever fought. Don't give me that look, it's the truth. I may have more experience and knowledge, but you've got qualities I haven't."
"Like what?" Harry said sceptically.
Moody rolled his magical eye. "Like youth, Potter. Agility. Speed. I can't do much with this damn leg, can I?" he said, tapping his wooden leg with his wand. "And you're probably one of the most determined people I've ever met. Damn right pig-headed, you are. Come on...wands out, and bow!"
As Harry leaned up from his bow Moody shot a quick disarming jinx at him, and Harry's wand sailed into his hand. "Ha! You're dead already, Potter!"
"Hey! That's not fair...I wasn't ready!" Harry said indignantly, trying to ignore Fred and George's sniggers.
"But you should have been! Hey? CONSTANT VIGILANCE!" he barked, tossing Harry back his wand.
"Yes, I know," Harry said heavily, catching it one-handed. "Just let me finish my bow next time!"
They bowed again, and circled each other slowly, Moody's wooden leg clumping on the floor.
"This should be interesting," Harry heard Tonks murmur to Lupin.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry yelled, going on the offence. Moody blocked it easily, raising his shield and forcing Harry to duck.
"Stupefy!" growled Moody, but Harry dodged it easily, sending back a leg-locker curse. Moody blocked it smoothly, but Harry raised his wand again.
"Tarantallegra!" he yelled, but Moody ducked it with surprising dexterity.
"Impedimenta!" he growled, sending the blasting curse at Harry with such strength that it actually ruffled Harry's hair. He raised his shield quickly and wordlessly, concentrating hard. To his amazement he saw that his shield was, for the very first time, visible. It was gold, and curved around Harry, protecting him. It was very similar to the one Dumbledore had produced against Voldemort at the Ministry. He heard a few "ooohs!" from his crowd but ignored them, flicking up his shield again as Moody sent another stunning hex at him.
"Petrificus Totalus!" he yelled, but Moody blocked that too, sending a second blasting jinx at him, which he dodged. So, they were playing dirty, were they? Harry pointed his wand and yelled "Diffindo!", but Moody's quick shield send the severing curse right back at him. He dropped to the floor, and rolled quickly just as another stunning spell hit the place where his head had been a split-second before. He jumped to his feet, his eyes narrowed.
"Imperio!" shouted Moody, and Harry heard the crowd gasp at his use of an Unforgivable curse. In Harry's shock he let his reflexes down, and the curse hit him square in the chest. The voices started:
Snap your wand, Potter.
No, the rational voice said calmly, I don't think I will.
Just snap it - it's easy.
I'm sure it is. But I like my wand. I don't want to snap it.
Just place it over your knee and snap it. You can do it...
I know I can...but I don't think I want to, thank you very much.
With a grunt of concentration Harry shook the curse off, registering the surprise in Moody's eyes. Of course; it had been the fake-Moody who knew his aptitude for resisting the Imperious curse.
"Incarcio!" Harry yelled quickly, and the bottom of Moody's robes caught fire. Moody quickly muttered "Aquamenti!" and water issued from his wand, putting out the fire. Harry seized his chance to disarm, and yelled "Expelliarmus!", and Moody's wand sailed into Harry's outstretched hand. There was a short silence and then the room broke out in tumultuous applause. Moody's face creased into a smile as Harry threw him back his wand, unable to believe he had beaten Moody in a duel. Suddenly, Moody aimed his wand at Harry again.
"Expelliarmus!" he growled, and this time it was Harry's wand who glided through the air until Moody grabbed it.
"Hey!" Harry protested. "We'd finished!"
"No, Potter, we hadn't! We finish when one of us is stunned! If I was a Death Eater, I wouldn't play fair, would I? I'd run at you, knock you over. You have to immobilise them! Like so...Stupefy!" Harry threw himself to the floor, and rolled to his left, and then his right, as Moody sent two more stunning spells at him. Moody laughed. "Come on, Potter! Give up! You can't dodge forever, you know!"
Harry jumped to his feet, and without knowing quite why, held out his right arm and shouted "Accio wand!". His wand flew from Moody's hand and into his own, and with a flick of it, Moody's own wand was sailing into Harry's left hand. He looked at Moody for a second. "So, er...I have to immobilise you, right?" he asked levelly. A grin split Moody's face, and Harry returned it. "Stupefy," he said calmly, and Moody fell to the floor, stunned.
The cheering started up again, and Harry felt Remus clap him on the back delightedly.
"Well done, Harry, that was brilliant!"
"Oh Harry, why didn't you tell me you were so good at wandless magic?" Hermione said, hugging him tightly. "Will you teach me, Harry?"
"Er...okay," Harry said with a grin, trying not to look too pleased with himself. Fred, George and Charlie were all shaking his hand, big grins on their faces.
"Harry, mate...your shield! We could see it!" Ron said in obvious awe.
"That only happens if it's an exceptionally strong shield!" Hermione said excitedly. "I read about it...oh, Harry, you must be really powerful!"
"Er..." Harry said, feeling rather embarrassed.
"Of course he is, that's why he's the Chosen One," Ginny said with a smile. "Knew you could do it, Harry. Well done." She gave Harry a big hug and he felt himself go even redder.
"Harry, that was great! I‘ve never seen anyone progress as fast!" Kingsley said warmly, walking over and shaking Harry's hand. "But, er...maybe we should wake Moody up now. He wont want to miss all the celebrations."
Moody, it turned out, did not; he congratulated Harry sincerely, and was particularly impressed with his wandless summoning charm. "That will get you out of many a difficult spot, mark my words, Potter," he growled.
As Harry went to bed that night he felt very pleased with himself. But there was also a nagging thought that had been flickering around in his head ever since he'd heard what Moody and Mrs Weasley had said after he'd killed the fly. He had progressed amazingly the last few weeks, and he had displayed extraordinary raw magical power for a sixteen year old boy. But, he thought that night, as he tossed and turned fitfully in his bed, how had this all happened? Where had all this magic suddenly come from? And was this power actually really his own?