Conjoining of Paragons
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognizable characters, plots, and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership.
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October 3, 1943
A Secret Passage on the Third Floor
The mirror slid back across the wall, leaving them alone in the secret room. Neither of them had sat yet. Dolohov stood near the fire, his pale face illuminated by flickering flames. Emily was nearer the exit, studying him with cold, blue eyes.
Dolohov looked past her and to the exit. “You wanted to talk?” he asked, eyes now darting around the room. He’s nervous; it’s like he’s looking to escape.
“I wanted to ask you a question away from the others, and maybe more depending on your answer.”
His eyes kept roaming. “What is it?”
“Where were you last Sunday evening?”
Dolohov frowned. “Last Sunday? How the hell am I supposed to remember that?”
You’d best decide quickly. “Think.” Her voice was sharp and lashed across him like a whip, quelling his fidgeting.
He pondered silently, still staring over her shoulder and towards the exit behind her. “I think that was the night I was out with Lestrange,” he said.
“And what were the two of you doing?”
“Mostly duelling, but we nicked some drinks from the kitchen and chatted in here.” Emily met his eyes. Lestrange laughed, both hands wrapped around a bottle of fire whiskey. He’s telling the truth.
“Did anything unusual happen that night?”
Dolohov looked away and Emily seethed silently. “The rumour is that something happened involving Pavonis in the library.” Each word came slowly and like they were being dragged across his tongue and out past his lips.
That could be why he’s nervous. In a way, she hoped it wasn’t. Dolohov had been displeased that night in the common room when she told him Harry was to be left alone. The attack’s timing lined up perfectly for it to have been an act of defiance. I never thought I’d wish to be betrayed. Anything was better than not knowing. Secrets twisted and conjoined, a black void beyond sight that taunted her always. It reminded her of another thing she feared.
“Do you know anything about it?” she asked. “I was in the common room that night, so I don’t—”
“Look,” said Dolohov, wringing his hands, “I didn’t—”
Emily silenced him with a glare but inside, she smiled. Good, his tongue is loosening. “Don’t interrupt me, Dolohov.” He remained still and quiet. “I was in the common room that night and didn’t hear about it until Harry told me the next day. Do you know anything more?”
“No.” His voice was hard and firm, his expression defiant.
I believe him. Emily laced her fingers, tapping her foot upon the floor. “Interesting. Harry was studying in his usual spot, hidden behind Notice-Me-Not wards.” She let that sink in. “Do you know what the biggest weakness of that ward is, Antonin?” He shook his head. Pathetic. So much wasted time with a wand. What’s the point in a duellist who would walk right into a basic trap? “The more aware others are, the weaker the ward. If someone was to expect Harry to be there, the ward wouldn’t hide him from them.”
“What are you saying?” Dolohov asked, eyes narrowed. “I didn’t—”
“I believe you,” said Emily, holding up her hands. “My point is that Harry has consistently studied behind those sorts of wards for months. The only people who should have been expecting him were people who noticed how often he studied there before he started using them, people who sometimes study with him, or anyone those people told.”
Dolohov tensed, still as a statue. “You think someone in our group attacked him.”
Not directly. You’re the only one bold enough to touch what is clearly mine. “They could have passed along the tidbit to someone else. They might not have realized what that person meant to do. What I want to know is who the culprit could have been?” She leant forward, fingers still laced. “Tell me, Antonin, how often did you vent about Harry after the two of you duelled?”
A scowl split his face. “Often enough.”
“And who can you remember commiserating with you most? I want all of the names.”
October 8, 1943
The Potions Classroom
Harry sighed, finally finished his potion. This class is gonna be a nightmare this year. A fit of coughing took him. Damn this room; is there no spell to make it more breathable?
Harry set the vial on Slughorn’s desk and turned, only to find the man’s hand on his shoulder. “Harry, m’boy, you wouldn’t mind staying behind for a moment, would you?”
He made himself smile. “Of course not, sir.”
The room cleared until only the two of them remained, cloaked by wafting vapour that hung thickly in the air. “How has your first month been?” Slughorn asked. “O.W.L year is notoriously difficult.”
“It’s been all right so far. There’s a lot more homework, but the work isn’t much harder in most classes.” He glanced towards his potion, which was several shades too dark. “Except this class,” he said, blushing.
Slughorn chortled. “We can’t have it all. You’ll score passably on the exam and you have never loved Potions. I’m just glad your other classes are going well.” His expression became more serious. “And how have… other matters treated you?”
It took Harry a moment to realize that Slughorn meant Emily. Right, the last time we talked like this was in Diagon Alley. “It’s gone all right so far. She hasn’t asked any more questions and we’ve become closer.”
Slughorn beamed. “Oh, Harry, I’m so glad to hear it. Just remember what I said, but don’t worry too much. She is a lovely girl and I’m so pleased you get along so well.”
I’m sure you are. “Thank you, sir.”
“You’ll be at the party on Samhain, I presume?”
Shit! Harry had forgotten all about Slughorn’s parties. When he thought about most of them last year, he thought about other things, like Emily sneaking off during the first and her attempt at Legilimency during the second.
“Are you all right, m’boy?” asked Slughorn.
Harry made himself smile again. Damnit, I didn’t miss not having these. It’s the date part that’s stressful. Elena would probably accompany him again if he asked, but she hadn’t enjoyed the ones she’d attended. It feels wrong asking her again. “I’m okay, thanks, just a bit tired. I didn’t sleep well last night.”
“Ah,” said Slughorn, drawing his wand. “Not to worry, it happens to the best of us.” He waved his wand and Harry’s potion vanished. He winked. “We can forget about that due to extenuating circumstances then, hm?”
Harry’s smile came more easily now. I wish he was less irritating, but he might be the most useful person I’ve met since travelling back in time. “Thank you, sir.”
Stones rose, twisting and grinding. Soon they stopped and a rocky giant loomed over the room, moving its head this way and that.
“Excellent!” said Dumbledore, beaming. “Now untransfigure the stones.” He did so and the giant collapsed, the stones fitting back into the floor.
Finally. Harry had been trying that transfiguration for the past two lessons. Not only had he never transfigured something so large, but giving a construct its own level of intelligence made it all the harder. “Slow it down,” Dumbledore had said, “imagine each stone fitting together; break it down into smaller bits.” Finally.
“Thank you, sir,”
“Don’t thank me, it was you who cast the spell.” Dumbledore looked from him to the clock on the wall. “I think that will do. You tire and the hour grows late.”
“Yes, sir.” He made to stand.
“One moment,” said Dumbledore. Harry lowered himself back into his chair. “I have noticed you spending more time with Miss Riddle this year.”
The male version of Riddle frowned at him over Ginny’s fading form. “Only the Transfiguration teacher, Dumbledore, seemed to think Hagrid was innocent. He persuaded Dippet to keep Hagrid and train him as gamekeeper. Yes, I think Dumbledore might have guessed… Dumbledore never seemed to like me as much as the other teachers did …”
Harry remembered too the way Dumbledore had acted the night Aragog had attacked Moaning Myrtle. He doesn’t like Emily, not even here. I could lie, but I doubt he’d buy it. His heart beat faster. “We’ve become friends,” he admitted.
“I see.” Dumbledore studied him over his half-moon spectacles. “Do be wary of Miss Riddle. It was I who greeted her hardly a month before she arrived at Hogwarts. The things I saw at that orphanage were disturbing and unpleasant. I worry she sees people not as friends, but as tools.”
Harry’s chest tightened, gripped by the dull ache of anger. Why am I angry? There’s no reason to be angry? “I don’t think she sees me that way, sir.” Months ago he had, but not now. It had been different since May, and especially since returning to Hogwarts. Whatever had her acting so strangely in August had left its mark.
“I will not tell you what to think.” He looks like there’s nothing he wants to do more. “Just promise you will be wary and that you will come to me if you ever feel discomforted by Miss Riddle.”
Harry met his eyes, drawing up all the practice he’d had with lying in the past twelve or so months. “I promise, sir.”
Harry left the office soon after, pondering as he strolled down the corridor and towards the marble staircase. Why had he been upset? Was it fondness for Riddle?
Am I really that fond of her? Harry thought back and balked at the results. She was the first person I went to about the attack in the library… Harry had been very fond of Riddle that night. There had been something about the way she asked after him, then about every detail, a soft glow in her eyes all the while. She cared more than anyone has ever cared.
Something familiar tugged at his senses and he paused, unsure what it was. Then he remembered the night Abraxas had attacked him with three goons.
Harry reached for his wand, but Emily dispelled her disillusionment before he seized it. “Sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to startle you, I hadn’t considered how you might react.”
Harry offered her a strained smile. “It’s okay, I was lost in thought.”
He considered telling her what Dumbledore had said, but something stopped him. “This morning’s paper,” he said instead. “It looks like Grindelwald really is making moves towards Britain.”
A team of aurors had descended on a warded base just off the British channel. There, they had found documents outlining multiple infiltrations of both the ministry and the Wizengamot. Arrests were still forthcoming.
A shadow passed across her face. “Not necessarily, but it looks that way.”
“You think it could just be a precaution?”
“Maybe. If I were him, I’d want inside agents whether I was going to attack or not.”
Harry studied her. “But you think it’s more than that?”
She nodded as they stepped onto the moving staircase, gliding down past the bannister that overlooked the Entrance Hall. “The timing is too convenient.”
“It could be a coincidence,” Harry offered. If only I believed that…
Emily shook her head. “If it’s a coincidence then I’ll let myself be pleasantly surprised. Logical people don’t believe in coincidences. It’s just another way of pretending that your problems don’t exist.”
Harry shivered as they stepped off the stairs, strolling through a pool of moonlight that shone in through the large, glass windows. Her problem… Merlin, she really plans on fighting Grindelwald. Harry looked at her face again, her grim expression clear in the moonlight. Her hatred isn’t natural. No one hates like that just because they disagree. Something more was going on. But what?
October 14, 1943
His cloak’s soft rustling was the only sound made by his arrival. Not that it mattered. A single road stretched towards the small village of Kirchdorf behind him, but between here and there, naught but fields and rivers dwelled. Green grass sloped up ahead, giving way to sand that stretched out towards the nearest mountain’s foot. The air tingled, humming with wards.
A smile twisted Gellert’s lips. They seek to mock me. It was one of his old bases they dwelled in, nestled in the mountain’s heart and hidden behind the nastiest defences they could manage. They think they’re safe, but they know nothing.
The wards fell. How could they presume the wards usurpsed so easily? Fools. The soft breeze gripped his cloak as he spun. It flapped once then stilled, suspended in darkness for half a heartbeat before reappearing in a place without wind.
A guard stumbled back, reaching for his wand while his partner stood and gaped. The Death Stick spun through Gellert’s fingers and both men screamed. Good. Let the others come. Blood-soaked bone thrust up through their throats and they fell, choking on their spines.
The nearest door burst open and a dozen men rushed through, pelting him with curses that sparked against a silver shield. Gellert studied them, but none had the colourings of the one he yearned for.
Gellert slammed wards in place then spun and vanished, appearing across the room. The dozen men whirled but were already dying, sliced straight through by jagged lightning that scorched the floor and left their corpses burned and blackened.
Three more doors slammed open and men poured through.
A string of blue flames snaked from his wand, twisting in a circle around him half again as tall as any man. Dozens of spells were fired, but the flames swallowed them whole. Men advanced but were burned by black gouts of fire, each directed by a flick of the Death Stick.
Stones jutted up from the floor, intercepting his next attack. They burned and crumbled but gave the targets just enough time to leap back. Gellert sensed the spell and looked in its direction. A dark-haired man stood, wand raised. There.
Ebony tendrils exploded out from the fire and corpses crumbled like crisp autumn leaves.
Black water filled half the chamber, flowing into a hundred faceless terrors who bore down on the flames. Each time they touched, both the water and fire faded, leaving behind thick clouds of smoke. Soon a veil hung so thickly in the air that Gellert could see nothing but billowing steam.
A spell hissed towards him through the clouded room and was just barely deflected. Winds ripped through the chamber and blew the steam away, roaring towards his only opponent left standing. A dome of stone rose around him, transforming into solid steel just before the winds hit. The dome broke apart when they ceased blowing and a pack of metallic monsters charged towards Gellert, who sawed through them with another lance of lightning. He slashed his wand and lashed the blast towards the dark-haired man, who hid behind a pale blue shield that wavered each time the lightning struck.
White light flashed and the shield fell. The man staggered and raised his wand, but it was already too late. Air coiled around his limbs, pinning them against his sides. The wand fell from limp fingers, clattering against the floor.
“I must both congratulate you and apologize,” said Gellert, summoning the fallen wand and strolling towards its owner. “You fought well. I would welcome a duel in which you’re more prepared, but I’m afraid you’re too important.”
Gellert stopped just feet away from where the man fought uselessly against bindings made from air. No! Ice dripped through his blood, sending shivers up his spine. He is not the one. Gellert might have raged at his informants, but the description matched so well that he could hardly blame them. He cleared his mind; now was not the time for rage. No matter, the cause is not yet lost. Coincidences exist only in complacent minds.
“I congratulate your efforts,” he said, pointing the Death Stick between the man’s eyes, framed by a pair of enchanted glasses, “but now I must apologize. Legilimens.”
I did say that big things were coming… 🙂
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