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...
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 (Hint, hint)
Thanks again to Sharon for the lovely work she is doing.
Tricia thank you for your hard work on TDH.
Rachael thank you for your excellent rush beta job. Im glad to have you helping me.
A Few Busy Days
Harry was sitting and writing a particularly bothersome Potions essay on Calming Potions for McGonagall. She had asked for it to be three feet long; so far he had barely written two feet, and that was in large, spaced out handwriting.
He opened his worn copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi, looking for the effect of unicorn hair in the scintillating potion.
The floor was strewn with crumpled parchment, evidence of his previous efforts. Several thick books were open in front of him from which he constantly cross referenced.
He added the bit about Unicorn hair and then flipped the pages of his A Guide to Advanced Potions to check up about the addictive qualities of the Calming Potions and the side effects of drinking the potion after consuming Alcohol.
Harry's routine had been really hectic for the past several days. He had made progress on his Occlumency training with Dumbledore. For the first time, he was able to block him, although he couldn't hold him off for more than a minute. But he knew that this meant that he was fast becoming good at it. Blocking Dumbledore, even for a minute, was a very big achievement.
Dumbledore had told him to start sorting and categorizing his memories and thoughts, and Harry did this faithfully every night. It was a long and lengthy process, but he was making progress with it. He found that having his memories sorted helped him in multiple ways. His recollection of facts and details was much faster, he was able to learn new things with greater ease and having a clear and concise grip on his thoughts and memories enabled him to think much more logically and practically. He could now spot small details that he would have missed previously.
He had again gotten that strange feeling that he was missing something vitally important while he had been sorting the memory of Voldemort's rebirth. It was frustrating to him, as he couldn't grasp exactly what it was. It was like something that was just barely out of his reach, teasing him and his inability to see it.
He was making progress in Transfiguration too, and though McGonagall was never one for praise and undue shows of emotion, he knew that she was pleased with him. They had made rapid progress on self transfigurations and she was going to start working with Harry on the Animagus Transformation and Conjuration soon.
While Professor McGonagall was very stingy with praise, tiny little Professor Flitwick couldn't stop praising Harry on his quick grasp of the various hexes and jinxes. He was also pleased when Harry quickly picked up on the advanced shield charms that he taught him. They had begun learning some of the more powerful hexes and their counter curses for the past week.
Harry had also surprised himself and McGonagall with his Potions work. He found that Potions wasn't so bad without the hawk nosed, greasy haired potions master constantly hovering above him, and had spent quite a lot of time improving his potions brewing skills.
He found that one of his weak points was the preparation of his Potions ingredients. He was often sloppy in his measuring, shredding and chopping of them and it affected his potion. He spent a great deal of time trying to counter this side affect. Also, his new Potions books helped him to learn about the most commonly occurring mistakes in the brewing of Potions - Something Snape simply had them learn from experience.
He had quickly learnt that certain ingredients had to be handled very carefully. In his Potions for Beginners book there had been an entire list of the most common potion mistakes made. Things like reactions from adding certain things at wrong times, what ingredients reacted violently when mixed with another, the reason for stirring a potion a certain way, how to properly control the temperature of the potion, and a lot of other useful tips. Harry wasted no time in memorizing these.
His sessions with the Aurors were his favorite times. He was vastly improving his dueling, and while he still couldn't beat Tonks or any of the Aurors, he was now as good as or even better than any seventh year at Hogwarts. His Martial arts training had improved his reflexes tremendously and his Occlumency sessions had made him able to recall the various jinxes and hexes he knew with great rapidity. The only thing he lacked was experience, and he was rapidly gaining this.
He had also been learning how to Apparate from Kingsley, and had picked this up very fast. But he was still having trouble trying to apparate soundlessly, as a few of the more powerful Aurors and Dumbledore could. His Apparation noise, while not as great as Fred and George's loud cracks, was still loud enough to give himself away if he wanted to arrive stealthily. Also, he was working on lowering the time it took him to Apparate. Right now it took him a little less than a second to Apparate from one point to another. But Kingsley and Mad Eye could do the same in one-thirtieth of a second, and he knew that Dumbledore was fast enough to make it appear that he Apparated without any apparent time lapse.
Harry knew that Dumbledore's time was probably closer to one-hundredth of a second; fast enough that a human eye could almost never catch it.
His Martial Arts training was going very well too. He had started practicing with the 'Bokken' sword two sessions a week with Sean. He also started attending three sessions of Taekwondo in a week.
Taekwondo was very different to Aikido, and he would have probably muddled up the rules of the two, with very drastic consequences. But again his Occlumency came to his rescue, allowing him to separate the two memories and learn both of the martial arts at the same time.
With all of this, he also kept himself busy reading the various books he had obtained. He made a great headway with the book Dumbledore had sent him and had also started reading the book on the Unforgivables and the books on dueling techniques.
The book on the Unforgivables had really proved useful. It was very interesting to learn how the curses actually worked.
Harry had been very interested to learn how the Cruciatus curse actually worked. It was based on a mental attack on the mind of the victim. The curse was immensely powerful and when it hit the victim, it broke through their mental barriers and caused a suggestion of extreme pain to be planted in the victim's mind. The curse worked so fast that it was impossible to put up one's mental shields in time, and when it hit the victim, it caused pain of such magnitude that it was impossible to put the shields back up again to block the curse.
The suggestion of pain was made so powerful by the sheer hate of the caster that fueled it, and it caused the nerve endings of the body to sensitize to such a degree that even air hitting the skin was excruciatingly painful. The pain only got worse by the passing second until the brain was finally overwhelmed by it, and broke down.
The next section that Harry read left him stunned. It was on the Killing Curse.
The Killing Curse, like the Cruciatus, used extreme negative emotion to power it. That was probably the reason that most light wizards couldn't cast it.
Harry had suddenly realized that it was probably the reason Dumbledore hadn't used it on the Dark Lord. Dumbledore couldn't cast it!
Harry had been stunned by the enormity of this revelation. He suddenly realized that this was the reason that Dumbledore could never fully defeat the Dark Lord. Voldemort was powerful enough to block or get out of the way of most of the spells that Dumbledore could use on him. The only curse that was unblockable was the one that Dumbledore couldn't cast.
Harry's shoulders slumped in defeat as the enormity of the revelation dropped on him like a ton of bricks. The weight on his shoulders had suddenly increased tenfold.
Harry felt suffocated, like the air in the room was pressing down on him, crushing him. He wanted to scream at the injustice of things. How did they expect him to defeat Voldemort when even Dumbledore couldn't?
He took a deep breath and viciously cut off this line of thinking. He couldn't think about this, not if he wanted to retain his sanity. He would just do the best he could. He had no time to waste on self pity and doubts.
He numbly skimmed through the rest of the book. The next part went into detail about other dark spells, which, while were not deemed unforgivable by the Ministry, were just as terrible.
Most of the spells were very, very powerful and even most Aurors wouldn't be able to block them. What usually happened was that most shields could only withstand one spell hitting them before they disintegrated completely. The shield took too much power to maintain after that. Also, the power drainage in casting the shield left people even more at the mercy of dark wizards.
Harry wondered how the shields actually worked and whether there was a shield that countered this major problem.
The book on Arithmancy had helped him to find a few answers and only served to pique his interest even more. Arithmancy, as he had learned, was the science of spell designing. It involved a lot of math and a good knowledge of Latin, Greek and Ancient Runes.
Harry had been determined to find out more and he had sent Dobby to Flourish and Blotts to pick up a few more books on Arithmancy and Ancient Runes.
Learning the two subjects was hard work and sometimes Harry found himself in over his head. But it was also oddly satisfying to struggle with the formulas and break down the runes and the spells. He spent nearly all his free time learning the two subjects and was awake long past midnight most nights. He managed to break down a few simple spells like the stunner and disarming spells and this had given him great insights into the two spells and how they worked.
Harry had cursed himself heartily for having wasted years studying Divination with that bat Trelawney, when he could have been studying Arithmancy. It had been too much time wasted as far as he was concerned.
All these activities frustrated Dobby to no end, as he was unable to make Harry properly rest. Dobby was aware that his task was to take care of his beloved Harry Potter and make sure he ate properly and took care of himself. But try as he might, he couldn't get Harry to see reason.
"I'm fine, Dobby," Harry would say distractedly. "I just need to finish this and then I'll go to sleep."
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the poor house-elf was nearly in hysterics at the thought that he wasn't doing a very good job in caring for Harry.
All this kept Harry extremely busy and he was working like a maniac to try and spend enough time on each activity. Sometimes he thought that even Hermione would have been shocked at his schedule. It became extremely difficult for him to spend any time with his new friends and he found himself politely refusing to go out with them more than once.
Once it got beyond a certain stage, one of them would forcibly drag him out of the house, ignoring all his protests. He grumbled and protested, but he was also pleased at the respite. He enjoyed the time spent with the boys and Pat. Mostly they would just spend time at each other's houses, listening to music or watching a video. But sometimes they went bowling, caught a film at the cinema or drove to the local mall.
The last destination was actually to check out the 'birds.' The three guys strongly denied this of course, much to the delight of Pat, who had a great time teasing them about their utter failure to get any dates.
Harry just laughed at their antics and Sean and Jack's attempts to get him involved in their fruitless attempts.
Sean and Jack had, over the years, developed a technique to attract girls which they thought was flawless.
They would wear tight t-shirts to show off their toned muscles and take great care to flex their biceps in creative ways that made it seem they weren't showing off.
Their staged arm wrestling matches was another one of their tricks.
If this failed, they would use the car to impress the girls. "Cars are babe magnets, Harry," Jack told him confidentially.
If all else failed, they had an endless supply of corny pick up lines they would try. The guys, needless to say, weren't very successful and it frustrated them to no end.
Harry sat on his desk early one morning, reading Ron's latest letter.
Congratulations on the OWL results. It still staggers me that the both of us managed to do so well. I mean, eleven OWLs! Who would have expected it? I guess Hermione rubbed off on both of us. I am hearing no end of it from Fred and George. They are going on something awful about being betrayed by us and how maybe the Marauder's map should be given to more worthy people. Honestly, between them and Hermione's nagging to study, I don't know how I'll survive till the start of school.
Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about future plans. Do you know what you are going to do? I mean, I know you wanted to become an Auror, but is that still what you want? I dunno... I'm totally undecided. I wish you were here so I would have somebody to talk to about this. Hermione will just take out endless pamphlets, and probably give me a migraine by telling me the small details of every job on the planet, if I ask her.
Mum, on the other hand, will most probably have dragons if I even say the word 'Auror.' If she had her way, I'd probably be working in the Ministry, probably someplace safe, like the 'Department for the Control of Nifflers.'
I guess if I could get into Potions then I could become an Auror. But TWO more years of Snape!!! Is anything worth going through that?
Sod it all. I need to decide soon, as I will need to choose what subjects I need to take. Do you have any ideas about this, mate?
Harry rubbed his temple and went over Ron's letter in his mind. He could understand what he was going through, as he himself wasn't very sure as to what he wanted to do with his life. The both of them had always decided together and followed each other in their choice of subjects. Of course, it had been somewhat like one blind man leading another, as neither of them had the slightest clue as to what the right choice was.
He remembered the both of them taking Divination and shunning Arithmancy, when now he realized it had been a big blunder. Back then it had just been fun and games and Divination had seemed a lot easier choice than Arithmancy.
He supposed that there was no real advice he could give Ron. He would have to decide for himself.
I know what you mean. I myself don't really know what I want to do after school. I suppose it will all depend as to whether Old Snakeface is still around when we graduate. I really can't say what subjects you should take. I am taking Charms, Transfigurations, DADA, Potions and Herbology. I guess you should definitely take Charms, Transfigurations and DADA regardless of what you want to do. Potions... well I don't know... I really don't want to take it either, but I guess it's important to learn it.
I guess no one can really tell us what we should do. This is one thing that maybe we have to figure out by ourselves. Think about what you see yourself doing ten years from now, mate, and maybe you'll get a clue as to what you want to do.
I hope this helps a bit. You know, maybe listening to Hermione won't be a totally bad idea. I mean, she could probably give you fifty ideas on what you could do. Can't harm you to at least listen to her.
Take care mate,
P.S. - Is there really a department for the Control of Nifflers?
He gave the letter to Hedwig and hurried off to his Aikido class.
Harry was sitting in his room in the evening, working on his Arithmancy, when the door bell chimed. Harry immediately rushed downstairs. There was a good chance that it was one of the guys or Pat and Aunt Petunia would just tell them that he wasn't home.
He got to the door before his Aunt and pulled it open to find a tall man dressed in tight, black leather pants and a faded black t-shirt standing outside. His long red hair was pulled into a neat ponytail and a sharp dragon fang was hanging from his ear. He carried a slim black briefcase in one of his hands.
"Hello, Harry," Bill said with a grin.
"Hi, Bill. So you got transferred back here then?" Harry asked with a broad smile.
"Yes, I don't know what happened, but suddenly the Gringotts High Council decided that I was too valuable to waste out in Egypt. I was called back so fast that I think I made skid marks while Apparating," Bill said with a wink.
"Great! I never thought it would work, but it was worth a try at any rate," Harry said with a grin.
"Are you kidding? The Goblins were nearly drooling at being given a chance to handle the Black and Potter fortunes. My application to come back had been rejected a day previously, then suddenly I get an urgent summons to return to England," Bill said looking at Harry gratefully.
Harry suddenly noticed Aunt Petunia shooting Bill and him disapproving glances from the hallway.
"Um... Bill, do you think we could go somewhere else and talk?" Harry asked nervously.
"Sure, no problem, Harry," Bill said quietly. He too had noticed Petunia Dursley's looks.
As they walked towards the park, Bill glanced at Harry. "They still giving you a hard time?"
"No, not really," Harry shrugged. "We just ignore each other most of the time."
"Why are you still here, Harry?" Bill asked curiously. "I know Dumbledore has given you permission to come to Headquarters. Also, Ron, Hermione and Ginny have been talking about nothing but you since I arrived. They really miss you."
"I miss them too, Bill," Harry sighed. "I have joined Aikido classes in a place nearby. Erm...Aikido is a form of Martial arts..."
"I know what it is, Harry," Bill said cutting him off. "Living with Dad for so long rubs off."
Harry nodded. "It's really important that I learn how to defend myself, Bill. That night at the Ministry... I realized just how helpless I was. Those Death Eaters were literally toying with us. We only survived because we had that damn prophecy with us, or we wouldn't have lasted five minutes."
Bill did not say anything more on the subject. "Whatever you're doing must be working, Harry. You're looking good."
Harry grinned. "Thanks, I have a slave driver of a partner to thank for that. And Dobby, of course, for some reason, thinks that I need to eat twice as much as Ron."
As they neared the park, Harry noticed that they were getting a lot of stares. He also noticed that most of them were from girls.
"Do you cause such a reaction wherever you go?" Harry smirked.
"I think a fair amount of those looks were directed at you, Potter," Bill said with an amused smile.
"Your confidence in yourself is astonishing," Bill chuckled.
"Oh, get off it," Harry said sourly. "I don't know what everybody is on about nowadays. You'd think I have suddenly transformed into a model for Gladrags Wizarding Wear."
"Give it time and that might happen too," Bill said wickedly. "But for now, I hear Witch Weekly is holding their annual most charming smile and most eligible bachelor contests. You might be a shoo in for that. What with your fame, looks and wealth..."
Harry chose to ignore him.
They looked for a place to sit that would be away from prying eyes and finally sat beneath a large, shady oak tree in a corner of the park.
"Right... now, we seriously need to discuss how to invest your money, Harry. Everything is a big mess right now and it needs a lot of sorting out," Bill said, removing a thick file from the slim leather briefcase he carried.
"Ok, go on, I'm sure you have something planned," Harry said, looking at Bill attentively.
"Hmm... well Sirius left you 10,000 shares in Nimbus, Inc. and 10,000 shares in Smith and Thorn Publications. I suggest that you leave both as they are. They are giving you good returns. Smith and Thorn Publications own the Daily Prophet and Witch Weekly. It might be a good idea to keep them, if only for that. You have quite a lot of shares from the Potter vault too. 10,000 shares of Bertie Botts every flavor beans, a further 10,000 shares of Smith and Thorn Publications, that makes you quite a major shareholder, by the way - and 10,000 shares of Migg's Magical All purpose Cleaner. I suggest you keep all these shares. They are sound investments."
Harry nodded. "Sounds fine to me. And besides, if the shares do nothing more for me other than keeping the Prophet and Witch Weekly in line, it will be worth it."
Bill wrote something in a small notebook and looked up. "All right, now, as for the money, I think it would be a good idea to put some of it in the long term fixed deposits that Gringotts offers. Also, it would be a good idea to invest a bit more in shares."
"Ok, I suppose you can take care of what and what not to invest in? Because I haven't a clue," Harry said sheepishly.
"Don't worry, I'll take care of it," Bill said with a smile. "Most of the blue chip companies are pretty solid investments and it's highly unlikely that you'll lose any money on them. And we can sell them off fast if the shares start dropping."
Harry ran a hand through his hair. He had heard the terms 'shares' and 'blue chip companies' from various rumblings of Uncle Vernon over the years, but he had absolutely no idea as to what any of it actually meant.
"Right, now, as to your properties, Sirius left you a small island off the coast of Malta and No. 12 Grimmauld place. What do you want to do about them?"
Harry looked pensive. "Well, I guess the Order is still using No. 12 as their Headquarters, aren't they?"
When Bill nodded, Harry continued. "Leave that as it is then. As to the island... I really don't know. What do you suggest?"
Bill looked at the file and pondered. "Well, the island has a large manor on it and the beach is supposed to be really beautiful. I suppose we could have the house checked over and renovate it a bit and then rent it out during the summers. It will fetch good money."
Harry looked at Bill bemusedly. "You know, I can hardly believe I am talking about manor houses and Islands near Malta and so many shares. It just seems so unbelievable..."
Bill gave him a look of half sympathy and half amusement. "It is a bit too much, I agree. But believe me, it is better to have it, than not have it. And all this money hasn't come overnight. It's there because of hard work and wise investments by your family and Sirius' over generations. And they meant it to last a long time. This money is meant to last for your children and their children and their children and so on."
Harry nodded reluctantly.
"I guess now would not be a good time to go into the Potter properties then?" Bill smirked.
Harry's head shot up so fast that he got a crick in his neck. "What?!? Potter properties! What Potter properties?"
"Well, there is the house in Godric's Hollow... but that was destroyed. The land still belongs to you, though. Then, there is the Potter Mansion near the Isle of Skye."
"Potter Mansion? Isle of Skye?" Harry sputtered.
"I knew I should have left that for later," Bill muttered under his breath.
"Why weren't my parents staying there then? Why at Godric's Hollow?" Harry said finally.
"I really wouldn't know. I suppose because it was fairly well known and it was easier to hide in their summer cottage in Godric's Hollow, which was not as well known," Bill offered hesitantly. "Also, the larger the place, the harder it is to put under the Fidelius charm. A place that large would need someone immensely powerful to pull it off. Probably only Dumbledore could have managed it and maybe not even him. But there could have been other reasons than that."
Harry sighed. "I suppose I'll have to ask Remus."
"I think he would know more than me," Bill agreed.
"Just leave the both of them for now. I can't decide anything until I visit the properties. But I suppose I wouldn't want to sell or lease them anyway," Harry said quietly.
Bill made another note in his notebook.
"So, are we done?" Harry asked hopefully.
"There are just two more things," Bill said, holding up two fingers.
"One, Mum and Dad found out about the gift you gave them. They told me to tell you that under NO circumstances can they accept it, and you are to take it back immediately."
Harry waved it away. "No way! I'm not taking it back."
"Very well," Bill said, making yet another note in the book. "You can handle Mum, then."
Harry grinned. With any luck he would not have to face Mrs. Weasley's anger anytime soon. He would only be meeting her on the train platform and he could most probably manage to avoid the topic for those few minutes. After a few months, she would have cooled down enough to allow him to convince them to accept it.
"Secondly, I found out that there have been regular deposits made to your account for the past few months. I investigated a little bit and found out that the twins were making them. Apparently, they have made you a fifty percent partner in their shop. They heard that I would be visiting you today and asked me to give you the papers to sign."
Harry opened his mouth to furiously protest, when Bill held up a hand. "They told me to tell you that if you do not sign, they will put the money in your account anyway."
"Well then make sure that they are unable to make any deposits into my account," Harry said irritably.
"I wouldn't advise that," Bill warned. "The twins would probably start a prank war on you if you did something like that."
"But...but... but didn't you tell them about the amount of money I have already?" Harry protested weakly.
"I did, but they were adamant. Look, I'll be honest with you, Harry. The twins are really too irresponsible. It will be good for them to have somebody to keep things in control," Bill said seriously.
"You have got to be kidding!" Harry said in amazement, looking at Bill as if he had sprouted two horns and was dancing the hula. "You really think I'm so dumb as to tell them how to run their shop?"
'Fred and George would probably make me their test dummy for their latest inventions if I did anything of the sort,' Harry thought in horror.
Bill sighed. "Well, as your manager, it would be my responsibility to keep them in line for you," he said casually.
Harry smiled slowly. "That's great! Better they prank you than me."
Bill frowned. "Thank you for caring so much, Harry. But you should know that I expect hazard pay for all of this."
Harry quickly signed the papers and handed them back to Bill.
"So, how is the shop doing anyway?" Harry inquired.
Bill frowned. "Not very well I'm afraid. Both of them are saying that business will pick up once the school term starts, but I don't see it improving by much."
Harry was shocked. "But I thought it was doing great. They have come up with some really neat pranks."
"Yes, but several things are going against them. First, they have no money for advertising. Last year they did so well because of that prank war they waged on Umbridge and because they were there in Hogwarts to promote their products. But now that school is over, they are forgotten. Like they say in business, out of sight is out of mind."
Bill paused, collecting his thoughts. "Secondly, they don't have a name yet like Zonko's that has been there for decades. People don't really know too much about their products, while Zonko's are tried and tested. And lastly, while Fred and George are brilliant at inventing stuff, they are absolutely hopeless at packaging and promoting their items. They really need someone to handle all of that for them."
Harry frowned. "It doesn't look good for them."
"No, it doesn't. Mum is waiting for the shop to fail so that she can get them to work in the Ministry," Bill replied, shaking his head wearily.
"Fred and George work in the Ministry?" Harry said incredulously. "They'll probably blow the whole place up."
"I know. I don't think Amelia Bones will be too chuffed with the idea either."
Harry had a thoughtful look on his face. "Look, your mother is a wonderful woman, and I love her. But Fred and George are ideally suited for what they are doing. I think it would be tragic for the shop to close down."
Bill looked at Harry shrewdly. "What's on your mind?"
So Harry told him...
"I don't know," Bill said finally. "It just might work. But do you want to take such a risk with your money?"
"Some things are worth the risk. And I have a feeling that the twins are a really good investment to make," Harry said thoughtfully.
"Ok, Harry, I'll get on it right away. I think we might be able to pull it off," Bill said, making another note in his book.
"Ok, now is that all?" Harry said, stretching his stiff muscles.
"Yes, that's all," Bill said snapping his briefcase shut.
Harry ducked a dangerous looking purple curse and rolled to his side, sending a stunner back at Mad Eye.
"Bloody Hell! Was that the bone crushing spell, Mad Eye?" Tonks asked anxiously from the sidelines.
"It was," Mad Eye said, looking pleased that Tonks had recognized it. He sent a bludgeoning spell at Harry, making him dive desperately to his right to avoid it.
"Are you crazy?" Tonks screamed. "That could kill him if it hits him."
"Yes, that's why he shouldn't let it hit him," Moody said calmly, as if this was the most obvious thing in the world. He threw yet another powerful hex at Harry.
"Mad Eye, stop it! You're going to cripple him with those kinds of spells," Tonks yelled frantically, drawing her wand as she saw the previous spell miss Harry by inches.
"It's better that he learns now. The Death Eaters aren't likely to hit him with Cheering Charms," Moody said in an annoyed growl.
Harry wasn't paying attention to any of this as he was too busy trying to avoid the barrage of spells Moody threw at him. The duel was rapidly getting one sided, as Harry was unable to do anything but defend himself. He knew that he had to try something different or else he would lose badly... and probably rather painfully.
He ducked another bludgeoning spell from Moody and raising his wand yelled, 'Mirrior Imago.'
Suddenly, there were four Harry's standing before Moody. Mad Eye smirked and sent an Asphyxiating spell at the figure in the center.
Harry ducked at the last moment and the spell flew over his head. It had been close, too close. He felt the spell burn its way past, bare centimeters over his head. He looked sideways to find the clones had all disappeared.
"Nice try, Potter, but you forget my eye," Moody growled.
Harry had forgotten about the eye. He supposed the invisibility charm wouldn't work either. Damn the bleeding magical eye!
He thought rapidly about what to do and suddenly had an idea that he thought Moody wouldn't anticipate. It was risky but he had run out of options.
So he sidestepped a nasty cutting hex and made his move.
He thought it had almost worked and felt his body fading when he was hit on the leg with a powerful bludgeoning curse. He felt his leg crack and the next moment, he couldn't feel his legs at all.
"HARRY!" Tonks screamed.
"Potter, you stupid idiot! Whatever made you think of Apparating during a duel?" Moody roared.
Harry was too shocked to do or say anything. He looked down at his body and saw that he was missing both his legs. Looking up, he saw them lying halfway across the room.
He had been splinched!
"Damn it, Boy! Do you know how dangerous that was? You got very lucky."
Harry looked at him, speechless with shock. 'This was lucky? He was splinched and one of his missing legs was fractured. How the HELL was that lucky?' he thought furiously.
"Shut up, Moody, and call someone from the Splinching reversal squad. And send for a healer too," Tonks screamed.
Moody limped away to do as she asked, grumbling something about careless fools.
"Um... Tonks, they can fix this, can't they?" Harry asked anxiously.
"Yes, it is repairable. But it could have been very bad, Harry. It is lucky it was just the legs; if any of the organs had been left behind, you could have died," Tonks said, glaring at him.
What followed was a few very painful hours of desplinching Harry and fixing his leg. But it was far from over. After all of that, he then had to face a very irritated Moody.
"Damn it, Boy! Don't you ever use your head?" Moody thundered. "What the hell kind of move was that? Where did you pick it up?"
"Dumbledore," Harry muttered, staring sullenly at the floor.
"Dumbledore!" Moody said in amazement. "You tried to do it because you saw Dumbledore do it?"
"You are even more stupid than I thought! The first rule of dueling is to always fight with what you are absolutely sure of. Never try and experiment with things that might potentially fail. If this had happened during a real duel, you would be dead, Potter," Moody growled.
"I know," Harry sighed. "I wouldn't have tried it in a real duel. I just wanted to see whether I could do it. I was trying to find a way to break your attack. I had to try something since nothing else was working.
Moody shook his head. "That's no excuse. You should have stuck with shield charms for now. If you want to try something different, then practice it until you perfect it. Now that you have used that infernal tactic, I want you to practice it till you can do it properly. I want you to practice your Apparition until your time is down enough for you to avoid getting hit."
"All right," Harry said quietly.
"And work on your Apparition sound too. If I hear that loud crack you keep making while Apparating by the end of the month, I'll personally wring your neck. You need to work harder, lad. You need to concentrate more," Moody said urgently, his voice lowering.
"Oh, and Potter," Moody said thoughtfully. "Get down and give me fifty on your knuckles for your stunt today."
Harry spluttered indignantly.
"NOW!" Moody roared.
Harry reluctantly fell to the ground and started the pushups.
Tonks and Kingsley were watching all of this from a corner of the room and both wore grins on their faces. Most new Auror recruits would get the same treatment from Moody, and he had apparently decided that Harry would be trained the same as any Auror recruit was.
Harry got up from the floor slowly, feeling every bone in his body aching. He wanted nothing more than to go home have a hot shower and then go to sleep.
"Come on, stud muffin, let's get you home," Tonks said jovially.
Harry glared at her.
"Hey, don't give me that look," Tonks said ruffling his hair playfully. "I didn't ask you to Apparate while dueling Mad Eye."
"All right, OK? So I screwed up. Now please, just let's go," Harry said with a scowl.
"Ooh! Doesn't little Harrykins look adorable when he's angry?" Tonks said, giving him a loud smacking kiss on his cheek.
Harry whacked her on her shoulder. "Don't call me Harrykins, Nymphadora, and learn to act your age for once in your life."
Tonks blew a raspberry at him and stuck her tongue out.
Harry rolled his eyes at her and walked towards the fireplace to floo to Arabella Figg's house.
The dinner table at No. 12 Grimmauld place was packed with the Weasleys and several Order members.
"So, how is he, Bill, dear?" Molly asked.
"He's fine, Mum. He's looking quite good, and well fed. Also, it was a pleasure to see him in clothes that fit for once."
"I still can't believe he went and did that!" Hermione exclaimed. "I mean... for Harry to actually use his fame to get something done. He normally hates doing anything like that."
"Well, I don't know why he did it," Bill said shrugging. "I wasn't even aware that he knew I was trying to get transferred back."
"I told him," Ginny said softly.
"You asked Harry to try and get Bill transferred back?" Ron asked incredulously.
"No, you stupid prat! I told him that Bill was trying to get transferred back. I would never have asked him to use his influence like that," Ginny said, tossing her hair in annoyance.
"Did he agree to take it back, Bill?" Arthur Weasley asked his eldest son.
"No, he didn't Dad. He absolutely refused to even talk about it," Bill said with a grin.
"What's this? Take what back?" Ron asked curiously.
"Nothing, Ron, dear. It's just something between Harry and us," Molly said quickly.
Ron looked highly annoyed at this. "Look, what's with all these secrets anyway? Nobody will tell us what he's doing. He won't tell us either and all of you are hiding stuff from us."
"No one's hiding anything from you, Ron," Bill snapped. "He is in Privet Drive because he's doing some Martial Arts training."
"Martial Arts? What's that?" Ron asked skeptically.
"It's a muggle form of self defense, Ron," Hermione said excitedly. "Why is he learning that, Bill?"
"Well, I don't know exactly why he's learning it, but from what I know of the sport, it has various benefits. It improves your reflexes, teaches you control, helps you to relax, and of course, teaches you how to defend yourself," Bill said.
"Why would he need to learn to defend himself like a Muggle? He's got a wand, doesn't he?" Ron said with a frown.
"Ron, you really need to change your way of thinking. You can easily be disarmed in a fight, and then what will you do? If you know other ways to defend yourself, you are not completely helpless," Charlie said exasperatedly.
"So, did he sign the papers, Bill?" Fred asked.
"Yeah, he did," Bill said with a grin. "But now, since he is a fifty percent partner in your shop and I am his manager, you guys have to answer to me if your shop isn't doing well."
"Great! Why don't you come on down for an inspection tomorrow?" George said brightly.
"Yeah, we have a couple of new products we want to introduce you to," Fred echoed.
Bill chose not to respond to them. Harry would definitely need to give him hazard pay.
"How are his relatives treating him, Bill?" Ginny asked anxiously.
"Well, he says that they don't bother him. Something about they ignore him and he them. But I saw his Aunt giving him a few dirty looks when I arrived today. So he asked if I would mind if we talked outside. So, no, I don't think he is having a very great time down there at any rate."
Ginny looked extremely guilty at hearing this.
Bill looked at her shrewdly and wanted to say something, but then he thought it was best if he didn't comment.
"The poor dear! I can't understand how anybody could be so horrible to that sweet boy," Molly fretted.
"Well, I guess the party will cheer him up a bit," Hermione said eagerly.
"Oh, yes, I almost forgot to ask. Have you two made the list of invitees then?" Molly asked Hermione and Ginny.
"Yes, Mum," Ginny said. "It's coming to quite a large number though. Where is the party to be held? It can't be held here at Headquarters obviously, and the Burrow would be too small."
Molly smiled. "Dumbledore gave us permission to use the Great Hall at Hogwarts."
"That's perfect!" Hermione squealed. "It is large enough to hold everyone and we don't have to worry about being too noisy."
"Hogwarts! Great! We have a few things that might liven up the party," Fred said with a grin.
"Yeah, the new line of spellworks should be good," George put in.
"Maybe we could work on some party hats," Fred said excitedly.
"Great idea, brother mine! Turn anybody who wears one into a canary?"
"Well... not everyone. Let's try different pranks for each one. We don't want to be too obvious. Besides, it's our partner's birthday, we can't be mediocre, can we?"
"Right you are. We should try something unique."
"You two will do nothing of the sort," Molly shrieked. "If you two do anything to ruin this party, and I mean anything, you will really regret it."
"Ruin the party?" Fred said in an injured tone.
"How could you think we'd do something like that?" George asked.
"And to ruin Harry's party?"
"Harry, who is our partner?"
"Our dear investor?"
"Who we love sooo much."
"In a strictly friendly kind of way, of course,"
"Yeah, do you think we'd ever prank him?"
"YES!" came the resounding reply from everyone around the table.
"Damn, they know us too well," Fred muttered.
"Too right," George said sadly.
"Oh, ignore them, Mum," Ginny said with a frown.
Molly nodded. "Ok, now since the hall is so large, we will need help decorating it. We probably won't be able to do it on our own."
"Oh, don't worry about that, Mrs. Weasley," Hermione said excitedly. "A little extra effort will be worth it just to see his face when he sees it all. And if all of us chip in, it will hardly take any time."
"What about the food?" Ron asked interestedly.
"Do you ever think about anything but food, Ron?" Ginny groaned.
"Well, you can't have a party without food, can you?" Ron said defensively.
"The House-elves are going to be taking care of the food and I'm making the cake," Molly answered Ron. "And the..."
They were suddenly interrupted by a noise from the living room. Bill, Charlie, Remus and Arthur immediately drew their wands, cautiously moving towards the door.
"Hello, is anybody there?" a voice called out.
"Percy?" Molly gasped. "How did he get here?"
"Let's not be hasty, Molly," Remus said quietly. "Let's make sure it's Percy first."
"In here," Arthur called out. "Come in with your hands in front of you and don't try any tricks."
Percy slowly walked towards them. "W-w-what's going on? Why are you all pointing your wands at me?"
"How did you get here?" Bill asked sharply.
"I... I went to the Burrow and no one was there. So I went to see Dumbledore and he sent me here," Percy said awkwardly.
Arthur lowered his wand. "What do you want, Percy?"
"I just wanted to... to apologize," Percy said softly, looking at the floor.
"More like you wanted to see if you could get Dad to get you back in favour with the Minister," Charlie sneered.
"N-n-no, it isn't like that," Percy stammered. "Though I can't blame you for thinking that."
"Why all of a sudden, Perce? After so long?" Bill asked coldly.
"Hush now, Bill. That hardly matters. As long as he realizes his mistake, it's all right," Molly said, moving forward to take her estranged son in her arms.
She was stopped by Arthur's outstretched arm. "No, Molly, it /does /matter. I want to know as well why he has come now, of all times."
"But he's our son, Arthur," Molly protested.
Arthur Weasley's eyes were hard and unfeeling. "No, Molly, I want to know why he did it. To know why he's come back so suddenly. Why he didn't come once he knew he was wrong all along. I want to know what caused him to betray us like that."
Percy cringed at his words.
"I want to know..." Arthur said softly. "Where we failed as parents."
"Please, don't say that..." Percy pleaded. "It was never your fault. I was wrong. I was too stubborn and full of myself to realize it. But I couldn't go on like that. When... when Harry told me what happened last year... how you almost died... I just had to...." He broke down and started sobbing.
"I'm... I'm so, so sorry. I don't deserve your forgiveness but I just had to... had to tell you."
Molly pushed her husband's hand away and pulled Percy into a tight hug. She too started crying.
"Do you know what you put us through?" she sobbed. "How much you hurt us with your behavior?"
"I know... I promise... I promise never to do anything like this ever again," Percy choked out.
"You had better not, son," Arthur said, pulling his wayward son into a brief hug. "Or else I'll set Fred and George on you."
"How can you forgive that traitor?" Ron yelled. "After all he did?"
Fred and George were also looking at Percy furiously.
"Yeah, what happened Perce? Fudge disown you?" George spat out.
"Yeah, or is it that you just miss somebody to kiss you goodnight now that Umbridge is in Azkaban?" Fred snarled.
"You know what this worm wrote in a letter to me? You want to know what he wrote about you and Dumbledore? What he wrote about Harry?" Ron yelled, joining in.
"Calm down, Ron," Arthur said softly.
"I will not calm down!" Ron roared. "Insane, was he? Imbalanced and violent, wasn't he?" he said advancing on Percy.
"I'm sorry," Percy said sorrowfully, his eyes glistening with tears. "There's no excuse for what I did."
"No, there isn't. And you had better apologize to Harry about it," Arthur said sternly. "Now, Ron, Fred and George, just calm down. He made a mistake and he's apologized for it. Whatever he did, he is still your brother and still family. Give him a chance to show he's sorry."
Ron looked like he wanted to say more, but he calmed down after seeing the stern expression in his father's eyes. He suddenly turned on his heel and walked off. A second later, his footsteps were heard as he stomped up the stairs to his bedroom.
In all the commotion and shock at Percy's appearance, they had forgotten the portrait of Mrs. Black and she had started screaming at the top of her voice.
Arthur Weasley sighed, and he and Remus walked off to take care of the portrait. Percy was going to go through a rough patch with his brothers for some time at least.
"What do you mean 'when Harry told you?'" Ginny asked softly, when the portrait had been shut up.
Nearly everybody had forgotten about that and Ginny's question made them all curious.
"Well, a few days ago, he came to see me in my office and he yelled at me something terrible. He's really quite scary when he's angry, by the way... Well, after he left, a few of the things he told me got me thinking and I realized just how big a mistake I had made," Percy said with a bitter smile.
Arthur and Molly exchanged a look and this was mirrored by Bill, Charlie and the twins.
Ginny voiced the thought going through all their heads. "He does get around, doesn't he?"