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Published: 09/21/2004
Updated: 01/14/2005
Words: 139,369
Chapters: 38
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Harry Potter and the Goblin Rebellion


Story Summary:
Year 6 - The goblins are threatening rebellion: Now that Fudge acknowledges Voldemort's return, he is pushing wartime policies, which oppress the goblins. Voldemort is seeking the secret in an ancient Egyptian magical site. Harry is being drawn into these two seemingly-unrelated developments. At the same time, he must train students in the schoolwide DA, while the burden of the Prophecy is filling him with visions, which cause Harry to pull back from his friends. But love has a way of arising whether it is welcome or not. For Harry, the course to resolution is never smooth, but if Harry can thwart Voldemort's plot, he can gain access to the secret which could enable him to use the 'Power the Dark Lord knows not.'

Chapter 07

Chapter Summary:
Harry spends a weekend at The Burrow. His training regimen surprises the Weasleys, but Ron and Ginny become training partners. Harry and Ginny try to discuss feelings.

Chapter 7: Back to The Burrow

As soon as Harry got back home from the Rec. Center that Friday night, he checked that his suitcase had everything needed, said goodbye to his relatives, and returned to his room so Dobby could Apparate them both to The Burrow. He was a bit apprehensive, since he had never Apparated before. Even though the magic would be done by Dobby, whom he knew was fully capable, Harry still wondered how it would feel. So many other forms of magical transportation made him uncomfortable and queasy. Dobby explained that it happened very quickly and that it was a matter of visualizing yourself where you want to be and then telling yourself very strongly to make it happen, or even telling yourself it had already happened. Dobby apologized for not being able to describe it better, but Harry understood that many types of magic require a type of concentration which is hard to put into words. Harry thought of his own recent attempt to use the Crucio curse on Bellatrix LeStrange, which was only weakly effective since he had anger but not the desire to torture.

When Harry said he was ready, Dobby took Harry's hand and they both concentrated on the living room of The Burrow: suddenly - 'pop' - they were there. Only Harry didn't feel sick from it - he felt wonderful, sort of like when a really good dream woke him up. He could hardly wait to start Apparating lessons at Hogwarts.

"Hiya, Harry," beamed Ron.

"Harry - you made it!" piped Ginny.

"Oh, good, Harry, you're here," said Mrs. Weasley, bustling over with a towel in her hands to give him a hug "My, you're flushed. Dumbledore said you'd be coming right after a workout of some sort. So what were you doing?"

"More boxing, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings, just like when you and Mr. Weasley showed up," said Harry cheerily, then turned to Ron and Ginny. "It's sort of like wizard dueling, only the duelers put on big thick gloves and try to hit each other with their fists."

"Doesn't it hurt to get hit like that?" asked Ron.

"Um, well, yeah, that's kind of the idea, but then wizards don't duel with Cheering Charms either," laughed Harry.

"No, no, I suppose we don't. Well, if Dumbledore's for it, it's fine by me."

Then Mrs. Weasley said with a wink "Later you can take Ron out back and cuff him about."

"I don't think so, Mum. Look at his muscles now," said Ron, "All that working out's paying off, Harry. I'm not about to let you have at me. Look at that, Ginny!"

Ginny didn't say anything. She got red in the face, mumbled something about helping with dinner, and ran out to the kitchen. Ron laughed, "Maybe she's not as over Harry as we thought."

"Now, Ron, don't tease her." His mother scolded playfully. "Be fair, Harry's new body'll make many of the girls blush - muscled but not beefy, lean but not skinny anymore. The muggles must be feeding you alright."

"Um, yes, maam" said Harry, feeling warmth in his cheeks at being talked about, "things have actually been pretty good there, when wizards aren't showing up to hex them. And they've loved having Dobby about."

"Oh, my, I'm sorry, we haven't been introduced," said Mrs. Weasley to Dobby, as she realized she had overlooked him in the excitement of Harry's arrival. She bent down with her left hand on her knee and extended her right hand to shake his. "I'm very pleased to meet you. I hope you'll be comfortable here as our guest. I'm Molly Weasley. I've heard so many interesting things about you, Dobby."

Dobby shakily extended his hand to hers, and when she grasped it, he began bawling uncontrollably. "Oh, -oh -oh -oh! It's too much. First the great Harry Potter treats Dobby like a friend, then his Weezey gives Dobby a jumper (Mrs. Weasley peered scathingly at Ron upon hearing this), and now the great dear witch Harry Potter praises so highly greets Dobby as a guest and asks about HIS comfort. Boo-hoo-hoo-hoo. It's just too much for a lowly house elf." Dobby threw himself on the floor, crying.

Mrs. Weasley looked back and forth from Harry to Ron. Ron explained "He's sort of excitable."

Harry added "He used to be the Malfoy's house elf. They didn't treat him well, so when people are decent to him, he gets all emotional. He'll be okay." Then Harry put his hand on Dobby's shoulder and said "Dobby, would it help you calm down to help with dinner?"

"Oh, yes, oh, yes, oh, thank you, Harry Potter, sir. Leave it all to Dobby, Maam. No witch or wizard need be in the kitchen when Dobby's in the house. Just tell me when you want it served, Maam, and I'll have it on the table." Dobby gushed, still sniffling.

"Oh, my, this is a pleasant treat. Well, I expect Mr. Weasley in a few minutes. Could it be ready in half an hour?" said Mrs. Weasley.

"Yes, yes, of course, Dobby will have a nice meal ready by then, Maam. Any witch so respected by Harry Potter deserves proper service." Dobby hurried into the kitchen. Almost immediately the door opened again as Dobby chased Ginny out. "No witches will be puttering in the kitchen while Dobby's in the house."

"Hello again," said Harry to Ginny with a grin, "Feeling better? Was everything okay in there?"

"You git," she said, with a smile "Why didn't you tell us you'd ... changed."

"What was I supposed to say? I hadn't even noticed much, except I knew I could lift more. It's not like you've gone around announcing your changes." Harry playfully arched his eyebrows and smirked.

Ginny bit her lower lip and Ron said "Doesn't mean she hasn't been looking for ways to make people notice." She hit him in the arm.

Mrs. Weasley intervened, saying "Well, Harry, Dumbledore wants you to continue as much of your training as you can do around here. There's a muggle Rec. Center in the village. Ron and Ginny will be joining you. A little exercise won't hurt 'em, hmm?"

"Well, if you're sure, I get up at 5 o'clock for a run before breakfast. I was checking out the map, and it looks like if we follow the path we did two years ago to the top of Stoatshead Hill, then down the east side through the village, along the river to the weir, and then head west back here, we should get in a nice run before breakfast."

Both Ginny and Ron's jaws dropped "Before breakfast, that must be over 15 miles?" "5 a.m.! What kind of a mad schedule are you on!?"

"Just training. There's time in there for magic practice, too. Dumbledore and I have worked out a pretty rigorous routine." Harry pursed his lips, seeing their surprise at how focused he was, "I'm sorry: I don't mean to put you off. Listen, I can't tell you everything. It'd be dangerous for you to know the whole story. It's already too dangerous to be a friend of mine. But I've got to be the best fighter and the most powerful wizard I can be. It's not merely a grudge Voldemort has against me, and he'll show up to kill me - maybe sooner, maybe later. I have to be ready."

Ron looked grim. "Well, if Dumbledore says you should be doing it, then I'll be there with you."

"Me, too," said Ginny.

"But I don't have to like it," added Ron, with a smile.

Harry grinned, "It gets easier with time."

"Harry, is the danger why Dobby's with you?" asked Ginny.

"Right - my bodyguard," said Harry, "He'd do about anything to protect me, and he can do magic I can't so long as I'm underage. Especially after the dementors attacked last year, Dumbledore doesn't want to take any chances."

"Well, it's alright by me," said Mrs. Weasley, "I could get very used to having a house elf about."

The grandfather clock started to change and they saw the hand for Mr. Weasley move to Home. They heard a pop from the front vestibule, then Mr. Weasley's voice. "Weasleys - I'm home," he called. He clearly was trying to sound peppy, but did not.

"Oh, there you are, Arthur. Our houseguests are here," called Mrs. Weasley.

"Ah, yes, there you are, Harry," said Arthur Weasley, with a smile. "And I hear you brought a friend - how did you like Apparating here?"

"Oh, it felt great, sir, like the first time I rode a broom. I'll be very glad to Apparate rather than use Floo Powder or a portkey," replied Harry.

"Hmm, that's interesting. Some wizards hate it, and they never seem to get the hang of it. I expect you'll be among the first to pick up the knack this year," said Mr. Weasley. "Now, what's for dinner, I'm starved."

"Well, I'm not sure," said Mrs. Weasley, "our guest hasn't got the hang of being a guest and insisted on preparing the meal for us."

"Well, I guess I'll meet him soon enough: I wouldn't want to interfere with the preparation of a nice meal. Perhaps you kids could help out by setting the table."

By the time Harry, Ron and Ginny had gotten the plates, silver and napkins out, a procession of dishes came levitating out from the kitchen: a large platter of stuffed pork chops surrounded by thick-cut fried potatoes, a large bowl of glazed carrots, a tureen of fruit compote, a server with broccoli almandine, a basket of fresh dinner rolls, and a large bowl of salad. The dishes arranged themselves on table as Dobby followed behind, squeaking with indignation that the children were setting the table.

"Ahh, so this is our guest. Pleased to meet you, uh, Dobby, is it?" said Mr. Weasley.

"Oh, sir, yes, sir, thank you so much, sir. You are too kind to Dobby. A great master of a wizard home, calling Dobby a guest," prattled Dobby.

"Well, I don't know how it has been wherever else you've been, but in The Burrow, all beings of goodwill are welcome guests. Ahh, but it seems we are missing a chair here - you must eat with us, Dobby, I have a million questions to ask. We Weasleys have never had house elves about. But, hmm, our chairs wouldn't do so well for you. Wait a second, I'll just pop out a minute," said Mr. Weasley, and that's exactly what he did, Apparating out with a pop to the garage and a minute later appearing back holding a high chair and a child-size rocker. "Dobby, I think these will fit you decently, and probably be a bit more comfortable for you than our larger furniture. The kids clearly don't need these anymore."

"These were things used by ... your own children, and you are sharing them with Dobby, Oh, boo-hoo-hoo."

"Now what have I done wrong?"

"Nothing, Dad," said Ron, "Dobby is just not used to decent treatment even yet. He was the Malfoys' until three years ago. (At the mention of the Malfoys, Mr. Weasley's face contorted). He's the elf Harry helped free."

"Well, I can see where a bit of kindness could go a long way. I should be very ashamed if I couldn't treat a fellow being better than would Lucius Malfoy. But let's not spoil a wonderful feast like this with talk of that kind. Let's get this table set and tuck in."

The children and Dobby set the places, and Mr. Weasley insisted on Dobby sitting next to him, so that he could learn about the life of a house elf. Several times he asked questions which brought Dobby close to saying bad things about the Malfoys or revealing their secrets, at which he would variously stab his ears with a fork, slam his hands with the high chair tray, and bat himself with the salad tongs until Harry was able to interrupt his abuse. Mr. Weasley soon learned to avoid certain topics, and remarked at how strong this sense of commitment was, even though Dobby had been free for several years and never liked or respected his old masters.

After dinner, while Dobby was cleaning up, as he insisted on doing, everyone else went out to the porch. Molly Weasley first broached the subject which was on everyone's mind. "Arthur, you're worried. You're trying to hide it, but we've all noticed it. Let's not have any secrets."

"Ahh, you've always seen through me, Molly. It's one of the many reasons I love you more each and every day. It's Fudge and these 'unity' policies he's pushing. Now he wants a nighttime curfew and an accounting of all assets by magical beings. He says it's for the war."

Ron spoke first "A nighttime curfew - what's the point in that?

"Well, the excuse is that the Death Eaters had always done their killings at night, so that the Dark Mark would be more visible and frightening. So with a curfew on, a wizard out at night could be presumed to be up to no good. Besides being a big imposition when there haven't even been any killings," said Arthur, then correcting himself after thinking of Sirius Black's death, "- well, none of the 'Dark Mark' executions, anyway - it's almost completely useless since the Death Eaters would typically Apparate into a victim's home anyway. Worse, though, it has the goblins in a rage."

Harry asked "Why would that be, any more than anyone else?"

"Aah, Harry," answered Mrs. Weasley, "you don't know about goblins and sunlight yet, do you? They can't take it. It burns them and weakens them. They lose their powers if they are in strong sunlight. The most they can tolerate being outdoors in the day is to stay in deep shadow or in a forest away from the edges. They wear thick clothes covering almost all of their bodies to protect against it. You'll notice all their businesses and occupations keep them indoors, like banking and accounting or mining - like that. It's also why they have such large eyes, so they can see in the dark caves and buildings they prefer."

"Actually, I did learn all that from the summer readings and essay we had for homework."

Ron rolled his eyes, "You've done that already, too!?"

"A bit more industry wouldn't be so bad from you either, Ronald Weasley," said his mother, "Anyway, Harry, then you'll understand that a curfew would take away the only time the goblins have to be out and do chores they cannot handle from their homes. Arthur, can't goblins be excepted? No one would mistake them for a wizard."

"Well, Fudge says he can't be sure some of them haven't gone over to the other side. So he makes laws to control them, and drives them that way. I've been trying to point out that he's making enemies we don't need to make, but you know he's always been suspicious of goblins, all non-humans in fact."

"Is this going to affect your job?" asked Molly.

"I'm afraid it might. There's nothing definite yet, but Fudge has spoken of purifying the ministry of non-loyal wizards. I don't think I'm the only one he's thinking of, but he must be thinking of me as well, especially after I shot my mouth off about the demand for an asset accounting."

"But, Dad," said Ron, "Why would you worry about that? It couldn't take more than a few minutes to list everything we have?"

Mr. Weasley chuckled. "That's true, Ron, but you shouldn't think of laws just for how they affect you yourself. All beings deserve fair consideration. It would work a hardship and disadvantage on many people. Let's start with your brothers as an example. The twins have been doing very well, and wouldn't want to tell everyone just how much they have - more than I've ever seen, I suspect. Also, if they revealed the stock of ingredients they have on hand, other companies could duplicate their products. I'm also afraid they may be using some ingredients they aren't strictly supposed to possess: I try not to ask too many questions so long as they have tested their products thoroughly. Also people like Harry who have inherited shouldn't have to reveal how much - it's no one's business."

"If it would help get rid of Voldemort I wouldn't mind" offered Harry. Ron recoiled at the saying of the name.

"Yes, but many would, and besides how would it really help fight him. No, it seems to be something Fudge has trumped up as being for the war, but that would be used by wizards with access to the information to gain advantage over those who don't line Fudge's pockets."

At this Harry thought back to his run-in with Lucius Malfoy after Harry's trial; when Malfoy was going up with Fudge to Fudge's office, Malfoy's pocket was weighed down with gold, at least as he went in.

Mr. Weasley continued "And it also comes back to the goblins. The plan currently is to begin with a vault-by-vault examination of everything in Gringott's. The goblins have long prided themselves on keeping all the assets and objects in the vaults secure and secret. Sworn enemies could have their property in adjoining vaults and never would either be in danger or have any knowledge of what the other possessed. That's at the very core of the value of Gringott's - to have a place that is completely secure. If the Ministry begins to exert control over Gringott's, it's the beginning of the end for the goblins' primary asset and livelihood - and they know it all too well."

Ginny asked "But aren't there goblins on the Wizengamot to object."

Mr. Weasley shook his head sadly "Goblins are considered beings, but the Ministry has never accepted them sufficiently to allow them representation. Truth be told, they never really have sought it, only participating in various ad hoc conferences, but not more regular organizations. I can't say as we have pushed very hard to include them however. To most wizards, they are just sub-humans without a proper claim to rights. It's no wonder, though, that they've had to resort to rebellion to protect themselves: they have no voice in the magical world's government."

They all sat a few minutes thinking about this. Then Ron changed the subject "Harry, what about the DA - what are we going to be doing this year?"

"Well, I figure those of us who were in it last year will need to go through the same material for all the others, bring them up to where we are. I'm using a book on wizard's self-defense that Moody gave me to streamline plans and be a little better organized. I'll show it to you when we go upstairs. That will also give us all good practice on all those skills, and we can all stand the practice. I also want to work on more advanced skills - real fighting - with last year's students for an hour after each regular session. I've been learning a lot of different protective spells, and instructions on how to use spells more effectively. In fact I was hoping to get in a little practice here, since I can't use magic at my muggle home."

"That'd be great, Harry," said Ginny, "I'd like to see what you've been learning."

"No time like the present," said Harry, as he, Ron, and Ginny stepped out to the front yard, followed by Arthur and Molly Weasley. They set up 10 pumpkin-sized stones in a row, and Harry then stepped back about 20 feet from them.

"The book said that if you are focused on your spells and can coordinate your wandwork with your pronouncing of the spells, you can get very fast. You don't need to be very loud either. I've been practicing using a drumstick as a fake wand to prevent much magic from happening."

" 'Much' magic!?" asked Mr. Weasley, who was observing, "have you been doing wandless magic again?"

"Just a little - I've scorched some things, Dobby got tossed across the room a few times, transfigured a few beetles into brooches,"

"Harry" said Ron, "I didn't know you were doing stuff without your wand!"

"Oh, usually just when I am excited or practicing very intently. It must happen to you too."

"Uh-uh" said both Ginny and Ron.

"I may as well tell you two," said Mr. Weasley, "when your mother and I checked up on Harry at the Rec. Center where he and his cousin were practicing together, Harry used Expelliarmus on me without a wand - it took my wand and threw me across the room. Mind you now, I wasn't braced against it, but still, it was very impressive."

"Whoa, Harry, that's awesome!" said Ron. "I have trouble doing it that strong even with a wand!"

"Alright then, Superwizard" said Ginny sarcastically, "Let's see what a few weeks practice has done for you."

Harry composed himself, and scanned the distance to the rocks, reddened by the setting sun. Suddenly he drew his wand and murmured spells as fast as he could, aiming his wand at each of the stones in turn. It took less than twenty seconds. Three stone were crushed, two were thrown back, one was cracked, one was glowing hot, and three were unscathed, although there was a small fire behind one of them. They ran over and stomped it out.

"Wow, Harry, really cool!" said Ron.

"Yeah, Harry, you hit seven of them," gushed Ginny.

But Harry had a strange hard look in his eye, not angry, but clearly disappointed and determined. "If those were Death Eaters, they wouldn't be standing still like that and even if they did, there'd still be three of 'em cursing me - I have to do better!"

Ron and Ginny looked at each other, then Ron said "Well, you've only just started with real spells, mate. Let's all give it a go for awhile here." So they all practiced til the sun went down. Harry coached them on the wand movements and pronouncing the spells quietly but effectively. Then Mrs. Weasley chased them all off to bed, reminding them that 5 a.m. would come early.

The next morning Molly Weasley was enjoying a cup of tea before breakfast when she saw Harry running up the path from the river with Dobby riding on his back. He was sweating heavily, but not breathing overly hard when he came to the porch.

"Good morning, Maam, back again" chirped Dobby "I'll have breakfast on the table by the time the others arrive." Then he slipped in the front door.

Harry leaned on the railing. "That was a good run. At Little Whinging, everything is flat and I'm always on sidewalks or hard footpaths in the park. The variety here and springy ground was really refreshing. I'll just go in and freshen up. Ron and Ginny will be here in a bit."

"That's nice, dear. I don't imagine they're doing so well. They aren't really used to it."

Harry had already showered, dressed again and checked with Dobby when he heard Ron and Ginny thud onto the porch. He decided to listen a few seconds.

Ron spoke between heaving pants "Mom, how...long's...he been...back?"

"Oh, maybe twenty minutes - is there a problem?"

Now Ginny spoke, having caught her breath, but still breathing heavily, "We felt like we would die. The first couple of miles or so he tried to hold back, but he was getting frustrated - he wasn't pushing himself enough, he said. So he got Dobby to ride on his back for extra weight, and even that wasn't enough. He beat us to Stoatshead Hill, and went about it a couple times til we could catch up, and then he fairly bounced up the hill. Dobby kept giggling and waving - I felt like throttling him."

Mrs. Weasley smiled, "Harry or Dobby?"

"Mom!" said Ginny.

Now it was Ron's turn "Harry did pushups at the top - with Dobby still on his back - til we made it up there, and then he jumped up and led us down to the town. We finally told him to go on ahead. We saw him pass through town and head to the river, but we just decided to turn back home. He must have run a good three miles further than we did and still got here way before we did. Mom, I know he feels like he's got to prepare for the worst, but this is freaky."

"Well, dear, he and Dumbledore think this is necessary, so we need to encourage him all we can. We can't trade places, but he needs friends and people to love him."

Harry caught himself with a tear and was about to step outside, when he heard a throat being cleared behind him. It was Mr. Weasley, "Harry, we don't know the whole story. We know something's been up since before you were born. We won't pry, but Molly's right - anything we can do to help you, just let us know."

"Just being the people you have been is the best I could ever ask," said Harry, with more tears forming, "Excuse me."

"Nothing to apologize for, Harry," said Mr. Weasley, putting his arm around Harry's shoulder and conducting him out to the porch.

"So, finally decided to show up, eh?" Harry said to Ron and Ginny, laughing.

"Okay, buddy, you've been hard at it for awhile. We'll catch up," promised Ginny, as Ron glared at her for making that commitment. "We're going to train just like you've been even while you're back with the muggles - except maybe the boxing, I'd probably hurt Ron too much."

"Hey! You may have me on hexing, but I'm at least stronger than my little sister."

The rest laughed and Dobby stepped out and announced breakfast. They ate heartily. The rest of the workouts that day were not so burdensome for Ron and Ginny, as they could swim at their own pace and use only as much weight and as many repetitions in weight-training as they could handle. At dinner, they talked about the day.

"I don't remember the last day I felt so tired, unless it was at the end of OWL testing," said Ron. "Mate, I think I liked you angry and lazy better than focused and manic."

"Not I," said Mrs. Weasley, "I'm glad to see him preparing for what challenges may come. I want to see him at this table for years to come."

Harry smiled broadly at that.

Mr. Weasley added, "Me, too. Ginny, you're oddly quiet. How was the workout for you?"

Ginny was showing an intense interest in the shepherd pie Dobby had prepared and mumbled that the workouts had been fine.

Ron then spoke up "This is well and good, Harry, but you can still have some fun, right? You're up for Quidditch, aren't you? Ginny and I have been practicing as Chaser and Keeper. Think you could play some Chaser after dinner?"

"Oh, sure, I guess I have some time for that. It'll be good to fly again. Wish you had a snitch, though; I'd like to practice some Seeking again. It's been almost a year."

After dinner, Ron, Ginny and Harry got their brooms (Dumbledore had gotten Harry's back to him after resuming Headmaster duties) and headed out to the Quidditch pitch in the Weasleys' yard. It wasn't perfect, but fine for practice. It felt great to Harry to be flying again, and he did not even realize that he was putting on maneuvers even before they got started that took everyone else's breath away.

"Harry, what's up?" called Ron "We didn't even see moves like that at the World Cup."

"I dunno, I'm not trying to push it. I reckon the training is paying off."

"Well, it's even improving Quidditch, so if I wasn't sold on it before, I am now. I know I need every move I can get to be a proper Keeper. But you're really looking sharp. Isn't he, Ginny?"

Ginny zoomed across the pitch as if she had not heard. Then Harry spoke up "Any word on who'll be the new captain?"

"I figured it'd be Katie or you - you two've got the most years on the team," said Ron.

"Maybe Katie. Not me. With the DA, I haven't the time, and besides, I'm a Seeker - I don't often watch precisely what the rest of you do. You'd be a good choice. Nobody studies Quidditch more than you, Ron, and as a Keeper, you're always watching what's happening over the entire pitch."

"Ya think so? It's always been a dream of mine," said Ron, wistfully, "but I didn't dare hope for more than a shot at it when Katie's gone."

"I can't think of anyone better for it. Besides, Katie's pretty intent on her NEWTs this year. I think you've got a great shot."

They practiced until the sun went down. Then Harry asked them to help him practice his shield spells by trying to hex him. They spent another half hour as first Ron, then Ginny, and then both together tried to get a spell through Harry's defenses. They tried to fire spells as rapidly as they had seen Harry do the night before, and improved considerably, but still Harry avoided or shielded against everything they could throw at him.

When they stopped, Ron said "Awesome, Harry, you're like a one-man army."

Harry thanked him without enthusiasm "Yeah, but it was only two of you."

As Ron went into the house, he said to his father "Geez, Dad, what's it going to take for Harry to be satisfied?"

"Understand, Ron," said Arthur, "Think who he is expecting to face - how good would you say is good enough?"

"There'll be no rest for him, then, will there?"

"I'm afraid not, son. Not anytime soon." Arthur looked out at Harry, who had been stopped by Ginny, and shook his head sadly.

Ginny had caught Harry's arm before he could walk in with Ron. "Harry, let's walk a bit."

"Sure," said Harry, "I need to wind down."

After they passed the garage, Ginny said "Harry, you've really improved, in, erm, lots of ways."

"Thanks, Ginny, so have you."

"Harry, I'm no longer the giddy starstruck pre-teen I once was."

"I know that - you're quite a fighter now."

"Thanks, Harry, but I mean I'm not a little girl - I'm becoming a woman."

Harry smiled shyly "Erm, well, I've noticed that too."

"Your looks at me in the gym - were they just idle curiosity?" asked Ginny, stopping him and placing her hands on his upper arms.

"I can't say I looked at Ron in the same way."

"No, I understand that - boys look at girls and girls look at boys. But was I merely the only girl around to look at?"

Harry smiled warmly and looked into her gentle brown eyes. He felt like he could look into them forever. "No, Ginny. In fact, lately I've been feeling ... uh," Harry stopped dead. He suddenly had a vision of Sirius falling through the veil of death, and then a vision of Ginny sprawled dead on the floor, her flesh desiccated like a long-frozen corpse. He broke away from her and covered his eyes in horror. "No, ...No."

"What is it, Harry?"

"I'm seeing you dead. I see everyone I care about dead. I can't take it!" Harry turned and ran back to the house and straight up the several flights of stairs into Ron's room.

Ginny stared sadly and then came back to the house. She told her parents. "We were just talking, um, pleasantly" (she blushed a bit and half-smiled), and then when he started to talk of his feelings, he got this horrified look, said he saw me dead, screamed and ran."

Her parents nodded. "Dumbledore warned us of this," said her father sadly, "He knows what danger there is around him, and he dreads having someone else he cares about hurt. Sometimes when he lets himself feel like he really cares for someone, he sees them hurt or dead or dying. And he relives the pain of losing those close to him. He says he doesn't know if it's the fear of the danger that he attracts or the devastation that would follow if he isn't up to his challenges."

"Oh, Harry," said Ginny softly. "So, Mom, Dad, the best thing I can do for him is to pull away?"

"No, he needs his friends desperately," said Molly, "but he may not be able to handle any stronger ... attachments."

"But I, ...I .."

"We know, Ginny, we're your parents, we know," said Arthur, "It's no longer just a crush. You've spent time with him, and now you know him as more than just the Boy Who Lived. And he is quite an impressive young man. But I'm afraid you'll just have to keep it to yourself, because he won't be able to let himself get that kind of close to anyone. Not til ..."

"Arthur, don't mention it," said Molly sadly, putting an arm around his waist and laying her head on his chest. "It frightens me too much at what that boy has to face."

Ginny went out to the porch and cried. She didn't notice Dobby sitting out there in the toddler rocker. He watched her a few minutes and then said softly "You worry over Harry Potter?"

"Yes," she sniffed. "It's too hard."

"Think of what Harry Potter has faced. He always comes through for those he cares about. He will come through - more for all of us than for himself. Harry Potter will be just fine"

Ginny stared at Dobby in his serene confidence. He believed in Harry in a way she could not fathom. But his words comforted her that Harry would indeed be just fine. But would she? She knew, however, that he was right that there was always danger around him, so she would prepare like nothing else was more important. And she would prod Ron and all Harry's other friends to do so as well. If fate was coming to meet Harry, he wouldn't face it alone.