Three weeks later, Harry nervously paced his room. All of his things were packed, and he was just waiting for the Weasleys to pick him up. He wondered how they would do it - the last time, they had tried to use Floo powder, but since the Dursleys had an electric fire, that hadn't worked well. Just then, Harry heard an enormous honking coming down the street. He poked his head out of his window and saw a large car coming towards the house. He recognized it - it was a Ministry car. Harry ran downstairs quickly - he wanted to see Uncle Vernon's face when he saw the impressive car.
He wasn't disappointed. Uncle Vernon stared with shock when he saw Mr. Weasley, still in his shabby robes, get out of the car. Ron, Fred and George piled out, too, and Harry could see the driver glare at the twins as he came to the door. They were most likely the ones who had been honking the horn.
Getting his stuff downstairs and into the car went smoothly, once Mr. Weasley sternly told the twins to behave themselves. So this time it was Ron who dropped a piece of candy in Harry's room, grinning as he did so. Just as he was about to leave, though, Aunt Petunia stopped him.
"I hope things work out for you, Harry," she said, not looking at her husband. "Try not to let everything get you down. And tell...never mind." At that, she did give a quick, scared look to Uncle Vernon, but then looked back at Harry.
"Yeah, thanks, Aunt Petunia," Harry said, not looking at Uncle Vernon either. "Well...bye."
As they all piled into the car, Ron, Fred, and George said with one breath, "What was that all about?"
"Um, nothing," Harry said. They started to ask him again, but both Mr. Weasley and the driver said, "Enough!" That made Harry look more closely at the driver.
"Professor Moody!" he said.
Moody winced. "I'm not a professor anymore, Harry," he said.
"Oh, yeah, sorry Prof-Mr. Moody," Harry said, trying to ignore Fred and George's snickering. It wasn't difficult to figure out why he was there - Mad-Eye Moody was one of the best Aurors ever, even if he had retired. And he had obviously come out of retirement, which Harry completely understood. If someone on the other side had stunned him and kept him locked up in his own trunk for ten months while they impersonated him, he'd want to fight again, too.
"So, is Hermione coming?" Harry asked Ron.
"Yeah," Ron said, but he obviously didn't want to say more in front of Fred and George, who were making kissy noises and batting their eye-lashes at him, which made Mr. Weasley say, "Boys!"
When they got to the Burrow, Ron still didn't seem to want to talk about it. He barely allowed his mother to greet Harry properly. Mrs. Weasley had hardly given Harry a big hug and a cookie, before Ron suggested Quidditch. Even Fred and George agreed with that, so they all trooped upstairs for their broomsticks. But when they came back down again, Mad-Eye Moody was waiting for them.
"I need a word with Harry," he said. Harry wasn't sure he wanted a word with Moody, but the Auror obviously wasn't going to take no for an answer, so everybody else left the two of them alone.
Moody sat down at Mrs. Weasley's kitchen table, plopped his wooden leg up on one of the other chairs, and turned both his natural and magical eyes on Harry.
"Dumbledore told me about your dream," he said.
"Oh," Harry said. Whatever he had been expecting, it wasn't this. "Is that why you're here, then?"
"No, although I'm glad to help out the Weasleys, too. But Harry, you know better than that. I'm here to help keep you safe. You're more important than all the Weasleys put together."
"NO, I'M NOT!" Harry yelled, jumping up from his seat. "How can you say that? How can one person be more important than nine? Especially...I mean...this is the
WEASLEYS we're talking about here."
Moody chuckled, not fazed by the yelling at all. "Sit down, boy, sit down. I'm glad to see you've got heart as well as head. But right now you need to use your head. To the Weasleys, to Dumbledore, to Sirius, you are Harry, their friend, someone they care about. But to the rest of the wizarding world, you are a symbol. You're Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived. Imagine what a boost it would give Voldemort if he managed to kill you. That alone might win the day for him. And we can't let that happen, even if it means sacrificing many other people."
Harry thought about that. Logically, it did make sense. But he just didn't want to think about losing Ron or Hermione, or even Percy. He could make himself think that he was more important than they were, but he couldn't make himself feel it. He stared at Moody, not sure what to say.
Moody nodded at him. "I can tell you're your father's son, Harry, you want to save the world all by yourself. Sometimes that just isn't possible, especially when you're just fifteen years old. You're going to need help, and you're going to need to admit that you can't protect everybody, that you're going to have to let other people go into danger, deliberately into danger. And you're going to have to stop feeling guilty about it."
Harry stared down at the table top. How did this man, who had just met him today, after all, know so much about how he thought and felt?
"You're going to have to work through that on your own, Harry. I know it will be hard for you, living with the knowledge that you're so important to our side, and yet you can't get out and fight like you want to. Because you can't, Harry, not yet, not until you're ready."
Harry did look up at that. "But I want to help - I need to help! How can I just go back to Hogwarts and go to classes, knowing that there's a war going on outside the school that I can help win?"
"Well, for one thing, because you are that symbol to most people, Harry. You're The Boy Who Lived, so you have to do just that - live. That means living a normal life, not just surviving, and a normal life for a fifteen year old boy means going to school. For another, well, you won't just be going to classes. You, Ron, Hermione, and some other students that either Voldemort knows about or that we think would be useful, will be trained for the coming war, in addition to your regular classes, of course."
"Well, you'll start off with some of the basic Auror training, as though you were apprenticing as an Auror after your seventh year. I don't know if you had thought about becoming an Auror after your graduated, but I'm afraid you won't get much choice for now. All of you that we've chosen will need this training, so it will be mandatory. But in addition, each of you will get trained in specific areas - areas that are already strengths, so you can be of most use to the effort."
"Strengths?" Harry said. He couldn't really think of any strengths that he had, except maybe flying. But he didn't think Moody meant Quidditch.
"Yes, so your friend Hermione, though she's one of the smartest all-around witches I know and has the potential to be one of the best Aurors in a century, will not be trained as a Seer. You will. Ron, on the other hand, is one of the best chess players of his age that I have ever seen. He'll be getting private tutoring with Dumbledore."
"Wow!" Harry said, amazed for his friend. "Wait a minute - I'll be trained as a Seer? But Professor Trelawney-"
"You will get your additional course schedules when you get to Hogwarts." Moody said, standing up. "Needless to say, Professor Trelawney will not be training you as a Seer, or as anything else. Various other people will be; you'll find out who when it happens. I'll be doing some of the basic Auror training, so I suppose you can call me Professor."
"Professor Moody," Harry said, "um...is Professor Snape going to be one of those people?"
"Ah," Moody said. "Well, since he must appear to hate you and to be working against you and all that you stand for, I don't think that would be a good idea. And since he really does hate you, you shouldn't think it a good idea, either. To answer your real question, though...it is very hard to trust a double agent. Dumbledore trusts this one, but the rest of us must make up our minds, one by one."
He clumped to the door, but turned back at the last moment. Harry was still sitting at the table, staring in shock. He just couldn't take all this in.
"By the way, there's one more reason why you should go back to Hogwarts and try to lead a normal life, Harry," Moody said, once again fixing both eyes on him. "Because you can."