Conjoining of Paragons
Chapter 43: Hallowed Hauntings
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.
Acknowledgements: Thank you to my editor Athena, as well as my other betas 3CP, Fezzik, Luq707, Raven, Regress, Thanos, and Yoshi89 for their incredible work on this story.
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November 7, 1943
Harry swept rain-soaked hair back from his eyes, sending stray droplets tumbling. Cold fingers stroked the back of his neck, but he ignored them, his eyes forward. Soft grass sank beneath his feet, sloping down towards a clearing fenced in by tall elms.
The hill flattened and Harry stepped over a deep puddle at its foot whose waters reflected the dark trees. Thunder rumbled and he saw the white flash of lightning ripple across the water’s surface. At least the weather took the hint.
He picked his way through moss-eaten headstones, some of them so ancient that their inscriptions had long-since faded.
The row Harry walked through ended in the newest gravestone. Its marble was yet unblemished, its inscription still stark.
Henri Charlus Potter – 1892-1943
Below was another phrase, one Harry had never seen before.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
Harry squinted at the symbol above both the name and the phrase, nestled beside what must have been the Potter coat of arms. Something about it looks familiar.
He pulled his attention from the headstone, looking up at the boy standing over it. “Anything I can do?” he asked.
Charlus sniffed and shook his head. “No… I’m just happy you came.”
Harry reached over and squeezed his shoulder. “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
Henri Potter had been laid to rest today, just over a week since his body had been found. Harry found his eyes strangely drawn to the grave. Guilt ripped at his stomach, but he ignored it. What was it Grindelwald wanted from you? It had to be something to do with Harry or else, surely, his great grandfather would have died the same way in his own world. Dead just because he looked like me…
The guilt returned, ten times worse, but another thought was still stronger. What could Grindelwald want with me?
“He would have liked you,” said Charlus, still looking down at the headstone.
Harry swallowed; the other boy would never know how much that idle comment meant. “I wish I could have met him.”
Silent tears rolled down Charlus’s cheeks. “He was a great man. Taught me everything I know, he did. Went off to war last time the muggles kicked up a fuss, even though the ministry told him not to. Then he came back and met Mum. Raised me and went off to war again when the time came.” A bitter laugh left his lips. “That was Dad for you, always helping anyone who needed it, always putting everyone else before himself.” Charlus’s shoulders shook. “Selfless bastard.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that.”
“Not as long as the people you help survive. He was never the same once Mom died. He tried hard enough, but I think a part of him went with her.”
Harry swallowed a lump in his throat. “They’re together now,” he said, thinking of the meeting he’d had with his own parents. Will I see them again when I die? He hoped so.
“Yeah,” said Charlus, wiping at his eyes. “All because of Grindelwald.”
A cold wind snatched at Harry’s robes and sprayed droplets of rain across his face. Thunder rumbled. “We’ll stop him.” How can I promise something like that? Absurdity aside, he meant it. I’ll help him just like Ron and Hermione helped me; it’s the least I can do.
“I know.” Charlus looked up, peering off past the clouds and towards a distant dream. “He’s dead, he just doesn’t know it yet.”
“What does that mean?” Harry asked, gesturing to the phrase etched on the headstone. It seemed an easier topic than the impending war.
Charlus shrugged. “Dunno, they’ve always been the Potter words, but Dad never explained them.”
“And the mark? I feel like I’ve seen it before.”
“It was our old coat of arms centuries ago. Some family that became ours, or something, I can’t remember. It’s always on the gravestones.”
Was that where he had seen it? Had he stumbled across the mark while researching Potter family history back in his own world? I doubt it, I never did much researching. The rain fell faster, dragging down his already-water-logged robes. Where did I see it, then?
Harry blinked, standing in dazzling sunlight, Hogwarts castle looming above him. How did I get here?
A bird took wing from a balcony overhead, soaring up and into the pale blue sky. Harry watched in astonishment as its wings crumbled, falling away like sand at high tide. The bird’s corpse landed just in front of him, melting until nothing remained but smouldering ashes.
What the fuck?
The castle trembled behind him. Gryffindor Tower broke apart, collapsing and sending great gouts of smoke drifting skyward. Harry caught his breath. It’s my fault, I’ve got to get away. Hogwarts can’t be destroyed.
He sprinted off, but the grass began blackening beneath his feet. Blades fell flat wherever he stepped. It’s like I’m burning it somehow. Harry swivelled towards the Black Lake, altering his course. The water, I’ve got to get to the water.
The water boiled up ahead, reddening until a sea of blood glistened between blackening river banks. No!
Harry turned to face the forest, but already the trees were ablaze, their ashes swept away in a cruel wind.
“It’s all your fault.”
The scene around him melted, replaced by a familiar graveyard. Thunder rumbled.
“Charlus? What’s going on? How did I get here?”
“How am I supposed to know?” There was blind hatred in the Potter heir’s eyes. “All I know is that, once you showed up, everyone died.”
“No, Charlus, it wasn’t my fault, I promise. I—”
“I didn’t do anything! I’m sorry about your father, Charlus, but that isn’t everyone, it’s…” Harry trailed off. The earth shattered, a chasm ripped wide open, the headstones displaced. Beneath where they had lain, half a dozen corpses decayed. No… Dorea, Elena, Emily, Ron, Hermione, and Sirius.
“You could have saved them.” Charlus’s voice rasped, sounding horribly familiar. Harry watched him wither away until nothing but a chalk-white face remained, its red eyes glowing the same way they had all the way back in first year.
“Grindelwald and I took everything from you.” A cold smile crossed Voldemort’s lips. “You never were any good at keeping people alive.”
Harry opened his mouth, but the scene was gone.
He awoke in a much darker room, surrounded by familiar green curtains. A dream… oh, Merlin, it was just a dream. What had woken him? It was so sudden and violent. Something doesn’t feel natural. Then he felt something prod at him seconds before the first noise came from the curtains’ other side.
“Which bed is he?” someone asked in a low whisper. Harry froze. They must mean me… no one important is in this dormitory.
“Just remember,” another voice said, “nothing too nasty. He’s wanted immobile, not dead.”
Immobile… his fingers tingled in memory, a cursed goblet sitting just out of reach. Oh fuck…
Harry snatched his wand and slashed it at the curtains. You need to get the jump on multiple attackers. His drapings morphed into a dozen snakes that surged towards two dark figures cloaked in shadow.
One of them vanished the snakes whilst the other pelted Harry with curses. The bedpost tore itself free and intercepted the spells, transforming then splitting into half a dozen arrows that forced the caster to retreat.
A wave of curses forced Harry to shield. A line of fire etched itself into his shoulder. Fuck! One of the curses had snuck through, a well-placed Cutting Curse he hadn’t seen in time. Duelling isn’t a good way to wake-up; my reactions are sloppy.
One of the attackers ran for it whilst the other continued fighting. There was a moment when his spells faltered. He wasn’t expecting his friend to run. Birds flowed from his wand and swooped at Harry, talons bared.
They melted in a wave of fire before the last attacker reached the door.
A cry of pain came from the fleeing culprit. Harry’s heart leapt. Yes! The door slammed shut the second he’d stumbled through. Harry sprinted for it but came up short, feet from a ward that was not his. Bastards!
The ward came down but, by the time it had, others had awoken in his dorm room and he knew the attackers would be long-gone.
That’s another thing I need to work on, he thought, angrily slinking back towards his bed, raising the wards his attackers had taken down. I need to get better at warding, I never considered using it in a duel. He cursed — there was always something, one after another the blows came. I’m gonna break soon… a person can only take so much.
November 8, 1943
Harry’s mood had remained bleak all day. Everywhere he looked, walls crumbled behind his eyes and a sparkling lake boiled, then turned to blood. Just to make things worse, he had spent the day trying to find out if anyone had gone to the matron with no success. That curse he had hit one of the assailants with last night was designed to tear impacted muscles and was not easily healed. How is it possible that no one has gone to the matron? I doubt anyone here could heal that on their own.
Classes had been just as bleak. His mind was on other things so his potion went more poorly than usual. Charms was a theory-based lesson, and then there was Defence Against the Dark Arts. They spent a long and tiresome class going over a hundred hypothetical scenarios that would likely never be relevant to anyone. Mix that with the tension still hanging between Harry and Emily, and it was a very long class.
When dinner finally ended that night, Harry was grateful. It was time to slink off somewhere in the dungeons and practice on his own. That usually clears my head. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go pay Cerastes a visit.
Harry drew his wand and turned, ready to duel the same assailants from last night. Instead he was faced with Dolohov. Mulciber and Lestrange lurked behind him, but Harry could not help but notice both looked apprehensive. Something isn’t right here.
“Evening, Dolohov. Can I help you with something?”
The boy’s eyes were intense. They reminded Harry of their duel last year, back when things had become so heated it had been stopped.
“That depends,” said Dolohov, “what have you done to Emily?”
The question took him aback. “What—”
“Don’t play games, Pavonis. We both know she’s the only reason I haven’t got even after last year, and now she looks shattered any time she sees you.” Dolohov levelled his wand. “What did you do?”
The familiar pang of guilt tolled, but it was soon replaced by anger. This isn’t my fault. I’ve tried so hard. It was all too much. The awkward tension with Emily, the murder of Henri, the looming threat of Grindelwald, the mystery assailants, and now this. Fuck him! Fuck all of them!
The first curse left his wand without thinking — the same one he had used last night. Dolohov batted it aside and retaliated with a jet of fire that Harry sidestepped. His skin tingled, touched by a dozen invisible needles. It had singed him at least.
Dolohov batted away Harry’s next two curses and fired a curse off the wall that deflected, nearly striking him in the back. Merlin, he’s gotten better; that was good. Harry smiled back at him and, for a heartbeat, Dolohov faltered. No holding back.
The floor cracked and stones rose, twisting and contorting. A knight of stone stood, its head brushing the ceiling, a long sword in hand. Harry brought his wand forward and his creation rushed Dolohov, who fired curses that sparked against a moving shield Harry had conjured around the knight of stone. It faltered and an arm was blown off, but the beast was already swinging for Dolohov.
Its fist connected and something cracked. Dolohov rolled back, gasping as he tumbled down the corridor. Finish him.
The knight moved forward, raising his sword.
Two Blasting Curses struck its middle and it shattered, blown apart by Lestrange and Mulciber, who trained their wands on Harry. Traitors! Two curses hissed past him, both missing by inches. Fine — the two of you can get it, too.
“Enough!” Lestrange and Mulciber lowered their wands. Dolohov tried aiming his, but he was leaning against the wall and wincing badly. A curse built on Harry’s, his wand’s tip glowing crimson. “Harry, please, stop!”
The curse winked out. I’ve never heard her talk like that. The shock of it stopped him, frozen there in the corridor as she approached, taking his arm.
“Come on,” said Emily, “let’s get some fresh air.”
She half dragged him up the stone stairs and across the Entrance Hall, out into cold, autumn air. The rain had stopped hours ago, but the grass remained damp, soaking through his trainers and weighing down his socks. He paid it no heed. Her hand was shaking on his arm.
“What’s wrong?” he asked, stopping there, halfway between the castle and the Black Lake.
She took a deep breath. “I think you should answer that question.”
“I don’t like seeing you like this.”
Harry scowled. “Like what?”
Her eyes narrowed, paler in the moonlight. “You know exactly what I’m referring to. That wasn’t like you.” She removed her hand from his arm. Its absence was noticed; the skin tingled beneath his sleeve. “What would you have done to them had I not stopped you?”
Harry opened his mouth but reconsidered, struck by her truth. Oh, Merlin, I would have killed them. It hit him like a Bludgeoning Curse, driving the air from his lungs. What’s happening to me?
“I don’t…” his voice trailed off. “Sorry.”
“You have no need to apologize to me. It’s Dolohov who should be doing that. I would have done worse to him than you did had I known what he planned.”
Harry latched onto a break in her pattern, clinging desperately to anything outside his moral conflicts. “Then why don’t you like seeing me that way? Surely you should be happy, right?”
She looked tired all of a sudden. “Harry, I wanted your trust. If that means you become more ruthless than you were, then fine by me, but that wasn’t like you.” She chewed her words. “You would have regretted it and it would only have made things worse.”
She sighed, some of her old confidence returning. “You haven’t been right since Samhain. I’m guessing it’s about Potter’s death, I know now that you’re friends with his son.” She tugged at a sheet of dark hair. “And there was… our dilemma.”
She really cares. It struck him almost as hard as realizing what he’d planned to do. Not just about me, but about what happened on Samhain. It was an impossible truth. The girl he had condemned as Voldemort less than a year ago… None of it’s left; she’s just Emily now.
Harry cleared his throat. “Dolohov said you look sad whenever you look at me. Is… er, is there something I can do?” It was clumsy and lacked her eloquence, but his mind was reeling.
Emily let out a breath. “I’m not used to failing,” she said at last. “I’ve never struggled getting things I want. Failing in that was… hard.”
Harry’s pulse quickened. She means me. “Emily, I—”
“Have been grieving. It’s been difficult for both of us. I’ve… never known pain like that. It’s not something I can empathize with or relate to. That just compiles onto how withdrawn you’ve been and the distance we’ve kept.” She paused again. “That loss feels harsh because of it all.”
I’m really sick of feeling guilty. “I’m not mad at you.” It was the first time he realized that. So much else had plagued his mind this past week that he hardly spared their dilemma a thought, sans awkward lessons in Defence Against the Dark Arts. “I mean, I was pissed on Samhain, but if it doesn’t happen again—”
Emily stepped forward and placed a finger on his lips. “Not tonight,” she said.
“Why not?” Something stirred inside his chest, a hungry beast with its fangs bared.
“Because neither of us are in a place to make rational decisions.” She smiled, relaxed again. “Come on, let’s keep walking.”
Harry followed in a daze. Bloody hell, it all just twists together. I’ve never been so confused in my life.
The last few chapters have been super character-driven. I’m hoping that character work will remain, but there’s something a little bit extra coming very soon 🙂
Hope you’re all excited.
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