O.W.L. results and things with Ron deteriorate
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and other canon characters belong to JKR I'm only having some fun.
That night Harry put his kitten in her bed before he went to bed, when he awoke in the morning, Missy was sitting on his pillow playfully batting at his hair as it blew in the gentle breeze from the open window.
Chapter 4: Summer Passes
Harry looked on in amusement as his kitten amused herself, he had spent several Galleons on pet toys to keep Missy amused, and there she was playing with his hair, she seemed to notice that Harry was awake and with a purr that seemed to be worthy of a cat ten times her size she walked over and settled herself on his chest. Harry's hand came up and he started petting her gently, the kitten pushing her head into his hand, rubbing the scent glands in her cheeks against his palm, marking him as belonging to her.
Ginny entered the room to tell Harry breakfast would be ready in ten minutes and to move his cute butt if he wanted to have a shower. As Ginny left, Ron came storming in, fists clenched and face a shade of purple which clashed horribly with his hair.
"WHAT WERE YOU DOING WITH MY SISTER IN YOUR ROOM, POTTER" he yelled, "I KNOW YOUR TYPE, ONLY INTERESTED IN THE THREE F'S, FIND THEM, FUCK THEM, FORGET THEM."
He raised his fist and took a wild swing which would have probably broken Harry's jaw and Ron's hand had it connected. The naturally quick reflexes that made Harry a natural on a broom and a first class Seeker, had been enhanced with the weeks of training he'd had with Tonks and he easily avoided the wild swing causing Ron to stumble forward. Quickly regaining his balance Ron swung again and again not noticing his mother who had heard the shouting (as had everyone else in the house) enter the room.
"STAND STILL YOU BLOODY WANKER, TOO MUCH OF A COWARD TO FIGHT BACK, EH POTTER,"
Ron's tirade was stopped dead when he heard his mother's voice. "RONALD BILIUS WEASLEY, STOP RIGHT THIS MINUTE AND GO TO YOUR ROOM, WHEN YOU CAN ACT LIKE A CIVILISED HUMAN BEING YOU CAN COME AND GET YOUR BREAKFAST."
"It's all right, Harry dear," said Molly in her normal voice. "I know you weren't up to anything with Ginny, after all I sent her up to waken you, now have your shower and come downstairs."
With his face still a most uncomplimentary shade of purple Ron stamped his way up to his room muttering under his breath. "Fucking loser Potter, even my own mother is standing up for him, I'll get him, turning my family against me, wanker, why can't they see he'll only bring us bad luck."
Ron reached under his bed and pulled out a small wooden box. Pushing a hidden button he opened the secret compartment and pulled out the letters Percy had sent him over the year starting with the one which advised him to support Umbridge and distance himself from Potter.
Yes, Ron had shown the letter to Harry and declared his loyalty and had apparently torn the parchment to shreds and flung it in the fire, but later that night he had discovered another copy of the letter under the pillow on his bed. This second letter was more pernicious, it was a bit longer and promised fame and riches if he continued to befriend Harry for the remainder of the year and helped bring about his downfall. The parchment had also been impregnated with a subtle potion which leeched into his skin when he touched it. The potion made him more susceptible to the hateful words written there, it also had an addictive ingredient which kept him reading the letters which reinforced his negative feelings.
Every week from then on Ron would find a letter hidden under his pillow, on the weeks before Hogsmeade weekends there was usually a few Galleons included. Each letter played on the jealousy he had tried so hard to overcome, Ron had become very Slytherin in his outlook, he kept his true face hidden and showed the world what it expected to see.
After the fight in the Department of Mysteries when Ron had been hit by what they had later found to be the Intoxication curse, and subsequently played with the brains, he found it harder and harder to mask the bitter, jealous person he'd become. From below the letters he took out a phial of calming potion and drank it. Ten minutes later he was able to pull on what he now called his 'Gryffindor face' and he made his way to the kitchen, after all he was a growing boy and needed his food.
After Ron had left his room, Harry had picked up his trembling kitten and had soothed her before gently putting her in her basket. Missy however had that independent streak common to all felines and followed him into the bathroom. While Harry showered, Missy explored the bathroom. The drip of water falling from the tap on the wash-hand basin caught her attention and she played with that while waiting for her master. Harry showered quickly and after he had dried and dressed himself picked up his kitten and headed down for breakfast.
He was wearing a pair of Army surplus combat trousers, a light t-shirt, and a pair of 14 high Doc. Martens, these weren't Muggle boots, but were the dragonhide version made for the Wizarding world. As he ate his breakfast, Missy took up her perch on his shoulder, rubbing her cheek against his marking him with her scent. When Ron entered ten minutes later she ducked under the neck of Harry's t-shirt and slid down his chest and slipped out the bottom onto Harry's knee where she curled into a trembling ball. Harry felt his pet trembling against him and glared at his supposed best friend.
Before anyone else could say anything Ron spoke. "Harry, I'm sorry for what I said earlier, I shouldn't have gone off on you, you know me all temper and no thought of consequences." He held out his hand towards him.
Harry looked at the proffered hand, "Ron, I've got a frightened kitten on my knee, she's hiding from you, I don't care what you say or do to me but you insulted my girlfriend, who just happens to be your sister, and scared a defenceless kitten, I feel I don't know you any more. I'll accept your apology this time, but you also need to apologise to Ginny. If you keep going on like this, you'll start losing friends, I know, I've was the same place last year as I'm sure you'll remember." Harry took Ron's hand and shook it briefly, forgiven didn't mean forgotten.
Ron apologised to Ginny, Hermione and his mum for what he had said and sat down to his breakfast. Inwardly he was fuming about being the one to have to apologise in his own home.
Harry quickly finished his breakfast and then made sure there was fresh food in Missy's bowl. As he stepped outside he held out his arm and Hedwig flew down from her perch and landed on it. He petted his owl and spoke to her gently, he felt a hand touching his shoulder and heard Ginny speak.
"Thanks for standing up for me, Harry, Ron's been a real prat this summer, when you were writing to me he kept trying to steal your letters because he thought they were from Dean. You should have heard him going on about that, you'd think he hadn't shared a dorm and been friendly with him for five years, honestly you'd have thought I'd announced I was dating Crabbe or Goyle. He had the nerve to give some suggestions as to who suitable suitors would be."
"So, who does Ron think is a suitable suitor for you?"
"Oh, any Pureblood between the ages of fifteen and forty, he even suggested that Percy could look into the finances of anyone I was interested in to make sure they were rich enough."
"I'd have liked to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation."
"I'm surprised you didn't hear my reply, it was loud enough, I'm just glad mum was out and didn't hear me, I'd have been grounded for the summer for the amount of swearing I did, especially after he suggested Malfoy."
"But Malfoy's gay, he's in a threesome with Crabbe and Goyle."
"How did you know that? I thought he was dating Pansy."
"Window dressing, not everyone in Slytherin supports Voldemort." Ginny shivered at the mention of the name. "Millicent Bulstrode and Blaise Zabini have been keeping me informed for the past year. Pansy and Draco are having an arranged marriage, all she has to do is produce a male heir and show up on his arm at official functions and she gets to live in the lap of luxury for life. His mum and dad have a similar arrangement."
During their conversation Harry had continued petting Hedwig and had fed her a few Owl Treats as the young couple made their way over to sit below a tree in the garden. Their conversation turned to trivial things as they got to know each other better, neither noticed the scowling face watching from his bedroom window.
Harry looked at his watch and decided that a suitable length of time had passed since he'd finished eating, so he launched Hedwig from his arm and stood. "Ginny, I'm going for a run, I need to keep my fitness levels up, want to join me?"
"No thanks, where are you going?"
"Well, it's not really safe to leave your land so I think several laps of your paddock should be enough."
Harry went through his warm-up routine and then set off at a steady jog. He ran at that pace for about thirty minutes, then increased it for the last ten minutes before rejoining Ginny.
When he got back to Ginny what he saw brought a huge grin to his face. Hermione and Ginny were sitting on a blanket looking at some books, from the snatches of conversation he heard as he approached, Hermione was proof reading Ginny's summer essays. But that was not what made him smile.
Also on the blanket were three felines, while he had seen Crookshanks occasionally display some activity, (his favourite occupation seemed to be impersonating a ginger rug) the only thing he'd ever seen Sooty do was bask in the sun or eat. But there they were playing with his kitten, well Crookshanks was lying there letting Missy practise pouncing while Sooty was unsuccessfully trying to play mother cat. As Harry sat down Missy stopped her game and came over to demand attention, which she duly got.
"Hi guys," said Harry. "What are you studying?"
"Nothing much, just checking Ginny's essays, the same as I do at school. When do you think we'll get our Hogwarts' letters?"
"Oh in about two minutes, I can see four owls coming toward us." Replied Harry as four school owls started circling over the Burrow.
Three of the owls peeled off and landed on a low hanging branch while the fourth flew in Ron's bedroom window. The three teens approached an owl each and removed the letters they were carrying. Letters were swapped round until the correct person had the correct letter. Harry fed each owl a treat and sent them on their way.
They heard some cursing from Ron's bedroom and watched as an owl made a hasty retreat from the window. Ron had been rough in his handling of the owl, and it had retaliated in one of the few ways open to it, not wanting to get close to the human that had mistreated him, the owl had circled him once and as he looked up had shit in his eye.
Ginny's letter confirmed her fifth year classes, she only had two new books to buy as most of the O.W.L. books covered both years of the coursework, there was a new Potions book to buy and an updated edition of the CoMC book.
Harry and Hermione's letters were thicker than usual as they also contained their O.W.L. results and a list of the courses they would be eligible for at N.E.W.T. level.
As expected, Hermione had aced her exams but was disappointed to only receive an Exceeds Expectations on her Ancient Runes. Also in her letter was her prefect's badge, no surprise there. At her request, Harry called Hedwig and asked her to take a letter to Hermione's parents, which she did. Hedwig was happy to do favours for her human's friends, well the two female ones anyway, they had always talked to her when they visited the Owlery and slipped her bits of bacon at the breakfast table if she arrived before Harry did, as for Ron, any human who would associate with that pest Pigwidgeon, didn't rate highly with her.
Harry had done fairly well, his D.A.D.A. score was so high that he'd also received a Letter of Commendation from the W.E.A. (Wizarding Education Authority). Also included was a personal letter from Professor Tofty congratulating him on his Patronus charm. He was not really disappointed in his History or Divination scores but his face fell when he realised that he had only scored an 'EE' in Potions, although he suspected that if Snape had been marking it he would have scored a 'T.'
Hermione and Harry shared their scores with each other and Ginny and congratulations were given and received, with Ginny being congratulated for being made the fifth-year Gryffindor girl prefect. After a three-way happy dance while three felines watched on, Ginny ran into the house to share her news with her mum and Ron.
Hermione was reading through her school letter when she gave a squeal of delight, "Harry, there's going to be a new Potions Professor and whoever it is only requires an 'EE' for entry into the N.E.W.T. course."
Harry scanned his letter and found the relevant paragraph and heaved a sigh of relief, his career aims were still possible but he realised that he would need to buck up his ideas if he wanted to be an Auror. He'd had a few long conversations with Tonks about being an Auror, and she had told him about the selection process. Auror candidates were expected to have at least five N.E.W.T.s and four of them were expected to be at 'O' standard.
Harry realised that over the years he had pitched his efforts to the level Ron operated at, his new-found Occlumency skills allowed him to examine his memories and he realised that it went back to his first year at Primary School. In the first few weeks of school he had proudly taken home drawings and other pieces of work with gold stars on them, only to see them shredded by his aunt or uncle while Dudley's work with blue stars was proudly displayed on the fridge door. Very quickly he had learned not to outscore his cousin, and therefore from being a bright student he quickly learned to be average.
No more, he decided, from now on his target was to challenge Hermione's grades, if Ron didn't like it he could do the other.
In the bottom corner of the envelope he saw two badges, he quickly slipped them out while Hermione wasn't watching and put them in one of his trouser pockets. He read his school letter from the start having previously scanned to the paragraph about Potions, and found the explanation of the badges. He had been appointed as both Gryffindor Quidditch Captain and as the sixth-year male prefect. The letter also explained that his Quidditch ban had been declared illegal and that as the fifth-year prefect hadn't performed his duties to a satisfactory level, the post was now his as Professor McGonagall had recommended the previous year.
'Oh shit,' he thought as he contemplated the letter,/ 'The Ginger Whinger ain't gonna be happy, his mum ain't gonna be happy either, oh well better face it sooner than later."/
Hermione saw Harry's demeanour briefly change and asked what was wrong, Harry said nothing, he just handed his letter over for her to read. As she read, Hermione quickly understood the mixed emotions Harry must be feeling.
"What are you going to do Harry?" she asked.
"I'm going to accept both posts, it may sound selfish but I deserve them, Dumbledore told me I should have been prefect last year. I know Ron's going to go off about it, but that's his problem, not mine. I didn't ask for the posts, McGonagall gave them to me, let's go and face the music."
Harry scooped up his kitten and he and Hermione made their way into the house to share their news with Mrs. Weasley.
As they arrived in the kitchen they could hear raised voices from the parlour, well one raised voice, the Weasley matriarch was berating her youngest son, not over his O.W.L. scores but for losing his prefect badge. With a look and a nod the two entered the room.
"Well, how did you two do?" asked Molly
Harry and Hermione passed over their O.W.L. Certificates for her to read.
"Congratulations both of you," she said, "You've done really well."
"Well apart from my History and Divination scores" joked Harry. "How did you do, Ron?"
"I passed everything," he replied. "Scored an 'O' in Defence 'EE' in Divination of all things, only got a 'P' in History and CoMC though. McGonagall pulled my prefect badge, said I hadn't pulled my weight whatever that means, I wonder who'll get it, not Finnegan, he got caught drunk after a Hogsmeade visit, not Thomas, he got caught in a broom cupboard with some fourth year bint called Romilda, had his hands up her robes and she wasn't struggling if you get my drift, not Longbottom, he's only two steps from a Squib, so that leaves."
"Me" said Harry. "And just to let you know I'm Quidditch captain too."
Before anyone could stop him, Ron launched himself at Harry fists swinging. This time Harry didn't dodge but defended himself as Tonks had taught him. He grabbed the oncoming fist turned his hip in and using Ron's momentum threw him in a perfectly executed judo throw.
Being caught unaware, Ron landed heavily the air being forced from his lungs leaving him winded and dazed. The three women looked on in amazement at the speed of Harry's reactions and the calm way he had defended himself.
Harry turned to Molly. "Mrs. Weasley, thank you for offering to let me stay for the rest of the summer, but I don't think it's a good idea, can I Floo Dumbledore to see if there's somewhere else I can go?"
"You don't need to go Harry" Molly started.
"Yes I do, me being here is disrupting your house, you've been more than kind to me over the years. Can I call Dumbledore."
"If you think you need to." Said Molly, the disappointment obvious in her voice.
As Harry left the room Ron had another go at him, but before he knew it Harry had him pinned against the wall with his feet off the floor.
"Ron, it's only out of respect for your mother I'm not going to hit you, but attack me again and I'll not hold back, think about it."
Harry glared into Ron's eyes and Ron realised for the first time that his feet were off the ground but he was still eye-to-eye with the boy he once considered his friend. The look in Harry's eyes unnerved him and he felt something wet trickling down his leg. Harry dropped him into the spreading pool of urine and walked through to the kitchen to call Dumbledore.
After he had explained what had happened Dumbledore told Harry he would send Remus over to collect him.
Harry's new destination would be Grimmauld Place. There had been a private reading of Sirius' will, the Goblin's believed that guilty or not a will placed in their hands was sacrosanct and they would carry out the wishes expressed in it. This meant that Harry knew that one day he would inherit the house, in the meantime Remus was staying there to look after Harry's interests.
In the parlour Hermione and Ginny had somehow talked Molly into letting them go with Harry if Remus and Dumbledore said it was okay. Ron had disappeared after Harry had left the room his hatred of his former friend was growing and his embarrassment at having been scared into pissing his pants only added to the anger.
The girls had been surprised at Harry's reactions but also pleased at the restraint he'd shown, they hadn't realised just how tall and strong he'd grown and couldn't work out how he'd achieved it in such a short space of time. That was part of the reason they wanted to go with him, that and to make sure he didn't mope around feeling guilty about Ron.
Next Chapter Grimmauld Place