|"Are you a wizard or not?"
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- "He is – the world's – biggest – git!"
- — Ron Weasley, tearing up Percy's letter after reading it[src]
The letter was delivered by Percy's pet owl, Hermes, and Ron was at first surprised to receive the letter, considering Percy's de facto defection from the family. The letter was sent during the Ministry's campaign to discredit Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter, and Percy's letter proved that he was clearly speaking what the Ministry believed.
Having heard from Cornelius Fudge that his brother Ron had been made a Gryffindor prefect, Percy first wrote to congratulate him for shouldering a prefect's responsibility, since he was afraid that Ron might have taken the "Fred and George route", deciding to cause trouble at school. However, Percy did not just give Ron congratulations. He also urged Ron to break off all contact with Harry Potter, fearing that, since Harry had been tried by the Wizengamot for using underage magic, and in Percy's opinion was acquitted on a "mere technicality", their friendship would threaten Ron's position as a prefect, and even possibly a future appointment as Head Boy. Percy also commented that Dumbledore's time at Hogwarts could be coming to an end, with veiled hints concerning the introduction of the Hogwarts High Inquisitor post. Percy proceeded to tell Ron to make himself useful to Professor Umbridge, believing that she would set Hogwarts on the path to a bright future. He then followed up with an apology about not getting to see Ron more over the previous summer holiday. Percy claimed it pained him to criticise their mother and father, but he could not live with them while they remained "mixed up" with the Order of the Phoenix, and that when they realised their mistake, he (Percy) would be prepared to accept a full apology.
While Harry brushed the letter off as a joke, Ron took Percy's writings as a personal affront; he scowled more and more as he read the letter, looked disgusted at the end, and angrily tore it up into eight pieces before throwing them into the fire in the Gryffindor common room. To Ron, the letter confirmed Percy's dishonesty and elitism. It also brought the situation home to Harry, who had heard of his treatment in the press from Hermione the previous summer, but really gave it no thought. The letter greatly hurt Harry's feelings, however, as he saw how his words about Lord Voldemort returning were being ruthlessly criticised in writings, especially by a former friend. Percy, with whom Harry had shared a tent at the Quidditch World Cup just a year earlier, and who had given Harry full marks for moral fibre in the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament, appeared to believe Harry to be a deranged lunatic. After reading the letter, Harry thought he had never felt more like his godfather, Sirius Black, whom the wizarding world at large still incorrectly believed to be a mass murderer.
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 you have stopped flouting authority and have decided to shoulder some real responsibility.
But I want to give you more than congratulations, Ron, I want to give you some advice, 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.
From 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 fraternisation with that boy. Yes, I am sure you are surprised to hear this - no doubt you will say that Potter has always been Dumbledore's favourite - 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 behaviour. I shall say no more here, but if you look at the Daily Prophet tomorrow you will get a good idea of the way the wind is blowing - and see if you can spot yours truly!
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 this summer 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 to remain convinced of his guilt.
It may be that you are afraid to sever ties with Potter - 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 behaviour 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 advise you.
This leaves 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 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 tomorrow!). I shall say only this - a student who shows himself willing to help Professor Umbridge now may be very well placed for Head Boyship in a couple of years!
I am sorry that I was unable to see more of you over the summer. It pains me to criticise 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 lucky to have escaped the stigma of association with such people - the Minister really could not be more gracious to me - and I do hope, Ron, that you will not allow family ties to blind you to the misguided nature of our parents' beliefs and actions either. I sincerely hope that, in time, they will realise how mistaken they were and I shall, of course, be ready to accept a full apology when that day comes.
Please think over what I have said most carefully, particularly the bit about Harry Potter, and congratulations again on becoming prefect.
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game) (GBA/Nintendo DS versions only)
Notes and references
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 14 (Percy and Padfoot)