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The Greatest Power by MuggleMomma
Chapter 25 : Chapter 25: Giant Mistakes
 
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Chapter 25: Giant Mistakes

Molly sat weakly in her chair as Dumbledore's words faded into silence. Harry, the boy she loved like a son, was the one destined to defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? She could not believe it...everyone had assumed that Dumbledore would be the one to kill Voldemort. After all, hadn't he defeated Grindelwald? Wasn't he considered to be the greatest wizard of the age? How could a teenage boy be expected to carry such a burden on his shoulders?

Everyone in the room was silent, many of them pale and disbelieving. Of course, everyone in the Order knew that the Dark Lord had been targeting Harry ever since he had gotten the first vestiges of his strength back when Harry was eleven, but they had always assumed it had been because the boy had survived Voldemort's killing curse. Most of them had never given much thought as to why he had chosen to go after Harry in the first place.

"Well, this explains a lot," Mad-Eye Moody growled.

"And you are certain that the prophecy refers to Potter, Albus?" McGonagall asked, knowing the answer, but still needing to pose the question.

Dumbledore sighed as he looked at the astonished faces around the room before he answered the Deputy Headmistress. "Yes, Minerva. I am afraid there is no question. The prophecy is very specific. The one to defeat Voldemort had to be born at the end of July to parents who had defied Voldemort three times."

"Was Harry the only wizard born that met those criteria?" Kingsley Shacklebolt asked calmly, and Molly glanced at him. He had a good point, and she found herself hoping that there was reason for doubt.

"No," Dumbledore answered heavily, catching the hopeful glint in Molly's eyes. "One other boy met the criteria at his birth."

"Who?" Tonks asked, and everyone looked at the Headmaster expectantly, even Remus, who had not heard this bit when Dumbledore had originally told him about the prophecy.

"Neville Longbottom," Dumbledore replied.

"Longbottom?" McGonagall said disbelievingly. She had seen both boys in her classes, and it did not seem possible that Neville would ever have enough power to defeat Voldemort. Although Harry was a bit lax in his studies at times, anyone could see that he was a more powerful wizard.

"What are you not telling us, Professor?" Bill asked seriously. He could see the hope in his mother's eyes, but he knew that Dumbledore would not have made this announcement unless he was certain.

"Voldemort himself decided which of the two wizards was the greatest threat and made an immediate move to eliminate him. I am speaking, of course, of the attack on the Potters fifteen years ago," Dumbledore said.

"And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal..." Bill muttered, and as she heard her oldest son's words, Molly gasped. She had been so caught up in worrying that Harry was going to have to battle the most evil wizard of all time that she hadn't thought much about the details of the prophecy.

"You mean that when You-Know-Who tried to kill Harry, he marked him as an equal?" Molly whispered. If this was true, there was no hope that Harry was not the person to whom the prophecy referred. It was not that she wanted it to be someone else; she just didn't want it to be Harry. He had been through so much already, and if this prophecy was correct, it wasn't about to end anytime soon.

"Not intentionally," Dumbledore answered, looking directly at her. "Voldemort did not have the full contents of the prophecy, and he did not know that an attempt on Harry's life would mean a risk of transferring powers to him."

"You-Know-Who transferred powers to Harry?" George broke in, exchanging a horrified glance with Fred.

"It is my belief that Harry's ability to speak Parseltongue and his natural abilities at Occlumency were direct results of a transfer of power that occurred when Voldemort's curse failed."

"But..." Fred stammered, trying to get a grasp on all they had been told. When he had joined the Order, he'd had no idea of the weight of the information he would be given.

"Harry knows about this?" Arthur broke in.

"He does," Dumbledore replied. "I told him the night of the attack on the Ministry."

"Why did you not tell us this before, Albus?" Kingsley asked. "We knew we were guarding the prophecy, of course, and it would have stood to reason for us to know the contents of it."

"As Voldemort did not yet know the full contents, Kingsley, I thought it unwise to repeat it unless absolutely necessary."

"Thank heavens the prophecy was broken, then," Molly said with some relief. "At least we no longer have to worry about You-Know-Who getting his hands on it."

Remus glanced worriedly at Molly. Arthur, noticing the expression on his face, asked softly, "You-Know-Who doesn't know, does he?"

It was Lupin who answered this question. "Voldemort was able to extract the contents of the prophecy from Harry's mind during the attack on Harry's birthday. It was what he had been after all along," he said heavily.

Molly's gazed snapped immediately to Dumbledore, her eyes flashing. "You-Know-Who knows?" she asked, her voice dangerously steely. "He's known ever since Harry's birthday? He's known, and we haven't?" Her voice rose in pitch and in volume as she continued.

"Molly - " Remus began, but he did not get to finish his comment.

"Don't you dare interrupt me, Remus! Just because I am not Harry's legal guardian does not make him any less mine than he is yours!" Her gaze snapped to Dumbledore, and as she continued the pitch of her voice suddenly lowered to a fierce growl, the sound of a mother whose child has been threatened.

"And you," she snarled, standing up to stare into Dumbledore's face, which was strangely impassive. "You stand there high and mighty as can be, the infallible Albus Dumbledore, the only one who knows what's right. That is not good enough anymore, Dumbledore. You had no right to keep this from us! You-Know-Who knew, but you still kept silent, you still let Harry bear this all on his own."

"Molly, dear - " Arthur broke in, a pleading note in his voice, reaching up to place a comforting hand on her arm. Everyone at the table looked shocked, even Fred and George, who had been shouted at by their mother regularly for most of their lives.

"No, Arthur, you let me finish!" Molly wrenched her arm from his grasp and continued to stare at the Headmaster, a fury unlike anything any of them had ever seen burning in her eyes. "Ever since Harry's parents died you have taken complete control over his life, and look what's happened to him! He spent ten years with those monsters you call his family, being abused and neglected, never knowing what it was to be loved, when there were any number of people who could have cared for him, could have given him a home! You have turned a blind eye as he has been placed in more dangerous situations than even the Aurors have ever had to face. You have allowed him to be abused by your staff members, belittled by the press, and put under trial for defending himself against an event which never should have happened!"

Dumbledore finally spoke as Molly stopped to take a breath, his voice sad and weary. "Molly, I do not claim to have always done the right things for Harry, but you must understand that his survival was my first priority. I did what I thought was correct at the time."

"As I said before, that is no longer good enough, Dumbledore," Molly snarled viciously. "Harry's survival was your first priority, was it? Where were you when his aunt and uncle nearly starved him to death as punishment? Where were you when Quirrell almost killed him when he was only eleven years old? Where were you when he was attacked by a Basilisk, and where were you in that graveyard after the Triwizard Tournament? My children have told me everything that has happened to him since he came to Hogwarts. Oh, yes, Dumbledore, Harry has survived. No thanks to you!"

Furious tears ran down Molly's face as she finished. No one spoke as she angrily strode away from the table and over to the sideboard, where she seized a knife from the block and began fiercely chopping the first vegetable she could find, which happened to be an oversized onion that she was to add to the stew for the evening's dinner. Remus stood, about to go over and talk to her, but all four of the Weasley men at the table held up their hands silently to stop him.

"You want to leave her alone, mate," Bill said softly. "She always gets to cooking when she's upset. It's the best thing for her."

Remus nodded and sat back down while the rest of the Order members, some of whom were not at all accustomed to Molly's temper, tried to recover so they could resume the meeting. Dumbledore looked incredibly grave, but he did not respond to Molly's accusations. He had simply inclined his head at her as she had stopped speaking, and then sat down in his chair at the head of the table, surveying the group quietly.

Snape, the only Order member that had not spoken at all through the revelation of the prophecy, asked in a rather contemptuous voice, "And what makes any of us believe that Potter will be able to defeat the Dark Lord? I have seen nothing to suggest that he has that kind of power."

"Severus," Dumbledore began before Remus could retort, "I believe that Harry is beginning to show power beyond anything we have seen to this point. Did you attend the Quidditch match last week?"

Snape nodded, his expression disdainful. He did not know why everyone was so impressed with Potter's antics on the pitch, and of what consequence his arrogant showing-off was to the matter at hand. Being the Seeker on a school Quidditch team was certainly not going to help anyone defeat the Dark Lord.

His expression changed, however, as he listened to Dumbledore recount Harry's success at pushing Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy out of his mind, and the resultant wave of magical energy that had passed through the entire pitch. Remus was very uncomfortable with the calculating look that came into Snape's eyes, and he made a mental note to discuss it with Dumbledore privately.

"I had a suspicion that something like that had happened," Kingsley admitted in his deep voice.

"Were you at the Quidditch match?" Tonks asked.

"No," Kingsley answered, "But when magic that powerful is unleashed, we are alerted to it at Auror Headquarters. After some research, I came to the conclusion that the surge had come from Harry, but he did not seem to be aware of how he had done it when I had him for practice the following week."

"Did you ask him about it?" Remus asked.

"No, I did not, but I watched him very closely. He seems to have no idea of the amount of power he exhibited. I believe if he had understood the significance of the event, he would have been more interested in how to harness it."

"Why didn't you say anything to anyone, Kingsley?" Tonks asked. "I saw you at least twice when I checked in at the Ministry."

"I thought it wise to keep it to myself until I knew more about what had happened," Kingsley responded. "I did not know that anyone else knew about it."

"If that kind of power is within Potter's abilities as a wizard," Mad-Eye said, "He must learn how to use it to his own advantage, or it will prove dangerous."

Dumbledore nodded. "It is something I will discuss with Harry, and I believe it is time that he and I progressed into wandless magic."

Fred and George openly gaped at Dumbledore. They had never met anyone with the ability to perform wandless magic besides the Headmaster, who did it very rarely.

"Wandless magic, Albus?" McGonagall said doubtfully. "That is well beyond N.E.W.T.-level skill, and I know of few wizards who have ever been able to achieve it."

"Harry has always shown the ability for wandless magic, Minerva, more so than the average witch or wizard. Do not forget the things he has done before this time - the incident with his aunt, most specifically. I am not suggesting that Harry learn wandless magic - I am suggesting that he learn to control what he already has. There could be a time when the ability to perform magic without a wand could be vital."

"Why, Albus? Why would he need to perform magic without a wand?" Molly asked suddenly, turning from her stew. She seemed to have calmed down quite a lot, but there was still a fair bit of confrontation in her voice as she addressed the Headmaster. Everyone knew it would not take much to set her off again.

"If Harry loses his wand in a duel, for example," Kingsley Shacklebolt answered, "the ability to defend himself without a wand could save his life. I have already been teaching him manners of dodging unfriendly spells, and in these sessions Harry has not used his wand."

Albus Dumbledore was immensely relieved that Kingsley had provided this explanation, and even more so when Molly nodded her acceptance of it. Very few people in the world knew of the connection between Voldemort's wand and Harry's, and Dumbledore thought it best to keep it that way. If Voldemort had not found out the nature of the wand connection, it could prove to be an immense advantage for Harry, and the less people knew, the less likely the Dark Lord would be able to find out.

"What can we do?" Molly asked the room in general. Now that the stew was bubbling and the tension in the room had lessened a bit, she was ready for rational conversation again.

"We can teach him," Tonks answered promptly. "Make certain he is ready when the time comes for him to fight."

"As it seems that he is our only chance to win this war, we'd best protect him until he is ready," Moody added.

"We're already doing that," Lupin countered.

"Potter will need a guard around him even inside the castle now," Moody said. "The wards around the castle are excellent, but they will not stop impersonators."

"We are not putting a guard on Harry while he is inside the castle," Dumbledore spoke up at last.

"You do not think Alastor has a point?" McGonagall asked.

Remus was watching Snape, who added nothing to this conversation but had his eyes narrowed, following the discussion's progress around the room. He was growing increasingly uncomfortable with Snape's involvement in Harry's protection, but he could not put his finger on exactly why he felt the way he did. He was certain the Potions master was loyal to the Order, but not at all sure that the man was concerned about Harry's safety or well-being in the slightest.

"We can't risk the boy's life before he fights Voldemort," Moody said plainly and brutally. "Whether he likes it or not, he has to be watched."

Molly couldn't take it anymore. "Stop talking about Harry as if he were a weapon in this war," she snapped at Mad-Eye Moody, who met her gaze unflinchingly. "We're not going to 'risk his life' at all! He is a teenage boy. I don't care what that prophecy says - as the adults in his life, it is our responsibility to keep him as far away from the fighting as we can, to protect him!"

"Molly," Arthur said gently. "If what the prophecy says is true -"

"We are not about to let Harry battle You-Know-Who alone," Molly retorted, her voice shaking slightly.

"Of course we're not, Molly, be reasonable," Lupin said.

"The fact remains," Dumbledore said quietly, "that in the end, Harry will be the only person who can vanquish Voldemort. In the end, try and protect him as we might, I am afraid that Harry will be alone."

"Don't say that, Albus," Molly said weakly, "just...don't say that." Her anger ebbed away to be replaced by the raw emotion that had fueled it: her fear for the boy she loved as her own. She sat down, the stew on the fire forgotten, and covered her face with her hands.

"We cannot deny the fact that Potter must be made ready," McGonagall said. "If he is to have any chance, he must be trained. I do not like to think of what will happen if he is not."

"Harry will not fight until he was ready," Lupin agreed, his voice breaking slightly. "If we cannot keep him from this destiny, we can at least keep him safe until it is his time."

"Am I correct in assuming, Remus, that Harry told his friends about the prophecy at Hogsmeade this afternoon?" Dumbledore inquired.

"Yes," Remus said heavily, "although I did not get the chance to ask him how it went. Everyone seemed to be all right when they went to the Three Broomsticks afterwards, however."

Snape's head snapped up. "Potter told his friends at Hogsmeade?"

"Not exactly in Hogsmeade, Severus," Remus answered. "I gave them the passwords to the Shrieking Shack."

"You are certain they weren't followed?" Snape continued.

"Remus and I followed Harry all day, right up to the entrance to the Shack," Tonks answered. "No one was there besides Ron, Ginny, Hermione, and Harry. They were alone when they came back out as well."

Snape made no further comment, but when the meeting adjourned a few minutes later, he seemed to be in a particular hurry to get back to the castle.

* * *

Draco waited until he was all the way back to the castle and in his empty dormitory room before removing his Invisibility Cloak. He was reeling with what he'd heard Potter tell his pathetic friends in the Shrieking Shack and he knew that he would be rewarded for coming to his Master with the information. He turned immediately, intending to head for the dungeon chamber before the other Slytherins returned from dinner, but he stopped before he reached the entrance to the common room.

He already knows, Draco thought, his stomach sinking as his quick mind realized the inevitable truth. That's why I'm supposed to be watching for any powers Potter might be developing. The Dark Lord already knows about the prophecy.

Even in his disappointment at not being the first to tell his Lord this news, Draco's face was set into a decided smirk. If Harry Potter was the only one who could kill Lord Voldemort, then Draco knew without a doubt that what his father had promised him would indeed come to pass - the Dark Lord would triumph, and in his new reign the Malfoy family would be honored beyond belief as his most loyal and trusted followers.

Draco had a hard time waiting until the next morning to begin the next phase of his mission, but his father had warned him about calling attention to himself by seeming absent from the day-to-day activities of the school. He had convinced his friends that he was not interested in going to Hogsmeade anymore, but he would have a harder time explaining why he wasn't at dinner.

Early the next morning, Draco woke before his roommates and silently slipped on his Invisibility Cloak once again before heading to the main doors of the castle, bearing a heavy package in one arm.

* * *

Albus Dumbledore was enjoying an early-morning cup of tea as he began answering several owls he had received over the course of the night. As he stirred his regular three lumps of sugar into his cup, one of the delicate silver instruments in his office suddenly glowed red and began whirring. He rose quickly and went to it, prodding it with his wand and sighing deeply when he saw the results.

A lone figure strode purposefully into the Forbidden Forest, looking neither right nor left, which suggested to Dumbledore that he might be under an Invisibility Cloak because he did not seemed concerned about being followed. As Draco Malfoy crossed the wards and disappeared into the dense woods, the Headmaster returned to his chair, the morning's owls forgotten.

"Fawkes," Dumbledore said softly to the phoenix standing proudly on the perch next to his desk, "I will need you to contact Severus Snape. I wish to speak with him as quickly as possible." The phoenix disappeared in a flash of fire.

The Headmaster sat quietly in his chair, calmly sipping his tea, until Severus Snape knocked on his office door. "Please come in," Dumbledore answered, standing to greet the Potions master. "I trust you slept well, Severus?" he inquired politely.

"Yes, Headmaster," Snape replied. "Might I ask why I have been called to you so early this morning? Your phoenix seemed to feel that it was a matter of some urgency."

"Fawkes has always been excellent at reading my emotions," Dumbledore said. "This is an important matter, and one that should be dealt with immediately, Severus. A few moments ago, the wards at the edge of the Forbidden Forest were breached from the inside."

"Potter, no doubt," Snape replied.

"No, Professor," Dumbledore said, and there was a touch of severity in his voice. "Harry did not breach the wards. He is, I assume, still asleep in his dormitory. Draco Malfoy entered the Forbidden Forest this morning, carrying a large parcel, and possibly concealed under an invisibility cloak."

"What reason would Malfoy have for entering the forest?" Snape asked, but Dumbledore noticed that he seemed rather uncomfortable.

Dumbledore surveyed the man in front of him carefully. "That is what I was going to ask you, Severus. Is there something you wish for me to know?" he prompted.

When Snape did not reply, the Headmaster sighed. "Very well. Severus, I should like you to keep a very close watch on Mr. Malfoy. He still has time before he must make his decision, and I have hope for him yet."

"As you wish, of course, Headmaster," Snape said quietly, but there was an odd look in his eyes, and Dumbledore suddenly realized that the man in front of him was carefully keeping an Occlumency shield up, although trying to be inconspicuous about it. "Will that be all?"

"Yes, Severus, and thank you," Dumbledore said with a frown as Snape swept from his office. The Headmaster was worried now - not about Snape's loyalties, but about what situation he may have become involved in that would require him to keep secrets from the Order. His job, after all, was to be the Order's spy, and Dumbledore guessed that the stakes must be very high indeed.

Draco Malfoy was another worry. His father, Lucius Malfoy, was one of the highest-ranking members of Voldemort's inner circle, and although it was a known fact that underage wizards were not initiated into the ranks of the Death Eaters, Dumbledore could not help but worry about that very event. Draco had been raised in a family without love, as had so many of the followers of Voldemort, and the desire to impress his father and to gain power in Voldemort's circles would be a very great temptation for the young man.

Albus Dumbledore sat down at his desk and sighed heavily as he began sorting through his morning mail once again. He was beginning to feel his age.

* * *

It was midmorning before Draco found Grawp in his spot in the forest. His heart leapt in his chest and he almost dropped his parcel as he came around a corner, exhausted and considering giving up, and saw the giant, standing nearly seventeen feet tall, lazily plucking large branches from the top of the evergreen to which he was tied and throwing them hard through the forest. It was perhaps a good thing that Draco had yet to remove his invisibility cloak, because if he had, the giant would have seen the boy shaking, his eyes wide with fear and disgust.

Malfoy stood perfectly still for a full minute, his heart pounding, before making his way towards Grawp's paddock, reminding himself that the beast was tied up and couldn't hurt him. He arranged his face into a confident smirk before he removed the invisibility cloak and walked straight at the giant, stopping just far enough away that the length of the ropes would not allow it to reach him.

"I bring a gift for the Gurg," Draco began as he had been instructed, careful not to allow his voice to betray his fear.

The giant's gaze snapped to the small human standing before him, holding a package wrapped in brown paper. His massive forehead creased in thought as he considered this strange turn of events.

"Grawp not Gurg," he said slowly. "Hagger Gurg."

Draco had been expecting something of this sort. He bowed, rolling his eyes when he was sure the giant couldn't see him do so. "I thought that someone of your great size and stature would surely have been the Gurg of the Forest Giants," he drawled. "I did not think it would be a small giant like Hagrid. I am mistaken, and I will leave you to your game." These words sounded almost scripted because he had practiced them so many times on his trip through the forest, but Grawp did not seem to notice.

As planned, Draco carefully placed his package just within the giant's reach, pulled on his invisibility cloak, and carefully backtracked his way through the forest, barely holding in a shout of derisive laughter at the utterly stupid creature he had left behind. His father had been correct. This would be easy.

No sooner had this thought entered his head than he heard the distinct sounds of hooves rustling through fallen leaves of the forest floor, and he knew that he was being watched. Draco picked up the pace under the invisibility cloak and breathed a huge sigh of relief as he finally exited the forest to make his report.

* * *

Harry's friends had risen magnificently to their self-imposed challenge of helping Harry prepare for his eventual battle with Voldemort. Although Harry noticed that Ginny seemed to cling to him a bit more tightly than she had before, they had not faltered in their resolve and had not given way to fear or to pity. They had made a promise to their friend, and their newfound sense of purpose and determination was secondary only to that of Harry, himself.

Harry had only communicated with Moony once, the night after the trip to Hogsmeade. He had gone to bed after his nightly dueling practice with Ron, Hermione and Ginny, and when he was digging in his trunk for his pajamas he had seen the glow and felt the warmth of his amulet, signaling that Remus had left him a message. He'd smiled, thinking again of the answerphone on the Dursley's kitchen counter. The message had been short and relatively simple, telling Harry that the Order was now informed of the Prophecy and that, as always, they were there to help Harry if ever he needed it. Harry wondered how long it would be before he heard from Mrs. Weasley.

Ron seemed to have decided that the best way to help Harry was to see that he was in the best physical condition of his life. He insisted that Harry, Ginny, and Hermione join him in not one, but both of the daily runs scheduled by Tonks each day. At Quidditch practice he was equally unrelenting, pushing Harry to try new and more daring moves on his Firebolt, enchanting the Snitch to fly at double speed, and ordering the Beaters to put Harry through the paces even more than they usually did.

Hermione, of course, began pushing Harry even harder in his studies and in his preparation for the D.A. meetings. On her orders, Ron had rummaged through Harry's trunk one evening to find the dreaded homework planner, and she began writing Harry's assignments in it herself, both the ones assigned by their teachers and adding her own, which were always focused on Defense techniques. While he rather enjoyed the subject matter, he found Hermione's assignments incredibly difficult and yet another strain on his time.

All in all, by Friday morning, Ginny was the only one of his friends who Harry did not feel like locking in a Vanishing Cabinet for a week so he could get some peace. Ginny had kept him sane, dragging him through the portrait hole for walks when she could see him mussing his hair in frustration over his work, gently advising him to go to sleep when she could see his eyes droop with fatigue, and generally just offering her support without asking anything more from him.

Harry left the lunch table in the Great Hall to meet Kingsley for their weekly dueling lesson feeling very irritated indeed. Ron had scheduled an extra Quidditch practice for Saturday, and when Harry had finished his food and shouldered his bag to leave, Ron and Hermione were too busy arguing over the best use of Harry's weekend time to even notice that he was about to go.

"Look!" Harry finally exploded, trying but failing to keep his voice down. "I don't need you telling me how to spend my weekend, all right? Are you happy with the fact that between homework, Quidditch, dueling practice, and those runs I have no time to myself, no time with Ginny, no time to even think about talking to Moony? I have enough on my plate without you lot appointing yourselves my keepers!"

Ron and Hermione had stared at him, their mouths open, looking hurt. Harry was immediately sorry he had shouted, and he lowered his voice somewhat as he continued. "It's not that I don't appreciate your help, all right?" he said, trying to calm himself. "It's only that I have quite enough going on already, and all you've been doing for the past week is adding to it."

"Harry, we're only -" Hermione began, but Harry cut her off.

"I know you're trying to help. Everyone's always trying to help. Just lay off a bit, won't you?" Harry could not keep the annoyance out of his voice, and before anyone could say another word, he strode out of the Great Hall, oblivious to the concerned looks coming from his friends and from the teacher's table.

If Kingsley noticed Harry's dark mood that afternoon, he didn't comment on it. He and Dumbledore had talked, and they had agreed that the best primary testing ground for Harry's abilities at wandless magic would be their dueling classes. Before he did anything else, Kingsley planned on pushing Harry to his very limit in hopes that Harry's power would manifest itself in an environment in which they could discuss the effects and begin to work on controlling the magic.

"Are you ready, Harry?" Kingsley asked without preamble.

Harry was a bit taken aback. Although the Auror was always incredibly businesslike, he usually at least greeted Harry at the beginning of the lesson, and since Harry knew that the Order knew the prophecy, he had half expected Kingsley to want to talk about it. He didn't press the issue though, and nodded curtly as he stowed his book bag in the corner of the room. He wasn't in the mood to chat, anyway, and he raised his wand in readiness.

"Harry, I believe we will conduct this lesson entirely without your wand," Kingsley said, and Harry did not question him. Kingsley was extremely adamant that he learn how to defend himself without magic, and the order to stow his wand was not unusual, even if Harry was getting a bit tired of it. As usual, Harry set his wand on the edge of one of the tables for safekeeping and stood in front of his instructor, ready to dodge the jinxes that he knew were coming.

Kingsley was as relentless with Harry as he was with his Aurors-in-training, and he could see Harry tiring after an hour of hard work. The boy had improved beyond Kingsley's expectations, and he had been able on more than one occasion to successfully dodge five full minutes worth of spells in quick succession, all without the use of his wand.

For their final round, Kingsley decided that it was time to use a tactic that he generally only used in the final Auror practicals. As Harry rose to his feet after being reawakened from the Auror's stunner, he was not given the usual time to rest.

This time, after Harry became too exhausted to dodge properly, Kingsley did not use a stunner to end the round. Instead, he shot minor jinxes that brought down Harry's physical ability, hitting him in quick succession with both the Tarantellegra jinx and the Jelly-Legs jinx so that Harry was reduced to trying to roll back and forth on the floor, his legs too weak to hold him and dancing madly in the air as he moved. To his credit, Harry did the best that he could, but if he had any hope of success, he needed his wand.

"Stop already, Kingsley!" Harry hollered in frustration after his body slammed into a wall from a moderately strong banishing curse. "You win, alright?"

"You want me to stop, Harry?" Kingsley said, his voice calm but louder than usual. "Then stop me yourself. Get your wand!"

"I can't!" Harry shouted.

"Oh, can't you?" Kingsley responded as he threw a locomotor mortis hex on Harry, which, combined with the Tarantellegra jinx that had still not been lifted, produced the effect of giving Harry's legs, now stiff as boards and snapped tightly together, the weird appearance of a severe lower-body seizure. "I told you to keep your wand in your pocket, not leave it lying away from you on a table!"

"You won't let me use it!" Harry yelled, getting truly angry now. What did these people want from him?

"You have to get to it!" Kingsley responded. "You want your wand? You want to stop me? Then get what you need, Harry!"

Harry felt a surge of power come up from his chest and he shouted the first words he could think of, although he was certain it wouldn't work. "Accio wand!" To his complete astonishment, his wand flew from the table across the room into his outstretched hand, and in less than three seconds, he had removed the jinxes from his body and pointed his wand at Kingsley.

"Expelliarmus!" he shouted to the astounded Auror, and for the first time, Kingsley's wand flew out of his hand. Harry had won the round.


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