Chapter 7: Tête-à-tête
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter; J. K. Rowling does. Please don't sue.
Everyone other than Harry and Dumbledore had arrived for supper. This was normal. How they could practice so long on Occlumency was a mystery to everyone. Remus, Hermione, and Ron had told everyone about Harry's new skills as soon as they had arrived. Ron had the main part and really enjoyed telling about the "conversation" that he and his best friend had had inside his mind.
All the people present had agreed to try to bug the information out of either Harry or Dumbledore. It seemed like the only thing left to do. So, they sat waiting. They waited for nearly an hour before Harry and Dumbledore idly walked in. Ron, who by that time had told everyone his story and was getting hungry, spoke first. "Well, it is about time. You two could nearly starve a person."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled with mirth over Ron and his bottomless pit of a stomach. Harry, however, had a calculating look on his face. "You all have never waited before. Is something special going on, or just something sneaky ?" He emphasized sneaky knowing that something was up.
Arthur saved the day. "No. No. Nothing sneaky or special, we just felt that since school would be starting in a few days, that we'd wait for you two and eat together. You know – Carpe diem!" Harry still looked somewhat suspicious, but accepted the answer without question.
The group ate in silence for about ten minutes before Fred initiated the questioning. He was rather blunt at that. "Hey, Harry. Is there anything that you aren't telling us? Something on your mind?" Harry shook his head and continued with his eating.
Molly made a grumbling noise at her end of the table and Harry looked up at her. "Harry, I know that there's been something on your mind. I've watched as you stare into empty fireplaces. You hardly eat and hardly sleep. Your shoulders slump more than almost anyone else's at this table. What are you not telling us?"
Harry could feel his anger rising, but he remained calm. "It's nothing that I can't handle Mrs. Weasley, but thank you for your concern."
The next time, the question was directed at Dumbledore. He too refused to tell. What had started as calm and simple was quickly getting out of hand. Everyone started to speak at once trying to give their reasons for thinking they ought to know.
Dumbledore and Hermione noticed it first because they were sitting on either side of Harry. Anger and frustration was pouring off him in waves. The power of the magic that was starting to come off Harry scared Hermione so much that she immediately fell silent. Harry was trying his best to keep his emotions under control, but there was too many. Dumbledore had put the magical seal on the room so that anything Harry inadvertently did, would not be noticed by the ministry. He knew that Harry had reached his breaking point.
No one else noticed anything until the candles in the room burst with twice as much light as before. Then they noticed a strange wind coming from somewhere. The silverware – which thankfully did not include knives – on the table began to quiver. By then everyone had went totally silent. Harry had his eyes screwed shut and his fists clenched in an effort to quell his overpowering frustration. Everyone was watching the sixteen-year-old young man before them. They knew that they had gone too far. Suddenly, Harry's voice filled the room even though his mouth was not moving.
You want to know what is bothering me? You think that I'll tell you and it'll all become better? I've told each of you that it's for the best that you do not know, and yet you still continue to press matters! I KNOW that I'm not that old. I KNOW that you only want me to be happy. Furthermore, I also KNOW what that prophecy said. You want to know what is bothering me. That's what stays on my mind 24/7. That prophecy is my life. Now you know. Drop the subject!
Harry suddenly disappeared into thin air. The candles went back to normal, the breeze stopped, and the silverware stopped quivering. Nobody moved or said a word. Power like that from anyone was scary, but from a sixteen-year-old it was absolutely terrifying. Only Dumbledore seemed to be still in contact with his wits. "I do believe that Mr. Potter made it clear that he would rather not speak about what the prophecy said. I expect that each of you will respect his wishes from now on. If that scared you, then let it be known that he was holding back with all he had. I will go talk to him. Goodnight to you all. Molly, dinner was delicious as always."
It took a few more minutes before anyone was able to put sensible words together and form coherent sentences. Finally, Remus was able to speak. "Well, that didn't go exactly as planned." This earned a few shaky grins and nervous chuckles.
Tonks shook her head and willed her hair back to the vivid purple that it had been before Harry scared her so bad that it changed to a natural shade of dish-water blond. "Can someone tell me again why we need to guard his every move? I do believe that if Voldemort ever met Harry in that state, he just might decide that Albus is not the one to be feared. Just think of what he could do if he ever learned to harness that." She shuddered as she thought of the possibilities.
The twins, Ginny, and Ron were still pale from seeing their friend of five years putting off that much magical power. Ron looked at Hermione and asked in a shaky voice, "Was that the same skinny kid that we met on the train five years ago?"
Hermione gave her friend a sad look before turning her gaze to the door. "It's the same person in body, Ron. I'm afraid, however, that the Harry we met that day is long gone – never to return. The Harry we met was thankfully ignorant to the harsh realities of his life now. That Harry died slowly for five years, and finally passed on with Sirius and the revelation of the prophecy. What's left is this Harry. He's still honest, loyal, kind to a fault, courageous, self-sacrificing, but he's also destined – destined to face Voldemort."
The group around the table looked at her as if she were a stranger. "What makes you think that, Hermione?" The question was from Ginny. She was still pale. Everyone was holding his or her breath waiting for the answer.
Hermione sighed deeply as tears began to fill her eyes. "I think that we all have known this for sometime now. It only makes sense. The clues that Harry has dropped when he wasn't thinking straight – or just dreaming – combined with the knowledge that we already had all points to that conclusion. Why else would the Potters have had to go into hiding so soon after Harry's birth? Why would Voldemort be so bent on killing Harry? Why would Dumbledore protect him the way he does? In our first year, right after Harry was released from the hospital wing after his fight with Quirrel, he said that he thought that Dumbledore was giving us just enough clues to discover who was after the stone. He said it was as if Dumbledore felt he should have a chance to fight Voldemort tête-à-tête. Why would Dumbledore let an eleven-year-old child do that? Year after year, Harry has had a confrontation with some form of Voldemort. The only exception was our third year.
"After seeing his power tonight, I realized that if he ever learned to harness it – like you said, Tonks – then I think that he would be the only person with a hope of killing Voldemort. It's just too obvious."
Remus looked at the young witch and remembered something else she had said. "Earlier, what did you mean 'destined' Hermione? You make it sound like he's the only one who can face Voldemort."
She looked up with a tear trickling down her face. The people around the table again waited for her to spill forth her knowledge. They are refusing to see what is in plain sight. She opened her mouth to speak, but was cut off by a voice that she knew so well. Harry had come back in the room.
"What Hermione means is exactly what she said, and…" here Harry's gaze fell to the floor and his shoulders slumped in defeat. "And she's exactly right. ' …And either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives…' " He fell silent, as was everyone else in the kitchen. Some seemed to want to hope against hope that it was not true. Surely, a sixteen-year-old wizard would not have to bear the weight of the world on his shoulders. It wasn't right. It wasn't fair.
Ron was shocked, but he was able to ask, "You'll win, though. Won't you? You'll take him out?"
Without looking up from the floor, Harry replied, "There are no guarantees, Ron, apart from this one: I'll do everything in my power to give him what he fears the most – death. He can kill me if he wants to, but I have every intention of taking him with me. His time for terror is over."
Hermione was crying openly now. She hated to think of Harry dying. Before she knew what was going on, someone had her wrapped up in his arms, rocking her as she let the tears fall on the unknown person's shoulder. She clung tightly to the person as if they were her last connection with the world.
She heard the sounds of the others speaking quietly about what they had just discovered when the person holding her spoke to her in the gentlest way she had ever heard. "Shh. It's okay. Let it all out. I'm still here and I'm not leaving. Shh." Harry continued to rock her and rub her back as her sobs quieted. He was still whispering soothing words to her. She had quit crying, and her breathing was going back to normal. Harry pulled away just enough so that he could look at her face. He gently wiped a couple of stray tears and grinned the lop-sided grin that let her know he was doing fine.
"Don't cry, Hermione. I'm still here. I know that someday I'll have to face that monster, but that day's not today. Remember what Mr. Weasley said before supper? 'Carpe diem!' Let's do that, okay? We can cry when the time comes to cry, but until then let's laugh and enjoy every minute of everyday. Does that sound good?"
Hermione nodded and gave Harry a shaky grin. He gave her one last hug and turned back to the other people at the table. "I need to apologize – again. I shouldn't have lost my temper earlier. I know that's the understatement of the century, but I truly am sorry. I did not mean to frighten you, but I know I did because I scared myself. Can you forgive me – again?"
The group quickly started in on how he was not the one who should be asking forgiveness. Although, if he insisted, then yes, he was forgiven. The rest of the night, no one spoke a word about the prophecy, except Dumbledore. He told them that they were expressly forbidden to utter a word of it to another person. Everyone nodded in agreement, and continued in their normal manner.
Hermione thought about how much she had discovered in the past summer. She realized just how difficult things must have been for Harry. She was proud of him, though. He had conquered many things in the past two months, and now he was really looking content. She smiled. Things may be difficult, but they'll always work out. "Seize the day!"
A/N: Well, that's it folks. I hope that you enjoyed it. I just had to add a bit of my favorite ship there at the end (sorry if that offends anybody). Thank you for reading and reviewing the story. You wonderful people. Youcancertainly make an author's day.I'll see ya next time. (If you haven't then you could read my other stories.) Anyways…Have a good day! Take care! ; )