There is thunder in the distance and the sky grows gray There is lightning in the clouds in search of prey It's not a matter of if as much as when The clouds will break and the rainfall will begin (Assemblage 23)
A/N: A note of thanks to The Morning Starr, who came up with the idea of the Wand Concealer in her excellent K/T fic, "A Kingsley Christmas" and was kind enough to let me borrow the concept for 'Cry Havoc'.
Harry was awakened by the feeling of someone crawling into bed with him. He blearily opened his eyes to find Ginny's face inches from his. She was already dressed, and her hair was still slightly wet from her morning shower. "Good morning," said Harry sleepily.
Ginny kissed his lips. "Good morning and happy birthday."
"Sixteen years old..." Harry murmured.
"That makes you legal," said Ginny.
"Legal for what?" asked Harry.
Harry blushed. "Oi! I don't expect to be doing that for a while yet, thanks."
Ginny snuggled up closer. "And why not, may I ask, Mr. Potter?"
Harry chuckled despite himself. "For one thing, you aren't legal."
Ginny grinned. "Too right, I'm not. That being the case, you'll have to settle with presents of the usual sort. Speaking of which, I've got something here for you. It's from Karl. He passed it along before he left."
Ginny reached over to Harry's bedside table and handed him his glasses. She reached down to the floor and came up with a gift-wrapped box as Harry pulled his glasses on. "I was instructed to give this to you 'away from my parents and anyone who might disapprove.'"
"Disapprove of what? What is it?" Harry asked.
"It's a Muggle book... Wild Sex For New Lovers," Ginny said, without blinking.
"What the - why would - what?" Harry sputtered, before catching the glint in Ginny's eyes.
They both burst out laughing.
"Honestly Harry, you're daft as a brush sometimes," said Ginny. "Open the present; I don't know what it is."
"It's not fair doing that to me this early in the morning," said Harry as he tore into the wrapping paper. Once the paper was free, he lifted the lid to the box and looked inside. His eyes widened at what he saw, and he dropped the box in shock.
Inside were three short, gleaming throwing stars in a black bandoleer of some sort.
"Is this Karl's idea of a joke?" Harry asked.
Ginny looked down at the knives, her eyes widening. "I-I don't know. He told me it was defence related, I swear that's all I knew."
"Defence related," said Harry. "These are knives. You don't defend yourself with knives. You use knives to kill people."
"Maybe he left some kind of explanation...oh damn, that's right, there's a card," said Ginny. "I left it in my room. Back in a second."
Harry picked up the box and stared at the throwing stars again.
. . . and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives . . . the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies . . .
Harry shuddered, the words of Professor Trelawney echoing in his head.
Just then Ginny returned with a white envelope in her hand. She handed it to Harry, who tore it open and read the letter within.
I'm what most of the wizarding world considers an 'unconventional fighter', in that I like to have multiple non-magical backups in the event I get Disarmed or my wand breaks. Unarmed combat is my usual fallback, but I have a few others. These shuriken are one of them. If you train a bit, I reckon you could become quite skilled with them, considering your talent as a Seeker. Anyway, best birthday wishes, and I hope you have an excellent day
Harry silently handed the card to Ginny, who quickly read it over. "Ah. Well, I see his reasoning now. Are you still bothered by the gift?" she asked.
"No, not at all," said Harry, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "I'm delighted that my 'friend' wants me to train to kill people. One murder isn't good enough, he has to make me a mass killer?"
Ginny's eyes widened. "What the hell are you talking about, Harry? You've never killed anyone...unless you count the basilisk, which hardly makes you a murderer."
Harry opened his mouth and closed it. He hadn't meant to say that. He was silent for a moment, then finally said, "Never mind, it doesn't matter."
Ginny's wand was out in a heartbeat and pointed between Harry's eyes before he could move. "Don't even start! Keep your secrets if you want to, but don't tell me this doesn't matter, or so help me, Harry Potter, I will hex you into the middle of next week!"
"Oh, for Merlin's sake, GO AHEAD!" Harry shouted. "YOU'RE NOT THE ONE DESTINED TO BECOME A MURDERER! THERE, I SAID IT! IS THAT WHAT YOU WANTED TO HEAR?! IS THAT WHAT YOU-mmph!"
Harry's tirade was abruptly cut short as Ginny's left hook caught him across the jaw. He reeled backwards, falling onto the pillow as Ginny shook her hand to rid it of pain from the impact.
"Don't ever talk to me like that. Ever!" Ginny growled, breathing hard through her nostrils, eyes daring him to utter a word of disagreement.
Harry put a hand to his aching jaw and stared at Ginny. "I...I didn't mean to lose it like that, Gin."
Ginny put her wand away. "Are you ready to talk now or do you think you should calm down a bit?"
Harry shook his head. "I don't know if I can talk about it. It just slipped out before. I honestly didn't intend for anyone else to know that. Damn it, Ginny, it's dangerous for you to know that!"
Ginny sighed. "I didn't necessarily mean talking about that topic. You tell who you want to tell when you're ready. I won't try to force it out of you."
Harry sighed heavily. "No, I already said it; I might as well tell you now. You remember the Prophecy we were fighting over back at the Ministry? The one that got broken?"
"Well, broken doesn't necessarily mean lost. Dumbledore was the one who heard the prophecy, and I saw the whole damned thing in his Pensieve. The long and short of it is that either I'm going to kill Voldemort... or he's going to kill me."
Ginny's eyes widened and Harry saw a hint of something he hadn't seen since the Battle of the Ministry - fear. She was silent for a long moment before saying, "What about that prophecy makes you think you'll be a murderer?"
Harry laughed bitterly. "Just being optimistic I suppose. The whole 'Harry as worm-food' idea doesn't do it for me, you know?"
Ginny glared at him and drew breath to say something, then stopped. She paused another moment. "No, Harry. Assuming that you kill him, what makes you think that makes you a murderer?"
Harry frowned. "What are you - if I kill him, I'm a killer, it's that simple."
Ginny shook her head. "A killer? Perhaps. As in 'one who has killed'. Or 'one who kills when necessary'. Not a murderer."
"What's the difference?" Harry asked.
"Murder, by definition, is a wrongful killing," said Ginny. "You always have the option of not committing a wrongful killing. It's a choice thing. But some people... if we can even call Voldemort a person... they don't leave you a choice. Sometimes, it's kill or be killed. Sometimes, it's kill or watch those you love suffer and die. And I know you; you won't stand by and let that happen if you can stop it."
Harry's jaw dropped. "I... I guess I hadn't thought about it in that way."
Ginny smiled softly. "Perhaps you should."
A stray memory clicked in Harry's mind. He sighed heavily. "And perhaps not. You know, when...at the Ministry after... after Bellatrix killed Sirius, I went after her. I wanted to kill her."
Ginny nodded. "I know."
"If I could have, I would've."
Ginny shrugged. "Perhaps you would have. That isn't murder either."
"Well it certainly isn't self defence- or defending those I love," Harry countered.
"No, it's righteous anger. That horrible bitch killed your godfather, and you wanted justice."
"Ginny!" Hermione's voice came from the door.
Ginny turned, eyes flashing. "Yes?"
"What would your mum say if she heard - " Hermione started.
Ginny cut her off. "How long have you been listening at the door?"
Ron stepped into the doorway. "We came up when we heard Harry's outburst. You've got Mum in tears, Harry."
Harry let off a string of curses more colourful then anything he'd heard Ginny use to date, earning him a disapproving "Harry!" from Hermione.
"I didn't mean to do that," he said finally.
Ron nodded. "I know, mate. But you've got to hold back a little when you're here. Fine if it's Hermione and me, but -"
Harry held up a hand. "I know. I'm sorry. I er, had a reminder."
Ron blinked. "I don't see evidence of a Bat-Bogey Hex..."
Ginny scuffed her feet. "Erm...that would be because I didn't use a Bat-Bogey Hex."
"Bloody hell, Harry," Ron exclaimed, apparently noticing what was surely bruising on his jaw line for the first time.
"Yeah, well... I guess I was asking for it," said Harry.
"Just a bit," said Ginny.
"Let's go downstairs and get some breakfast," suggested Harry. "I'll apologize to your mum."
"You'd best get rid of that bruise, first," said Hermione. She pulled out her wand, stepped forward, and gently tapped Harry's jaw with the tip, saying "Curacontundere!"
There was a small flash of blue light, and the pain in Harry's jaw vanished. "Wow!" he said. "When did you learn to do that?"
Hermione smiled. "Only a few weeks ago, actually. Healing magic is quite complex, and it's fairly easy to make a mistake. I won't attempt anything beyond cuts or bruises."
"Hang on," said Harry. "How is that you were practicing magic 'a few weeks ago'? What about the ban on underage magic?"
"If you must know, I have a signed letter from Professor Dumbledore granting me permission to practice certain aspects of magic over the summer, whilst away from Muggle eyes. But honestly, Harry, it's not like I would have been caught anyway."
Ron chuckled. "And you would know that how, love?"
Hermione blushed. "I haven't been caught before, at least."
"Then why was I caught so quickly?" asked Harry.
"I reckon the Ministry has people monitoring magical activity in Little Whinging twenty-fourhours a day," said Ron.
"Right, got to keep tabs on the Boy Who Lived," Harry said irritably. Sighing heavily, he made his way down the stairs alone.
Once on the ground floor, he followed the muffled sounds of sobbing downstairs to the kitchen.
He softly pushed the door open to find Mr Weasley crying into Mrs Weasley's arms, "...but he - he shouldn't...he c-can't..."
Mr Weasley looked up. "Harry -"
Harry cut him off, "I didn't mean to upset anyone, Mr Weasley. I... I just... sort of lost it."
Mr Weasley looked at Harry gravely. "I know you didn't mean to hurt anyone... but in this instance, perhaps it's... well, it's at least good that someone heard that from you now as opposed to at school."
Harry nodded hesitantly, unsure of what to say. Sure, it would be terribly stupid to shout about the prophecy when unfriendly ears could be about, but why was it good that he shouted about it at all?
Mr Weasley gently disengaged himself from Mrs Weasley's arms, saying, "It'll be all right, Molly, I'll talk to him. Harry, would you mind coming with me to the drawing room for a few minutes?"
Harry nodded glumly. "All right." He expected Mr Weasley would be a bit sterner with him when Mrs Weasley wasn't present, but it wasn't as though he hadn't earned it.
They walked up to the drawing room in silence. Mr Weasley motioned to the sofa, grabbing the moth-eaten armchair for himself.
Harry sat down hesitantly.
Mr Weasley sighed heavily. "Harry, I want you to tell me what you heard that makes you think you're destined to kill someone."
Harry's jaw dropped. "D'you mean to tell me you don't know? You're with the Order, how can you not know?"
Mr Weasley frowned. "What are you talking about?"
"Dumbledore didn't tell you about the prophecy?"
Mr Weasley's eyes widened slightly. "Prophecy? Do you mean the one that was destroyed at the Ministry?"
"Yes, that one. Dumbledore was the one who heard it in the first place. I watched the whole memory in his Pensieve. I thought everyone in the Order knew," said Harry.
Mr Weasley was silent for a long moment before saying, "I didn't know. I suppose Dumbledore thought it would be best to have as few people know as possible."
"Yes, and like an idiot, I just added to that number by quite a bit, didn't I?" said Harry angrily.
Mr Weasley sighed. "Well, most of the Order knew about this prophecy, we just didn't know what it said. We'll just have to pray You-Know-Who wasn't... well, wasn't listening when you shouted."
Harry shook his head. "Trust me, I'd know if I'd been possessed. And... and Ginny would have recognized the signs, considering... well, considering. So unless Voldemort -"
Mr Weasley winced but said nothing.
"- was sleeping when I shouted and happened to have a dream that connected to what was going on with me, he didn't see or hear anything. The emotion was strong enough that he might have felt it, but that just means he knows I was angry and frustrated."
"I think it's best we tell Dumbledore anyway," said Mr Weasley. "And you've got to learn to control your temper. Lives are at stake if you don't, Harry. I don't want to pressure you, but this is too serious not to - and I know you can handle the burden. You're a strong lad."
Harry sighed. "I know. I'll do my best."
Mr Weasley smiled, stood up, and put his hand on Harry's shoulder. "I know you will. That's all anyone can ask." He turned and started to walk away.
"What... er, may I ask what you're going to tell Mrs Weasley?"
Mr Weasley sighed. "I'm not entirely sure what I'll say. You see, Molly lost both her brothers in the last war."
"She did? Were they with the Order?" Harry asked, surprised.
Mr Weasley nodded. "Gideon and Fabian Prewitt. You may have read about them in the papers when Dolohov and the others escaped Azkaban the first time."
"She got into a big fight with them shortly before they died, and she's felt guilty about that ever since. She'd mostly put it behind her, but now, with most of the family in the order, and all of us being targets for You-Know-Who..."
"Would it help if I told her I didn't want to kill anyone?" Harry asked.
"It might. But what would you do if she told you to promise not to go after You-Know-Who?" asked Mr Weasley
Harry thought about it. "I couldn't. I'm sorry, Mr Weasley, but I won't make a promise I have no intention of keeping. I promise I won't go after him without good reason."
Mr Weasley sighed. "I thought you might say that. Best let me talk to her, then. I think I can smooth things over, given time. " He squeezed Harry's shoulder again and walked out of the room.
By dinner that night, it was as though Harry's outburst hadn't happened at all. Kingsley, Tonks, Fred, and George joined the regular dinner crowd for a scrumptious feast prepared by Mrs Weasley, who appeared to be doing somewhat better after having spoken to Mr Weasley.
They were nearly finished with the meal when Dumbledore walked in. His usual hat had been replaced with a cheap conical Muggle party hat. "I hope I'm not too late to join the celebration?" he asked, eyes twinkling.
Harry was a little shocked to see the aged Headmaster at Grimmauld Place, much less for his birthday, but he reckoned that Dumbledore was trying to make up for his absence in previous years.
"Certainly not. Draw up a chair, Albus," said Mrs Weasley.
Dumbledore did just that, pulling out his wand and conjuring the cushy armchair Harry had seen him use at the trial with the Wizengamot.
A few minutes later, presents were brought in. From Hermione, Harry received a book detailing Medieval duelling techniques, some of which, at first glance, looked pretty vicious to Harry. Hagrid sent Harry a plate of rock cakes and large tin of fudge. Mr and Mrs Weasley gave him the usual assortment of mince and fruit pies. Tonks gave him a small box enchanted to play "The Weird Sisters' Greatest Hits".
When he got a gift marked From: Ron and Ginny, the younger two Weasleys looked abashed. "Ginny and I went in on your present together because we... well, we couldn't afford it on our own, back when we were shopping. Now that we've got a bit more cash, it'll seem kinda...well, cheap," said Ron.
Harry shook his head, gathering his thoughts for a moment and trying to think of the right thing to say. Finally, he settled on, "It means a lot more to me that the two of you spent money on me at all - you didn't have to, and I'm sure whatever you got me is cool."
He tore the wrapping paper off the gift and opened the box to find a smaller, wand-sized box. Within was a strip of cloth exactly identical in colour to the inside of the box itself.
"Thanks. Erm... what is it?" Harry asked.
"It's a Wand Concealer," said Ginny. "It's supposed to blend with your arm, concealing your wand and allowing for a quick draw."
"It works very nicely, too," said Kingsley, removing a similar, hitherto unseen device from his left arm. "The fabric is made from Demiguise hair, the same material that is used for Invisibility Cloaks."
Harry's jaw dropped. Ginny and Ron must have spent a small fortune on this... for him!
Kingsley, seeing the expression on his face, gave him a look that said 'Don't say anything.'
Harry reckoned Kingsley must have worked out some kind of deal where Ron and Ginny got the Wand Concealer for less then its actual price, unbeknownst to them. Taking Kingsley's hint, Harry closed his mouth and pulled Ginny and Ron into a quick hug. "It's brill! Thanks, both of you!"
Kingsley stepped forward and helped Harry attach the Wand Concealer to his left arm.
Harry drew his wand from his jeans and slipped into the Wand Concealer. If he hadn't known it was there, he wouldn't have been able to see it at all.
"You don't have to worry about losing your buttocks now," said Tonks with a wink.
Harry smirked, ignoring the questioning stares Ron, Ginny, and Hermione were giving him. Looking around, he saw that there were no more presents, and said, "Well, that looks like the lot."
"Not quite," said Dumbledore, reaching in his robes and taking out a small package.
Frowning slightly, Harry took the package from Dumbledore. He, Dumbledore, had given Harry gifts before, but it had always been anonymous. Was it Sirius' death that caused him to change that policy?
Harry tore the paper off and opened the small box to find a golden ring with an intricately carved phoenix head on the front.
"Albus, you can't give him that!" Mrs Weasley cried. "He's not of age!"
"I am not inducting Harry into the Order of the Phoenix," said Dumbledore. "However, I thought it prudent for him to have a means of summoning Order help if necessary. Given the increasing boldness of the Death Eaters, it may well save his life."
"But what about Voldemort?" asked Hermione. "Won't he be able to... I don't know, use that to his advantage somehow?"
Dumbledore looked at her shrewdly. "He may at that, Miss Granger, if he finds out. That is why I'd like to offer to tutor Harry in Occlumency starting next term."
"I don't know," said Harry. "I tried Occlumency with Snape... I seem pretty poor at it."
"Perhaps that is because the techniques that work so well for Professor Snape don't work for you," said Dumbledore. "There is more than one way to learn Occlumency, and more then one set of techniques used by Occlumens to achieve their goals."
Harry nodded. "In that case, I'll give it a shot. How does the ring work though?"
Dumbledore looked into Harry's eyes long and hard for a moment, then leaned forward and whispered, "If you find yourself in dire need, merely whisper 'Advoco', and the ring will send a signal to Order members, letting them know you are in trouble and giving them your general location."
"How come I've never seen anyone wearing these?" Harry asked.
"Try it on and see," said Dumbledore, eyes twinkling.
Harry slipped the ring onto his hand. There was a flash of white light and it vanished from sight, though he could still feel it on his finger.
"Wicked," said Ron.
Suddenly the basement door opened and Emmeline Vance, Sturgis Podmore, and Mad-Eye Moody walked in.
"Albus," said Emmeline. "Hestia told me I might find you here. What's the occasion?"
"It's Harry's birthday," said Tonks.
"Oh," said Sturgis. "Terribly sorry, if I'd known I would've brought something."
"Thanks, but that's not necessary," said Harry. "How's the campaign going, Miss Vance?"
Emmeline smiled. "It's coming along quite well, thank you. It'll be a fight, but I think we've got the upper hand at the moment. Actually, that's the second thing I came here for. The first is... well, I suppose I can just say it here, you'll all see it in the Prophet tomorrow anyway."
"What happened?" asked Kingsley.
"Dawlish's body was just found outside Fudge's home," said Emmeline.
"How long ago was this? I hadn't heard anything," said Kingsley.
"Just under half an hour," said Sturgis. "We wouldn't have known, but Emmeline has a spy in Fudge's party, and he was supposed to report to her half an hour ago anyway, so he passed this on."
Dumbledore sighed. "The war claims another casualty, then. I wish I could say I'm surprised."
Emmeline nodded. "On to happier business...Arthur, I was told that you lost your job at the Ministry yesterday?"
Mr Weasley sighed. "Yes, I'm afraid so."
"Well, it just so happens that I need a Junior Minister. Since you're free, I was wondering if you'd be up to the task, in the event that I win?"
Mr Weasley looked thoughtful. "Hmm... I... yes, I think it's time. I'll do it."
"Excellent!" said Emmeline. "The Ames' will be along shortly. Once they get here, I was hoping we could do a brief party meeting of sorts. Dumbledore?"
"I see no reason why not," said Dumbledore. "However, I'm afraid I must take my leave. I suspect Fudge will be requesting my presence, if he hasn't owled already."
He turned, nodded to Harry, and Disapparated with a loud crack.
"Well," said Mr Weasley. "I'd say this is a general turn of fortune, Weasleys. All we have to do now is beat Fudge." He turned to Emmeline. "Shall we get started then? There's probably a bit you can brief me on before the Ames' get here."
Emmeline nodded. "Yes, there is. If you don't mind though, I'd like the room to be a bit less crowded."
"That's our cue," said Ron glumly.
Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny made their way out of the room and up the stairs.
"Did you ever picture your father as Junior Minister of Magic?" asked Hermione.
Ron scoffed. "If you'd told me half an hour ago I'd have doubled over laughing."
They made to go upstairs to their rooms, but Harry's foot had no sooner hit the first stair then a loud bang sounded outside the front door, followed by frenzied shouting.
Harry recognized the sound of hexes being exchanged. "We're under attack!" he shouted. On instinct, he reached for his jeans pocket to get his wand, but remembered its new location at the last instant, and pulled it from the Wand Concealer.
"Ginny, tell your Dad and the others. Ron, Hermione-"
"Like bloody hell you're going out there without me," said Ginny.
Harry turned to argue, but luckily it wasn't necessary.
There was the sound of moving feet, and then the Order members came charging into the front hall, Kingsley and Fleur in the lead.
Kingsley frantically started unlocking the front door with his wand.
"Kids, upstairs, NOW!" said Mrs Weasley, in a tone that allowed no argument.
For once, none was offered.
A/N: In the event that anyone doesn't know what throwing stars are, or wishes to know exactly what form of star Karl sent to Harry, visit http://www.imperialweapons.com/oriental/weapons/03sai1.html and take a look at the YD-SS5 star - second row from the top on the far right - it is largely what I had in mind when I pictured the gifts)