The Sugar Quill
Author: Storm (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: The Interpretation of Prophecy  Chapter: Default
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It was the gloomiest birthday that Harry could remember – and considering that he had grown up with the Dursleys that was sayi

The Interpretation of Prophecy


Author : Storm

Spoilers : Everything up to OotP

Rating : PG

Summary : As Harry’s 17th birthday approaches he is hidden with a small team in a sewer, discussing choices and scars and waiting for the last assault on Voldemort to begin. Sybill Trelawney’s first prophecy is about to be fulfilled. Set post-OotP.

Disclaimer : This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.



It was the gloomiest birthday that Harry could remember – and considering that he had grown up with the Dursleys that was saying a lot.

Not that it was quite his birthday … yet.

Faint magical lights spelled out ‘Many Happy Returns Harry, Neville, Dean’ in multicoloured letters on a piece of old scaffolding. It was far from the most impressive spell Hermione could do, but it was the most magic she had dared to use while they waited for the coming battle.

Six of them were hiding in a sewer tunnel underneath a Muggle construction site and Hermione was not even with them. She had sent the birthday lights with Ginny, but both Hermione and Ron were crouching with most of the Order in the half built foundations of a new gym, waiting to cause the diversion that should let Harry get close enough to attack Voldemort from behind.

It was nearly midnight on the 29th July 1997 and they had been in place for four hours, although it felt like longer. Neville had come of age today, it would be Dean’s birthday in twenty minutes time and Harry knew there was a good chance that he would never turn seventeen at all.


“Half a minute to go,” said Ginny and they dutifully watched the second hand on the old Muggle watch her father had given her tick round to midnight.

“Happy Birthday Dean!”

“Yeah,” said Dean, “thanks! Let’s hope we deal with You-Know-Who today or I’ll be in deep shit with my parents for not phoning home on my birthday.”

“Oh Dean!” sighed Ginny. “Have you still not told them what’s going on?” She had met Dean’s parents while she was his girlfriend and had been protective of them ever since.

“I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again. My parents are Muggles. They don’t know nothing about evil overlords or magical deaths and I’m not stupid enough to tell them. They think it’s a sign of independence wanting to celebrate my birthday away with friends and I’m not going to be the one to disillusion them.” He pulled his West Ham scarf more securely round his neck and shivered in the draft in the tunnel.

“But what if something happens to you and they never knew you were in any danger at all?” asked Katie Bell.

“Look,” said Dean, “When Mum and Dad were our age they were caught up in a massive motorway pileup. They were on a school trip and neither of them was hurt but their coach overturned and the drivers of two or three cars died. They were probably in as much danger then as I am now and that’s the kind of thing that could happen to anyone.”

“Not quite the same thing as deliberately setting off for a desperate magical battle though is it?”

“Alright then, when they were on their honeymoon they were caught off the coast of Barbados in a freak storm. Now that’s not quite trying to get yourself killed, but anyone sailing in the Caribbean in September ought to expect hurricanes.”

“Maybe they were attacked by a Kraken,” put in Luna unexpectedly.

“There’s no such things as Krakens,” said Ginny automatically before turning back to Dean. “But –”

“In fact,” he continued over her protests, “they’d not been home a week before their flat was blown up in a gas explosion. All the wedding presents were destroyed and they had to move in with my Gran while they sorted the insurance out. Talk about end of the honeymoon period!”

“Krakens do exist,” said Luna. “Only last month, Dad had an interview with a couple who were attacked by one while they were hiking in Paraguay.”

Harry considered asking how a giant sea monster could have attacked hikers in a country with no coastline, but decided it was not worth the effort.

“That’s not the point!” Dean brushed the Kraken aside as irrelevant. “The point is that it’s not being a wizard that puts me in danger, just being alive does that. We volunteered for this, but do you think your Mum or Neville’s Gran is really any happier knowing what you two are doing tonight?”

“Gran’s involved herself anyway,” said Neville quietly. “And she knows I’d be doing whatever I could, so she might as well know the details.”

“Exactly! And Mrs Weasley’s the same. But my parents don’t know what’s going on and they couldn’t do anything about it if they did, so why tell them?”

Ginny still looked doubtful, but no one really had an answer for that.


It was five o’clock in the morning and Neville was dozing uneasily against the sewer wall.

“Not long now.” Ginny murmured quietly. “How are you feeling, Harry?”

“A bit sick.” Harry admitted. “I mainly just want it to be over.”

Luna raised an inquiring eyebrow in the faint light of Hermione’s birthday message.

“The worst thing…” he continued. “The worst thing is… Well I knew it was going to come down to me against him in the end, but I hadn’t quite realised I’d be dragging all of you along with me. All the Order and half the DA could be killed, just so I can get one good shot at him”

“It’s like Dean said before,” said Luna. “We chose to do this. We think it’s worth it.”

“Besides,” said Dean, “when did anyone ever ask if you wanted to be the hero?”

Harry laughed, a little bitterly. “I think that was chosen for me, when I was a baby. ‘The Dark Lord will mark him as his equal’ remember?” He had finally told his friends about Trelawney’s first prophecy over the Christmas holiday. “Voldemort was the one to choose me as his enemy and he isn’t going to stop until I’m dead. I’d just as soon go down fighting, thanks. I never really wanted to inflict it all on Neville, but I admit I’d rather not be defined by this scar.”

“I’d be fighting anyway,” said Neville, his voice coming unexpectedly out of the darkness. Clearly he was not asleep after all. “And so would you, Harry and you know it. And one day that scar will be just another mark.”

“Lots of people have scars,” agreed Ginny. “Yours is just where people see it as soon as they meet you. Dad still has marks right across his chest from where that snake savaged him, but he doesn’t let it stop him doing anything. It drives Mum crazy sometimes, but he says that the only use of scars is to remind us what we’re fighting for.”

“Hermione still has scars from when Dolohov attacked her,” offered Katie, “And I still have a bit of a mark where Goyle’s bludger hit me in the head last year.” She pulled her hair away from her face to demonstrate.

“Man even I have scars,” said Dean, pulling up his trouser leg to show a shiny welt across his left ankle.

“I didn’t know that,” said Luna, bending closer for a look. “Was it a Devilicanus Curse?”

“No,” said Dean. “The child minder dropped a kettle of boiling water on me when I was a baby.”


Two hours later, Harry was disturbed by the shrill ring of the mobile phone that Hermione had given him yesterday.

“Harry, it’s starting. There are Death Eaters closing in on us from all sides, but they don’t seem to realise we’ve noticed them yet. You need to be ready when I give the word.”

Dean and Neville jumped up at Harry’s signal and started loosening the nuts on the metal trapdoor that would give them access to the building site.

“OK, here they come, we’ll draw them out as fast as we can…” Hermione’s voice started fading as heavy magical warfare interfered with the phone’s reception.

The six of them in the tunnel fell completely silent, keen to draw no attention to themselves until Voldemort reached the point where they lay in wait.

“There are a group of them right at the North end of the site… and some more at the entrance to the new office block, but I don’t think He is with any of them-” Hermione was cut off by the sound of a huge explosion.

“What is it?” Harry hissed into the phone.

“Banging Barbaka Curse. Bit close for comfort though… Harry I’ve seen him. He’s about fifty yards away from you… twenty yards… They’ve passing over top of you. Now! You’ll be right behind him. Now!”

Dean pulled the hatch open and Luna and Katie scrambled through it as Harry’s advance guard. Moments later he was following them, hands scrabbling on gravel as he pulled himself out of the tunnel, eyes blinking in the sudden shock of the morning sun, wand at the ready as he prepared to fight.


In the heat of battle it was hard to keep track of just what was going on, but it seemed to Harry as if the Death Eaters were winning.

Rodolphos Lestrange flung the Cruciatus Curse at him and he dived desperately to the left, almost into the path of the Impediment Jinx Katie was casting behind him, before managing to duck behind a mechanical digger and catch his breath.

Under the cover provided by his friends, he was trying to work his way towards Voldemort, but the building site was a lot more confusing when you were trying to avoid being cursed and seemed full of many more vehicles, machines and random concrete blocks than it had done yesterday. He wasn’t actually sure yet just which of the black cloaked figures was his target and he still wondered whether he would ever be able to cast the killing curse successfully, but right now it didn’t look as if he would get close enough to find out.

“There he is!” hissed Katie. When I give the word, I’ll draw those Death Eaters there off and you dive past them to get to him. Go!”

Harry scrambled madly up five unfinished steps and onto the foundations of the new shopping complex. Neville was beside him, clutching his new birch wand, with Dean, Ginny and Luna just behind him. Over to his right, a purple explosion lit up the sky where the Order was keeping the bulk of the Death Eaters busy, although he thought he saw Kingsley Shacklebolt and the Wilfred Croaker, the Unspeakable, running towards them to provide backup. He spared a moment to hope that Ron and Hermione were safe.

Voldemort was a dark shadow, facing away from him, focussing on the main fight. This really just might work.

But as Harry raised his wand, Voldemort turned, spitting out a curse before Harry could speak and Harry barely managed to cast “Protego!” in time.



That was Luna and Ginny. They must know that those jinxes would have little effect on Voldemort, but they might just buy enough time for Harry to take aim.

He raised his wand again – it was now or never - and began to speak. “Ava –”

Lestrange had reappeared in the chaos and grabbed his arm from behind, crushing his wrist with brute force and prying his fingers from his wand.

Neville ran forward valiantly, calling out a stunning spell, but Voldemort brushed it calmly aside. His terrible red eyes narrowed as they passed over Neville, confirmed that Lestrange still held Harry powerless and returned to Neville again.

“Troublesome boy!” he hissed. “Let me see if you cry as well as your parents cried for my loyal Bella. Crucio!

Neville’s screams of agony filled the air and Harry redoubled his efforts to break free. Witches and wizards tended to despise “Muggle duelling” but a few lessons in hand to hand combat would have been useful right now.

Ginny and Luna were battling another Death Eater; there was no help to be found there. Then a large weight was knocking him off his feet as Kingsley launched himself bodily at Lestrange and attempted to throttle the Death Eater, leaving Harry free.

He was winded, lying flat on the ground and he felt as if he had cracked a rib or two, but if he could just reach his wand… he stretched his arm out desperately. Just another few inches and he would have it.

“Master!” cried Lestrange. He had only managed to dislodge Kingsley’s hands for a moment, but that was all he needed.

Voldemort swung round, focused on Harry and prepared for the killing stoke.

Everything seemed to slip into slow motion. Harry was aware of Dean, running towards a large Muggle machine, Croaker mouthing unintelligible things towards him. He heard Neville, no longer under Cruciatus, but still sobbing in agony a few yards away from him. Kingsley was still struggling with Lestrange, unable to help. And Harry still could not quite reach his wand.

He had thought he would be afraid of death; now he knew he felt worst for all those who would continue living. The prophecy had been a cruel thing to bear, but if Harry died it would be fulfilled. Voldemort would survive without him and there would be no one left who could defeat him.

Harry nearly had his wand. Voldemort grinned in triumph. Harry’s hand closed futilely on thin air. Voldemort raised his wand to strike…

And was crushed by half a ton of falling bricks.

Harry looked up in a daze to see Dean sitting at the controls of a giant mechanical crane and Croaker grinning as he spoke to him. Neville was sitting up, looking dazed but unharmed and Kingsley was taking great satisfaction in tying Lestrange up with purple magical cords. The remaining Death Eaters began to Disapparate; the battle was over.

Ginny and Luna came running towards him. “Harry!” Ginny cried. “He’s dead! Dean crushed him to smithereens. He’s gone!”

Harry got to his feet and gaped.

“He really is gone for good,” Luna smiled. “Mr Croaker cast an experimental anti-disembodiment charm on the bricks before Dean dropped them. He couldn’t even get away as an unquiet spirit this time.” She ran off to congratulate Dean.

Harry was left opening and closing his mouth with no sound coming out.

“But… but…” he managed at last. “I was supposed to be the one to kill him. There were prophecies about it and everything.”

On the whole he was glad not to be dead, but he felt a bit as if everything he knew to be true was lying in pieces around him.

“Hermione always said you had a hero complex,” said Ginny, but her voice was sympathetic. “You know that Divination’s a really imprecise branch of magic. Even centaurs sometimes read the signs wrongly. The important thing is it’s over. You’re free Harry. You don’t have to be defined by him anymore.”

Harry stared at her blankly then slowly started to smile.


Extracts from the files of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

17th May 1974

Attack by eight Death Eaters on Automobiles on a Muggle Motorway. Seven Muggles killed, nineteen injured. Circumstantial evidence suggests You-Know-Who (only we don’t know who he is yet, thank you very much, Minister) may have been present in person. Obliviators were called to the scene and sixty-three Muggles had their memories altered. No witches or wizards were present so there is no eyewitness testimony available for use in the Wizengamot. However before removal of her memories one Muggle gave an account of a masked figure referred to as “Master” by the other attackers as well as descriptions of two girls who “looked young enough to still be at school” and a man with long platinum blond hair.

13th September 1978

An international incident occurred today in the Caribbean. A Norwegian Ridgeback dragon created havoc in the waters between Barbados and St. Lucia, leading two Wizarding vessels to capsize as well as destroying a handful of Muggle boats. Suitable memory charms were cast by local wizards. Initial reports suggest that the dragon was deliberately brought to the area and set free by European Death Eaters in retaliation for Barbados’ recently concluded alliance of support for the British Ministry of Magic. In the light of the political implications, a squad of five Aurors and two dragon keepers from the Welsh Dragon Reservation have been seconded to work with the local authorities.

29thSeptember 1978

Acting on a tip off concerning illegal dragon blood, five Aurors today proceeded to Barking, East London where He-who-Must-Not-Be-Named and a dozen of his Death Eaters ambushed them in a Muggle block of flats. Two Death Eaters were killed and subsequently identified as Evan Rosier and Athelstan Wilkes. Senior Auror Moody lost a chunk of his nose in the fight and is currently recovering in St Mungo’s. The building was nearly destroyed and seventeen Muggles were injured in the crossfire. Their memories were subsequently modified and the explosions explained as the result of a gas leak. This department would like to point out that the number of “gas leaks” causing explosions has increased five fold in parts of London over the last three years and that if the Ministry Obliviators can’t come up with a better range of explanations, even Muggles are going to start to notice what is going on.

21st February 1981

Y-K-W today attacked a Muggle home containing a childminder and four children while apparently hunting for the Muggleborn witch Emmeline Rigden. Madam Rigden was in fact many miles from the attack and had no connection to the house in question. All five victims survived the attack, although one baby was caught by a skin-melting curse. All memories were removed and the child’s burns were blamed on boiling water dropped by the childminder. We understand she has now lost her job and the parents concerned believe the child’s injuries to be perfectly Muggle in nature.


Divination is an uncertain science and the interpretation of prophecy can be as much about your own prejudices as about the prediction itself.

There were indeed just two wizard boys born at the end of July 1980, whose parents in the Order of the Phoenix had survived Voldemort three times. But although Albus Dumbledore is a great and wise man, even he added his own assumptions to what Sybill Trelawney actually Saw.

And even if someone had thought to check, the records held by the Department of Magical Law Enforcement during the first Voldemort War were never kept in sufficient detail to show whether any two Muggle victims had ever survived more than one of the Dark Lord’s attacks.


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