Chapter 7 : The Holidays End
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“Percy is unharmed, as far as we know.” Remus said. “But…” He didn’t seem to be eager to tell them what had happened at the Ministry.
After a long silence Snape finally spoke up. “It seems that he has changed sides.”
“What do you mean ‘changed sides’?” Ron asked sharply.
Harry looked at Ginny who seemed to have understood what Snape was telling them. Her face was as white as a sheet. She looked at her father pleadingly. “Dad?”
Mr Weasley looked up at his two youngest children. He looked much older than he usually did. “He fought with the Death Eaters.” he said softly.
Harry couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He and Percy had never been the closest of friends. Harry always hung around more with the twins and Ron and Ginny when he stayed with the Weasleys. But he had never thought Percy would be capable of joining the Death Eaters.
“Did he take the Dark Mark?” Ron asked harshly.
Mr Weasley shook his head. “We don’t know.”
“I highly doubt that.” a calm voice came from behind them. Albus Dumbledore had reappeared in his office. “I ran into Percy during the fight and I talked to him. I have reason to believe that he currently is under the influence of the Imperius Curse.”
The Weasleys looked very relieved to hear that news. There was still hope for their son.
“Can we do something for him?” Mrs Weasley asked. It was the first time she had said something since they had arrived at Hogwarts.
“We will do everything we can.” Dumbledore assured her. “But I am afraid…”
“What is it?” Mr Weasley asked urgently.
“If this war ends, Percy will have to appear before the Wizengamot and he could be held responsible for Death Eater activity.” Dumbledore explained.
“But he is under the Imperius curse” Mrs Weasley said.
“I know that, Molly.” Dumbledore said sympathetically. “But not everyone will know that. The fact is that his crimes – “
“What crimes?” Mr Weasley asked, staring at Dumbledore in anticipation.
Dumbledore sighed deeply before he answered him. “Percy killed the Minister of Magic.”
The attack on the Ministry on Ginny’s birthday had great consequences for the wizarding world. Voldemort hadn’t declared himself Minister of Magic like they expected, although the Ministry was under his total control. He appointed a woman called Dolores Umbridge to fill in the post as Minister while he sought other ways to expand his power.
All the inhabitants of number 12 Grimmauld Place were now staying at Hogwarts, together with a lot of members of the Order of the Phoenix. They knew Draco Malfoy was staying at Hogwarts too over the summer but none of them had seen him yet.
The Order of the Phoenix was actively searching for Percy, hoping that he hadn’t been taken into Voldemort’s inner circle. Their search actions didn’t have any results until six days after the attack.
Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Jacinta were in the Gryffindor common room when Mr and Mrs Weasley and the twins entered through the portrait of the Fat Lady. One look at Mrs Weasley’s face told them all that they wouldn’t receive any good news. It was apparent she had been crying and the twins and Mr Weasley were looking very depressed too.
“We found Percy.” Mr Weasley said softly.
The five teenagers looked at him expectantly. Ginny squeezed Harry’s hand so tight it hurt.
“He was killed.”
Harry felt Ginny’s grip on his hand loosen. She started to cry softly. Harry pulled her close and kissed her hair. “What happened?” he asked while he held Ginny.
“They seem to have killed him right after the attack on the Ministry.” Mr Weasley said. “Apparently they didn’t need him anymore once they had the Ministry under their control.”
Harry felt anger stream through him. Voldemort had taken his parents, Sirius, Angelina and now Percy. His heart sank when he looked at Mrs Weasley. She had lost her two brothers during the first wizarding war and now she had lost one of her sons.
Harry carefully let go of Ginny and walked towards his surrogate mother. “I’m so sorry.” he said softly and hugged her.
Mrs Weasley smiled weakly at him when he let go, but she looked like she could break any second. This war was taking too much out of all of them. Harry swore once again that he would end it. He had to be the one to kill Voldemort and he would make sure that he would be.
“Very good, Harry. I think that is enough for today.”
Dumbledore gestured for Harry to sit down and took his own place behind his desk. It was a week before the new school year at Hogwarts would start and they had just finished another one of Harry’s lessons. The headmaster was very pleased with the improvement of Harry’s magic and powers since the Horcrux within him had been destroyed.
“I am sorry to bother you about it again, Harry,” Dumbledore said. “but I wondered if you had already told your friends about the Horcrux.”
Harry didn’t have to ask which Horcrux Dumbledore meant. “Yes.”
He had told Ginny about it first, because he knew she would understand him. She was the only one he knew who knew how he felt about it. Encouraged by her positive reaction he had also told Hermione, Ron and the twins.
His two best friends were only positive about it, because Harry would now be a greater threat to Voldemort and the twins had found it ironic because Voldemort had apparently destroyed part of his soul himself. Harry smiled as he remembered them joking about it.
“I take it they did not turn away from you then, like you feared.” Dumbledore had been watching Harry closely.
Harry shook his head. “No, they were very supportive.”
“I would not have expected anything else.” Dumbledore smiled. “They are truly an extraordinary family, the Weasleys.”
They remained silent for a moment while they thought about the funeral they had attended that morning. Thinking about the deceased Weasley brother made Harry realize something.
“Professor, does Voldemort know I’m not dead now? I mean, Percy knew I was still alive, so wouldn’t he have told him?”
“I do not think so.” Dumbledore said. “I do not even think Percy has ever spoken to Voldemort. The only task he had was to kill the Minister of Magic.”
“But surely, they know Percy is a member of the Order of the Phoenix.” Harry said. “Wouldn’t they use him to find out things about it?”
“Ah, but to the outside world Percy was never a member of the Order.” Dumbledore smiled slightly when he saw Harry’s puzzled face. “We have spread the rumour around the Ministry that Percy and Arthur had a big fight and were not getting along anymore. Scrimgeour was always very suspicious about the Order and if he had known Percy was a member too, he would have never promoted him to his office.”
“So Voldemort still thinks I’m dead?”
“I really think so, yes.” Dumbledore answered. “But I am afraid that won’t be for long.”
“What do you mean?” Harry asked.
“The new term starts next week. Surely, your friends and the members of the Order were able to keep it quiet that you were still alive, but we cannot expect that that secret will be kept when the entire student body of Hogwarts returns. Especially because there are still children of known Death Eaters among them.”
“Crabbe and Goyle.” Harry grumbled. He hadn’t forgotten what they had done to Jacinta last year, without even being punished for it.
“Among others.” Dumbledore said. “But I can assure you that they will not lay a finger on Jacinta this year. I will make sure of that.”
Harry smiled gratefully.
“While we are on the subject.” Dumbledore added. “I am sure you remember that Jacinta’s brother is staying at Hogwarts too.” Harry nodded. “He would like to speak to you before term starts.”
“Malfoy wants to speak to me?” Harry asked unbelievingly.
“Yes. And I would strongly recommend you do so, Harry. I think you might be surprised.”
The twins thought it was ridiculous, Hermione strongly supported it, Ginny had her doubts and Ron thought he had gone mad, but that night Harry made his way to the private room that had been assigned to Draco Malfoy.
Malfoy stared at him with his mouth slightly open when he saw Harry. He didn’t say anything and didn’t move to let him in. He probably didn’t expect that Harry would agree to talk to him.
“You wanted to talk to me?” Harry said finally.
Malfoy closed his mouth and nodded. He stepped aside and let Harry in, motioning for him to sit down. Harry sat down in an armchair and looked at Malfoy expectantly.
“I wanted to apologise.” the Slytherin said. “I knew what was going on, but I chose to ignore it. I wish I could go back so I could spare her from all she went through, but I can’t.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “I think you’re apologizing to the wrong person.”
“I know. I have apologized to her.” Draco said quickly.
“What did she say?” Harry asked surprised. Jacinta hadn’t said anything to him about it.
Draco shrugged. “She said she understood. But that doesn’t take away the fact that I was wrong.”
“Do you think that’s the only thing you were wrong about?” Harry asked.
Draco shook his head. “I realize I have been unfair to you over the years. And to your friends.”
Harry watched his childhood nemesis. He didn’t seem to be anything like the old Draco Malfoy anymore. “What happened to you?” he asked slowly.
“I don’t know.” Draco said. “My father has told me my whole life what to think and what to believe and I was stupid enough to follow him. Now that I am away from him, it’s like I can finally think for myself. And I realized that I’m not anything like my father. However hard it may be for you to believe that.”
“It is kind of hard.” Harry mumbled.
“Look, it became very clear to me that I had only two choices. Either I broke with my family and opposed the Dark Lord or I stayed at home with my parents and I’d probably end up a Death Eater.”
Harry nodded. “I understand.”
“I realize now that the person you are or the powers you have aren’t defined by the purity of your blood.” Malfoy said. “You and Granger are perfect examples of that. I’m sorry.”
“When Jacinta was attacked by Crabbe and Goyle last year…” Harry said. “You really didn’t know anything, did you?”
Malfoy shook his head. “I didn’t know it was Crabbe and Goyle until Dumbledore told me before my father’s trial.”
Harry nodded again and stood up from his chair. “I have to go, now.” he announced and walked towards the door.
Malfoy stood up too and followed him. “So are we okay?” he asked.
Harry turned around and held out his hand. “We’re okay.” he said as Malfoy shook his hand.
“That doesn’t mean I like you!” he added just before he disappeared.
Two days before the other Hogwarts students would arrive for the start of term, Dobby suddenly appeared in the Gryffindor common room. The house elf had returned to Hogwarts when the inhabitants of Grimmauld Place had moved.
“Professor Dumbledore has asked me to bring you these, sirs and misses.” the elf said happily as Harry looked up from the diary he was reading. He gave them their Hogwarts letters.
“About time we got these.” Ron said.
“Well, it has been rather a busy summer!” Hermione reminded him. “I wonder how we’ll be able to get our stuff. We aren’t even allowed to leave the grounds.”
“The Order will probably get everything for us.” Harry said. He looked at Ginny apologetically. He hadn’t been able to get her a real present for her birthday as they were cooped up at Grimmauld Place and Hogwarts for the entire summer. He had promised her to get her something when they went to Diagon Alley to get their school supplies, but they probably would not be allowed to go.
Ginny knew what he was thinking. She just smiled and kissed him quickly on the cheek. “I don’t care about presents, Harry. You know that.”
They all opened their Hogwarts letters.
“So, are you a Prefect, Ginny?” Ron asked.
“Are you mad?” Ginny laughed. “Demelza probably got it.”
“I’m Quidditch captain!” Harry said excitedly.
“You say that like it’s a surprise.” Ron laughed.
Ginny kissed him again. “Congratulations! You deserve it. I’ll try out for Chaser, maybe we can play together.”
“I’m sure you can.” Jacinta said. “Dating the team captain sure won’t do any harm.”
They all laughed. “Neither does being his little sister.” Ginny shot back.
“I don’t think I’ll try out this year.” Jacinta said.
“Why not?” Harry asked. “You’re a great Chaser.”
“Well, Katie is still here and then there’s Ginny who’s definitely good enough to make the team. Then there’s only one spot left.”
“Harry was only a first year when he made the team.” Hermione said encouragingly. “It wouldn’t hurt to try.”
“Sure.” Harry said. “And if you don’t make it, we can always use substitutes. We haven’t finished one season without injuries since I joined the team.”
“You mean you didn’t.” Ginny smirked. “You’re probably the most reckless seeker I know.”
Several Order members, including Fred and George, went to Diagon Alley that afternoon to buy the school supplies for the students. Harry asked the twins to get one more thing that wasn’t on their lists.
“Oh Harry, you shouldn’t have!” Ginny said that evening in the common room. On her lap was a new Nimbus 2002.
“I know.” Harry said. “It’s for me too. I want my new Chaser to be well equipped.”
Ginny smiled widely and kissed him full on the lips. “Thank you.” she said softly. “But I still need to make the team first.”
“I don’t doubt you will.”
“Cease-fire is important but it can only last for a very, very short time” – Silvan Shalom
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