Categories > Books > Harry Potter > The Darkest Hour

Confrontations

by Ham 0 Reviews

Sixth Year!PostOOtp Its Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts and he has to make some hard decisions in order to survive. But will these decisions help him or make him weaker? Martial arts, dueling, anima...

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Dumbledore, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Neville, Ron, Voldemort - Warnings: [!] [V] - Published: 2007/04/13 - Updated: 2007/04/14 - 7101 words

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Title: The Darkest Hour (07)

Author name: Ham

Summary: Harry is back in Privet Drive just a few days after the happenings in the Department of Mysteries. He is struggling to cope with his loss and the immense burden placed on him. He suddenly finds it very hard to go on - To find a reason to live. Will his task break his spirit? After all he is just a sixteen year old...

He knows that he must fight. Knows that he has to win at all costs. But he knows that if he even is to have a slim chance of defeating Voldemort he will need to make some hard decisions. Decisions that would hurt him and those close to him.

But will Harry be able to take the hard road back when he finally realizes that his decisions only made him weaker? That they took away his only reason to live. His only reason to fight.

DISCLAIMER: Ok I'm not making any money out of this and J.K. owns it all. The only thing I'm getting is a lot of fun and reviews. But the latter are few and far between coughhintcough

Thanks again to Sharon for the lovely work she is doing.

Tricia...you rock!!!! What would I do without your excellent betaing skills?



~~~*~

Chapter 07 - Confrontations

~~~*~



Harry looked at the thick, green envelope and thoughtfully turned it over in his hands. It had arrived just as he was sitting for breakfast after his morning run. He had already been running late for his Aikido training, and as today had been the day he was going to start learning Taekwondo, he had decided to leave it for later.

Many like Ron, Dean, Seamus and Neville would be afraid, would be reluctant to open it and find out its contents. Others like Hermione would be tearing it open in eager anticipation.

He was simply indifferent. It didn't matter to him one way or the other if he did well or not in his OWL's.

He knew that unlike all his other batch mates his OWL scores would not decide what career he would choose or what classes he would take.

He would only be able to think of a career if, or when, Voldemort was defeated.

As for classes... He knew what he would be taking - Charms, Transfigurations, DADA and Herbology. He would also be studying Potions whether Snape accepted him in his class or not.

He would be taking these classes not because they would help him get into his chosen career. It was because these subjects would help him in his fight against Voldemort.

He sighed and broke open the wax seal to open the envelope and took out a thick piece of official looking parchment from inside.



Mr. Potter,

Enclosed inside are the results of your Ordinary Wizard Level examinations that you sat for last term.

The scores are based on the following basis : -

A score of A, E, and O are passing scores and will count as one OWL.

Scores of D and T will mean that you have failed that particular subject and have not attained an OWL.

Enclosed inside you will find a form to choose the NEWT level subjects you wish to take for the current school year.

Sincerely,

Griselda Marchbanks,
Head of the Wizarding Examination Authority.



Subject: Astronomy
Theory: A
Practical: A

Subject: Charms
Theory: E
Practical: O

Subject: Divination
Theory: N/A
Practical: D

Subject: DADA
Theory: O
Practical: O

Subject: Herbology
Theory: N/A
Practical: E

Subject: History
Theory: D
Practical: N/A

Subject: Magical Creatures
Theory: N/A
Practical: O

Subject: Potions
Theory: O
Practical: E

Subject: Transfiguration
Theory: E
Practical: E


Total Score: 12
Overall Rating:Exceeds Expectations


Harry's eyes widened in shock. Twelve OWLs! He had got twelve /OWLs. And how the /hell had he managed to get an O in Potions? Did that mean that he wasn't as bad as Snape was always going on about? He reckoned it had something to do with the fact that he had been able to describe the making of the Polyjuice potion and its effects correctly. Also it could have been the fact that Snape wasn't breathing down his neck during the practical.

He suddenly wondered how Hermione had done. If he, Harry Potter, had managed twelve, Hermione Granger, the girl whose brain was literally overflowing with grey matter must have got a great many more.
She had probably set some sort of record for most OWLs attained by a student in a century or something.

As he was wondering this there was a small thump against his window and he saw that Pigwidgeon, in his haste and excitement of delivering a letter, had crashed into the closed window.

Harry quickly opened the window and picked up the stunned Owl.

"Won't you ever learn?" Harry said chidingly to the little Owl as he carried him over to Hedwig's cage. He took the letter from his legs and recognizing Ron's handwriting, sat down to read it.


Harry, mate,

We got our OWL results this morning and Hermione has been pestering me to write to you and find out how you've done. Honestly the girl is crazy!


I am not crazy, Ronald Weasley!

Hello, Harry.

How did you do on your OWLs? I Got sixteen OWLs and fifteen of them Outstanding. My overall grade is Outstanding. I still can't believe I did so well!


I can't, for the life of me, understand what she is so surprised about, mate. I mean everybody knew how she would do since our first year. Anyway I got eleven OWLs and my grade was Exceeds Expectations. Can you believe I got an E in Potions?

Can you NOT act like a prat for once, Ron? There is no way to know how well one will do in these exams. Especially NOT when one is in their first year. Anyway, Harry, I want to thank you for your help last year. It is largely due to the DA meetings that I was able to do so well in my DADA OWLs.

Yeah, mate, seriously. I can't believe I got an O in DADA. I think if we had left it to what that cow Umbridge had taught us I would have failed for sure.

Next year is going to be very tough. NEWT level classes are very difficult and we must start studying for them right away. I think if we study hard during the summer we should be able to cope up with the school year pretty well.

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I am not going to touch a single book this summer. I had enough of books all through the last year and I'll be damned if I study during the holidays too.

Language Ron!! Oh all right! Do what you want and see if I care. You can suffer the consequences once we are back at school. And if you think for one second that you can copy from my notes you will be in for a very nasty surprise.

You see what I am stuck with? She's been like that for the entire time she's been here. I thought that since OWLs were over she would settle down but she is going on about studying for NEWTs now. Nutters! Absolutely Nutters!!

They are only one year away, Ron Weasley! One year! They'll be here before you know it. And for the last time I am not nutters!

Are too.

Am Not.

Are too.

Oh fine, be childish. Behave like the immature git that you are.

Harry, I'll write to you later. Please write back with your results soon. I can't wait to find out how you did.

Love, Hermione.


I guess that's all I had to say too. I'll write to you again soon.

Take care mate, and write soon.

Ron.




Harry read the letter with a broad grin on his face. It was so like Ron and Hermione. And no matter how much Hermione protested they had always known that she would do this well. Sixteen OWLs! It staggered him to think of it.

His grin broadened even more as he thought about the constant bickering between his two best friends. Some things never changed. He wondered whether the both of them had worked out that they fancied each other.

Harry might not be very smart when it came to relationships, feelings, and figuring out girls, but even he could tell that Ron and Hermione had a thing for each other. He just hoped that they worked it out - if they stopped bickering long enough to do so.

He wondered for a moment whether things would change if his two best friends started going out. Where would he fit in the picture?

He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose as he contemplated the changes that would probably take place within the trio.

Maybe it would be for the best. If they didn't spend so much time around him maybe they could be kept out of danger.

He picked up a quill and began to write back to them.



Ron and Hermione,

I'm glad both of you did so well on your OWLs. Hermione, I expected nothing less from the most brilliant witch Hogwarts has seen in a century. I am really proud of you.

Next, I am very glad at finding out that both of you did so well in DADA. But I can hardly take all the credit for your scores. You got good marks because you studied and practiced, not only because I was teaching you. I wouldn't have been able to teach you anything if you didn't want to learn.

Anyway, I scraped up twelve OWLs with a rating of Exceeds Expectations. I certainly wasn't expecting to do so well. I guess its all due to you, Hermione. If you hadn't helped out, made all those study schedules for us, and made sure we studied I would never have done so well.

Take care you two,

Harry.




He tied the letter to the now perked up Pigwidgeon and sent him on his way.



~~~*~



Harry was working hard on constructing his mental shields with Dumbledore's help. Over the past few days he had made steady progress in Occlumency and was now able to make out Dumbledore's presence in his mind seven times out of ten.

Of course, he still couldn't stop him at all, but Dumbledore had decided that he was ready to begin constructing his mental defenses and they had been doing that for the last two lessons.

Harry greatly appreciated the fact that Dumbledore never lingered in his mind when he broke in through his flimsy defenses. He was out as soon as he managed to break in, being ever thoughtful of Harry's privacy.

The process of building the mental shields was long and lengthy. At first he was unable to do it until Dumbledore had him do visualization exercises. Harry had been made to imagine a large impenetrable wall which the Headmaster had him lay brick by brick.

Harry had chosen to use the large, grey stone of Hogwarts walls for this exercise, each block pulsating and seeped with centuries of magic. He had reinforced these walls with a second wall of cement, concrete and steel.

But it was difficult to hold up the image, as Dumbledore managed to find the tiniest of cracks in the defense that brought the wall tumbling down and Harry had to start all over again.

He was exhausted by the end of the hour and was glad the lesson was over. While Dumbledore was an excellent and patient teacher, he was also a taskmaster who pushed Harry to his limits.

As he got up to leave for his transfiguration lessons he was stopped by Dumbledore.

"Just a minute, Harry," Dumbledore said with a smile. "I have something to discuss with you."

Harry sat back down and looked at the Headmaster curiously.

"Harry, I wanted to talk to you about the possibility of you continuing the DA this year, but this time open to the whole school."

Harry was left speechless as he looked at the smiling face of Albus Dumbledore. "Why would you want me to continue? We're going to have a proper defense teacher this year, right?" Harry asked anxiously.

"Yes, Harry, the person hired to teach DADA this year is more than qualified for the job, but it would still be beneficial if you were to continue the DA. You see, the DADA teacher has to touch upon dark creatures and artifacts, too, besides the usual hexes and curses. It is impossible to focus exclusively on Dueling. The DA can focus on this aspect. It is almost imperative for everybody to be able to defend themselves this year," Dumbledore explained.

"I realize that. But don't you think you should assign somebody qualified then? I mean... I'm no teacher and would hardly be an ideal candidate to be able to teach everybody to defend themselves," Harry said bewilderedly.

At Harry's words Dumbledore's eyes started twinkling merrily and Harry was immediately suspicious. Whenever he had that damn twinkle in his eyes he always had something up his sleeve.

"Harry, do you know that this years OWL results hold two records for the subject of DADA?" Dumbledore said with an amused smile.

Harry shook his head warily.

"This year's batch had the most number of people who failed DADA, and the most number of Outstanding scores. All those who were in the DA last year got Outstanding on their DADA OWLs. You are a good teacher, whether you admit it or not," Dumbledore said gently.

"Yes, but that was a few people. You are talking about the entire school," Harry protested.

"I have no doubt that you can handle it. But if you wish I can assign a staff member to supervise the meetings and make sure that control is maintained," Dumbledore said airily, waving away Harry's protests.

Harry gazed at Dumbledore's face and saw that the Headmaster had full confidence in his decision. He balked at such a heavy responsibility. Being responsible for making sure that so many students knew how to defend themselves was no joke. It could mean life or death for any of them and he would have to make sure that they were well trained.

"Very well, Professor," Harry said finally. "But on a few conditions."

"And what are your conditions?" Dumbledore asked patiently.

Harry took a deep breath. "I will have total control over what I teach and who I accept into the club. I will teach whatever I feel needs to be taught and however I feel it needs to be taught. I also want the right to bring in people from outside to help if I feel it is necessary."

Dumbledore nodded. "Those are reasonable demands. But I hope that you will allow everybody, including Slytherins, a chance to join the club. And you will need to tell me who you are inviting to help you a few days in advance to allow me to clear them."

"Of course, Professor," Harry agreed. "The club will be open to the entire school and all those who want to learn. But I know that there will be some factions that would want to disturb the meetings more than learn anything. I will not allow these people in the DA."

"It's settled then, Harry. Just let me know who you would like as advisor on the club so I can ask them if they would be agreeable to the position."

Harry nodded. "I'll think about it and let you know."

"Do that. Now off to your Transfiguration lessons. Minerva will have my hide for keeping you so late," Dumbledore said cheerfully, as he popped a lemon drop into his mouth.



~~~*~



Harry sat in front of Professor Mcgonagall as she read his OWL scores.

"Congratulations, Potter," Prof. Mcgonagall said, looking up at him with a hint of a smile. "You have done remarkably well. I think you will be able to make all the classes needed for becoming an Auror. And if you improve enough in Potions during the summer I might be able to persuade Prof. Snape to let you into his classes."

Harry nodded. "As I said, I've bought a few books on Potions and I have been studying from them. But it would help if I had some place to practice brewing them."

McGonagall nodded. "Yes, I agree, since it is your brewing that needs most work you will need to practice it. I have already arranged something," she said briskly.

She then handed him a long piece of parchment "I have made a schedule for you for studying Potions during the summer and I will be assigning you essays and homework. Also after your charms classes with Prof. Flitwick I will set aside an hour for you to practice your brewing."

Harry studied the lengthy parchment with a raised eyebrow. "Uh... If I remember correctly some of these potions are not fifth year work."

"Yes, I expect you to be sixth year level in Potions before the start of the school year. That way you will be able to cope better in NEWT level Potions and it will prove to Prof. Snape that you deserve to be in his class," Prof. Mcgonagall explained.

Harry sighed. "Very well, Professor."

"All right, before we begin our lessons for today there was one more thing I wanted to discuss with you."

Harry watched curiously as she rummaged in her desk drawer for something.

"I have decided that you are the best person to captain the Quidditch team for this year. Do not disappoint me. I have become used to the trophy sitting in my office," McGonagall said, looking up at Harry piercingly and handing him a small gold object.

Harry looked at her with a strange expression on his face as she handed him the gold badge of the Quidditch team.

McGonagall's face suddenly melted into a small smile. "Your father would have been very proud of you."

Harry ran his fingers over the badge lightly, feeling the raised symbol of the Gryffindor Lion as he gazed at the highly polished red and gold object. He was silent for a long time.

"Professor, I can't accept this," he finally choked out.

"Nonsense, Potter, you are the senior most member of the team after Katie Bell and she has NEWTs this year. Also, it wouldn't be wise to appoint a captain for only one year," McGonagall said firmly.

"You... you don't understand, Professor," Harry stammered. "I won't be playing on the Quidditch team this year."

For the first time, in all his years at Hogwarts, Harry saw Professor McGonagall speechless.

"Not playing Quidditch? Why not? It isn't because of that stupid ban Umbridge put on you, is it? Because that has been revoked as soon as she left."

Harry shook his head. "No, it's not because of that. I won't have any time for Quidditch this year. I will have my Aikido and Taekwondo practice in the mornings and Occlumency training with Professor Dumbledore and Animagus training with you. On top of that Prof. Dumbledore just got me to agree to lead the DA again this year, only for the entire school. With all of that and my studies I don't think I'm going to have any time to play Quidditch."

"But Harry, think about this again. You are the best seeker that Gryffindor has," McGonagall urged. "I'm sure something could be worked out."

"It hardly matters whether we win the Quidditch cup or the House cup anymore, Professor," Harry said sadly. "No, I really must decline the captaincy. I think it will be very foolish not to mention selfish of me to waste time playing Quidditch when there are so many things I have to do."

"Very well, Harry, I will respect your wishes," Prof Mcgonagall said quietly, putting the badge back into the drawer and closing it.

"May I ask if there is anybody on the team that you feel would make a good Captain in your absence?" she asked, looking up slowly.

Harry hesitated.

McGonagall noticed it however and quickly reassured him. "I asked you for your opinion, Potter. You may give it freely. The final decision will be mine and you shall not influence it."

Harry took a deep breath. "I think Ron Weasley would make a very good Captain. He knows loads about the game, coming from a wizarding family and having grown up with Quidditch. Not to mention that his family has produced great Quidditch players over the years. Also, he has a great head for strategy and is very passionate about the game."

"Very well, Potter, I will take that under consideration," McGonagall said pensively. "Now, that's enough time wasted, let's get on with our lessons."

The rest of the hour passed quickly as Harry learnt the basics of self Transfiguration. It was difficult work and he realized why it was NEWT level.

As Harry walked down to Charms he brooded over the fact that his schedule would not allow him to play Quidditch. It was one of the things he loved most about the magical world. It had been a hard decision and he knew he would miss playing terribly.

He shook his head. It was better not to think about such things. Thinking about them would do him no good and only put him in the self pity mood that he loathed. He seemed to be doing a lot of that nowadays.


~~~*~



Harry rushed downstairs as the doorbell rang. He got to it just as Aunt Petunia opened the door to reveal Patricia, who was looking very pretty in a short yellow sundress and strappy white sandals. Her long hair was left open and hung down to her waist.

"Hello, Mrs. Dursley," Pat said with a smile. "I have come to meet Harry. Is he there?"

Aunt Petunia was just going to open her mouth to say that he wasn't in, when Harry interrupted her.

"Hello, Patricia, yes, I'm right here. Come on in."

Petunia Dursley glared at her nephew. "How dare you invite her to the house?" she hissed into Harry's ear. "And what do you mean, come in? I will not have your friends in my house."

"Patricia and I need to talk urgently, Aunt Petunia. I am going to take her right into my room. I promise we won't bother you," Harry said calmly.

Aunt Petunia turned purple. "Your room!" she screamed. She controlled herself as she remembered that Patricia was standing right outside, hearing everything.

"What are you up to, Boy? You know you can't allow anybody into your room. She's not abnormal like you," she said in a low outraged voice.

"She's definitely not abnormal, and neither am I, for that matter. But she is like me and knows all about you-know-what. So there's no need to worry," Harry explained.

"Is there a problem, Harry?" Pat asked with a worried look.

"Oh, no problem. Come on in," Harry said, as he pulled the door open, much to the annoyance of his Aunt.

Aunt Petunia looked very flustered as things began to get out of control. She could do nothing but watch as Pat entered the house and then followed Harry up to his room.

"Don't you dare lock your door, Boy. And I want no hanky panky going on," she said in a very audible whisper as they passed by her.

Harry opened the door of his bedroom and let Pat enter before him. Then he closed the door and leaned his forehead against it.

"I'm really sorry, Patricia. I apologize for my Aunt's rudeness," Harry said as he turned around slowly and forced a smile.

Pat smiled. "Don't worry about it."

Harry was not reassured by her words and his face was still red with embarrassment. "Please, have a seat," He said waving his hand at the armchairs.

"Would you like anything to drink?" Harry asked when she had taken a seat.

"Oh, don't bother, Harry," Pat said with a shake of her head. "I wouldn't want you to get in any trouble with your Aunt."

"It's no problem," Harry said with a small smile. "Dobby, are you there?"

Dobby appeared before Harry with a small crack. "Is Harry Potter wanting anything?"

"Yes, Dobby, I would like you to meet a friend of mine. Patricia this is Dobby... Dobby meet Patricia."

Dobby bowed to Pat. "Dobby is very pleased to meet a friend of the great Harry Potter."

Pat threw an amused glance at the beet red face of Harry before she smiled at Dobby. "Hello Dobby, I'm very pleased to meet you too."

"Err... right, can you get us some Pumpkin juice please, Dobby?"

"Dobby will get it right away, Harry Potter," The tiny house elf said before disappearing with a crack and reappearing with two cold glasses of the beverage.

Harry took a seat opposite Pat and looked at her warily. "Err... sorry about that. Dobby gets a bit carried away. I had a bit of a hand in setting him free from his previous family. They were a nasty lot and were in the habit of abusing him. Now, for some absurd reason, he thinks I am the greatest thing since sliced bread."

Pat was very intrigued with Harry Potter. She had never, even in her wildest dreams, thought the hero of the wizarding world would be like this. He had no airs about him, was nice and polite and was quite modest and unassuming.

Also she had noticed the way he treated Dobby and the affection Dobby had for him. She had always believed that a person's true worth could be ascertained by how they treated those less fortunate than themselves. All too many times she had seen and heard horror stories about the treatment of House Elves. That a wizard of the stature of Harry Potter was so kind to them said loads about his true character.

She was also puzzled about the behavior of his relatives. It was obvious that there was no love lost between them. Why, then, was Harry living with them? Surely he would find a place to live with almost /any /wizarding family.

"It's a shock to find you living around here, Harry. I mean, I never thought that Harry Potter lived so close to me. How is it possible that I never saw you around?" Pat asked finally.

Harry shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe because I never got out much. I never knew that there were any magical families living nearby. I guess you can miss a lot of things if you aren't actively looking for them."

"I think I understand. I mean, it must be hard to mix around with other people when you know you are so different. And it must have been even more difficult for you than for others," Pat said thoughtfully. "I know it was pretty difficult for me."

Harry looked at her quizzically. "Actually, Patricia, I didn't know any of that. I didn't even know I was a wizard until I got my letter."

Pat looked at him stunned. "You're kidding me. How is that possible?"

"Well, my Aunt and Uncle hate magic, and anything they consider abnormal. So they never really told me. And since no one else came to tell me either I really had no way of knowing," Harry explained.

"But that's preposterous! Why would they put you with such a family?" Pat asked incredulously.

"I... They were my only relatives and when my mother died she left me a blood protection that would keep me safe as long as I was living with a member of her family. In this case, my Aunt. So I guess that's why."

"But if You-Know-Who was gone then why would they need such an elaborate protection for you? Surely there could have been some other way to keep you safe?" Pat said slowly, trying to understand the reason for such a stupid decision.

Harry sighed. "I try not to think of it, Patricia. What's done is done. Thinking about it is hardly going to change anything."

Pat was totally shocked by all this news. How could the wizarding world have turned their backs on someone who had been the one responsible for ridding them from the dark times? It was totally unbelievable to her.

"Anyway tell me about yourself," Harry said with a smile.

Pat forced herself to put aside her horror and confusion and smiled. "Well, I live with my parents a few streets away. Both of them are magical. My Mum works at St. Mungo's as a Healer and my Dad works in the Goblin Relations department in the Ministry. My Great grand mother, Griselda Marchbanks, is a member of the Wizengamot and is Head of the Wizarding Examination Department."

Pat paused and a sad look crossed her face. "I... I was found to be a... a squib and since I couldn't attend Hogwarts... I decided to study as a muggle."

Pat was looking down on the floor as she said this and was surprised to feel Harry's hand on hers.

"Don't feel sorry for yourself, Patricia," Harry said gently. "You don't know how lucky you are. So you can't do magic. So what? You are pretty, intelligent, have a wonderful family that loves you, friends that care for you, and from what I hear you are quite the master in Aikido."

Pat nodded and tried to smile at Harry.

"I sometimes feel that magic is not just waving your wand and making things fly around or conjuring things. No, what is truly magical is having someone care for you for who you are. What's magical is someone spending years at something to become the best that they can be. Someone overcoming all their shortcomings to find their own place in this world. What's magical is that you live your life in such a manner that it inspires others around you. So no, you may not be able to do magic, but nothing can stop you from being magical."

Harry had absolutely no idea where all this was coming from as he wasn't exactly known for his ability to talk. But he had felt the words from his heart and said what he had felt.

Pat looked at Harry, tears in her eyes. "Thank you, Harry. That was one of the most touching things someone has ever told me. I will remember your words."

At that moment the door to Harry's bedroom burst open with a bang and he looked up in alarm to find his Uncle and Aunt standing there. His eyes widened in shock as he saw a rifle clutched in his Uncle's hands, the muzzle pointing straight at him.

"Boy! I told you I don't want anymore nonsense. I thought I had made that very clear. You were told not to bring any more freaks like you into the house," Uncle Vernon bellowed.

Harry just stared at him, unable to believe that this was happening.

"And what is this? You are bringing girls into the house? And taking them up to your bedroom? I will not tolerate such behavior," Uncle Vernon continued screaming, spittle flying everywhere from his mouth.

"Are you insane?" Pat yelled at him. "Point the gun away at once."

Vernon Dursley opened his mouth to say something rude but he was cut off by Harry.

"Patricia, just please stay out of this. I think it would be for the best if you leave now. I'm really sorry for all of this," Harry said quietly.

"No, of course I won't leave. He has a rifle in his hand. I'm not going to leave you alone with him," Pat said indignantly.

"Just trust me, Pat, nothing is going to happen. Just go. I'll take care of everything," Harry said reassuringly.

"No, Harry... This has got to stop..."

"Go, Pat, we'll talk about this later," Harry said firmly.

Pat looked torn. She couldn't bear to leave Harry in a situation like this, and yet she didn't know him well enough to argue with him in his own house.

She walked towards the door and as she was leaving turned to Vernon Dursley who still had the gun pointed at Harry.

"If anything happens to Harry, I. will. make. you. pay. I swear it. You will have more to be afraid of than the police, and I assure you of this," she said in a low, furious voice. Saying this she left, slamming the door to the house on her way out.

After she had left Harry turned to face his Uncle. "If you are going to shoot me, do so now, or else kindly get out of my room," Harry said coldly.

Uncle Vernon's face twitched and his hold tightened on the gun.

"Well, what are you waiting for? You and I both know that you don't have the guts to pull that trigger. So as I said, either shoot me, or get out."

"Don't you dare give me the lip, boy. I am seconds away from ending your miserable existence," Vernon Dursley thundered.

Harry's green eyes hardened and Vernon Dursley for all his anger and bluster couldn't help but shiver.

"You have made a very big mistake today. One that I will make you pay for in time. Be grateful that I am letting you go today. Now get out before I change my mind," Harry said in a deadly whisper.

Vernon Dursley shuddered. It was very scary to see his nephew like this. The boy had absolutely no fear in his eyes. And his voice... even though it wasn't raised it was deadly in its intent.

He slowly backed out of the door followed by his wife and closed it behind him.

Harry rubbed a hand over his throbbing temple, making an enormous effort to control his temper.

He knew he had lost the fight when a nearby lamp and the pitcher of water shattered into a hundred pieces.



~~~*~



Harry walked along the tiny corridor, tucked away in the bowels of the ministry. It was badly lit and all the indications showed that not many people came down here.

Tonks walked beside him, wondering why Harry wanted to visit Centaur Liaisons. They had just finished their dueling practice for the day when Harry had made the unusual request.

When Tonks had questioned him about it he had given an evasive answer.

The office they stopped before was barely bigger than a broom closet and only contained a tiny rickety desk and two chairs.

Harry motioned to Tonks that he wanted to go in alone and entered the office.

Behind the desk, dressed in crumpled robes, looking haggard and unshaved, sat Percy Weasley.

"Hello, Percy," Harry said softly.

Percy looked up startled. He apparently didn't have too many people come down here, and the last person he expected to see was Harry Potter.

"Harr... Mr. Potter?" Percy exclaimed. He had hastily corrected himself from using Harry's name after looking into his unfriendly eyes.

"Hmm..." Harry mused. "So, we are using last names, are we? Well that puts me in a bit of a spot. You don't consider yourself a Weasley, not that you are worthy of being called a Weasley, of course. So what should I call you?"

Harry gazed at Percy coldly and Percy squirmed under his penetrating gaze.

"Hmm... I've got it. I'll just call you Weatherby, shall I? That's what Crouch and Fudge called you, didn't they? And I didn't hear you correct them. Perhaps that's what you've changed your last name to?"

Percy sighed exasperatedly. "What do you want, Mr. Potter?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I am interrupting something?" Harry asked looking around innocently, as if to see if there were any centaurs waiting to meet with Percy.

"I see that you are quite free today, Weatherby," Harry said with a smirk.

"Will you please state your business?" Percy snapped.

"Oh, I have no business here," Harry calmly stated.

"Then kindly tell me what are you doing down here?" Percy said irately. He looked to be near the end of his patience.

"Oh, I just came here to gloat," Harry said with a large, pleased smile.

"To gloat?" Percy asked blankly.

"Yes, Weatherby, to gloat," Harry said taking a seat in the only chair in the room besides Percy's. "It amuses me to see the great, clever, ambitious, Percy Weasley tumble down from his lofty perch as junior assistant, to the Minister of Magic himself, no less, to the position of a lowly clerk in Centaur Liaisons."

Percy went red. "I wouldn't have thought that you were the kind of person to do such a thing, Mr. Potter," Percy said quietly.

Harry could see that he was making a great effort to control his temper.

"No?" Harry asked surprised. "But I thought I was a dangerous, criminal, imbalanced lunatic. Surely gloating is a very minor flaw in my so obviously black character. But then you never were very good at recognizing the signs, were you, Percy?"

"And what is that supposed to mean?" Percy snapped.

"You want me to list it for you?" Harry asked coolly. "Well, for one, you couldn't recognize that your boss, who you spent so much time with, was under the Imperius curse. Second, you thought that your family was imbalanced to listen to Dumbledore all of last year. Thirdly, you thought that Dolores Umbridge was a... what was that?... Oh yes! A delightful woman. Fourth, you thought that Fudge was God's gift to mankind. Shall I continue?"

Percy's shoulders slumped. "If you are done gloating would you kindly leave," Percy said quietly.

"Oh, I'll leave. But, first, I just have a few things to say to you," Harry said carelessly.

"I don't want to hear anything you have to say," Percy said looking up angrily.

"Oh, but you'll listen," Harry snarled. "You'll listen even if I have to tie you to that chair."

Percy opened his mouth to challenge Harry's statement but as his eyes met those of Harry's, he quailed. His eyes were dark with rage and barely leashed anger.

"All of last year, when you were behaving like such an ass, I thought it was Fudge's influence. Somewhere I had thought that you genuinely didn't realize that Voldemort was back. Of course, it shows what an idiot you are for believing Fudge instead of Dumbledore, but I won't go there. I had thought that if you had even the slightest bit of decency in you you'd have gone to your parents on your knees and apologized for your stupidity. But you didn't go back, did you? Why is that Percy?"

"It's none of your business," Percy yelled.

"I'm making it my business," Harry yelled back. "Because your Mum, Merlin only knows why, is constantly crying because she is so worried about you. I know that it doesn't matter to you, but it matters to me. That's why I have made it my distasteful duty to come see you."

"Oh, get off it," Percy said angrily. "If they cared for me they wouldn't have gotten me thrown in here."

Harry stared at him in disbelief. "You moron! You should thank them that you are even in the Ministry. Amelia Bones wanted to chuck you out, and I really don't blame her, as you are completely incompetent. Your Dad went and asked her not to and she reluctantly agreed. But she wouldn't have you in any of the important positions, so that's why you're here. Your Dad did that for you despite your behaviour of last year."

"You're lying," Percy shouted.

"You had better think twice before you call me a liar, Percy. Or else you'll be on the receiving end of a broken jaw," Harry said clenching his fists in anger.

Percy looked away but not before Harry caught several expressions cross his face that he unsuccessfully tried to hide. Disbelief, surprise, guilt and sorrow.

"You really are so undeserving of their love, Percy. You betrayed them at a time when they needed your support most. And after all they did for you! Years of scrimping and denying themselves to clothe you, feed you, school you, give you everything you wanted. And what did you do it for? Power? Money? You were willing to lick Fudge's boots for that?"

Percy didn't answer but Harry went on.

"It's your pride, isn't it? You're too proud to go back and admit that you were wrong? How low can you fall, Percy? You are scared to apologize to your parents? How did the hat ever put you in Gryffindor?"

"Just go, please go," Percy said brokenly.

"Oh, I'll go. But just remember these last words of mine, Percy. You think there's plenty of time. You think your parents will always be there. They won't. There is a war going on and your parents are right in the thick of it. Are you aware that your father nearly died last year?"

"Died? What do you mean nearly died?" Percy yelped, looking up in alarm.

Harry laughed bitterly. "Figures! What I mean, Percy, is that last year, when you had your head shoved up Fudge's arse, your Dad was attacked by a large snake that was possessed by Voldemort. The snake nearly managed to kill him."

"Why wasn't I told about this?" Percy asked in a horrified tone.

Harry shrugged. "Everybody figured that you wouldn't care. Would they have been wrong?"

Percy bowed his head in shame.

"One day you might find that it is too late to apologize to your parents. You are so crazy for power and money. They mean nothing, Percy. Power changes hands in minutes. Fortunes are made and lost overnight. But if your parents die you will never get them back. Nobody in the world is going to love you as much as them. You don't deserve their love, but they still love you unconditionally," Harry continued forcefully.

Harry turned around to walk to the door. As he was exiting he turned around and glanced at Percy. "I fully expect that you'll ignore what I've just said. Mark my words, someday you will cry bitter tears over this, and there won't be a damn thing you or anybody else will be able to do about it. Good bye, Percy."

And with that Harry walked out of the door slamming it shut behind him.

Percy Weasley slumped further into his chair a look of utter misery and defeat on his face.



~~~*~
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