Rolling in the Deep
Kingsley was grading a stack of Seventh year essays when Harry knocked on his office door, the porthole charm allowing him to see who was on the other side without that person knowing he could. He took time to look over Harry while walking over to let him in. The boy still looked bad, too skinny, and he hadn't gotten enough sleep, but there was confidence in his expression, and determination in his eye; going off this Kingsley figured he had made a decision.
Opening the door with a small smile, "Please come in Harry," He invited, "Have you made your decision?" He inquired once the young man had entered.
"Yes," To his credit, he spoke strongly, without fear or doubt, that was a good sign.
"What have you decided?" Kingsley took a neutral tone, not sure whether the Golden boy would decide to help, or run. His determination could be fueled by either option.
Harry shored up his stance, trying to project the confidence he was feeling, "I will help, but after some good advice, I do have a few stipulations to add to the deal."
"What are the stipulations? The Ministry can only concede so much. I'm sorry but if you are trying to bring your friends in on this, or attempting to stay at Hogwarts and still receive training, it just won't be possible." Kingsley apologized, figuring that's what he would want if faced with a choice like this at his age.
Harry nodded, "I knew that wasn't going to be an option, Hermione and Ron would jump at a chance like this I'm sure. I know the Ministry is breaking a lot of rules and regulations just offering this deal to me, it would be too much to do it for them too. No, this is more personal. I don't like my fame, it hasn't brought me anything but grief. I am willing to let the Minister use my name to back his policies, but I have to approve the articles that use it. If I am going to let you use my name in print, I want it to be because I actually do support the policies, and not because the Minister feels it would be a great effect to have me on his side. I don't think that is too much to ask."
A swell of pride blossomed as Kingsley listened to the well thought out objection, Harry was smart, that would go a long way towards helping him make it through the trials to come. "I think that is a reasonable request, and between you and me I believe Scrimgeour intended to do that anyway. Rufus is not like Fudge, he won't hide behind you, and expect you to fight his battles. He is very hands on, and involved in the war effort. He comes to the Auror barracks often, and even participates in some of our drills to prove he does know what he is talking about when he commands us. He is a very good Minister, and a decent man besides that. I think you made the right choice."
"I wasn't sure at first, but like I said, I got some good advice. This is the right thing to do. It will be hard and painful, but hopefully worth it. At least I am being given a chance to fight for myself, others have not been so lucky." Harry agreed, fighting off a blush of gratitude at hearing the approval from Kingsley. Hey he was tired, and worn down, and for once an adult was looking at him with pride for a decision he had made, rather than derision or condescension.
Kingsley led the obviously tired student to one of the chairs in front of his desk, tactfully ignoring the quiet sigh of relief as he sunk into the padded seat, before reclaiming his spot in front of the pile of essays. "Was that the only concern you had about this deal? It will be a lot. Your life is going to change completely. What about your family? Will they have a problem with you leaving school? Most families would prefer their children get a true education rather than the thrown together tutoring you are liable to get. It will get you by, but it won't be to Hogwarts caliber, at least not likely unless you do quite a bit of independent study." Harry really hadn't gotten a whole lot of choice, it was more a fight now, or fight later without training kind of situation. Kingsley just wanted to make sure he was as prepared as he could be.
"Of course I have more questions, but it is about the specifics, I don't have anymore demands. At least not until I get there and things start happening. I may objet to a few things if I don't like them as they come up, but I will do my best to only complain if I absolutely can't take it. The Ministry needs me to be strong, not a little boy throwing a tantrum." Harry shuddered a bit at the end, remembering Dudley's fake crying and other attention gathering antics, he would rather have Cruciatus cast at him than imitate his pig of a cousin. "Also I doubt my family would care. I think they are going to be thrilled, if I understand the deal right, I might not have to go back to them again; I will be too busy training. It gets me out of their hair two years sooner then I would be gone otherwise. They won't see a downside."
"I don't know much about your life with the muggles, Dumbledore kept information regarding that extremely private to protect you. It sounds like they weren't very good people though. No you won't have to go back, Aurors in training are granted leave for holidays and short breaks, but you are not required to leave, much like Hogwarts." Kingsley correctly read the mutual loathing in the boy's voice. He wasn't exactly coked up about not seeing the Dursleys again if he didn't want to.
The shudder that passed through Harry this time was visible, "It was no picnic, that's for sure. They kept me alive, that is about the only good thing I can say about them. They didn't beat me, but I'm pretty sure what happened was at least neglect. I'm not sure it is legal to keep a child in the cupboard under the stairs, it's at least unethical, especially since there were four bedrooms, and only three other people in the house."
"If you pressed charges, you would have a case." Kingsley spoke carefully, working hard to restrain his anger. Hurting a child was wrong, even if it wasn't physical abuse, it was still wrong.
Harry shook his head sharply, "No, I won't do that. Yes, they weren't the best toward me, but it could have been far worse, and it wasn't like they chose to take me in and then proceeded to hurt me. Dumbledore left me on their doorstep in the middle of the night, in early November, with nothing but a blanket and a note. I doubt I was left completely unattended until Petunia came out to put the milk bottles out, but still, would you just leave an infant on a doorstep? Wouldn't you at least ring the bell or knock?"
"Dumbledore did that?" Kingsley knew Harry wasn't lying, he could hear the truth in his tone of voice, but it was hard to wrap his mind around it.
"Yes," Harry pressed, "When Hagrid brought me back from my first trip to Diagon Alley, I cornered Aunt Petunia alone in the kitchen, and asked her for the truth. She told me how I was found, and Dumbledore admitted later, without knowing I had talked to my Aunt, he was the one who placed me there. A story backed up by Hagrid."
The Auror stayed silent for a few minutes, letting himself absorb the information, how could Dumbledore have done something like that? He agreed with Harry, the boy was probably watched from the moment he was set down until he was brought safely into the house, but there still should have been some attempt to personally explain the situation. Imagine finding your sister was dead, you now had custody of your nephew, who was in danger of being tracked down by Death Eaters, and now imagine finding that all out from a letter? "So that's why you and Dumbledore had such a conflicted relationship." He said once he had most everything worked into place.
"Dumbledore made a lot of mistakes with me, I think he suffered from the same problem that my fame did to me. Everyone saw the image and not the human. He was fully capable of making mistakes, and unfortunately a man with his power and position, well, his mistakes have a way of having far worse consequences than wearing the wrong tie to work that day. The problem that comes from that is, because the image is all anyone saw, his mistakes weren't caught as they might have been otherwise. They were allowed to grow, until a small misstep feels like a betrayal." Harry analyzed, taking off his glasses, and rubbing the bridge of his nose between his eyes. He had a monster headache from dealing with all this on too little sleep. "I had my problems with him, but I still listened when he had something to say. Mistakes were made, but 150 years of experience has to count for something."
Kingsley looked at Harry in a new light after hearing that, this wasn't a boy, he had already been thinking of Harry as more than a child because of just the escapades he knew about. This was different, he hadn't realized the Gryffindor could see the situation so clearly, when just about anyone else would have gotten angry or bitter, maybe even both, this young man had stood by the man who caused him pain. All because he thought it was the right thing to do. "Harry, I can see why you were singled out for this. You see things differently then others would, it's a gift that will serve you well in the Auror barracks. I think you could win, where all others have failed."
"I'm nothing special, Hermione is way smarter than me," Harry brushed off the comments, not believing a word of it.
"She is a very smart witch, I have seen her work, and yours. She had all the facts correct, everything she needed to make a very well thought out and presented essay. Everything she wrote could be checked and verified by a book in the library, a solid O paper should it have been turned in at OWLs. Your paper didn't have as many references, and I could tell you were raised in the muggle world and aren't quite comfortable using a quill, but you had examples and theories that couldn't be found in books or in Hermione's paper. To me your paper would also receive an O, because not all knowledge is from books. You could see ways that spell could be used, without looking it up, and even if she thought some of the same things she didn't trust her own instincts to be just as right as the books. Your intelligence is practical, and adaptable, it's probably how you managed to get through all those scraps you've landed in. The fact you could see the situation with Dumbledore and your family so clearly, and not get so angry with them you forsake any help they might give, you in essence forgive them. That takes a lot of heart Harry, which is a very good thing to have." He spoke so freely, and sure of himself, Harry couldn't help but believe him.
"You really think that way?" He asked incredulously.
"Yes, Harry, really think about it. You are part of a prophecy, and yes I know it Dumbledore left it to the three of us running the Order, that states you are the only one who can come up against the Dark Lord and win. Would that have happened if there wasn't something about you that was different? The power he knows not could mean a lot of things, from magic to gunpowder, but I think it just means a large heart and the ability to see when to fight and when to forgive." Kingsley was now sure of that, he wasn't positive when he first started watching him, but now he saw beneath the grief and exhaustion eating away at him, and saw the powerful wizard he was well on his way to becoming.
Harry bowed his head slightly, not able to meet the eyes drilling into him, "I never thought of it that way."
"I think everyone is so worried about those few line of fortune, that they over think the answers. Most prophecies are riddles yes. Meant to be worked out as the information is needed usually. The pieces won't fall into place until they are meant to, and before that it won't matter how long you slam your head against the wall, the answers won't come." He hadn't been a very strong believer in Divination while in school, he did believe there were true seers gifted with the Sight, but the future was a fickle thing and the fates would not reveal their secrets until they were ready. He was sure of that.
"I never wanted any of this, I hope you know that, I want my parents alive. I would rather have that then all the fame and fortune." Harry spoke so softly Kingsley struggled to hear, but it made his heart clench.
"We all wish this war had never come. We will fight though, and keep their memories alive. Live for them, fight so there will be a tomorrow worth getting to." He advised just as softly.
"I can only do my best, I hope it is enough," Harry shrugged then, knowing getting too worked up wouldn't solve anything.
Kingsley nodded, "That's all anyone can do, we will just have to wait and see how it turns out."