To Be Forewarned is to Be Forearmed
Percy was restless
that night. Because he couldn’t sleep he left Penny alone in their bed,
sleeping soundly enough for the both of them, and went out into the kitchen to
pace. He was very worried about the effect that Umbridge’s reign would have on
Harry and Ron, mostly Harry though. Ron could go along to get along. He hadn’t
lived almost sixteen years as the youngest brother of the Weasley clan for
Percy could well
imagine Harry’s reaction, though, to the Ministry in the form of Madame
Umbridge, telling him to his face that Voldemort had been a hallucination.
Harry had a temper. And a rather nasty one at that, Percy reflected. Driving
the length of a sword, almost as long as he had been himself, into the brain of
a giant snake took a good bit of anger behind the thrust to power it. No
question then in Percy’s mind that Harry had tremendous power, and plenty of
The biggest problem
anyone would have at Hogwarts this year would be finding a way to channel
Harry’s anger, and his power, in a positive direction, before he might be
allowed to unleash it onto Voldemort. Percy really enjoyed imagining that part
of the story.
But Harry was
Dumbledore’s deal. Percy was interested in, but not responsible for, Harry, and
very glad of it. Ron, however, was Percy’s deal. He was desperately thinking
of a way to get through to him the kind of danger they were all in, right now,
without blowing his own cover.
Ron was a brilliant
strategist. Percy couldn’t begin to count how many times Ron had kicked his
butt all over the chessboard and back again through the years of their growing
up together. If only he could convince Ron somehow to read between the lines of
a letter and get to the heart of a matter. Percy was sure he would know just
what to do with the information he wanted to give him.
Bill and Charlie
had always had one another. They were the oldest, and far too mature in their
own minds to bother much with the smaller Weasley members. Except for Ginny,
who had been relentlessly and thoroughly fawned over by every member of the
family since the day she was born.
Fred and George
might as well have been actually joined at the skull. For all he really knew,
Percy thought nastily, they were attached at their heads at birth.
Mother wouldn’t ever tell him so, but most of his days spent growing up them
had convinced Percy that they really only had the one brain between them.
Because of their
other brother’s attachments to one another, Percy and Ron had found themselves
standing separately, but not alone in the Weasley world. Ron really was the
closest to Ginny, but on some occasions he and Percy had managed to find each
other. And Percy was hoping that what he was about to do would turn out to be just
such an occasion.
He sat down at the
kitchen table, pulled a piece of parchment towards him, took out his quill and
non-committal, thought Percy, chewing on the end of his quill. No one would
suspect me of subversion just from reading the salutation.
I have only just heard (from no
less a person than the Minister of Magic himself, who has it from your new
teacher, Professor Umbridge) that you have become a Hogwarts prefect.
Pay attention, Ron,
your new DADA instructor is a toady for the Minister and she’s reporting back
on you already.
I was most pleasantly surprised
when I heard this news and must firstly offer my congratulations. I must admit
that I have always been afraid that you would take what we might call the “Fred
and George” route, rather than following in my footsteps, so you can imagine my
feelings on hearing that you have stopped flouting authority and have decided
to shoulder some responsibility.
I was really proud
of you when I heard that Dumbledore had made you Prefect. I know you’ve got a
good head on your shoulders and that you don’t like to break the rules unless
you have to. Let’s face it, Ron, that’s the reason Fred and George gave their
Marauder’s Map to Harry instead of to you, they knew you’d be too scared to use
it. And because I know you’ve never flouted anyone’s authority but my own, I
also know that you just got the great big hint I’m sending here that there’s
more to this letter than meets the eye.
I want to give you more than congratulations, Ron I want to give you some
And for once in
your life please, please, please, follow it.
Which is why I am sending this at night rather than
by the usual morning post. Hopefully you will be able to read this away from
prying eyes and avoid awkward questions.
Anyone who is
sitting in Gryffindor Tower common room with you just now is
trustworthy. Go ahead and show this letter to Hermione and Harry, then burn it
before anyone else has a chance to read it.
something the Minister let slip when telling me you are now a prefect, I gather
that you are still seeing a lot of Harry Potter. I must tell you, Ron, that
nothing could put you in danger of losing your badge more than continued
fraternization with that boy.
The Minister is out
to get Harry and he wants to use you to help him do it. He’s already grilling
me for information about you two. Stick close to Harry if you want to keep him
out of big trouble this year. I don’t know what you could do to keep better
tabs on him, try out for the Gryffindor Quidditch team, or something. Percy was
thinking up possible answers to Ron’s possible questions as he furiously
Yes, I am sure you are surprised
to hear this – no doubt you will say that Potter has always been Dumbledore’s
favorite – but I feel bound to tell you that Dumbledore may not be in charge at
Hogwarts much longer and the people who count have a very different – and
probably more accurate –view of Potter’s behavior. I shall say no more here,
but if you look at the Dailey Prophet tomorrow you will get a good idea of the
way the wind is blowing – and see if you can spot yours truly.
The Minister wants
Dumbledore’s head on a platter, and if it’s served up with a side dish of Harry
Potter he’ll think it tastes even better. I’m not sure how well Dumbledore can
protect Harry here, I know he’s going to try, but you have to be careful and
ready to step in to save Harry if Dumbledore can’t. And I really, really, hope
that when you see my picture in the paper tomorrow morning, Ron, that deep down
inside you, you’ll know that I would never, ever, do anything to hurt you,
Harry, or the rest of our family. This deception is killing me.
Seriously, Ron, you do not want
to be tarred with the same brush as Potter, it could be very damaging to your
future prospects, and I am talking here about life after school too. As you
must be aware, given that our father escorted him to court, Potter had a
disciplinary hearing in front of the whole Wizengamot and he did not come out
of it looking too good. He got off on a mere technicality if you ask me and
many of the people I’ve spoken too remain convinced of his guilt.
everything he could think of to trip up Harry and Dumbledore in that trial. He
brought up all sorts of things from Harry’s past to make him out to be a real
trouble maker and Dumbledore not much more than a stupid, old, fool, who is too
blinded by affection to see him for what he truly is. Some of the Wizengamot
were completely convinced by Fudges performance, believe me.
It may be that you are afraid to sever ties with
Hello, Ron? This
is your brother Percy speaking to you through this stupid letter. I have
watched you stick by Harry through thick and thin for four long years. More to
the point, I watched him risk his life last year, in that miserable excuse for
an icebox lake on the Hogwarts grounds, to bring you and that little girl
safely through the second challenge. Your brother Percy would suggest to you
that you might think about dropping your very best friend in exchange for a
shameless bout of self-interest, when Pigs sprout Wings and soar around outside
the windows of Gryffindor Tower.
I know that he can be unbalanced and, for all I know, violent,
but if you have any worries about this, or have spotted anything else in
Potter’s behavior that is troubling you, I urge you to speak to Dolores
Umbridge, a really delightful woman, who I know will be only too happy to
These are words taken
virtually out of the old bats mouth. She’s a wretched evil harridan who
actually has the temerity to suggest that our friend Harry is both crazy and
vicious. All I can really say to that is that it takes a nut to think they’re
recognizing one. But don’t underestimate her, Ron, she is a very nasty piece
This leads me to my other bit of
advice. As I have hinted above, Dumbledore’s regime at Hogwarts may soon be
over. Your loyalty, Ron, should be not to him, but to the school and the
Ministry. I am very sorry to hear that so far Professor Umbridge is
encountering very little cooperation from the staff as she strives to make
those necessary changes within Hogwarts that the Ministry so ardently desires
(although she should find this easier from next week – again, see the Prophet
This is really
important too. The Minister plans on ousting Dumbledore as soon as they can
come up with any excuse, and installing Umbridge in his place. Read the paper
tomorrow and I think you’ll understand how easy it might actually be for them
to accomplish this. Don’t worry too much though. Dumbledore will only truly be
gone from the school when no one at Hogwarts is still loyal to him, and that
isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Everyone else on the staff hates
Umbridge’s guts, even Snape. If you have to do it to protect Harry, go to
Snape, he’ll actually be willing to help you.
Oh, why am I
bothering to even try to say that, Percy thought, Ron won’t ever believe that
Snape doesn’t have something up his sleeve even if Snape dances naked in front
of him wearing nothing more than a tea cozy. And he finished the letter with
this final warning:
I shall say only this – a student
who shows himself willing to help Professor Umbridge now may be very well
placed for Head Boy ship in a couple of years.
Umbridge talking to Lucius Malfoy about his son Draco. She told Malfoy senior
that if Draco helps her spy on Harry right now, and helps catch him out on
something, she’s willing to make Draco Malfoy Hogwarts Head Boy once she’s in
charge of the school. Heaven help us all if that ever actually happens.
I am sorry that I was unable to see more of you over
the summer. It pains me to criticize our parents, but I am afraid I can no
longer live under their roof while they remain mixed up with the dangerous
crowd around Dumbledore (if you are writing to Mother at any point, you might
tell her that a certain Sturgis Podmore, who is a great friend of Dumbledore’s,
has recently been sent to Azkaban for trespass at the Ministry. Perhaps that
will open their eyes to the kind of petty criminals with whom they are
currently rubbing shoulders. I count myself very luck to have escaped the
stigma of association with such people – the Minister really could not be any
more gracious to me –
I really miss Mother
and Father and all the rest of you, even Fred and George. I’ve missed you more
this summer than I could ever tell you in any letter. I hope you understand
that I have to stay away for a while in order to help Dumbledore protect us
all. Anyone who seems to be even the least bit friendly to him will be under
the worst sort of suspicion. They didn’t sent Podmore to Azkaban for trying to
break into the Ministry of Magic, they sent him there because they know he’s
Dumbledore’s friend. That’s how dangerous they think we all are. I almost got
caught myself the night they got Podmore. Lucky for me the Minister of Magic is
And I do hope, Ron, that you will not allow family
ties to blind you to the misguided nature of our parent’s beliefs and actions
either. I sincerely hope that in time, they will realize how mistaken they
were and I shall, of course, be ready to accept a full apology when that day
You’re the only
person in the whole family that I think might not be completely convinced that
I am the world’s biggest git as of tonight. Some day all of this will be put
behind us and we can be a family again.
Please think over what I have said most carefully,
particularly the bit about Harry Potter, and congratulations again on becoming
I can’t impress
upon you enough the kind of danger Harry is in right now even as you read this
letter. Don’t let him do anything rash this year, whatever else you do. And I
really am very proud of you.
Your brother, Percy
I’ll always be your
brother first Ron, first, last, and always. I love you.
Percy folded up his
letter and gave it to his owl, Hermes, who was waiting by the window.
“Give this to Ron
Weasley, my brother, the new Gryffindor Prefect,” Percy told Hermes. And then
satisfied that he had done everything for Ron and Harry this night that he
could have he crawled back into bed with Penny and finally fell asleep.